Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Most Valuable Gift Ever

This is Christmas season once again. Everyone expects gifts from people whom they have served and showed extra care and attention. Somehow a gift is a measure of the appreciation or love and concern of the beneficiaries of faithful service with extraordinary care and attention.

What is the most valuable gift ever? It is God’s gift of His only begotten Son to a sinful world. How can one receive this inestimable gift of God to man which the Apostle Paul described as “His unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15 KJV)? Very simple but difficult for the unbelieving and those with philosophical mind to understand. When we say philosophical mind, we mean a person who requires correct reasoning or logic for all things in order to believe just like Christ’s disciple named Thomas, who 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 a logical or philosophical mind, evidence is needed. Stated otherwise, without any evidence which he can see or touch, he will not believe. However, reading further the scriptures, Thomas changed his stance in this wise:

26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (“vs. 26 up to 29” KJV)

This is the trouble with intellectual and educated people - - they are like Thomas. These are the people who require “reason” or concrete evidence for them to believe. This is not so with spiritual matters. This is illustrated in the following episode:

18 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
(Matt. 18:1-5 KJV)

Notice the phrase “little children” and the word “humble”. Little children would not know how to reason, and they do not care to know the reason for anything. They will believe and do what we the older ones, tell them without requiring any reason or evidence. And these little children are humble. Meaning, they don’t have any pride, or what we might say, “I know better than you” attitude. Going back to the question, how can one receive the gift? The scriptures answer it this way:”

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9 KJV).

Thus, Jesus Christ received by us in our heart by His grace through faith in him, is the greatest gift. And God the Father gave us this gift for this reason: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV). Have we received God’s gift? Through faith in Him we can have complete forgiveness of sins and life that never ends.

If we have received Jesus Christ in our hearts, by faith in Him as our Lord and only Savior, then even if we don’t receive any material gift from someone this Christmas season, we shall have a Merry Christmas!

Jesus Christ is the greatest gift that any man can receive by faith in Him.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Giving Our Best For The Master

A story is told of a certain Rudolph, a young musician in Vienna with a burning desire to write a symphony. He was able to compose one finally after several try. After writing and rewriting it several times, he showed the same to some of his closest friends and asked for their honest opinion. All those he consulted, without exception, told him that it was an excellent work, and congratulated him with all sincerity. That inspired him, so Rudolph continued to go over it, rewriting it numerous times again, polishing and perfecting what he hoped would be a masterpiece. Finally, he was ready to present it to the public.

The orchestra performed his symphony well and beautifully. After the performance ended, there was a brief pause. Then, the audience broke out in thunderous applause eloquently signifying and confirming the excellent work done by Rudolph. However, he seemed not satisfied because he remained unmoved and unsmiling, until a matured grey-haired man approached him. The man placing his hands on his shoulders and shaking tightly his hand said, “Well done, Rudolph! Well done!” Only then did he smile with satisfaction from ear to ear. He had received approval from the one he wanted most to please – his respected and “idolized” mentor. This is the commendation we should expect after we have done a work or service for our God.

Recognition from people we serve is indeed encouraging, but more important above anything else is our God’s “Well done, good and faithful servant” approval of our work. It is God’s approval that really matters and counts!

It is said that the acclaimed genius painter for all times Michaelangelo sacrificially work on his numerous “Obra Maestra” paintings very laboriously, minutely and for long hours and days. So with the genius and well-known musician Beethoven, before he received the accolade awarded to him. The genius Thomas Alva Edison who invented the incandescent lamp had to experiment several times before he succeeded. The list of these class of geniuses is unending. The point is: Be patient, diligent and devoted to your work until you are satisfied that you have done your best.

If these geniuses work that much and that hard, how much more for us who are not? “There is no glory without sacrifice”.

In writing articles for our FGBMFI bulletin – the one and only in Philippine setting, one can imagine the time devoted by all the writers in thinking what to write about; the research that they make on the Bible and Bible concordance for applicable verses and parables or events to illustrate the truth of what they are writing; the precious moments spent by them for writing, rewriting, correcting and rewriting again before their work is printed in our bulletin! This must be in the mind and heart of the wisest of all men, King Solomon, when he wrote “… these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Eccl. 12:12 KJV).

As a constant contributor week after week for a number of years now to our FGBMFI bulletin, I can identify with the sacrifices in rewriting, correcting and rewriting again and again and, of course, the “joy” of the above-named geniuses, especially when someone would comment, “I read your nice article”. Oh, what a joy beyond words could express! Such unsolicited comments or commendations cannot be quantified in terms of millions of gold or silver and serve as enough encouragement and inspiration for the writer’s constant sacrifices in time in the wee hours of the morning, when most people are yet soundly asleep. What is most important and satisfying to the soul who gives his best efforts to produce articles for our bulletin, is our master’s commendation, “well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21).

Writing articles for our Saturday bulletin is a work for the Lord, and this is done with tremendous sacrifices. The Apostle Paul, a lawyer and member of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court) and a prolific writer of 13 books of the New Testament (to include Hebrews) wrote: “Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58 KJV).

The Apostle John wrote, ascribing it to the LORD Jesus, “and, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12). What is this reward? Only God knows, but it must be the best, beyond our wildest imagination because it comes from God the creator of all beings and things. Because God is omniscient (He knows everything) He will know what reward is needed by, and fits the qualification and talent of, the recipient.

Our FGBMFI Davao City Chapter will give various awards during its 2013 anniversary celebration, and this gesture is very commendable and encouraging to all the contributor-writers, but the highest and most coveted award is the reward coming from our God, “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Saturday, December 14, 2013

To Be "Faithful Unto Death" Just Be Faithful Today

Be faithful unto death,” the LORD God revealed to Apostle John, “and I will give you a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10 KJV). This is also applicable and true to all believers of Jesus Christ.

When we think about trying to be faithful for the rest of our life, that is perhaps too long a time and seems impossible. What if we live up to the scriptural age of three score and ten (70 years) or even more than that like Capt. Remegio Celeste, Emmanuel Go, Engr. Bon Merced and Engr. Rudy Junsay, to name some in FGBMFI, Davao City Chapter. But what about today? We may have had our trials and tests, or we may have gotten discouraged and failed; or we may have made mistakes or have sinned, but have we still got our faith today? If so, then we might say we have full faith today.

In the King James version of the canonized Bible, it appropriately says, “NOW” (capital letters which emphasizes a present tense), “faith is the substance (something we can see, touch or read) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, for by it the elders obtained a good report” (Heb. 11:1-2). Then, the Bible enumerates the names of men chosen by God (so-called Elders) with proven faith, although some of them have not really seen actually in their lifetime the things promised to, and hoped for, by them.

We can only love one day at a time, so also we can only be faithful one day at a time. We should not worry about when we were not faithful yesterday because yesterday is past and shall no longer return. We should not also worry whether we are going to be faithful tomorrow for tomorrow may not come to us anymore, but do our best to be faithful at least today. That is to say, we just be faithful one day at a time.

The only faith we need is what we have got right now. Just have faith for this moment, right now, one moment at a time. Just be faithful for one moment, one hour, one day at a time, until we will finally inherit an eternal crown of life (Rev. 2:10), and will reign with Him (Jesus Christ) for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6), and “forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5).

One by one. Step by step as when we climb the stairs. Slow by slow until we finally reach the end of time on earth or the end of our life.

History tells us that the ancient and beautiful City of Rome was built in seven years.

When I built our residential house in Davao City, Philippines, because I was afraid to borrow money, lest I suffer the fate of some of my clients and people I know who suffered foreclosure of their houses and lands because they built their beautiful houses in lots out of loans obtained from the bank and failed to pay. The Bible tells us, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8 NIV). The Filipino Tagalogs say: “Huwag kang umutang kahit kanino man liban lang sa utang na loob”. (Don’t be indebted to anyone except a debt of gratitude). This kind of debt can be paid with LOVE in various ways. For this reason, I built our modest residential house in seven years like the City of Rome, on a land I bought on installment in five years without borrowing money from anyone.

Also, when I built on a 650 Sq. M. commercial lot which I also bought on installment basis for five (5) years without borrowing money from anyone, a 2-storey fully concrete law office building with granite tiles as flooring on both floors and in a central location in the same city just about 200 meters away from my residence, it took me four years, because again, I did not borrow money from the bank or from anyone. After finishing the commercial building, I was at peace and relaxed as I did not have to worry about any loan to pay.

When I built both of our residential house, and my law office building, I followed the advice of Dr. Jose Ebro, Sr., the father of my former professor in law and my boss in my early practice of law, when he said: “You certainly have some farmer-clients who have first-class building materials in their farms like molave, tindalo, manggachapoy (for alternate flooring) and narra and dao (for paneling), ask them as part of your attorney’s fee for these classic building materials, they will just be too glad to give to you freely”. He told me this when I lavishly appreciated the beautifully varnished and impressive flooring of molave alternately with tindalo, and paneling of his house in one of my visits to his home. He was, in his younger days, a well-known, respected and successful income- wise practicing physician in Davao City, Philippines. He said that he asked those building materials from his farmer-patients.

Also, an older experienced lawyer from Manila, Philippines, in a certain conference in a Manila hotel involving our mutual client, told me: “Very rich clients are usually stingy, but ask for what is abundant in their possession (except money) and they will just be too glad to give you.” I applied this formula to my Korean car rebuilding and assembler client, the largest not only in Mindanao but in the entire Philippines, and indeed, I have more cars that I need, even what I want.

Believing in the adage “experience is the best teacher”, I followed their advice, and indeed, the Word of God is true, “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7 KJV). But when you ask, be dead sure that you have a “connection” with that someone or have done something spectacular either by service or loan (utang na loob in Tagalog), so your request will not be denied.

Be faithful to God/Jesus in person unto death, and he will not only give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4), and more importantly, an honored place in heaven is reserved for you. This is the only requirement of God. Only be faithful.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Seeking Advice Of Godly Counselors

All of us at one time or another have to face difficult situations in life. Somehow we reach a cross-road of events and circumstances where we are called to make a decision.

In 1962, then U.S. President John F. Kennedy faced a crucial problem of his Presidency. The problem was what to do when Premier Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union who had delivered nuclear missiles to Cuba which could be a launching pad for a nuclear attack to the U.S. main land. The world held its breath as the US and the Soviet Union stood at the brink of nuclear war. President Kennedy demanded the immediate removal of the missiles. Consequently tensions were at an all-time high.

President Kennedy then phoned three former US presidents to get their advice, namely: Herbert Hoover who had faced the economic problems of the Great Depression in the 1930’s; Harry S. Truman who had ended World War II; and 5-Star Gen. Dwight Eisenhower who had served as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, and who when he was yet a colonel in the U.S. Army had served as Aid-de-Camp of 5-Star Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines. Each former President had valuable insights to share. Thereafter, President Kennedy conferred with all of his White House Consultants-Advisers, and a balanced course of action defused the crisis. Consequently, a Third World War was averted.

The crisis facing us may not be as crucial as the one that faced President Kennedy, but whether big or small, it is always advisable to consult the experts, the reputable personalities, depending on the magnitude of the problem and what is the problem about.. The final consultant, however, is God. Through the Bible, we ask ourselves: what does the Scriptures say? Hence, the absolute necessity of knowing the Scriptures, since we can no longer talk to God or Jesus Christ personally.

The Wise King Solomon said: “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety (Prov. 11:14).” The word translated “counsel” is a Hebrew nautical term used for steering a ship. The wisdom of godly consultants can help steer us in the right direction. We should at all times seek the advice of counselors who are perceived as wise and are godly.

A truly wise person is open to the counsel and insight of others, especially to those God-fearing ones.

Once in the past when I was a young practitioner of the law profession, my former boss, Atty. Leopoldo M. Abellera, then a respected and well known practitioner in Davao City; a classmate of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos in the College of Law of the University of the Philippines, having been appointed as a Government Corporate Counsel then, and later as Justice of the Court of Appeals and concurrently a Board of Transportation Chairman (BOT) which was in charge of land, air and sea transportation businesses of the Republic of the Philippines, asked me to join him in the government. It was a very attractive offer in terms of “extra income”, and influence, so to speak bluntly, with a high possibility and chance for me to be appointed to a high government position suitable to my qualification while President Marcos was in power, but after consulting my own father whom I perceived to be a godly father, some well-meaning friends and relatives (as I was not then “born again”), I merely relied on my common sense, I politely declined the generous offer. Instead, I decided to continue engaging in my private practice. Looking in retrospect, especially after President Marcos was deposed, I do not regret my decision. I am where I am now in my law practice because I consulted others who are godly and have decided rightly.

Thus, when we face any crisis, it is a must that we seek the advice of God-fearing counselors for our guidance. Ultimately to be assured of sound decisions, we should not only seek godly human counselors, but Our God through prayers and His Divine Guidance.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

For God's Eyes Only

The recent tragic and sudden death of more than four thousand people as of last count, and injuries to numerous citizens in our country and the devastation on properties brought about by super typhoon “Yolanda” which hit the City of Tacloban in Leyte, Visayas islands, Philippines, last month; the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that took place in Cebu, Bohol and the surrounding provinces also in the Visayas, (October 2013) moved many philantrophic citizens and organizations all over the world to make donations for the family of the victims. Thanks God for all of those kind hearts who showed the Love of God and love for their neighbor in need.

Some people have remarked: “But where is politician so and so, we have not seen him/her on TV doing something for the victims”. Perhaps they gave their donations but asked not to be announced. Some also remarked, “Mr. Politician so and so is making appearances on TV for political purposes only”. Don’t be quick to judge. What does the scripture say?

Our Lord Jesus Christ himself said:

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt. 6:1-4, NIV)

Obscurity and anonymity in doing good is scriptural but it is difficult to perform in public without wondering what impression we are making on others. We worry over the extent that our reputations are being enhanced or damaged. And therein lies our peril: To the degree that we seek human recognition, we forfeit God’s approval. On the other hand, to lose the admiration of men and women may turn us to seek God’s approval only. The Bible says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).

Here is a test on the motive for our gifts or donations: Are they done for God’s eyes only? If so, though overlooked and unnoticed by others, or that our benevolent act is not seen in TV or acknowledged in the newspapers, we have our Father’s acknowledgment and reward. This is more and most important.

Our Lord Jesus repeatedly told His disciples: “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matt. 6:4). This is our assurance as well. Every unobserved gift of money, goods, time, energy (for those supervising the proper attention to the victims and distribution of the donations, those repacking and serving in any capacity) and who showed love and concern; every prayer we whisper in our Father’s ears; every help done not for publicity but in sincerity of purpose to help because of Love, will be fully rewarded in due time. In the end, His “Well done, good and faithful servant. . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”, is all that matters (Matt. 25:21).

Stated otherwise, we give or donate, money, goods, time and effort not for publicity but because we LOVE our neighbor in need. This will deserve a reward from our Father in heaven.

There is an example in the Bible about DORCAS (also known as Tabitha):

This woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and she died: . . . and all the widows stood by him. . . weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which DORCAS made, while she was with them. But Peter (the Apostle) kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha (DORCAS) arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he (Peter) gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and . . . presented her alive” (Acts 9:36-41 KJV).

It pays to be benevolent! This was the reward of God to DORCAS - - resurrection from the dead and surely eternal life in fellowship with God/Jesus Christ in person forever and ever.

Our Father who sees in secret will reward those who have shown their love for their neighbor by their acts of LOVE without expecting anything in return.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

It Pays To Serve God/Jesus With Diligence And Dedication

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19 KJV). Stated differently, the Apostle Paul, a lawyer and a member of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish Supreme Court) said: “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19, NLT). Notice the phrase “which have been given to us in Christ Jesus”. This means that only through Christ Jesus, not through the intercession of anyone else, that our needs are supplied.

God does not only supply our needs, but also our wants. Thus, the Bible says, “Delight thyself also in the LORD (God/Jesus Christ); and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4 KJV). What is the desire in your own heart? A career that suits your God-given talent? A Godly husband or wife? Lands, houses, cars, a life of peace and quiet? All of these are Godly desires of the heart of man, and are needed by us to live a satisfactory and comfortable life. Serve the LORD God with delight (or gladness, faithfulness and dedication, not grudgingly) and He will grant all these things to you.

Most of the Lord’s blessings and rewards are dependent upon obedience and worthiness, on doing a good job or our assigned ministry in the kingdom with all dedication and faithfulness. The Lord does not reward loafing or laziness; He rewards faithful hard work and diligence. “The hand of the diligent maketh rich, but the slothful (lazy, always sleeping, always playing, always resting, lacking in dedication) shall become poor” (Prov. 10:4). Who becomes the Valedictorian or Cum Laude in the school? Of course, the diligent-study-hard student. Who excels in his business/endeavor or profession? The diligent, honest and hardworking and dedicated businessman or professional. Who gets promoted in salary and position? The hardworking, diligent, dedicated and honest employee. Yes, let us work as hard as we can and be faithful, dedicated and honest in our job or work or ministry.

The minute we start obeying and working with diligence and faithfulness, God will also start doing His part. He will bless or promote us beyond our human imagination. “For promotion come neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another” (Psalm 75:6-7 KJV). This exactly happened to the prophet Daniel when by the revelation of the Holy Spirit he interpreted the “forgotten” dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible says: “Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and Chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:48 KJV).

When God/Jesus Christ makes a promise or promises, 100% He will fulfill in His appointed time. Believe them, claim them, step out by faith and do our part, that is being diligent, faithful, dedicated and honest, and expect the LORD God/Jesus Christ to fulfill them now on this earth and in the world to come (heaven).

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Love is the Reason and Purpose for all Things

Some theologians have counted all the laws in the Old Testament to be 613 in all.

God the Father sent and gave His only begotten Son to put an end to all the religious laws by giving one law that fulfills them all – love for God and fellow man: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:37-40 NLT). Jesus’ law of love is all encompassing and goes above and beyond all of the other laws put together.

God’s only law as expressed and summarized by Jesus Christ is now LOVE. As long as something is done in love – unselfish, sacrificial love, God’s love – then it is lawful in God’s eyes. We are not judged by how well we keep the endless, legalistic commandments of the old Mosaic Law.

By virtue of the aforequoted verse of the canonized Bible, we are now judged only by whether we believed in Jesus Christ and have accepted Him as our only LORD and Savior, or how much love for God and our neighbor we have, and how much we let love guide our actions, for “. . . love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8 KJV).

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ (or by believing in Christ), and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16 KJV).

The word justified is very significant and relevant. Theologically speaking, it means “just-as-if” we have not sinned if we believe in Jesus Christ. This is an affirmation of what the Apostle John said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth (have faith) in Him shall have an everlasting (eternal) life” (John 3:16).

The New Living Translation (NLT) is clearer: “And yet we Jewish Christians (believers of Christ) know that we become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ – and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will be saved by obeying the law” (Gal. 2:16 NLT).

The rule we must go by now in every case is this: Is it done in love? If we know we are acting in God’s love, then we can go ahead by faith, according to God’s Word.

What is the whole duty of man? Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived on earth, such that no one was wiser than him before and after him (1 Kings 3:12) said: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13 KJV). Our Lord Jesus expressed this Solomonic statement in His own words in a more understandable and practical manner, as follows: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-39). 

Jesus Christ, the master communicator, made it a more personal loving relationship between Him and us with others. Instead of “fear God”, He said, “love the Lord”. Instead of “keep the commandments,” He said, “love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” [or in this all the law and the prophets are fulfilled] (Matt. 22:40).

We will never be able to enjoy life to the full without God (or Jesus in person), because He has created our heart with a void (or vacancy), a hollowness, an emptiness, an aching void that only He can fill. He saved or reserved one spot in our heart, the very core of our life, for Himself without God/Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in our heart, something is lacking even though we have all the money, wealth, prestige and influence in this world.

Theologically speaking, it is said that the human heart is the center of all human emotions and will. That is why LOVE is symbolized by a HEART. He created us human beings after His own image and likeness” (Gen. 1:26) to LOVE Him. We are His creation, His child, and He wants us to be like Him. God needed someone to LOVE who would also love Him. By experience, as a human father, I wanted all my children to be like me whom I will love and care for and who will also love me. 

LOVE is the law in this Earth NOW, and in Heaven.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight

The old King James version of the Bible tells us, “NOW faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV). In the Life Application Study Bible otherwise known as the New Living Translation (or NLT), this is how it translates the verse in our modern English: “It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see” (Heb. 11:1 NLT). It is significant to note that the old King James version (or KJV) is “nearest” translation to the Greek original version of the New Testament in which said Testament has been written.

In a legal sense, when we talk of evidence, it is something we can see, read, touch or taste. In other words, an evidence is a substance that can be seen by our naked eyes, or can be read or touched or tasted by us.

The word NOW (capitalized in KJV) is very significant because it emphasizes the present - - NOW. Meaning, even now that things have not yet happened, the BELIEVER, although he has not yet seen the things said by Jesus or prophesied by the prophets, he believes without doubt in his heart that such things hoped for or predicted will truly happen, or as if they have already happened, seen and experienced by him.

Contrariwise, so many people today say, “I’ll believe it when I see it. Seeing is believing.” This was the reaction of Thomas, the disciple of our LORD Jesus. This, however, is no longer faith, because believing before seeing. Thus, the Lord Jesus said to Thomas, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Believing with all of our heart even before seeing, reading, touching or tasting is called FAITH. This is the faith that the author of Hebrews 11:1 had spoken of. Because if one can already see, read, touch or taste it, it is no longer faith, it is already REAL, no longer spiritual (or cannot be seen). There is no more need for faith. This is SAVING faith - - believing before seeing. Thus, the Lord Jesus said to Thomas, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). This is the normal and usual attitude of any human being, and sadly, even for the ordinary or nominal Christian. But that is not the way faith works as envisioned by our Lord Jesus Christ, and the prophets.

God wants us to trust fully and believe, first of all, His Word or whatever He says. He appreciates our faith to believe what we cannot yet see, read, touch or taste. He wants to see if we really have faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6 NIV).

For example, God says, “Launch out into the deep! Cast forth your nets and I’ll give you such a catch of fish there will not be room enough to hold it” (Luke 5:4-9). The disciples who were fishing the whole night caught nothing, but following the instruction of Jesus by faith, they cast their net on the other side of the boat, indeed they had “such a catch of fish there will not be room enough to hold it”. The Bible tells us, “With man it is impossible, but with God nothing is impossible, and all things are possible to those who believe” (Matthew 14:29-31; Luke 1:37; 18-27).

If God (Jesus in person) said it and it is recorded in the canonized Bible, 100% surely it shall come to pass. His Word can and will never fail. This is walking by faith, not by sight. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013


It is written in the canonized Bible that the Lord Jesus Christ himself said: “… Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name. And Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that ye be not troubled; for all these things shall come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matt. 24:4-8 KJV).

Last week an earthquake of the magnitude of 7.2 devastated the Islands of Cebu and Bohol, Philippines, wherein several hundreds died and were wounded, and buildings and houses collapsed and many houses were destroyed. Even old historical churches established by the occupying Spaniards in the fourteenth century were not spared.

There were similar devastating earthquakes that struck other nations in diverse places before, which prove that the Bible is really true. Indeed, our God is strong enough to shake diverse places in this world.

We who know Him as our heavenly Father through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, can also find comfort and courage in threatening circumstances like these. We are in the hands of One who is all-powerful and all-knowing. Nothing is too strong or hard for Him to control. But He is able to care for and protect His own no matter what happens, for “with God all things are possible and with Him nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37; 18:27).

In those life-threatening situations, we who are children of God and are trusting in the Lord can experience a deep, settled peace as we relax in the everlasting arms of our all-powerful God. Who can be our refuge and savior? Only God himself. Like the psalmist King David, we, too, can say, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust” (Ps. 18:2 KJV). He is the great and all-powerful God who can shake the world in His time and at anytime without further notice, as the notice was already given by God through His only begotten Son long before.

When the world around us is crumbling, God alone is the rock on which we, the believers, can cling to and trust our soul. It might be the end of our earthly life, but for the believer, it will be the beginning of an eternal life that God had promised: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5). Let us trust fully what our God had promised in His Word, for His Word is Truth.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Debt We Do Not Have To Pay

A story is told that at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., in the winter of 1777-78, George Washington, who later become the General of the US Army and President, and his troops were in utterly desperate situation. All of them were doomed to die. Gen. Washington appealed to the governor of Pennsylvania for help. One very rich citizen by the name of Jacob DeHaven, who lived near Valley Forge, was a staunch believer in the revolutionary cause. Responding to Washington’s appeal, he loaned him $50,000 in gold and $400,000 in supplies. In those days, such amount of money was so huge, especially if we convert that into our Peso value.

The army led by Gen. Washington survived the winter and the war, but after the war DeHaven was allegedly never repaid. He himself did not attempt to collect from Gen. Washington or from the U.S. government, even when Washington became President.

Similarly, because of sin and the penalty for sin, all mankind are doomed to die eternally. But because of the love of God for mankind, His very special creation, he gave his only begotten Son to die or receive the penalty of sin on behalf of all sinners to give them eternal life. The only requirement is that the sinner must repent, accept and receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as his LORD and only Savior.

There is a debt all of us sinners owe that we can never repay. I said, “us” because I include myself. It is the price Jesus Christ paid to give us liberty from the bondage of sin’s guilt and judgment. He redeemed us with His precious blood so that we might have spiritual freedom - - the freedom from the penalty of death or eternal damnation.

The Bible says, “You were not redeemed with ... silver or gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). “Grace to you and peace from … Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins” (Gal. 1:3-4).

Jesus wants nothing from us in return except our faith, our love, our gratitude, and obedience. This is not to repay Him for what he has done, but the only appropriate response to a loving savior of our soul, so those who will respond willingly (whosoever will) and in love will have eternal life and be in heaven with Him forever and ever. This is true love - - giving something very precious – His very life; life is in the blood – not expecting anything in return. This is how God love us. How do we respond to His love? “We love him (in return) because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). In fact, the Bible tells us: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 NIV).

When the LORD Jesus was asked by a lawyer who was a Pharisee, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” He answered: “Thou shalt love they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:36-40 KJV).

Paul speaking on the primacy of LOVE, said:

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13 1-3 NIV).

Stated differently, after we believe God and repent from all our sins, God needs only our reciprocal LOVE for him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as we love ourselves (Luke 10:27 KJV). “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1 KJV). No blood or money required. Only repentance and LOVE for God and our neighbor.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Salvation Is By Grace Of God Through Faith Plus Nothing

Grace is simply defined as unmerited favor from God. We don’t deserve it because we are sinners. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). In fact, we deserve to be punished with death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). Furthermore, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV). The Lord Jesus Christ redeemed all repentant sinners by pouring out his precious blood in the cross of Calvary. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold… but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19 KJV). Jesus Christ is God’s and our sacrificial lamb.

Jesus Christ is GOD’s gift of love to mankind. The Bible tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16 KJV). The Apostle John, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, continued: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17 NIV). “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18 NIV).

Being a gift from God the Father, we have to believe, receive and accept Jesus Christ by faith, and repent from all our sins, so we can attain eternal life. Similarly, if we do not accept or receive a gift given to us by someone, we will not own the gift. If we don’t believe and receive Jesus Christ by faith in our heart and repent from all our sins, then our soul cannot be saved.

We can’t pay enough to buy our way into heaven, to buy eternal life, to buy the happiness that Jesus brings. Accepting salvation through Jesus Christ by faith after our repentance is a work of God’s grace. “For by grace have you been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8-9 KJV). We cannot earn a gift or else it would not be a gift.

We cannot earn by good works our salvation, but when we are saved, necessarily, we are moved to do good works in the kingdom of God. Thus, the Word of God says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10 NIV).

Salvation is not a reward, it’s not pay, it’s not wages; it is a gift we can’t earn by any kind of works of our own. Our good works can’t save us. We are saved after we repent purely by faith in Jesus Christ, the gift of God to mankind, by His grace. Thus, heaven is full of repentant sinners, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

What is this saving faith? The canonized Bible defines what is a saving faith as follows: “It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see” (Hebrews 11:1 NLT).

Hence, as of now, we cannot yet see, but are yet hoping that we have eternal life, and we believe it simply because the Word of God says so. This kind of faith is otherwise defined as “taking God at His Word” or “blind trust and obedience to what God says in His word” (the canonized Bible). This is saving faith. Expressed in a different manner, we are saved purely by the grace of God by repenting, believing, receiving by faith in our heart Jesus Christ as our only Savior and Lord. The canonized Bible tells us, “I (Jesus Christ) am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Kingdom Of God And Heaven Here On Earth

The kingdom of God is not like an earthly kingdom with geographical boundaries. Instead, it begins with the work of God’s Spirit in people’s lives and in relationships.

The kingdom of God is necessarily connected with the idea of heaven. Heaven is described in Rev. 21:3-5 as a place where “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new”. This describes the “future heaven” or new heaven. This implies that there is an “old heaven”.

This means that even now, God’s invisible heavenly kingdom (which I call “old heaven”) is already in existence and in operation. It not only surrounds us, but is within us. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

If you have Jesus and are filled with the Holy Spirit, it has already entered you. If you lived in the continual heaven of His love, peace, and joy, you are already in Heaven in spirit. So, if you are looking for the invisible kingdom of God on earth, at this time you will only find it within your own heart and in the fellowship of God’s children.

We who have been found by God and have faith in God (in person Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit) have found heaven on earth. But those who don’t know God and His only begotten Son Jesus Christ (God in person) and the Holy Spirit and have no faith in Him (in Jesus) have nothing but fear and uncertainty on everything on earth.

Receive Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of God by faith into your heart and you’ll have a taste of Heaven here and now!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pray Fervently And God Will Supply

God, our heavenly father is so good - - very good. His goodness is beyond compare and beyond description in words. Name the best human father you know, but that human father will pale in comparison to the goodness of God. The reason is that God, our heavenly Father, is without limit in power; with him nothing is impossible; and he exists eternally.

The Bible tells us,

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7 NLT)

The phrase “as you live in Christ Jesus” is very significant. This simply means, one must have a relation with, or more accurately, must believe in God (Jesus Christ in person) so his prayer will be heard.

He (God) will give us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). All these verses indicate that one must be a believer of, or must have accepted Jesus Christ as his only Savior, God and Provider.

God can solve every and any problem; He will meet every need; He will even give us our heart’s desires if we please Him. He will give us what we ask for if we have faith in Him and in His power to grant. It is impossible to please God without faith. “Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Heb. 11:6 NLT). Our God is a God of miracles, and He can supply from some of the most unexpected sources.

There was a time, very recently, that I needed quite a large sum of money to meet my obligations. I already have scraped the bottom, so to speak, but the amount needed was not met. I tried to look at the list of my affluent and generous clients, but I personally was convinced that it is not appropriate for me to “beg” from them to preserve my self-respect and dignity. But I continued praying specifically for my financial need, pouring all my heart. Then, suddenly, from out of the blue sky, so to speak, a client who seldom pays me, recommended to me a rich client from Cotabato City who had a substantial land case in Davao City. Lo and behold, my acceptance fee alone sufficiently met my need.

I have learned that if we will be faithful to God; serve him with delight in the capacity that we are able and gifted; and stay in the center of His will; and specifically ask or pray to Him, He will be faithful to take care of all our need, even many of the things we want. And, the Word of God reminds us, to thank Him in advance even before we receive His positive answer (Phil. 4:6 KJV).

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Use Your Talent Or You Will Lose It

I worked as stenographer-typist in the law office of Atty. Leopoldo M. Abellera, then one of the acknowledged brilliant and successful practitioner of law in Davao City, Philippines. Before the integration of all bar associations in the Philippines, he was awarded the accolade “Lawyer of the Year.” Being the classmate of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the University of the Philippines, he was handpicked first as Government Corporate Counsel (GOCC). Thereafter, he was appointed Court of Appeals Justice and concurrently Board of Transportation Chairman (BOT), an office which regulates all the land, sea and air transport business in the Philippines. He carries the distinction of a justice who never rendered a decision because he spent most of his time at the BOT. The Word of God says, “where your treasure is, your heart will be” (Matt. 6:21). If we want to find someone, determine where his treasure is, there you will find that someone.

As my boss joined the government, I was taken in as stenographer-typist in the Credit and Collection Department of an American Corporation, the Koppel (Philippines), Inc., later re-named upon expiration of the parity rights of the U.S. government in 1974, as U.S. Industries Philippines, Inc. It dealt in the same line of business as its predecessor corporation, that of selling bulldozers, tractors, Skagits, Generating Electric sets, and all machineries and implements used in the logging industry. The main industry of Mindanao then was logging. The richest businessmen then were those engaged in logging.

I obtained my college degree in law by working in this company and as a part time College Instructor in Stenography in the Rizal Memorial College of Davao City. I had so much money then that I supported the education of my seven younger brothers and only sister until all of them graduated in college.

Despite my hectic work schedule, by the grace of God, I graduated Valedictorian in my law degree. When I took the Bar exam in 1962, only nineteen per cent passed out of more than three thousand six hundred examinees. In our school, out of 17 candidates (including four repeaters) merely by the grace of God, only myself passed. That was the toughest bar exam then ever since – only 641 candidates passed or only 19%. The examinees after the exam in International Law, to dramatize their protest, burned their books and notes. The examiner in that subject was then the newly retired Dean of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines, Vicente Sinco, the author of a text book in International Law prescribed for all Law Schools in the Philippines. The protesters, (excluding myself) badmouthed him as the examiner who wanted only five per cent (or cinco) to pass the bar exam.

When I was already a lawyer, my professor Atty. Jose R. Ebro, Jr., who graduated from Ateneo de Manila and who owned the Tagum Electric Company; the Rural Bank of Tagum and the Tagum Ice Plant, saw me at Koppel (Philippines) when he bought a Generating Electric Set. He invited me to join his law office because he was busy in his businesses. The allowance and perks were so attractive, so I joined him. Being very much satisfied with my income and privileges, I worked with him for twenty-five long years. But due to the demise of my boss’ in-laws, he sold all his businesses in Davao and left Davao City to manage the businesses of his in-laws in Manila, Pampanga Province in Luzon, and Iloilo in the Visayas. His in-laws, had a 13 storey building along Roxas Blvd., Manila. It was a nice imposing and well built building with first class materials, so the 6th to the 13th Floor was rented by the U.S. Embassy, the lease rental being in U.S. dollars.

On the 26th year of my law practice, I decided to establish my own law office. God, by his liberal and manifold blessing, allowed me to acquire a 649 sq. m. lot in the Center of Davao City, where I constructed a custom-made 2-storey fully concrete law office building with enough parking space for clients.

I have not been using or practicing my talent in stenography and typing, so I can no longer take down steno notes now. Because our office have Secretaries I have not been typing anymore. Indeed, the Word of God is true, that if we do not use our talent, we will lose it.

My very efficient and extremely bright personal Secretary Emelita “Eming” Gofredo-Babao had worked with me for the last twenty-two years, although she passed the Civil Service Exam which can easily land her a good job in the government.

In my younger years, I used to be assigned as preacher and teacher of the Word of God in our church. But, sometime in the year 2003, for health reasons, I suddenly stopped. Now, and I have not tried again, I think I can no longer preach and teach because I have not used my gift or talent in preaching and teaching.

I recall that having been awarded the accolade “Best Teacher of the Year” for six successive years in our church, my prize was a sponsored trip to the U.S.A. to attend an International Convention of our denomination. At the same time, I was the guest speaker in a certain U.S.-Filipino Camp in Sonora, California, U.S.A. Thereafter, I was itenerized to various churches of our denomination, so the church authorities said, my expenses will be refunded. That gave me a break in my ministry. Upon my voluntarily retirement as Sunday School Teacher, I decided to be active in my ministry in FGBMFI, Davao City Chapter, which is now my full-time ministry in the kingdom of God.

Lately, being then the President of FGBMFI, Davao City Chapter, due to the gracious sponsorship of the late Rev. Shiloh R. Haigh (an Australian Minister who chose to serve in the Philippines and in addition later in Taiwan), one of the Spiritual Advisers of FGBMFI, Davao City Chapter of the Saturday Bulletin of Davao City Chapter, and by the latter’s prodding that I should be a writer-contributor to our Saturday Bulletin, and endorsed by our perennial and very able Chapter Secretary, Ben Aquino, who himself is a prolific writer, I tried my writing talent on spiritual matters. After all, I recall some Judges, one of whom had become a Supreme Court Justice of the Philippines had personally acknowledged my talent in writing pleadings filed in court so, I tried to write for the Saturday Bulletin of FGBMFI. To demonstrate the sincerity of this Justice in complimenting me, in a case where my lawyer-opponent tried to question the award of my attorney’s fee, in denying the motion he said, “Atty. Bienvenido D. Cariaga, a young and diligent lawyer, deserves the amount of attorney’s fee awarded to him”. On appeal up to the Supreme Court, the decision was not reversed or modified including the award of attorney’s fee.

Fortunately, some of my friends in the fellowship appreciated my writings which inspired me to continue writing from Saturday to Saturday, despite my hectic schedule in my law practice. I appreciate very much and am encouraged by remarks of some of our fellowship members, like Engr. Roger Ragasajo, Engr. Eder M. Bacus, and others, when they tell me with a winsome smile, “I have read your article”.

I trust to God that He will allow me to use my talent in writing for the glory of God, as long as I live so I will not lose it.

The parable of the talent related in Matt. 25:14-30 is a good example to demonstrate this point of using our talent. In summary, for lack of space, in short, this parable is telling us:

The master in the parable divided the money among his servants according to their abilities. No one received more or less that he could handle. Failure of his trust would indicate only laziness or hatred toward the master. The bags of gold represent any kind of resource we are given. God gives us time, spiritual gifts or talents, and other resources according to our abilities, and he expects us to invest them wisely until he returns. We are responsible to use well what God has given us. The issue is not how much we have but how well we use what we have.

Jesus is coming back – we know this is true. Does this mean we must quit our jobs in order to serve God? No, it means we are to use our time, talents, and treasures diligently in order to serve God completely in whatever we do. For most of us, it means doing our daily work out of love for God.

The last man who received the bag of gold was thinking only of himself. He hoped to play it safe and protect himself from his hard master, but he was judged for his self-centeredness. We must not make excuses to avoid doing what God calls us to do. If God truly is our Master, we must obey willingly. Our time, abilities, and money aren’t ours in the first place – we are caretakers, not owners. When we ignore, squander, or abuse what we are given, we are rebellious and deserve to be punished.

This parable describes the consequences of two attitudes toward Christ’s return. The person who diligently prepares for it by investing his or her time and talents to serve God will be rewarded. The person who has no heart for the work of the Kingdom will be punished. God rewards faithfulness. Those who bear no fruit for God’s Kingdom cannot expect to be treated the same as those who are faithful.

So my fellow FGBMFI members, ask yourself: What is the talent or spiritual gift given by God to me for the kingdom of God? Once you have found the answer, use that talent or spiritual gift for the glory of God so you will not lose it (2 John 8).