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“Why do I still suffer even though I’m already a Christian? I thought after I come to Christ, all is going to be well.”

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the funeral of a man who was a wonderful husband, amazing dad, great employee and faithful servant in the church. He and his wife were remarkable examples to other couples. But one morning, MC was violently stabbed, which caused his death.

I was told that in his last few moments, before he went to be with the Lord,  his last few words to his wife were, “It is as it is. It is well.”

Wow.

How can one say this?
What hope was he holding on to that would cause him to make this declaration?

I realize that there are no amount of words to try to explain or even attempt to bring comfort to his wife and family in this time of tragedy. But God’s Word gives us a few hints as to why we go through what we are going through.

Paul tells the church in Philippi:

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:29-3)

Here are a few things that point to why we go through suffering:

1. PROOF

Suffering is one of the proofs that we follow Christ. His teachings are actually counter-cultural. If we go with what Jesus says, the Bible says that “everyone who wants to live a godly life will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

Jesus says that in this world, we will have tribulation. But we can rejoice because He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

2. PRIVILEGE

Paul says that we suffer “for the sake of Christ.” Paul tells us that suffering is “granted” to us – which means it is a gift.

Now, how can this be a gift?!?!  It’s a gift no one would actually want to receive if you ask me. But, somehow, even James says to consider it pure joy, when we go through suffering and trials for it, will bring about steadfastness and perseverance that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2)

3. PARTAKING

As we partake in the suffering, we are partaking it with Christ.
Paul in Philippians 3:10 desired to “know Christ and the power of His resurrection and share in His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death.”

Furthermore, in Romans 8:17, we are told that “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Sharing in His sufferings would mean sharing in His glory as well.

It definitely is easier to say it’s a privilege to partake in His sufferings. But the grace of God is overwhelmingly sufficient for His strength is made perfect even in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word that gives me comfort in times of trouble, strength in times of weakness and wisdom in times of confusion. In moments of suffering, You have promised that You will never leave nor forsake. For this, I am always grateful. May You grant me the grace to keep moving forward when I feel like giving up. I declare that this week is going to be a victorious week in the midst of difficult circumstances for victory is found as I live in Your presence daily.
IN JESUS’ NAME. AMEN.

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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ONE NAME.

Jesus. That’s the only name we desire to exalt.
It is in His name that we can find all we would ever need and desire – Savior, Provider, Lord, Master, Forgiver… our All in All.

FIVE WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT.

1. CONTEND AGAINST.

The greater the breakthrough, the greater the warfare.
We are to contend in the Spirit without ceasing.

2. CONTEND WITH.

When we don’t fight as a family, we can’t win. We need to learn to fight as a family, fight not as a wrestler but as a centurion, arm in arm with fellow warriors. If we fight alone, we’re dead. If we fight together, we win.

3. CLEANSING.

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

We want to be fit for the Master’s use. Repentance, turning and humility are keys to seeing this come to pass.

4. DELIVERANCE.

God will release people for His greater glory.
We’ve been seeing people set free from past hurts, sinful patterns, and emotional trauma.
Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

John 8:35 says that a servant doesn’t remain in the house forever, but a son does. A servant does the will of the Master because it is his duty but a son does the will of his Father because it is his delight.

5. SPIRITUAL POWER.

A greater move of the Spirit means greater opposition.

To see all that God is wanting to accomplish, it has to be birthed not in the physical but spiritual.

Jim Laffoon: “As this new building finishes, know that you are not just building a building but birthing a new era.”

We see the spirit of evangelism rise, prophetic prayer get activated and intercession/praying in the Spirit operate in a greater measure.

We are in an exciting season of our church.

Watch and see what God is going to do to a people surrendered to His love, will and leading.

“Nearness is a gift. Closeness is a daily choice.” (Jim Laffoon)
21 DAYS.

We sense that God is calling the leadership to a season of prayer and fasting. Starting July 10 – 31, pastors and leaders will be on a Daniel fast.

If you feel God is calling you to join us, go jump in with us whether for a week or 2 or whole 3 weeks.

The greatest breakthrough in fasting is not an answer to our prayer but the presence of God Himself.

Exciting times are up ahead.

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INFORMATION ON DANIEL FAST BELOW:

http://www.gotquestions.org/Daniel-fast.html

http://daniel-fast.com/draw-closer-god/

http://daniel-fast.com/aboutthefast-2/

http://www.ultimatedanielfast.com/ultimate-daniel-fast-about-the-daniel-fast/

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When Christ saved us, He saved us not just from the penalty of sin but also from its power.
We don’t have to give in to temptation for sin is no longer our master but Jesus.

But is it possible that sin creeps back in so that it begins to master over us? Absolutely.

When building a garden, the gardener needs to get rid of the rocks and the boulders that will choke the life out of the grass and plants. When Jesus came in our lives, He has given us the ability to put off the old self so that we may put on the new self as Colossians declares.

After many years of walking with Christ, it’s no longer the boulders nor the big rocks you and I are concerned about. It may be the little pebbles that may slowly accumulate that may choke the spiritual life in us.

From our words to how what allow our minds to absorb; from what we watch to how we relate with the opposite gender, these can cause us to get back on the road of slavery again.

Paul says in Galatians 5:1, For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

He understood that slavery again both to the law and to sin is possible. By His grace, we can say no to sin and yes to Him every moment.

PRAYER: Lord, help me examine my life to see if there’s pebbles of iniquity that might get me back in the slavery of sin – from what I allow myself to watch or listen to how I relate with others; from my business practices to how I treat our house help; from what I allow myself to dwell on in thoughts to how I blow off steam when I’m upset. I have been set free for Christ has done so at the cross. May You, by Your grace, continue to give me victory. You are my Victory. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/15929026@N06/

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Yesterday was quite a sad day for the Filipino people. I can’t tell you how bad I also felt listening to the score cards and Pacquiao losing to Mayweather.

People asked me, “I thought Pacquiao was a Christian. If he is, then shouldn’t God give Him the victory?”

That’s a valid question and a very interesting one at that. If a person becomes a Christian, does it mean he will always enjoy victory?
You and I will have to consider Biblical examples of Moses, Abraham, David, Joseph, Josiah, Jonah, Job, Paul among many others who lived a life that pleased God but at certain times seemingly suffered defeat.

God is more interested in the process as well as in the outcome. God always works with the long term goal in mind. When going through a tough situation, we often desire for our circumstance to end or be cut short. But God doesn’t see it that way. He is the Master Craftsman who is building something beyond today. He is the Potter and we are merely the clay. The clay cannot say to the Potter, “what in the heck are you doing?” (my version of Isaiah 64:8)

What happens to us is not as important
as to how we respond to what happens to us.

 

And that is what God is after. Because if we don’t learn our lesson in the first run, we might have to go through it again so that He can make sure we get it.

I love how Manny responds after the fight. He calls for a prayer/worship service to honor God in spite of defeat.

In his words,

“Thank you for coming here, thank you also for your support last night. But you have to understand that the plans and ways of God are higher than our ways. The most important thing is, we have Jesus in our life. One day we will be with him in heaven.”

“What happened last night, that’s God’s plan because our plan is not God’s plan. God’s plan is higher than ours and we know that if we have Jesus, we have peace of mind.”

“My purpose is not boxing but to proclaim the name of the Lord in the whole world that Jesus is the name of The Lord.”

It is possible that you lose a fight and yet come out victorious. It really is a matter of perspective. In the game of life, we may not attain a single championship and yet come out as a winner.

How can not eating a burger honor God?

This week, Victory enters into a season of prayer and fasting. Every year for more than a decade now, at the first week of January, we dedicate for a time of seeking God.

Question, is it possible to seek God without skipping meals? Absolutely!
Will we get our answers to our prayers like getting our Christmas list checked by Santa because we are nice, not naughty? Well, it doesn’t work that way.

Fasting is not a magical exercise that when we do it, we log in spiritual points in heaven.

I love what Wesley Deuwel, former president of One Missionary Society once said,
“Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, your determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation.”

What fasting does is getting serious about connecting with God.

“When a man is willing to set aside the legitimate appetites of the body to concentrate on the work of praying, he is demonstrating that he means business, that he is seeking with all his heart, and will not let God go unless He answers.” — Arthur Wallis

Why fast?

1. Jesus fasted.

Before Jesus started His ministry, He fasted in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-4)
He was showing us an example of what it means to prepare by become spiritually strong even though one may be physically weak.

2. Fasting is an act of humility.

When we fast, we deny our physical appetites and communicate to Him that He takes top priority in our life. The Bible says that God gives grace to the humble and yet opposes the proud (James 4:6).

3. Fasting makes us sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 13:2

Fasting makes us sensitive to God and His leadership.

4. Fasting has health benefits.

You will lose weight but if that’s your goal in this season, it won’t work. You’ll just gain it back after. But one of the health benefits of fasting is that it cleanses our bodies from the toxins in our digestive system that we’ve accumulated during the past year, especially during the holiday season. Medical science tells us that it has been an effective cure for allergies and certain diseases.

But most of all, the discipline of fasting illustrates to us that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

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PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bardin/