Saturday, June 30, 2012

Faith is the Product of Hearing the Word of God

This is a sequel to my article last Saturday (June 23, 2012), on the purpose of Grace and Faith. The Bible says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17 KJV). In another version, it says: “Yet faith comes from listening to the message of good news - - the Good News about Christ” (NLT). Why “hearing” not reading? Because many people do not know how to read, but almost everybody has a sense of hearing. This is a basic spiritual law, like the law of gravity, as sure as what goes up comes down. So if one were weak in faith it is because that one is weak in the Word.

The cure for doubts is the Word. Faith comes, it grows, by hearing or listening to the Word of God. It is something that is built by faithful reading, hearing or study of God’s Word (or the Bible), and applying it in our daily life.

Faith is not something we work up, muster up, or polish up by our own efforts and strength. Accepting faith through His Word is a work of God’s grace. All is by God’s grace. Meaning, we don’t deserve any favor from God because all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), but by the love and grace or favor of God, He gives us faith to believe. All we have to do is desire and receive it by faith. We can’t see with our naked eyes, but we believe in our heart that we have it. Jesus gives us faith to believe His Word. Thus, our Bible tells us, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).

This is the very reason why in the late 70’s our Davao City Chapter then headed by Atty. Leonides T. Tan as the sole Field Representative for Mindanao and myself as President, and under the Spiritual Advisorship of Rev. Art Pabellon who was then the Manager of DXFE, conceived of the format of a Saturday fellowship program in which after the testimonies of some brave and anointed members, or those baptized with the Holy Ghost, there is an instruction from the Word of God by well chosen ministers of the Gospel. This fellowship program format remains up to this day. In all FGBMFI chapters, only Davao City has this unique “innovative” program format, and it is working good as eloquently evidenced by the fact that as of today we have 117 accredited members. To my knowledge, no chapter in the Philippines has this number of members. Our chapter is the most active chapter in the Philippines. Praise God for Davao City Chapter.

When I was invited some years ago when our Founder Demos Shakarian was still alive and had the privilege to talk to, and pray with, him personally in his residence, and to speak before the Los Angeles Chapter in California, U.S.A, their fellowship program format is much like ours: breakfast, testimonies, announcements, fellowship, MINUS our usual instruction from the Word of God, perhaps to avoid the notion that FGBMFI is a church. I spoke for 20 minutes but only to testify on what I was before Jesus found me; how I was found by Jesus; and what happened after I was found by Jesus, and talked about our chapter in Davao City. Though I was already 48 years old then, I noticed that I was among the younger Full Gospel Men; almost everybody were above 50 years old. As I was itinerized in Foursquare Churches in California for four Sundays, I observed that most churchgoers were old folks. The younger ones were somewhere else. Praise God in Davao City Chapter, we have more younger members than the old ones.

To my personal knowledge, in the Metro Manila Chapters, they have adopted the U.S.A pattern. In the fellowship meeting, it is always emphasized that we are not a church, and the membership is interdenominational. Churchy words like “brother” are avoided, and members are addressed by their nickname or calling, like Dr., Engr., Atty., or Councilor, or by their military rank or whatever social or professional appellation they possess, so as not to turn off those first timers or the unevangelized who are hesitant to attend religious gatherings other than their own church.

We should not neglect God’s Word. It is food for our soul and gives us strength for the daily battles of life which are varied and multifarious, as God (Jesus quoted it) “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4 KJV). It is His Word by his Spirit in His love that makes us strong spiritually and persevering in whatever we do in this valley of tears and joy. We are encouraged to read and meditate on it prayerfully and to ask God to increase our faith in Him. He never fails! God is true to his promise “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). He will always feed the spiritually hungry heart. And to those who will apply the Word mixed up with faith (Heb. 4:2), they will find blessing beyond their wildest dreams and imagination.

The psalmist said:

1. Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners.

2. But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think (meditate) about his law (Word).

  1. They are like trees planted along river banks, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3 NLT).”

(FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, June 30, 2012)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Purpose of Grace and Faith

Grace has been simply defined by theologians as unmerited favor. It is a gift from God which we don’t deserve. It is an infinite and unexhaustible love of God expressing itself through infinite goodness. Unmerited or undeserved because being sinners, we deserve to be in hell, but because of the love of God for mankind, his last and very special creation, his “obra-maestra”, he provided a way for man’s salvation.

This has become imperative because of the fall of the human race, with all its consequences, carrying out His eternal purpose, for the Lord would establish His throne in righteousness. God knows the end from the beginning: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18 KJV). Therefore, redemption was not an afterthought – a plan formulated after the fall of Adam – but an eternal purpose for the good of all human beings whom God has specially and delicately created, out of the dust for the male, and out of the rib of the male for the female species. A woman is for man to love and to take good care, and the woman to inspire and be a help for man, in words and in deeds.

The creation of all that is in heaven and on earth, the mystery of the gospel, are for one purpose, for the glory of God through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. By the marvelous display of His love in giving “his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16 KJV), the glory of God is revealed to lost humanity. The handpicked man of God and deliverer of Israel, the great and illustrious servant, Moses, when he offered his prayer to Jehovah in behalf of idolatrous Israel pleaded, “Shew me thy glory.” Idolatrous in the sense that many worshipped pagan gods like Baal, Dagon, etc. Idolatry means somebody or something revered or venerated (which consumes the thoughts and deeds of man) more than the one true God, called Jehovah, and who or which becomes or has become the priority of man. Thus, many have given or are giving priority to the love of spouses, parents, siblings, money, professions, vocations and money and other things, more than that of the sovereign God, the owner of everything in heaven and on earth.

It is the privilege of every follower of Christ to behold the glory of God, to understand His goodness, and know that He is a God of infinite mercy and love. Jesus was sent by God the Father to reveal the true God and the Father’s nature and character, to make His glory known before humanity. No one is excluded from the unparalleled privileges of the gospel, but one must receive the gift heartily by faith so that the grace of God will flow forever like the river Jordan.

The mystery of the gospel had been spoken in Eden when the lost first human couple fell into the guilt of transgression, for God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15 KJV). This foretells the continues fight or struggle between the good and the devil, and the defeat of the serpent (devil) through victory in the seed of the woman (Jesus Christ). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ that man is saved. “For by grace are ye saved through faith (in Jesus Christ); and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2: 8-9 KJV).

How does saving faith works?

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

Faith is agreeing (or believing) what God said in his Word. Our Christian canonized Bible defines as “NOW faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:11 KJV). Notice the word NOW is present tense, not tomorrow or sometime in the future, but instantly, immediately. Faith is believing which is shown or evidenced by action, without actually seeing the things hoped for to happen. For example, the disciple Thomas said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25 KJV). To Thomas, “to see is to believe”, if not seen by his two naked eyes, he will not believe. This is not a saving faith. But was Thomas saved? Yes, of course, but because he saw. But Jesus said, “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29 KJV). Now, unlike during Thomas’ time, we can’t see Jesus Christ personally, but many of us believe on the gospel and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. More blessed are these believers although they have not actually seen. Do we belong to this group of believers?

Believing but without action or works, has no substance, and is dead. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17 KJV). Faith is shown by works (vs. 18). Thus, “the devils also believe, and tremble” (vs. 19), but their works or actions contravene their belief, or they show no work at all. Their faith is dead.

When through repentance and faith we accept Christ as our Savior, the Lord pardons our sins and remits the penalty prescribed for the transgression of the law. The sinner then stands before God as a just person (just as if he did not commit any sin at all), and is taken into favor with God in heaven, and through the Spirit has fellowship with the Father and the Son. Then, there is yet another work to be accomplished, and this is of a progressive nature. The soul is to be sanctified through the truth (or Word). And this also is accomplished through faith. For it is only by the grace of Christ, which we receive through faith, that the character can be transformed.

It is important that we understand clearly the nature of faith. There are many who believe that Christ is the Savior of the world, that the gospel is true and reveals the plan of salvation, yet they do not possess saving faith. They are intellectually convinced of the truth (or Word of God), but this is not enough; in order to be justified, sinners must have that faith that appropriates (or does something) the merits of Christ to their own soul. Thus, as already stated above, the devils “believe, and tremble”; but their belief does not bring them justification, neither will the belief of those who give merely an intellectual assent to the truths of the Bible bring them the benefits of salvation.

In genuine, saving faith, there is trust in God through the belief in the great atoning sacrifice made by the Son of God on Calvary. In Christ, the justified believers behold their only hope and deliverer. Belief may exist without trust, but confidence born of trust cannot exist without faith. All sinners brought to a knowledge of the saving power of Christ will make manifest this trust in greater degree as they advance in experience.

The words of the great apostle Paul shed light upon what constitutes genuine faith. He says, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10 KJV). To believe with the heart is more than conviction, more than assent to the truth. This faith is sincere, earnest, and engages the affections of the soul; it is the faith that works by love and purifies the heart. This is the kind of faith in God (Jesus Christ) that saves. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, June 23, 2012)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Integrity of the Canonized Bible

Some people don’t believe the canonized Bible. In fact, they don’t read it at all. If at all, they don’t enjoy reading the Bible. They prefer to read the newspapers and other reading materials. These people, sad to say, are missing the best reading material or book in the universe. This sacred book is a complete story from beginning to the end and future of God, man and this world and the world to come. It contains history, science, math, law, music, medicine, wisdom, spiritual commands and instructions etc., everything that man needs to live wisely, correctly and comfortably. It is man’s “Manufacturer’s manual”.

When we say canonized Bible, we refer to the 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament, or a total of 66 books authored by forty (40) different human authors who were anointed and used individually by the Holy Spirit and written within a period of 1,500 years, yet amazingly dovetail each other and without conflict with but rather compliment each other. These books passed the test on what makes a book qualified to be part of the Word of God, compiled after the death of Jesus Christ (A.D.) by the canonizing fathers in what it is known today as the BIBLE that Christians know and believe as the authentic Word of God. So, look at the index of your Bible. Count the number of books from Genesis to Revelation. Does it tally to number 66?

What is the basis of the canonizing Fathers in including only the 66 books? Each book have known authors or writers and Jesus himself said: “You are such foolish people! You find it hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his time of glory? Then Jesus quoted passages from the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining what all the Scriptures said about himself.” (Luke 24:25-27 NLT). When Jesus appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem, he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true” (Luke 24:44 NLT).

The credulous will ask, what about the other books not included in the 66 canonized books? Sorry, believe it or not, the decision is yours.

More graphically, these are the Old Testament passages quoted by the Lord Jesus Christ:

Old Testament New Testament Occasion
Deuteronomy 8:3 Matthew 4:4 Temptation
Deuteronomy 6:16 Matthew 4:7 - do -
Deuteronomy 6:13 Matthew 4:10 - do -
Exodus 20:13 Matthew 5:21 Sermon on the Mount
Exodus 20:14 Matthew 5:27 - do -
Isaiah 61:1,2 Luke 4:18, 19 Hometown Sermon
Hosea 6:6 Matthew 9: 13 Confrontations with the Jewish Rulers
Genesis 2:24 Mark 10:7, 8 Precept on adultery
Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 Mark 12:29, 30 Summary of ten commandments
Isaiah 29:13 Matthew 15:7-9 Jesus teaches against tradition of men that do not conform to the Scriptures.
Deuteronomy 17:6 John 8:17 Testimony of two men are true
Malachi 3:1 Luke 7:27 Tribute to John
Psalm 8:2 Matthew 21:16 Triumphal Entry
Isaiah 56:7 Luke 19:46 Temple Cleansing
Psalm 118:22, 23 Matthew 21:42, 44 Parable about Israel
Psalm 110:1 Mark 12:36 Temple Question
Psalm 35:19;69:4 John 15:25 Last Passover
Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46 On the Cross
Psalm 31:5 Luke 23:46 Last saying of Jesus on the cross

The apostle Peter said, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever come from the prophets themselves or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God” (2 Pet. 1:20-21 NLT). On the other hand, apostle Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16 KJV).

The canonized Bible’s prophetic record is 100% truly accurate. Thus, some examples are the following:

The Lord Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) at the time specified (Daniel 9:25). Infants in Bethlehem were massacred as prophesied (Jeremiah 31:15). Jesus went down into Egypt and returned (Hosea 11:1). Isaiah foretold Christ’s ministry in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2). Zechariah predicted His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a colt (Zechariah 9:9) and His betrayal for 30 pieces of silver (11:12-13). David had never seen a Roman crucifixion, yet Psalm 22, under divine inspiration, he penned a graphic portrayal of Jesus’ death. About seven hundred years before the New Testament was published, Isaiah 53 gives a detailed picture of our Lord’s rejection, mistreatment, death, and burial with the wicked and with the rich [vs. 9] (he was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man). These few prophecies (and there are many more) should impress and convince us beyond the shadow of doubt with the reliability and integrity of the canonized Bible.

Significantly, the Lord Jesus himself said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 3:19) speaking of “the temple of his body” (vs. 21). Paul said, “What, know ye not that your body (true Christian body) is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price:” [by the precious blood of Christ 1 Pet 1:19] (1 Cor. 6:19-20 KJV) that is why he said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [meaning spiritually]” (John 11: 25-26 KJV).

The main criteria of the canonizing fathers in including a book in the Bible is that Jesus Christ must have quoted them when he was on earth personally ministering, and those spoken of truly happened as predicted by Jesus himself, by the prophets, or must have been authored by his disciples or apostles, or those very close to the apostles like Dr. Luke and John Mark.

When I was a young lawyer holding office in Davao City, about 80 kms. away from our hometown in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, I verbally told my father that I would go home on a certain important family occasion and we agreed that he would roast a pig (lechon in our local dialect) for lunch. In those days, as it is today, an important occasion is celebrated by Filipinos with lechon as the main menu. On that particular day, I was delayed due to an urgent, emergency and unavoidable professional engagement. In the middle 60’s there were no cellphones or telephones yet in our municipality. However, whenever I promise to go home, I would see to it that I arrive early to enjoy more hours with my parents and siblings but this time I arrived past 12:00 noon already. There was no way that I could communicate to my father that I would be arriving but will be delayed. Nevertheless, when I arrived, to my joy and amazement, the lechon was ready for lunch and I found out that they were just waiting for my arrival. I verbally appreciated my father, that he proceeded to have the lechon prepared although I was not able to confirm my promise and I arrived too late. His answer was sweet to my ears and very encouraging and wonderful to my heart: “There was never a time you made a promise that you did not fulfill”. And I am only an imperfect human being subject to human frailties and limitations.

In the same vein, since the above-mentioned predictions of the prophets in the canonized Bible have all been amazingly fulfilled, let us also accept with confidence what the Bible says about the future. Furthermore, Jesus himself affirmed them in his teachings and discourses, and he said, “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27) and “all things are possible to him that believe” (Mark 9:23).

Remember, we have a book of prophecy that is right – all of the time! The author – the Holy Spirit – is 100% reliable and full of integrity. Indeed, we CAN TRUST THE CANONIZED BIBLE WITH ALL ITS PROPHECY - - GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS WORD which is more trustworthy than the Word of any man that ever lived on this planet earth. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, June 16, 2012)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Riches Could Be A Blessing Or A Curse

The first recorded man tremendously blessed by God with riches was Abram (exalted father) later re-named by God Abraham (father of many nations). This is what our Bible records:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him. “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram, your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” (Gen. 17:1-7 NIV)

Out of the thirty six parables of the Lord Jesus Christ, eighteen of them, or one half, concerns money. There are at least two thousand verses on money. Money is that important to God and to man. That is why Jesus Christ said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4) quoting from the Old Testament what God “His (our) Father told Moses when the Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years being supplied with manna from heaven as their daily bread (Deut. 8:3). Stated otherwise, we live in this world physically by “eating” bread and spiritually the Word of God.

The Bible tells us that “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3 KJV). Connecting this verse to Col. 1:14 to 17:

In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”Cross references:

Going back to verse 14 of John, which says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth”, obviously the Lord Jesus Christ is the one being referred to in the aforequoted verses. Therefore, God created riches or money, so man may live comfortably, with the Bible as his “manufacturer’s manual”.

Although the Lord Jesus was and is extremely rich without equal in money and in everything, as he owns everything in this world (Ps. 24:1; 50:10-12), yet he was not carrying with him or keeping much money at all. He did not establish a Central Bank where he could keep his riches. He spends as the need arises. Thus, one day Peter told him, Lord, the Roman government is asking for your tax money. He told Peter “xxx go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them (tax collectors) for me and thee” (Matt. 17:27, KJV). Generosity was a virtue of Jesus Christ as evidenced by the fact that though Peter did not ask him to pay tax money for him, he said, “give unto them for me and thee”. What a blessing for Peter, someone paying for his taxes without his asking!

There is nothing wrong in being wealthy, provided it is gotten thru honest and lawful means. The Bible says, …. For Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold” (Gen. 13:2 NLT). If one is a public or government official, that one should be able to explain his source of wealth, if inquired into.

God gives us the “power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant” [old and new] (Deut. 8:18). The will and purpose of God in prospering men is to spread the gospel, not to keep it for when he goes out of this world, he can’t bring with him even a single cent (Job. 1:21; Eccl. 5:15, 1 Tim. 6:7).

The great Apostle Paul, said “And having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content (1 Tim. 6:8 KJV). Notice that Paul does not even mention a house, much more an airconditioned one. Don’t take this literally. It simply means, “be content with just enough” for it is not good to keep too much money, especially, if one is a public official, and more so when asked to explain the source and no credible explanation is made.

In Prov. 30, the wise Agur said, “Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, who is the LORD? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Prov. 30: 7-9 KJV). This simply means too much riches is not good, neither is it good to be very poor for it might drive one to steal.

The Bible tells us of Solomon’s wealth and splendor in this wise:

The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents, not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the land. King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred bekas of gold went into each shield. He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three minas of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom. All King Solomon's goblets were gold, and all the household articles in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon's days. The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons. King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift--articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules. Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. Solomon's horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue--the royal merchants purchased them from Kue. They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans.” (1 Kings 10:14-29 NIV)

King Solomon’s annual income of gold was about 25 tons (vs. 14), and he reigned 40 years. In gold alone, his riches was one million tons in 40 years. But these were tribute money - - clean money, included in his SALN (Bible, in those days). The Bible tells us “So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom” (vs. 23).

It is significant that the wise King Solomon whose riches could not be surpassed by anyone before him and after him said: “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22 KJV). Notably, Solomon’s riches was a blessing from God. Is your riches a result of the exercise or application of your God-given talent and hard work? If so, rejoice forevermore, God has blessed you indeed, and no sorrowful episode awaits your future. If not, it will be a curse unto you. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin June 9, 2012)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Blessedness Of Generosity

We like a generous man for he is a source of blessing. All of us, without any exception, wants to be blessed. It is the generous man that prospers (Prov. 11:25).

A story is told about Alexander the Great. He was the greatest conqueror of many nations during his time. Having fought several wars, like the U.S.A. in modern times, his kingdom was short of money. One day he learned of a man who has served him faithfully but was never rewarded. He called for him and when he asked the man what he wanted for a reward, the latter asked for $50,000.00 which was then a large sum of money. The treasurer of his Kingdom signaled to the Monarch with a wink in his eyes that the treasury was almost empty. But The Great Alexander ordered him to give what was asked for “because of his trust and confidence” in the Monarch and in the solvency of his kingdom.

The best example of the most generous personality is the Lord Jesus Christ when he was on earth ministering and even today and forever. “Ask him anything according to God’s will and he gives it to you” (I John 5:14). This must be understood in light of what Jesus himself said when he was on earth ministering: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). This means that one must know him first and accept him in his heart as his LORD and Savior. Once one does this, Christ abides or resides in his heart. A true Christian knows what to ask, and what to pray, just as we know what we ask our earthly father. Thus, we do not just ask anything from our earthly father. That is why, Jesus also said: “and all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt. 21-22 KJV). Just as we do not ask arbitrarily from our earthly father what we know is not good for us, we also do not ask arbitrarily from God. His only requirement is to have full faith in Him. Thus, Jesus would respond, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matt. 9:22), or “According to your faith, be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29); or “Woman, great is thy faith” (Matt. 15:28). The great Apostle Paul said, “a man is justified by faith” (Rom. 3:28). “His (Abraham’s) faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). The just (Christian) shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).

The opposite of a generous soul is a stingy person. The Bible tells us: “A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him” (Prov. 28: 22 NIV).

We abhor stingy people. If possible, we don’t like to deal or have any business dealings with them. It is a waste of time and energy, resulting to disappointment. But not necessarily in all circumstances.

In the late 80’s, a client was referred to me by my compadre and for whom I stood as wedding sponsor (hijado sa kasal), who is a geodetic engineer and upon my encouragement because I perceived him as having brilliant mind, became a lawyer in 1972, and to whom I endorsed numerous landowner-clients for survey professional services to help him in his practice in surveying. He was very efficient and fast in his survey work that he had become a by-word when it comes to survey of lands in Davao del Norte, particularly in Kapalong. When the Land Reform Law (CARL or CARP) was implemented in 1988, the landed people to avoid the CARL subdivided their lands to be distributed to their children and other relatives. Consequently, out of his fees, he was able to acquire vast lands and build a house made of molave and narra wood with a basement. He was also able to buy cars, and later on a Ford SUV, a status symbol kind of vehicle for successful businessmen, professionals and rich people in the Philippines.

My compadre and hijado did not like to handle court cases because he said, it takes a long time to terminate a case and to collect a fee; whereas, according to him, in the surveying profession, when the client engages his services, a downpayment (acceptance fee) is immediately paid; while conducting a survey, he would be served with sumptuous food, and sometimes the client will serve “lechon” (roasted pig) to his survey team. After the survey, a substantial part of the agreed fee is paid; and then after approval of his survey job which normally takes about a month only, the client will pay fully his fee.

On the other hand, he said, normally cases in court will last for several years, which require lots of preparation in research, study and entail voluminous writing of pleadings to be filed in court, besides the consequential emotional stress. Furthermore, the trial stage would require him to go to court very early and to wear a formal attire which are not required in surveying work. If the case is decided against the client, the lawyer is left with an empty bag resulting to extreme disappointment and feeling of depression. Stated differently, it takes a long time for a lawyer to earn his fee - - and only if he wins his case.

This referred client came to the law office where I was an associate for twenty-five years at San Pedro Street, then the main thoroughfare of Davao City, like Escolta in Manila of olden days and Ayala Avenue in Makati City of modern times in the Philippines.

When the client appeared in our office, I noticed that he was dressed like a very poor man. He was wearing an ordinary T-shirt, a sandal which we locally call as “smuggle-sandal”, and with a guava branch cane. In reality he was rich because he had a two-storey 54-door residential apartments called the “Sacred Heart Apartment” distributed and located in Barrio Obrero, this city, then a poor man’s village, but now abounds with imposing government and private school infrastructures and the residence of rich Chinese people. There is one long span of his apartment in front of Stella Maris College, a prestigious school among rich people; another one very near the Southeastern University, a government university; and the other one at Clarin Street, beside Victoria Plaza, then the largest shopping mall in Davao City. Each apartment had a separate title. It was an old version of our condo units of present day.

In my interview of the client before accepting his case, for I know that he will ask how much will be my fee, I learned from him that he had other valuable properties located at Roxas Blvd., now a main thoroughfare in our City. He also owns large lots along Jacinto Street, near Ateneo de Davao University, a premiere University in Mindanao and along Quezon Boulevard, another main street in this city; he owns agricultural lands planted with coconut and rice in Tuganay, Carmen, Davao del Norte; vast rice and coconut farms in Lupon, the rice granary of Davao Provinces; and in Mati, Davao Oriental, he had numerous commercial lots.

One of the occupants of the apartment continuously failed to pay his rent, so the client wanted to collect and to eject him. When he asked me how much I would charge him for his case, he almost literally fell from the visitor’s chair when I told him P10,000.00. I was amazed that such a landed rich man, a measly P10,000.00 fee was too much for him. But not wanting to lose him, I asked, “Magkano po ang gusto ninyo?” (How much do you want, Sir? because he spoke in Tagalog). He answered, “Puede bang P4,000.00?” (Can you make it P4,000.00?). With a disappointed smile, I told him, “50% na lang ho, pero puede ibigay ninyo lahat kaagad? (Can you make it 50%, Sir, but can I ask you to give it immediately?”). The reason why I asked for immediate payment was because I needed to send the P3,000.00 which was a monthly allowance of my daughter Susan, who was taking up Law in UP Diliman, Quezon City. (Parenthetically, Atty. Susan placed number nine in the 1991 bar exam where only seventeen per cent passed. To God be the glory! Lately, I have given up to her my specially designed office with closet and exclusive comfort and bathroom as I am already on “semi-retirement” handling cases only of clients who specially request my personal appearance in court). He retorted, “Sige, pero bigyan mo ako ng dalawang linggo kasi mag-collection pa ako” (Okay, but please give me two weeks because I’ll have to collect first). This made me feel quite disappointed and more amazed because a very rich man is asking for two weeks to produce a measly sum of P5,000.00!

Nevertheless, in two days time, his niece-Secretary came to pay. I sent immediately the P3,000.00 to my daughter, thus leaving for my family the P2,000.00. In those days, this was more than enough budget for two weeks marketing and grocery for a family in the Philippines.

After our hearing in court, if it was still snacks time, he would invite me to a Chinese restaurant without air-conditioning. He would order coffee for himself without milk and without sugar. Without asking what I want, he would order for me Royal True Orange soft drink and four pieces of smallest “hopia” wrapped in cellophane. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, I pretend to enjoy my snacks. He never invited me to have lunch with him.

He had other similar cases thereafter but my fee remained the same and the menu is like the manna from heaven - - always the same. He was so stingy that I was never able to raise even for a single cent my fee per case.

Not long after, this client died. His secretary came to me bringing with her three bank passbooks, because the banks were requiring the execution and submission of a settlement of estate among the heirs on the bank deposits. When I totaled the amount, it was more than P3,800,000.00! In those earlier years of my practice, this was a lot of money.

He was survived by a widow without any children at all. He had no more brothers and sisters, so his several nephews and nieces scrambled to claim their inheritance. Everybody wants the apartment in front of Stella Maris College and the one near the Southeastern University. Because of this predicament and trouble among the heirs, I decided to have the inheritance case which included his vast landholdings, settled through judicial proceedings. Praise God, in record time, the estate was settled and distributed among the heirs.

My fee was the equivalent of the share of one heir which I invested in building my own law office. At least one-half of the cost of my modest law office building in the heart of the City which conservatively at present day cost will easily be about ten million pesos, built on a lot which also at present day cost is more than five times the cost of the building is the legacy to me of this client. The other half cost of the building and the cost of the lot where the building stands are wonderful and thrilling stories of how God so providentially and generously blessed me in my private practice as advocate. For a time, when I was President of our fellowship chapter, we had our headquarters at the ground floor. It was during those days that God enabled me to complete the building to what it is now. To God be the glory!

The Lord Jesus Christ said: “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you” (Luke 6:38 NLT).

How did I get the blessings from God? Out of my generous referral of clients to a friend to help him, and that friend, in turn, referred to me a stingy client who turned out to my own good by the LORD God! (Romans 8:28). So, let us not despise stingy clients or customers, for in the end, if we attend to and take good care of their concerns, they are a tremendous blessing. The wise King Solomon said: “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” (Prov. 11:25). (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin June 2, 2012)