Saturday, July 28, 2012

True Riches, How To Attain

A certain scribe came to the Lord Jesus Christ saying, “Master, I will follow thee withersoever thou goest”. Jesus answered, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:19-20 KJV). Stated otherwise, the Lord Jesus was telling the scribe, will you follow me in spite of my poverty? Or, are you prepared to make a sacrifice with me?

Before discussing further, let me say something about scribes.

A scribe is a person who writes books or documents by hand as a profession and helps the city keep track of its records. The profession, previously found in all literate cultures in some form, lost most of its importance and status with the advent of printing. The work could involve copying books, including sacred texts, or secretarial and administrative duties such as taking of dictation and the keeping of business, judicial and historical records for kings, nobility, temples and cities. Later the profession developed into public servants, journalists, accountants, typists, and lawyers.”

Jesus Christ gave up His exalted position in the heavenly courts, and laying aside His royal robe and kingly crown, He exchanged His divinity with humanity. For our sakes He chose to become poor in earthly riches that we, through his poverty, might be rich (2 Cor. 8:9).

Christ came to this world to live a life of perfect obedience to the laws of God’s kingdom. He said, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17) He taught his disciples and the multitudes who went to hear him, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17 KJV).

He could have come in power and great glory, escorted by a multitude of angels, but He chose to come in humility, of lowly parentage - - that of a simple carpenter’s son - - and he was not born in a first class hospital with everything sanitized to prevent infection, but in an unsanitary manger among animals. He was brought up in an obscure and despised village called Nazareth. Someone asked, “Is there anything good that comes from Nazareth?” Yes, there is. The savior of the world, the only source of true riches, happiness, joy, and eternal life was born there. He demonstrated a way of simple living - - a simple way of life identifying himself with the ordinary human being. As an illustrious and diligent carpenter’s son, he must have used his muscles to help his earthly father in the latter’s daily routine. He worked his way in the ordinary manner of a normal poor human being. He has given humanity no encouragement to think that material riches and extraordinary intellect make anyone worthy of serving God and deserve eternal life. He initially chose the lowly unschooled fishermen as his disciples. It was only afterwards that Dr. Luke, a physician; Dr. Gamaliel, a doctor of laws; and lawyer Apostle Paul became his disciples, too. Stated differently, God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). The poor, unschooled or uneducated who are willing to serve the kingdom of God in any manner of ministry that fits his God-given talent, are all equal in the eyes of God. He demonstrated by His manner of life that simplicity and humility is the proper conduct and way of a peaceful life. In Him are found all the excellencies necessary to absolute perfection of character of a fulfilling and satisfying life.

It is submission to and being a slave to sin that brings the great unhappiness of the soul.

Thus, the sinful and unrepentant without fear of God usually are in hiding and in seclusion from society. They shun fellowship with the disciples of Christ. In fact, they hate the followers of Christ. These people are a hindrance to their agenda.

It is not poverty but disobedience that prevents us from gaining eternal life and joy and peace of life, which the Savior came to bring us. True riches, true peace, true contentment, enduring happiness and joy – these are found only in entire surrender to God’s will which are found in the canonized Bible. We will know the will of God by personal study (or reading) or by hearing the Word of God taught or preached by faithful ministers of the Word. The great Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans (from out of whom the Roman Catholic Church was born), “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17 KJV).
Christ came to our world to live a life of stainless purity, thus to show sinners that in His strength they, too, can obey God’s holy precepts, the laws of His kingdom.

It was from the Father that Christ constantly drew the power that enabled Him to keep His life free from spot or stain of sin. So must a Christian do. But it is written, no one is perfect, not one is righteous by himself (Ps. 14:1-3; Acts 3:10-12). What then? Jesus Christ, the perfect and righteous one is our only hope of glory; that every man be perfect in Christ Jesus (Col. 1:27-28). For its appropriateness, I wish to quote once again what I wrote in our January 28, 2012 Bulletin issue, as follows:

Apostle Paul tells us ‘Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful WISDOM of God (1 Cor. 1:24). Therefore, this strenuous search for WISDOM is actually a search for God himself, or in person, JESUS CHRIST, our SAVIOR and LORD (Prov. 2:3-5). In fact, inner happiness or joy comes when man finds this WISDOM [the LORD Jesus Christ] (Prov. 3:13).

If we have Christ in our heart, we have WISDOM which according to King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived on the face of the earth, “WISDOM is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding” (Prov. 4:7 KJV), and we possess the true riches and righteousness on earth that will surely land us in heaven. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin July 28, 2012)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

To Err Is Human, To Forgive Divine

In the model prayer taught by our Lord Jesus Christ to his disciples, and for that matter to all believers, after making a petition on the daily bread for the physical body, he dealt next on the forgiveness of sins which concerns the spiritual condition of man. He said, “and forgive us our sins just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us” (Matt. 6:12 NLT). Then, he continued to instruct them, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (vss. 14-15).

It is easy to ask God for forgiveness of our sins but very difficult for us to do the same to others. Whenever we ask God to forgive us for our sin, we should ask ourselves, have I forgiven the people who have wronged me?

Jesus gives a startling warning about forgiveness. If we refuse to forgive others, God will also refuse to forgive us. Actually, one can forgive others only when Christ rules the heart. Thus, the Apostle Paul said, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32 KJV).

Joseph of the Old Testament proved that this virtue of forgiveness to our neighbors or others can be done. Although he was stript of his multi-colored coat; thrown into a deep pit with no water by his brothers and later sold to some Ishmeelite merchants for only twenty pieces of silver, who, in turn, sold him to Potiphar as slave, and much later suffered imprisonment for two full years (Gen. 37:23-28; 39:20; 41:1), he did not retaliate against his brothers when he was already the Prime Minister of Egypt, then the most powerful country in the known world, and was second in command to the Pharaoh. Instead, he treated his brothers very kindly. Joseph said to his brothers. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you (take care), and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spoke kindly unto them” (Gen. 50: 20-21 KJV).

One day Peter asked, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus answered, “I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.” This is equals 490 times. The Lord Jesus was speaking figuratively. He actually meant, keep on forgiving as long as your brother repents and asks for forgiveness. Then the Lord Jesus, to demonstrate vividly his figure of speech, related the parable of the unforgiving debtor.

For this reason, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.  In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.  He couldn’t pay, so the king ordered that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. But the man fell down before the king and begged him, ‘Oh, sir, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’  Then the king was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient and I will pay it,’ he pleaded.  But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and jailed until the debt could be paid in full.

When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him what happened.  Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’  Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny.

 That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your heart.” (Matt: 18: 23-35 KJV)

The Lord Jesus is saying that our individual sins against God and our fellowmen are as numerous and heavy as that of the first servant in the parable, yet when we confess our sins to Him and accept Him as our only savior like the second servant, he forgives us. We should do likewise to those who have done wrong against us.

The Lord Jesus said to his disciples. “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17: 3-4 KJV).

Again here, Jesus was speaking figuratively. He gave this instruction because we usually count only up to a maximum of three times in a lifetime. We forgive in words only but not in our heart or in deed. We forgive in words but we do not forget. We are historical! We keep on repeating in words the mistakes of others. He wants us to be patient, humble and forgiving more than the usual three-time limit that we traditionally impose upon ourselves. If we do, we will likewise be forgiven for as many as, and for as long as we confess our sins (1 John 1:9), and by God’s grace we shall be with Him in heaven together with our love ones who also passed the test, forever and evermore.

How do we ask or pray for forgiveness? The Lord Jesus again related a parable to demonstrate how we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, in this wise:
Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a dishonest tax collector. The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’  I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored.” (Luke 18:10-14 NLT)
Notice that in the first parable, the Pharisee was proud and unrepentant, but in the second, the publican (sinner) was humble and penitent. There is no blessing for the proud and unrepentant sinner.

We have nothing to be proud of because no one is perfect: we all commit mistakes or sins and must repent of our sins. We have to be humble, understanding and forgiving like our Lord Jesus Christ. He is God in the flesh, and He is our model. To err is human, to forgive is Christlike and divine. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin July 17, 2012)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Take God At His Word!

A story is told about U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. When asked whether the information released to the public was true, the President replied, “If Stanton said it, it must be true”. That is how the President trusted Stanton.

Our canonized Bible tells us: “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” (Hebrews 11:6). We are to believe the Word simply because God said so! He wants us to have faith in His Word.

Why does God insists we have to believe in something we cannot see or feel, purely by faith in His Word, trusting Him just like a little child have to trust a parent? It is because the Lord loves and requires faith! He loves us because we believe Him, just because He said so. It is a way of showing our love and our full trust and confidence in Him. Stated differently, if God said it and it is recorded in the Bible, then we have to believe it whether or not we feel or see or understand it. We must believe with all our heart, mind, soul and spirit that what God promised or said will really happen or come to pass 100%. How do we know that God said it? The canonized Bible tells us so.

It’s like an innocent child who has to trust fully his parents even though he doesn’t always understand why he must do or not to do this or that. He just has to “do it because Daddy says so.” Because the child trusts his parents and feels secure in their love and sincerity for his well-being, he takes their word for it. That’s the way we should be with our God, We should say to Him, “Yes, sir! And believe it and do it simply because He says we should.

On May 26, 2005, then President of the Philippines, Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, came to Davao City to meet with ten representatives of the cross-section of the society in Davao Region XI at the Board room of the Marco Polo hotel. I represented the Davao City Chamber as its President. Various sectors of the Philippine society and population were then demonstrating angrily with various complaints against her administration. One of those present in the exclusive meeting with the President was well known businessman John Y. Gaisano, representing the Trade and Commerce Industry of Region XI. When asked to state his sector’s comment, Gaisano said, “Why is it Madam President, that you usually appoint military men in your cabinet, are there no qualified civilians?” She replied, “You know John, if I appoint a politician, a former congressman or a lawyer, they will usually debate with me if I announce a government policy, and it will take a long time. Whereas, a military man will always say, Yes, ma’am, and there goes the policy implemented immediately”. Everybody laugh. This is how God wants us to respond to Him. No questions asked. If the canonized Bible tells us, it must be so. We must believe it by faith with all our heart, mind, soul and spirit. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin July 14, 2012)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Keeping Your Word

The prince of all psalmists, King David, described a person of integrity as one “that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not” (Ps. 15:4 KJV). In another version, “who keeps his oath even when it hurts” (NIV). In the New King James Version (NKJV) “He who swears to his own hurt and does not change”. That means we keep our word even if it costs us dearly to fulfill it.

Keeping our word is a mark of our integrity. Oh, how we really admire, like, and love such a person. These kind of persons are rare, rarer than diamonds. When they give their word, no one will doubt that they will do it, come what may. These men of integrity can be trusted whenever they make a commitment. These rare species are destined to be good servant-leaders in the kingdom of God!

In the secular business world, integrity is equivalent to good credit. Good credit is equivalent to cash. When a businessman has a good credit, the banks will go after him and lend him capital to invest so he can generate more money, and the bank also prospers as well. And all because he keeps his word or pays on or before the due date of his account. Among my good paying clients belong to Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, Davao City Chapter. They started from scratch, literally speaking, but because they are men of their word – with good credit standing, they have become multi-millionaires. Praise God for all of them. 
During World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur escaped from Bataan, Luzon, Philippines, leaving behind Gen. Jonathan Wainright and the emaciated Filipino and US soldiers. According to him, he has closetophobia, so instead of taking the submarine, he took a PT-boat going to Cagayan in Mindanao down to Bukidnon where there was an American airfield called Del Monte Airport; took a double-body airplane which flew him to Australia. His aid-de-camp who later became a general himself, recounted that while on the plane, MacArthur scribbled his intended statement when he would land in Australia as he expected a press conference to take place. He allegedly revised his statement several times until it was compressed into just one short paragraph only. Indeed, upon reaching Australia, the newsmen with all their paraphernalia were waiting for him for whatever statement he would make in regard to his historic escape and mission. When asked the question why he surreptitiously left the Philippines, he answered: “The President of the United States (referring to President Franklin D. Roosevelt), instructed me to penetrate enemy lines, come to Australia and organize an allied offensive against Japan. I came through and I shall return.”

That promise “I shall return” was indelibly written in the heart of the Filipinos and was their encouragement and inspiration to fight their enemy. This promise has been written in the sands of the sea, painted in the trunk of coconut trees, in the walls of the houses. On October 20, 1944, by the grace of God, MacArthur was enabled to fulfill his promise, so the Philippines is what it is now – a free and democratic country. As a lasting legacy and memory of the great general-liberator, today in every city and municipality in the Philippine Islands, there is a MacArthur highway or avenue or street. In Leyte of the Visayas Islands, where he first landed as well as in Lingayen where he landed when he recaptured Luzon, there is a monumental shrine showing him wading the seashore, with President Sergio OsmeƱa, Carlos P. Romulo and others. MacArthur was merely a human being, a creation of God, but due to his integrity as a soldier and a gentleman, he tried, and was able, to fulfill his promise. Because of his integrity (may isang salita [a man of his word], history records him as an American Ceasar – a famous conqueror of Japan, the liberator of the Philippines.

Upon the other hand, here is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, by whom all things on earth and in heaven above have been created and have their existence, and He is God in the flesh (John 1:1-3, 14).

Just before he was crucified, to die as our substitute to fulfill the scripture that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23), he made this solemn pledge, which General MacArthur copied in his famous “I shall return” promise:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

2. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3. And if I go and prepare for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

x x x x x x x x x

and made an assurance to his disciples and believers:

19. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live ye shall live also” (John 14:1-3:19 KJV).

In Revelation, the last book of our canonized Bible, the Apostle John records:

7. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”

And John repeated for emphasis:
12. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (KJV).

If MacArthur by the grace and will of God was able to fulfill his promise “I shall return”, no doubt, and more so, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God and who is God in the flesh (John 1:1 and 14), a supernatural being of utmost integrity and without equal, can and will truly fulfill his promises that he “will come again” and because he lives (as he resurrected and now in the right hand of God the Father interceding for all believers [Romans 8:34], “ye (we) shall live also”, and when he comes back, he will be bringing his reward for every faithful believer, “according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12). Notably, whenever the Lord Jesus makes a promise or assurance, he does not make a specific date, month or year, to fulfill it. In Tagalog, “Maghintay kayo” (In English, wait with patience). Many of us (including myself) are impatient. In fact, he said: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels in heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36). So, if some religious “prophets” gives us a specific date, be wary about these self-proclaimed prophets. Remember, only God the Father knows the exact fulfillment of Jesus’ (God’s) promises.

Are you a believer? Are you working for the kingdom of God? What is your work in the kingdom? God has given us our individual talents for use in the service of his kingdom. Is your talent teaching? Then teach. Are you a preacher? Then preach. Are you good at singing like Nora Aunor? Then, sing for the glory of God. Paul was a lawyer and a prolific writer and thus using his talent, he authored thirteen of the twenty seven books of the New Testament. More than half! Believers are all servants in the kingdom of God. Let us use or exercise whatever talent was given to us, so when the appointed time comes, we shall have a reward. The reward must be beyond our wildest imagination and dream, more than the most precious jewel that we know. Certainly, more than a gold ring or diamond for the pawnshop, and this reward is eternal (forever and ever without end).

There is one thing a true Christian of integrity gives and must keep – his word. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, July 7, 2012)