What does it mean to be blessed? Different people have different definitions of what it means to be blessed.

– Getting a parking in SM Megamall on a Sunday?
– Buying the bag you’ve always wanted on sale?
– Landing your dream job?
– Getting your dream house paid for?
– Finally getting a boyfriend?

Psalm 1:3 tells us that a blessed man is “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BLESSED?

Fruitful.
A blessed person is fruitful. This doesn’t just speak of material blessings for it goes way beyond that. Fruit is excess life. Fruit comes when there’s life. A blessed person is a person full of life where people desire to be with.

Flourishing.
A blessed person is like a tree where its leaves don’t
wither. He is sustained because it is connected to the life source – water. You and I will only be able to flourish and be sustained as we are connected to the Life Source – the Living Water, which is Christ.

Prosperous.
Success follows a person that is blessed. It happens because God is the One who leads him.

HOW TO GET TO THAT POINT?

How do achieve becoming a blessed person?

The Psalmist tells us first what he is not.

He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.To walk with someone means to participate in whatever they’re doing. Furthermore, it means to do life with that person. A blessed man does not have those who reject God and His Word as his best friend.

He does not stand in the way of sinners.
To stand in the way means to be on
 the same path. They may not necessarily be the best of friends, but they end up doing the same things. They end up going the same direction as they do the same things. 

Romans 1:32 (NLT) says, “They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.”

He does not sit in the seat of scoffers.
To sit in the seat of scoffers means to be in fellowship with them and embrace all that they embrace. They end up living the same values in the end.

WHAT THEN IS THE WAY TO BLESSING?

If there was a simple life hack to a blessed 2018, it would be this – delight and meditate.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law, he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)

A blessed man delights and meditates in God’s Word. They go hand in hand like pen and paper, comb and hair, lock and keys, ball and glove. The more we delight in God’s Word, the more we will meditate. The more we meditate, the more we will delight in it.

But this will have to stem from a relationship with God. Apart from a relationship, it will be a chore and an obligation.

Think of a young man pursuing a girl in courtship. He can’t keep himself from being with her and talking to her. He loves to talk to her and so does she. Communication is key to any relationship. Without communication, it will die.

We speak to God through prayer and God speaks to us through His Word. But without the relationship, reading the Bible will become a duty because we have to read it rather than a desire to do so.

As we read, let’s meditate on God’s word. The word meditate is synonymous with the word ruminate where it literally means ‘to chew the cud.’ Sheep, goat, giraffe and the like have chambers in their stomach called the rumen where they keep the food and regurgitates it back to their mouth for chewing. The process is repeated many times.

To meditate on the Word is to read the Word, hide it in our hearts then bring it back to our mouths to speak it and back into our hearts to reflect on.

As we begin 2018, let us endeavor to meditate on God’s Word in a greater measure. Remember what Joshua 1:8 says.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

 

 

 
 
 

What do you do when your current circumstance display the impossibility of a future promise?

This is a valid question. We are faced with a garden variety of situations where our faith is challenged.

God said that He will provide but my mom’s hospital bill has now ballooned to 3M pesos.
God said that He is the Prince of Peace, but there’s so much conflict in our family today.
God said that if I believe, I will be saved together with my household. But my kids are in bad company and are not walking with God.
God said that He gives wisdom to those that ask, but I have messed up every time I got into a business endeavor.

Luke 1:5-25 narrates to us the story of Zechariah. The Bible says he was righteous, walked blamelessly and obeyed the commandments of the Lord. (1:6). But in spite of that, not every prayer item in their list had been checked off.

It is possible for one to live for God yet not have all his prayers answered. The goal is not the gift but the relationship with the Giver. Our relationship with the Giver is more important than the gift itself.

The Israelite nation hadn’t heard from God in 400 years. It’s been 4 centuries since God has spoken through a prophet. The last one was Malachi. But just because He is quiet, it doesn’t mean He has forgotten. He is faithful to fulfill His promises to His people.

Zechariah asked God how can they have a baby for they were in their old age. God was going to fulfill His promise. He will accomplish all that He said He would. It was just a matter of time. And He doesn’t necessarily reveal everything at one time.

There are things we don’t know, can’t know or won’t even know until the proper time. If God showed us everything He has planned in the next few decades, we might end up stressed, anxious or even fearful.

But at the end of his nine-month ordeal, he finally got it. God will accomplish what He wants to do. In the temple, Zechariah doubted. But after nine months, his faith grew and followed through with God’s instructions to call his son John though Jewish tradition dictated that the firstborn was to be named after his father.

Whatever failure we’ve made in the past, God can surely turn it around, covered by His grace. God can turn the marks of failure into memorials of grace.

As we continue with the Christmas celebrations this December, remember that God is faithful to keep His covenant promise even if we have been filled with unbelief.

Last week, our pastors from Victory Fort, Victory Makati, and Victory Malate had a couples’ retreat. Allow me to share my top 10 takeaways from day 2 from Bishop Juray and Deah Mora’s session. (Thoughts from day one here.)

1. We are told that we are to be willing to pay the price to be successful. But we have to remember that we are not the only one paying the price when it comes to time. It includes our family as well.

2. When God put man and woman together, love was not mentioned in the equation in Genesis 2:20. We have over-romanticised love. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was right –

“It’s not your love that sustains the marriage but it’s the marriage that sustains the love.”

You have the marriage. Therefore, work on the love.

3. Marriage will make you better, stronger as you allow it to. It causes you to do greater things than you can ask or imagine.

4. Children are a blessing from the Lord. We’ve found out that as the kids kept coming, God kept blessing. God sets us up for greater blessing, not greater burden.

5. Our differences in marriage were intended by God. Our goal in our marriage is not to find the differences but to work with them to grow us through them.

6. When sin comes in, it eventually destroys exclusivity. God’s intention for marriage was to make it special and exclusive.

7. We are called to trust God and to trust each other in our marriage. We are to trust God in our spouse and trust that God is at work in and through our spouse. We may not understand each other completely but God is at work whether we see it or not.

8. We trust God for our decisions. And after we’ve prayed, sought counsel and considered God’s Word and eventually still make a mistake, He has the ability to cause all things to work together for our good. (Romans 8:28) Remember, God can rescue us from our mistakes. God is bigger than our mistakes.

9. The goal in marriage is not comfort and peace but faith. Peace and security will only come as we have faith in God. It’s not the size of our savings. Peace is not found in our retirement plan or insurance policy. Peace comes as we have faith in God.

10. At 20, the Bible is true. Even at 70, the Bible is still true. And it says, “the just shall live by faith.” A family budget helps us see where we are. But budgets should not set our limitations. God dictates our finances. He is the Ultimate Provider. Move in faith, not in fear.

What’s so good about Good Friday?

What’s so good about someone dying?
What’s so good about being nailed on a cross?
What’s so good about being humiliated in front of hundreds, if not, thousands?

I met Tim the other day. He didn’t grow up religious and never went to church. But as I’ve realized through the years, the gospel is the most logical solution to the problem of sin.

Good works won’t work because we’ll never know how much is enough to make it.
Punishing ourselves won’t work because we can only tolerate pain up to a certain extent and give up before it’s ever enough.
Merely saying sorry is also not enough for a holy and just God requires payment for the penalty of sin.

When the first Good Friday happened, Jesus declared in Mark 15:34 “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why did Jesus feel forsaken by the Father?

It was at that circumstance that all of the sin of mankind was placed on Him. “God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus felt forsaken for at that moment, it seemed that there was a separation from the Father for sin cannot be in the same presence of a holy and rigtheous God.

Thus, to the person who trusts Christ for salvation experiences a miracle. Our unrighteousness was placed on Christ and His righteousness placed upon us. This work of imputation is nothing short of miraculous. At that particular time, the greatest exchange happened – an unfair yet amazing one.

All these I explained to Tim. His response?
“Wow, it all make sense to me now! This is indeed good news! In fact, it’s great news! My sin upon Him and His righteousness upon me. Who doesn’t want that? Quite an amazing deal if you’d ask me.”

As a result, after an understanding of the gospel of Jesus, he responds by turning away from sin and fully surrendering his life to Christ as his Lord and Savior.

And to all who hasn’t surrendered their lives yet, today can be your day of salvation. What’s so good about Good Friday? His death provided a way for us to gain life. The Great Exchange occurred on Good Friday – His righteousness upon us and all our unrighteousness upon Him as we respond in faith by trusting Christ for our salvation.

If this is the desire of your heart, you can pray this prayer by faith, receive His forgiveness and experience the new life He offers to everyone who believes:

Lord, thank You for coming to die on the cross. I understand that You died so that the penalty of sin can be paid for. I repent from all my sins and trust Christ for forgiveness. He died so that I may have life. Today, I respond to His love for me. I surrender my past, my sins, my unrighteousness and by faith receive the righteousness of Christ offered to me through His work in Calvary. Help me to live for you from this day forward, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life that would please and honor God. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Does God intervene or is He at work all the time?

I had a conversation with Joey Bonifacio the other day. He is mostly in Singapore these days and I get to see him for a few days every month when he is in Manila. And when he is, I make sure I get some time with him for he always challenges, inspires and pushes me to keep levelling up, innovating and keep thinking of ways to make things better.

He asked me during our lunch, “Does God intervene or is He at work all the time?”

I had to think long and hard for I catch myself say the phrase “God intervened in my situation.”

In Genesis 50, Joseph is reunited with his father and siblings after decades of being in Egypt. His brothers mistreated him and sold him into slavery. He was falsely accused by Mrs. Potiphar and thrown into prison. But what seemed to be a bad situation, God used for the good. He met a baker and a cupbearer who had dreams Jospeh interpreted. This opened a door for him to do something similar when Pharaoh had a dream. As a result, it earned him the spot of being second in command over all of Egypt.

Because of this, his family found intervention to their situation due to the famine they were experiencing in their homeland.

But when Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers were afraid that he would take revenge for all they’ve done to him. Wha was Joseph’s response?

“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20)

Somehow, Joseph saw the hand of God through all that he had gone through and trusted that God had a plan. And indeed He did. He was setting something up for Joseph though he didn’t see it.

We can only see the full extent of what God is doing through the rear view mirror.

The Bible says in Psalm 121:4, “Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
When we’re asleep, God is still
at work.

When we wake up, He continues to work all things together for our good but ultimately for His glory.

We will realize that the hand of God was at work the whole time only after everything’s been said and done. He is in charge. He is in control and nothing surprises Him.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, thank You that You are at work the whole time and that nothing escapes your attention. You are Lord of heaven and earth. But You are also Lord of the circumstances of my life. Elevate my perspective to see Your hand always at work and to trust You that You have my best interest in Your mind for Your honor and glory. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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I met Danielle and her mom a couple of years ago in one of the services of Victory Fort. They were devastated to find out that Danielle was found to be with brain cancer. They asked for prayer for the upcoming journey they were about to begin from hospital visits to chemotherapy.

What do you do when life throws you a curve ball? It all seems like a blur and you don’t even realize what hit you.

When David was faced with adversities that were overwhelming, he responded in Psalm 31:14,

“But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, ‘You are my God.'”

Danielle and her mom, Riza, trusted the Lord and watch how God moved as they kept their eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of their faith.