WHEN ELECTIONS CAUSE DIVISION

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One of our Victory Group leaders messaged me this morning asking how she should respond to relatives, friends, and even church members who are at odds due to differing opinions and preferences regarding the ongoing election campaign.

It has become divisive and estranging. Families end up not talking to each other, office mates argue, and friends quarrel over who they feel would be the best to lead at this season of our nation’s history.

Here are a few random thoughts I shared with her:

1. What is most important?

I am saddened by how certain people are responding and reacting to all these. The Bible says we are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

That being said, we have to keep things in proper perspective.

Long after this election is over and done with, blood relatives will still be family. Church community will still be our spiritual family. Division or breaking relationship is simply just not worth it.

Some of the candidates won’t even remember us long after the elections are over.

Values determine priorities. And when the priorities are clear, decisions are simpler. It may not necessarily be easier but it is simpler for you know what or who is most important.

2. How about social media posts?

Posting on social media is not the problem. It’s what we post and how we say things are some of the concerns. Forcing, arguing, throwing hate, mud slinging are what makes it unhealthy and problematic.

3. Can I really be sure?

We can’t be completely sure who God has chosen to be the next president, vice president, mayor, councilor, etc. Remember, even the prophet Samuel made a mistake in choosing who the next president was. He thought it was the eldest son of Jesse. David, the youngest son, was who God chose.  Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.

But this is what I am sure of: GOD IS SOVEREIGN!

He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. (Daniel 2:21)

He is in charge over the affairs of men. He can even use a Pharaoh or Cyrus to fulfill His purposes. How come? Because He is in charge!

4. What should we do?

First of all, go out and vote according to who you feel God has put in your heart.
Samuel had to hear the voice of God.
We all have to go to God, pray and vote according to your conscience.

5. What else can we do?

Pray! Pray! Pray for our nation.
This election campaign has been very divisive.
To reiterate what Ephesians 4:3 said, “Make every effort to keep the unity…”
To make every effort means to do your best within your powers to maintain unity.
“A kingdom divided cannot stand.”

How do we maintain unity? We can agree to disagree agreeably.
When someone shares who they will vote, we can maintain unity by respecting their opinion and not trying to convince them to change their mind. They’ve thought long and hard and hopefully have prayed.

Agreeing to disagree agreeably means respecting their opinion even if it differs from yours.

Remember, we can win the argument but lose the relationship in the process.

To quote Pastor Dennis Isleta, here’s what he said,
“I feel restoration does not begin after the elections but even as early as now. True Christlike character ought to be shown when no one is yet winner or loser. It is easy to be Christlike after one has won, and easy to be less Christlike when one has lost. So is it true about praising God for victory or asking Him for help for the nation when defeated.”

Hope this helps us.

God bless the Philippines!


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WHEN THE ANSWERS TO YOUR PRAYERS SEEM DELAYED

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Blog Banners.001Just because things don’t go the way we had prayed doesn’t mean God is not answering.

Mary and Martha had asked for Jesus to come because their brother Lazarus was deathly ill. But on hearing the news, Jesus stayed for a couple more days in the place where he was. Was this deliberate? Was He being intentional in His delay? I believe so. He is all knowing. He did say, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)

Something was brewing.
What seemed to be a setback was actually a divine setup.

When Jesus came, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for 4 days lifeless. Martha brings in an accusation to Jesus and says, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21)

We are quick to judge God’s intentions.
Lord, You are not really in control.
Lord, I thought You were all powerful.
Lord, You didn’t come through on time. Maybe You’re not that mindful of us.
Lord, I thought You were a prayer answering God.

But many times, we need to elevate our perspective to see something beyond what our natural eyes can perceive.

If Jesus came 4 days early, surely He is more than able to heal Lazarus from his illness.
The thing is, they would only experience Him as a healer.
But because he came a few days later, they got to know Him as the Resurrection and the Life.

What we see in the natural is very limited to explain all that’s happening in the spiritual.

God wants to reveal Himself to you the different attributes of who He is.
Often, we just see a limited view. But through our experiences and how He works through those circumstances will allow us to see Him in a new light and from a different perspective.

And when that happens, watch out for it bring you to a new level of praise.

By faith, when you do something you’ve never done before, you’ll be able to experience something you’ve never seen before.


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WHO SHOULD I VOTE FOR?

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Blog Banners.001Who should I vote for?

What are the guidelines in choosing the next president, senator, congressman, mayor, and so on?

The Bible gives us principles we can draw from the different leaders and kings that have ruled in the Old Testament.

One of them is Abimelech.

Abimelech was one of the sons of Gideon. His name meant “my dad is the king.” This would already give you an idea of what kind of character he was.

Gideon was one of the judges in Israel. A judge was one whom the Lord raised as a temporary and special deliverer and rescued the Israelites from their oppressors. After Gideon and his 300 won the war against the Midianites, the people wanted to make Gideon king. His response?

“I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” (Judges 8:23)

Gideon was reiterating what already has been established in Deuteronomy 33:5 that the Lord Himself was their King. They weren’t a monarchy but a theocracy.

GREAT LEADERSHIP ACKNOWLEDGES WHO THE ULTIMATE LEADER IS.

All of us are under authority.
Whether you’re the head of your house, student council president, unit manager, CEO or board chairman, you have delegated authority.
God is the Supreme Authority and there’s no authority that we are able to wield apart from Him delegating it to us.

Now, since Gideon chose to not become king, guess who aspired for it? His son, Abimelech did.

Abimelech goes to his mom’s house and hires her to be his campaign manager. After which, he goes to his relatives and gets their loyalty. And then, he goes to the key leaders of his city to explain his platform. He had great execution but with bad intention.

He was hungry for power and desired to get it whatever it took.

As a result, he killed his half brothers – all seventy of them. For whatever reason he had in mind, he needed to get rid of all the possible hindrances from him becoming king.

HUNGER FOR POWER CORRUPTS JUDGMENT.

As he started his campaign, his relatives spoke to the leaders of Shechem .
“So Abimelech’s uncles gave his message to all the citizens of Shechem on his behalf. And after listening to this proposal, the people of Shechem decided in favor of Abimelech because he was their relative.”(Judges 9:3, NLT)

It’s not wrong to have a relative rise in leadership. Moses and Aaron were brothers as they led Israel out of Egypt. But relationship is not the main qualification but character and competence.

Does the person have integrity? And does he have the skills to lead the city, region, province, nation?
David led God’s people well. And the Bible says that he led them “with integrity of heart and skillful hands.” (Psalm 79:72)

During the campaign, Abimelech’s relatives gave him 70 pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith. (Judges 9:4)

Campaign funds are necessary but somehow, they started using funds from evil sources. And here’s the principle:

MONEY FROM EVIL SOURCES IS RARELY USED TO HONOR GOD OR HELP OTHERS.

In choosing the next leader, it is important to know where they get their campaign funds for where they get it from is where they will be grateful towards.

With these campaign funds, Abimelech “used the silver to hire some lawless, dangerous men as his followers.” (Judges 9:4, NET)

He then goes to his father’s house and set out to kill his 70 brothers.

Be wary of men of violence.

MEN OF VIOLENCE ARE OFTEN SURROUNDED WITH MEN WHO ARE VIOLENT THEMSELVES.

But as the story goes, the very people who crowned Abimelech as king were the same people who plotted to get rid of him. The way he started his kingship was also the manner he was exiting it.

While the men of Shechem was trying to pursue him to get rid of him, he ran to a tower. As he approached the entrance, a woman dropped a millstone on his head and cracked his skull. Bad leaders and bad people attract each other, use each other and destroy each other.

But before we ask why we have bad leaders, let’s ask ourselves, “Are we a bad people?”
Are we manipulative? Are we clannish? Are we selfish in our thinking?
The leaders will come from the very people they will lead in the future. The leaders of tomorrow are already the leaders of today. Are we living in integrity? Is there a sincere love for the nation? Do we pay the right taxes? Do we still go when the traffic light’s red? Do we put the litter in our pockets or flippantly throw them on the streets?

What then is a sign of good leadership?

Jesus told us in Matthew 20:25-28:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

A LEADER THAT SERVES IS A LEADER WORTH FOLLOWING.

Why do the candidates have to say, “When I am elected, I will do this and that…?”
Why wait till they’re elected? What have they done now? What is their track record?

A leader is one who serves now and not when he is elected.

These are thoughts from the life of Abimelech and are by no means exhaustive.
I pray that God will give us the insight and pray through who we will write on the ballots when the time comes we go to the precincts.

But most of all, to those who follow Christ, we are called to pray for our leaders and our nation.

We are told in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

As the people of God we are called to:

1. Humble ourselves.
2. Pray.
3. Seek His face.
4. Turn from our wicked ways.

Because of this, God will hear our prayers and heal our land.

God bless the Philippines.


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WHEN VALUES ARE CLEAR, DECISIONS ARE SIMPLER.

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Blog Banners.001When values are clear, decisions are simpler.

Now, simpler doesn’t mean easier for many decisions we need to make are difficult. But when priorities are clear cut, choices are simpler.

I read a recent article by Sports Illustrated on Jermaine O’Neal, a six-time NBA All-Star, Most Improved Player in 2002. He helped Indiana Pacers reach the NBA Playoffs 6 times but never got a championship ring.Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 8.34.42 AM

In 2013, he signed with the Golden State Warriors to play through 2014. But after a year with the Warriors, he decided to call it a career. The year after that, the Warriors went on to win their first championship after a 40-year drought.

When his former team won the championship, he was watching the game back at his house in Southlake, Texas. His 15-year-old daughter, Asjia watched her dad watch the game and asked, “Are you OK?”

O’Neal didn’t say a word.

She knew he was pondering on what might have been if he stayed another year.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 8.34.17 AMBut for years, he told his family that they were his priority. His daughter just recovered from an open heart surgery. And while contemplating on signing with the Warriors for another year (the year they won the championship), his son told him, “Hey dad, I need you.”

“Physically, I could have done it. Mentally, no. My son and my family asked me not to, and that was the trump card. That did something to me. I was seeing changes in my son, he became more angry. And for a guy who didn’t meet his dad until seven years ago myself, I understood what it meant not to have a dad there,” O’Neal mentions in his interview with Sports Illustrated.

After she asked her dad if he was ok, Asjia walks up to her room.

A few minutes later, she sends him a text telling him about how happy she was that he was home. After recovering from her open heart surgery, she made it to volleyball team in her school and is now a rising star.

Asjia tells her dad how she appreciates him not only being home but also being able to travel with her to watch her play her volleyball games.

“Dad, you being home is like you being a champion.”

This text made what he gave up all worth it.

“It made me so emotional. When she wrote the text, how much it meant to her, to get that, it cleared up everything. All the emotions I had, missing out on the championship. That did it and I knew right away that my time was over,” O’Neal said.

“Sometimes you can’t be a champion. That doesn’t determine who you are,” he says. “But you can be a champion father, and that means everything. That means everything.”

When values are clear, decisions are simpler.

To read the full article from Sports Illustrated, click here.

 


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EASTER MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN CHRISTMAS?

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Blog Banners.001Christmas is the most celebrated time of the year. I can understand why. 

But what Christmas started, Easter actually completed.
The climax of Jesus’ mission on earth wasn’t His birth but His resurrection.

Theologian and apologist Henry Morris had this to say,

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.

What then is the reality, reason and relevance of the resurrection for the 21st century Christ follower?

1. REALITY

Jesus was crucified, died, buried and rose from the dead. Paul writing 20 years after Jesus died says in 1 Corinthians 15:6, “Then He (Jesus) appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of who are still alive.”

This is a critical statement of proof for the resurrection for there were 3 major theories to dispute the bodily rising of Jesus from the grave.

HALLUCINATION THEORY: The disciples were deluded thinking that Jesus rose from the dead.
Now if this were true, it’s hard to have 500 people hallucinate at the same time. And after they’ve finished tripping, you would think at least one would recant after being faced with a death sentence.

HOAX: Jesus’ body didn’t rise from the dead but was just stolen to make people think He rose.
This too is a hard one to pull off. It’s very hard to find someone willing to die for a lie.

SWOON THEORY: Jesus just fainted and didn’t completely die.
The Romans were experts at torture and execution. They couldn’t let this happen. And even if this theory was true, a half dead, wounded, mangled messiah wouldn’t be able to inspire followers to change the word – a fearful group to suddenly become extremely bold.

There’s only one explanation: He DID rise from the dead.

2. REASON

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

Paul tells us that Jesus defeated death, hell and the grave by rising from the dead. But if Jesus didn’t rise, then we would still be in our sins. And if this is so, we are to be pitied among all men for we are believing a lie.

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”― Timothy Keller

3. RELEVANCE

Because He rose from the dead, we too have the hope of victory over death. That’s why Paul could trash talk death to its face and say,

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57)

Because of this, we can live life fearlessly.
Because of this, we can be steadfast and immovable.
Because of this we can continue to abound in the work of the Lord because our labor in Him is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Easter is not just a symbol but a powerful event that is a game changer!


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WHAT’S SO BLACK ABOUT BLACK SATURDAY?

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I was told to stay home during Black Saturday.
I couldn’t play with my friends because it’s a day of mourning.
I was also told that I couldn’t laugh or even smile because “God is dead.”

I could understand the significance of the day for it is a good moment to reflect on what Christ suffered. But at the same time, I was thankful that someone explained to me through the Scriptures that the fact is, God’s not dead. He is more alive than you and I are. His death accomplished more than we can ever wrap our brains around.

It was at Calvary that a Divine Exchange took place:
He took all our sins and we took on His righteousness.
An unfair exchange indeed but a amazing one nonetheless.

Let me share 3 words that were so highfalutin and foreign to me that I began to appreciate even more as I studied them.

1. EXPIATION

Expiation means the removal of our guilt and sin. Jesus’ death removes (expiates) our sin and guilt. What we feel as guilt coupled with the reality of it are taken away from us and placed on Christ who discharged it by his death on the cross.

John 1:29 calls Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him.”

2. PROPITIATION

While expiation refers to the removal of our sins, propitiation is the removal of God’s wrath towards us because of sin.

Jesus died on our place to remove the wrath of God that was to be poured out upon us. This was something we deserved for we have offended a holy and righteous God.

But because of His love, He poured all His wrath on His Son at Calvary. He removes His wrath and turns it into favor.

Hebrews 2:17 tells us that Christ made “propitiation for the sins of the people.”
1 John 4:10 tells us that “this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

The wrath we deserve, Jesus took upon Himself so we don’t suffer its consequences.

3. RECONCILIATION

While expiation is the removal of our guilt and sin, and propitiation is the removal of God’s wrath, reconciliation is the removal of our alienation from God.

Sin separates us from God. There is a huge wall that divides when we sin against God. But Jesus’ death removed this wall of alienation and, therefore, reconciling us back to God.

Romans 5:10-11 tells us “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.”

All these took place when Jesus suffered, was crucified, died and was buried.
He died so we can have life.
He was wounded so we can be healed.
He was punished so we can be forgiven.
He endured rejection so that we can be accepted by the holy and righteous God.
He was cut off so that we may be joined to the Father.

As the Hebrew writer declares, how great a salvation we have!
Black Saturday is not at all that dark. In fact, it was something necessary for Him to go through so that we can enjoy what we have today.

Rejoice! He is not dead. He is alive. And what He accomplished, He did for you and for me so that we can enjoy a relationship with Him!


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DID JESUS REALLY HAVE TO DIE?

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Most will acknowledge that they have offended a holy and righteous God.
Many realize that they haven’t lived a perfect life.
And hordes will admit that they displeased their Creator.

But here’s a question many ask:
Can God not just grant divine amnesty and declare,
“By My authority, I now give you divine pardon!”

Did Jesus really have to come, become like one of us and die a torturous death on the cross?

Some of you might remember, there was a time when the people of God were held in captivity under the rulership of the Egyptians. God always wanted a people of His own but because they were under slavery, they weren’t their own nation.

God was calling them out through Moses but Pharaoh didn’t want to let His people go. To convince Pharaoh that it was He who was calling them out, He had to send 10 plagues to communicate to Pharaoh that Yahweh is the Lord. The last plague was the plague of the first born where all the first born was going to be visited by the angel of death.

But God’s instruction to His people was to get a lamb, cook it as their meal.
Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.03.11 AMHowever, they are to take the blood and wipe it on the doorposts of their homes so that when the angel of death comes, it will recognize the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. As a result, the angel of death will “passover” their home.

It was the last straw that caused Pharaoh to release God’s people from the clutches of the Egyptian hands. From that time on, it became an annual celebration meal of God’s redemption. You could just imagine the first born during that very first Passover meal thinking,

“The only reason I’m alive is because that thing on the table (the lamb) isn’t.”

Fast forward about 1500 years later, Jesus was having a Passover meal with His disciples. He took the bread and the cup, gave thanks and distributed them to His disciples. The meal was complete except for one thing – the lamb. They were probably thinking, “we have the bread and the wine, but where’s the lamb?”

And here’s the clincher:
“The lamb was not on the table for The Lamb was at the table.”

It was the night before Jesus was going to be crucified.

Why did Jesus have to die?

1. Sin’s payment was death. Sin is a capital offense. For the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid for our death so we can live.

2. Only a perfect sacrifice can pay the penalty. Only Jesus could fulfill this since He was both fully human yet fully God. The sacrifice had to be a perfect, unblemished, sinless sacrifice.
God made Him (Christ), who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

3. A Holy God cannot allow sin go unpunished.
Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe to save a people who owed a debt they couldn’t pay.

That’s why when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he declared, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This sacrifice no longer just covers our sins, He is able to completely wash it away.

All we need to do is to trust His atoning work in Calvary.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This is a reason to rejoice!
This propels us to worship!
This truth will result in a life of gratitude!


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WHAT’S SO MAUNDY ABOUT THURSDAY?

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What’s so special about Mandy Thursday? I understand Friday for that’s when Jesus was crucified. Saturday was when Jesus was in the grave. As for Sunday, it was the greatest event in all of human history.

What happened on Thursday? And why’s so “maundy” about it?

Maundy comes from the Latin word where we derive the word ‘mandate’. It was a day where a command was given by Jesus. It was on the night before he was betrayed where He took the cup and the bread, blessed and gave thanks to share the meal with His disciples.

It was during the meal that Jesus took a basin of water, wrapped a towel around His waist and started to wash the disciples feet. So what was the “mandate” that made Thursday Maundy?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

What He did (washing the feet of his disciples) preceded what He said (love one another).

It was a powerful moment for if He only told them what they needed to do, they would most likely obey but the impact wouldn’t be as intense and compelling.

If their Master could serve them the way He did, how much more can they do the same to others?

His command to love one another is an overflow of the love we have received.
We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

REFLECTION APPLICATION:

1. Pray to Jesus now and thank Him for His sacrificial love to take our place on the cross for He died on our behalf. He paid the debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

2. Pray for someone now to know Christ personally as their Lord and Savior (family member, friend, officemate, classmate).

3. Text that person a verse to encourage and reflect on what Jesus did on the cross.


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MAKING THINGS RIGHT WHEN CHOICES WERE WRONG

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Many today misuse the grace of God to excuse their behavior to continue living in their lifestyle of sin.

Yes, the grace of God is available to save us from sin, but it is also available for us to say NO to sin.

Titus 2:11-12 declares: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

Nick and Elma came to church after being invited by their children. They have been in a live-in situation for years and had thought that since they’ve been in the same situation for 25 years, God would somehow understand.

The grace of God empowers us to correct whatever wrong we’ve stood for in the past.

Watch their testimony on how God spoke to them to make things right.

 


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FORGIVING WHEN YOU’RE HURTING THE MOST

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Oklahoma City Thunder coach Monty Williamswife was killed in a car accident. And in front of 900 friends and family members, he delivered a moving and speech of love, strength, wisdom and forgiveness.

I want to close with this, and I think it’s the most important thing we need to understand. Everyone is praying for me and my family, which is right, but let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well, and we have no ill will towards that family.
In my house, we have a sign that says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness. That family didn’t wake up wanting to hurt my wife. Life is hard. It is very hard, and that was tough, but we hold no ill will toward the Donaldson family. And we, as a group, brothers united in unity, should be praying for that family, because they grieve as well. So let’s not lose sight of what’s important.

Towards the end of his speech, he thanks everyone who came and said something profound.

“We didn’t lose my wife. When you lose something, you can’t find it.
I know exactly where my wife is.”

Words of hope, security and faith.

On a time of trial, where are our eyes turned towards?

Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

Here’s the video of his eulogy.

 


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THE PROBLEM WITH REDEFINING MARRIAGE

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Through the years, certain words have been redefined.

I remember growing up, the word “salvage” meant someone getting killed. But later on, I found out that it really meant rescuing and saving something or someone.

Same with the word “dope”. I grew up thinking it was drugs. These days, young people say, “That dope doh!” which means, “That’s so cool!”

In basketball, to get a facial doesn’t mean going to a dermatologist to get cleaned. It means getting dunked on in your face.

Certain words when redefined seem harmless. But there are certain words when we redefine them will not only be dangerous but outright destructive.

Marriage is one of them.

Jesus in Matthew 19 talks about marriage.

1. Marriage is a PHYSICAL union.

Matthew 19:5 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

It is a physical union, a coming together of sorts, between a man and a woman. These days, we have moved boundary lines and allowed marriage no longer just for male and female but people of the same gender.

We’ve rebelled against those lines and said we can have an affair as long as it’s in secret. Ask Ashley Madison about it. Their tagline says that because life is short, then have an affair.

2. Marriage is a PROVIDENTIAL union.

Matthew 19:6, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

It is God who joins two people together.

While it is true that He does that, in the bigness of the Sovereignty of God, He has given us the freedom of choice to make the decision who we will get married to.

3. Marriage is a PERMANENT union.

Matthew 19:6, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Divorce is the undoing of the work of God.

The only reason why divorce was allowed was because of the hardness of our hearts – sin.

That’s why in many wedding vows, the promise is till death do us part. It’s not until another career do us part nor another bank account do us part or another person do us part, but until death do us part.

“When emotions become the primary basis for our decision to get married, then emotions will also become the primary basis for our decision to separate.”

Here’s my message yesterday at Victory Fort that further expounds on this topic of marriage.

God bless you guys.


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“GOD WITH SKIN”

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A father was tucking his son to sleep. After the lights were turned off, the son asked his dad to stay a bit longer with him.
To comfort his son, the father said, “Son, God is here and is always with you.”
To this, the little boy replied, “Yes. But I want someone with skin.”

Right before the turning point of history – from BC to AD, God had manifested His presence in various ways. While His people were in the desert, it was through a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
When they entered the promised land, God manifested and rested His presence in the temple.
But right at the central point of history, at the fullness of time, as Paul said in Galatians, God sent His Son as a full manifestation of His divine presence.

Paul wrote the church in Colossae saying, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15)

“Image” implies representation and manifestation. Jesus was representing the Father. But not only did Jesus represent His Father, He Himself was God. He declared, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

How significant was this for you and me?

First and foremost, it meant our salvation. Through Christ, we are redeemed because of His atoning sacrifice at Calvary.

At the same breath, He is not just for us, He is also with us – “Immanuel.”

Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.”

As you go through life, fear may strike. At times, frustrations may hit you. Furthermore, testings and trials may come your way unexpectedly. But the assurance of His presence as we go through them assures us that we are not alone. He is for us and not against us. He will never leave nor forsake. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.


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“YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU’RE SAYING”

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Blog Banners.001“I don’t think you really believe in what you’re saying.”

Joe Kim (not his real name) was telling me today regarding his experience before he met Christ. He was in high school when someone shared the gospel to him in Korea. He felt that his friend had just come from an evangelistic seminar and he was his friend’s first “project.”

Growing up in a Buddhist background, Joe wasn’t all that interested. In fact, he challenged his friend’s faith by telling him that “he really didn’t believe in what he was saying.”

When his friend asked how come he said that, Joe’s answer was, “Well, if you really believed in what you’re saying, it would show in how you live.” Joe loved his friend. In fact, they were often together, even in parties and drinking sprees. But he concluded that what his friend declared didn’t really work.

“If you believed in what you are declaring, you’re life would be different.”

Joe’s statement hit me. In fact, it hit me quite hard.
I began to look at my own life to see if what I believed lined up with how I lived my life.

Jesus addressed the crowds and told them this about the religious leaders of his time,

“Pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach.” (Matthew 23:3)
What they taught didn’t line up with how they lived.

Our lives are sometimes the only Bible our friends will read. We can say one thing but if our life exemplifies something else, it will be difficult to believe. Does this mean that our lives need to be perfect? By no means. However, the important thing is that we’re progressing towards what God intended for us to go towards – to become like Christ. And THAT would be entirely by His grace working itself out in our daily lives.

LORD, thank You for saving me by Your grace. It is never by personal merit or deserved achievement. As I grow in the knowledge of Your grace and salvation, allow me to grow in greater Christ-likeness and holiness. May my life be a story of someone who was undeserving yet unconditionally cared for, fully known yet fully loved. And for that, I am forever grateful. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


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WHEN YOU NEED WISDOM

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You can tell a person’s spiritual condition as you observe where he gets his wisdom and strength from.

David, together with his mighty men just lost their wives and children to the Amalekites. His men even thought of stoning him to death as a result. He cried so many tears that the Bible said that he no longer had any strength left to weep.

But he found strength in the Lord His God. (1 Samuel 30:6)

He later inquired of the Lord if they were to pursue the Amalekites.
God told him to go for it.

Right about the same time King Saul was seeking wisdom. But Saul looked for it through the witch of Endor. This was the beginning of a downward spiral spiritually.

Here is where you can observe one’s spiritual condition.
Saul sought wisdom through worldly means.
David sought it from God who knows all for He is the Alpha and Omega, knowing the end from the beginning.

When push comes to shove, who do you run to for wisdom and strength?

The Scriptures are readily available for us. His Word is our primary source for insight about life and living.

Let’s approach Him who not only knows everything but desires the best for us at will ultimately bring Him glory.


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“I FEEL SO DIRTY.”

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Blog Banners.001“I feel so dirty because of all the things I’ve done. I’ve messed up my life. Where can I go?”

Back in the Old Testament days, people were deemed unclean through a variety of ways: by skin diseases, discharges of bodily fluids, touching something dead ( Num 5:2 ), or eating unclean foods ( Lev 11 ; Deut 14 ).

The Law gave provisions how one becomes clean. One of which was going through a purification process. The unclean person was to be washed in what the Jews called “living water.” Living water was distinguished as one that is not stagnant but moving water like from spring, rivers and rain. Stagnant water would be from cisterns or big reservoirs.

When Jesus met the woman at the well in John 4, she was drawing cistern water. He knew that she had lived a life that was impure (for she had been with different men) yet used the water from the well as an object lesson.

Jesus said told her, “If you had known the gift of God and who it is who said to you, ʻGive me some water to drink,ʼ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

You see a person who is unclean has the ability to make another unclean by being in contact with them. A person who touches a dead person becomes unclean and whoever he touches will be unclean as well.

But it is only living water that would make an unclean person clean through the purification rites.

Jesus is the Living Water. The world may have caused us to become unclean because of sin but as we come to Him, we are made clean. He alone can bring complete cleansing that now makes us justified, blameless, perfect all because of His sacrifice on the cross.

If you are reading this and you have been marred by misdeeds and submerged in sin, come to the Living Water for He only not cleanses you, He gives you a fresh slate… a new start.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation- the old is gone and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I’d like to invite you to pray this prayer:

“Lord, I have been separated from You because of my sin. I am unclean because of the mess I’ve created due to the wickedness of my own heart. I feel so dirty. But Your Word says that You are the Living Water that can make me clean. I come to You and in faith trust You as Lord and Savior, Lover and Forgiver, Master and Purifier of my life. Your death on the cross takes the curse of sin from me to be transferred onto you and Your righteousness imputed and passed on to me. Thank You for this gift of salvation and purification. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”


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CLAIMING THE PROMISES OF GOD

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Someone said that there are 3,000 promises written in Scripture for every believer. That’s more than 8 promises to claim per day! Other estimates go up to 7000 to 8000 total.

Now whether it’s 3,000 or 8,000, unfortunately many are unaware of them. And it is quite difficult to claim something you have no knowledge of.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:4 (NLT), “And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”

He has given us great and precious promises! May we discover them and claim them.

Watch how we can discover and claim the promises God has for us.


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WHEN ODDS ARE STACKED UP AGAINST YOU

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Blog Banners.001What do you do when life throws you a curve ball and are now facing an overwhelming situation?

Psalm 42 is a cry to God at a time of desperation. Many believe that it was King David who wrote this Psalm during the time of his very own son, Absalom, taking over the kingdom that God established for him.

In Psalm 42:11, the psalmist speaks to his own soul,

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?”

After his question, he follows it up with an imperative commanding himself to put His hope on the One who can rescue him from his situation.

“Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

The following video is a testimony of a man who had all the odds stacked up against him and his family and yet persevered not only in faith but also in praise.

Watch Joseph Carodan’s journey of seeing his son almost lose his life and the faithfulness of God to deliver Emman.

May this video bless you.

 

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WHEN GOD SEEMS SLOW TO ANSWER

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“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God.” (Romans 4:20)

When facing a daunting challenge ahead, we have two choices – to press on with faith or to give up in unbelief.

I remember one of our pastors from Mindanao giving his testimony of God’s faithfulness. He and his wife have been praying for a baby for years. They wanted to enjoy the first couple of years of their marriage so they felt it was fine not to have a child yet. But as year 3 came, they realized that it wasn’t happening. Year 4 and 5 came and they were getting worried regarding what might be the concern.

Year 6 and 7 came and still no baby. At this point, when you go through this type of situation, what do you do? Do you accept that it’s the will of God or continue persevering in faith? For my two friends, they kept trusting God.

Similar to Romans 4:20, they stayed the course and allowed “no unbelief to make them waver concerning the promise of God.”

And here’s an important truth:
“A promise is only as good as the person who makes the promise.” (Dare To Believe Manual)

Because God said it, then that settles it!

If you have a promise from God, hold on to it. Don’t let go. Keep on keeping on because He who promised is faithful.

What happened after year 9? My friends got their answer to prayer. Baby Rania was born.

I can’t explain why Rania came on the 9th year of their marriage. Some answers to prayer come on the 5th or 9th or 15th year. But as you go through the journey, embrace the process for God is bringing about something you and I may not fully understand at the moment. But in time, we will realize that God makes all things beautiful in His time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)


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OUT OF THE OVERFLOW

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It is said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
Have you ever experienced a time when you said something and you realized it was coming out of an overflow from what’s on the inside?
Frustration?
Anger?
Disappointment?

Or on the other hand it could be something positive.
Faith.
Love.
Joy.
Excitement.

I remember a time when I was praying for provision for my family. I knew that God said that “He shall supply all my needs in Christ.” I knew that the Word tells me to trust in the Lord with all my heart. But the next phrase that came out of my mouth was “what if it doesn’t happen?”

What I had in my heart eventually came out. What I believed or didn’t believe was ultimately articulated.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:13, “I believed, and so I spoke.”

As a result, I endeavored to fill my heart with the Word for the Bible says that faith comes from hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)
When my heart is filled with God’s Word, it will eventually overflow and influence my speech and ultimately my actions.

Lord, help me go to Scriptures each and every day to fill my heart with words of life not death, strength not weakness, and joy not sorrow. May your Word be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I mentioned yesterday that I will start a series on the miracles of Jesus.  However, due to the Prayer and Fasting week, I’d like to jump off from the devotionals given that can be found in Victory’s website.


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WHEN I’M AT THE END OF MY ROPE

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Blog Banners.001Have you ever been in a desperate situation?

Someone deathly ill.
Business on a downturn.
Relationship gone sour.
Spirituality grown cold.
Facing a hopeless situation.

Two men who have been blind all their life must’ve heard about this miracle worker named Jesus. They followed him around. When they had a chance, they cried aloud and said, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” (Matthew 9:29)

They had the audacity to interrupt Jesus’ busy schedule! Didn’t they know that the Lord had a lot of appointments to go to? They were being very insensitive!

But what’s amazing about Jesus is that he is never too busy for us. When we call out his name, he responds, especially when we do it in faith.

HIS MERCY

We approach Jesus on the basis of His mercy.
The 2 blind men cried out to Jesus and asked for mercy.
Some call out to Jesus as if he was their attendant.
A few treat him like Santa Claus.

But these two men understood that they can only approach Jesus on the basis of his mercy. They knew that they deserved nothing and could only ask for what Jesus could spare them.

Paul tells us in the book of Romans to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice in view of God’s mercy. Anything we can do for God stems from what He has already done for us.

HIS NAME

“Son of David” was a messianic title attributed to Christ. While they were calling out for mercy, they were also crying out in faith. They were stepping out in faith that if this Jesus was really what men said he was, then he would have the power to meet them at their point of desperation.

Calling Jesus “Son of David” expressed their sense of his deity, dominion and power, declaring that he was the Messiah.

OUR FAITH

The 2 blind men were asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28a)
What a question!
Previously, he just restored a girl back to life. Whoever has heard of this miracle would be so pumped to go to Jesus for a prayer.

So what was their answer to Jesus’ question?
They said, “Yes, Lord.” (Matthew 9:28b)

Interesting that they didn’t just answer with a simple yes. They followed it up with “Lord.” This was an act of faith indeed!
He is not just the Christ, he is also the Lord.

Jesus doesn’t just meet us at our point of need but more so at our point of faith.

PRAYER:

Lord, we thank You for the example of the two blind men who dared to believe. They acknowledged who You are and trusted that You are able to do what you decided to do.
I pray that we would have the same faith to believe you in the darkest times – that what You’ve said You would do, You will actually do. Thank You that You are not only a Covenant Maker, You are also a Covenant Keeper. And for that, I lift up my praise to You. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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This week is Prayer and Fasting week for Victory all over the Philippines and for Every Nation Worldwide. The theme is #DareToBelieve. For the next 5 days, including today, I will post reflections on the miracles Jesus performed as a response to the faith of those who dared to believe.


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