Saturday, February 23, 2013

Slow Down, Prosper And Live

            God. . . rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done (Genesis 2:2).

When I appeared last Monday in the chamber of the sala of brilliant (RTC) Judge Dax Gonzaga Xenos of Panabo City, Philippines, he posed to me the question, “Sir, are you not considering to retire?” I politely retorted, I will just “slow down”, and related that all retirees I know who abruptly retired and stopped their usual daily routine die earlier. I specifically gave the example of my assistant stenographer-typist in the Leopoldo M. Abellera Law Office (the classmate of President Ferdinand Marcos) in the late 50’s who became also a lawyer, and who later became a National Labor Relations Commissioner (NLRC) assigned at Cagayan de Oro Mindanao Station, who retired at age 65, and totally stopped doing anything but to enjoy his retirement pay and retired life, but died within the year. The Judge has no grey hair, so he addresses me Sir. This is not the first time that he talked to me because I have a number of cases before him, and during pre-trial conferences of the cases, we would see and talk to each other. I feel awkward and somewhat “ashamed” every time I hear him address me “Sir”. I feel I don’t deserve it because of his stature and position.

In the story of creation, God established a pattern of work and rest, which is a model for all of human beings. For six days God worked to complete His creation of all that is in the world and bring order to our world. But on the seventh day, after He had finished all His creative activity, He rested. God demonstrated that rest is appropriate, needed, right and necessary. If our immortal God rested after his work, how much more for us – mortals – and just one among His creations? But man is God’s very special and highest and best creation, after his own image. One who could fellowship with Him and worship Him.

When I became a husband to my wife, I wished that our first child should be a boy and will look like me (or one after my own image). God partially granted my heart’s desire that our first child named Susan (after Susan Roces, then the favorite actress in Philippine cinema) according to many is my “look alike”. She became a lawyer like me, but she is more successful in passing the bar examination in 1991 because she landed number nine out of 3,194 examinees that took the exam that year, or only 17.8% passed.

His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, showed us the importance of rest when He sat wearily beside a well after a long walk (John 4:6) and when He slept in the boat with His disciples (Mark 4:38). He also rested when He and His disciples got away from the crowds (Mark 6:31-32).

If the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, rested from His earthly ministry, we, His creation (John 1:3) need also to rest from our work as well. Some, if not many, however, rest too long and too often, and these become poor and destitute, for it is written, “The hand of the diligent maketh rich, but the slothful [or “tamad” in Filipino language] become poor” (Prov. 10:4). In another rendition, “He becometh poor that dealeth with slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich” (KJV). The Wise King Solomon further said, “The soul of the sluggard desireth and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat” [or shall prosper] (Prov. 13:4 KJV). And he went on to say, “Seest thou a man diligent (or hardworking) in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean (or obscure) men” (Prov. 22:29 KJV).

I remember when I was President of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce in 2005 – 2007, ten of our selected officers and members (including myself) conferred and dined with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the conference Hall of Marco Polo in Davao City. To mention some of the significant personalities, John Y. Gaisano, of the Gaisano City Mall of Davao, Atty. Lorenzo of the banana industry, Father Samson, then the President of the Ateneo de Davao University.

You want to prosper beyond measure? Be diligent or hardworking in your business, but be sure take a rest so you will enjoy at least a three score and ten life span. Our times of rest refresh us for times of service.

If our body, soul, and spirit are to function at their best, time of rest is needed to renew our strength. Even machines have to rest, otherwise it will wear out easily and very soon. Our life existence and activities is not just for a 100-meter dash, it is a three score and ten (Psalm 90:10 [70 years]) marathon or even more (fourscore) if we live according to God’s prescribed rules on activities, food, righteous living, and enough rest. You will not be out of “market” because remember at seventy or beyond, if you were diligent in your business like Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and retired Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas, you would have enough and vast experience in life. “Experience is the best teacher”.

The great leader Moses was commissioned by God at eighty years old to liberate the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. He effectively worked for another forty years. Abraham the great patriarch of the Israelites was commissioned by God at age seventy-five to lead his chosen people. Caleb at age eighty-five said that he was as strong as when he was forty-five years old. These leaders never retired: they merely slowed down lived prosperously up to the end of their lives.

FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, February 23, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

God Is Love

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). Only the Godly know how to truly love. Who then is a true lover of God and men?

The verse “God is love” implies much more than that God demonstrates His love for mankind, His very special creation above all creations, His “Obra Maestra”, so to speak. It means that love is the essence of God’s character. We will never be able to measure in our human perspective the depths, heights and width of God’s love for man. The Bible says, “God commendeth (demonstrate) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, he died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV). With man, it is the opposite. We only love those who show their love to us, and those who are good to us or are lovable. This is where we got the expression “love begets love”.

Real love is evidenced by action, not just a feeling. It results or produces selfless or sacrificial giving. “Your needs first before mine”. The greatest act of love is giving oneself for others; by serving others with no thought of receiving anything in return. Jesus Christ is the best example. He gave up His life to substitute for us that we will have eternal life.

The Apostle John pointed out that we can begin to understand the love of God beyond description in words as we view the cross which signifies and proves the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ to substitute or atone for all of us – sinners, so that all of those who believe in Him, accept Him as their Lord and Savior and repent of their sins will have eternal life, like Him. This is what the Bible says:

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (or complete payment or satisfaction) for our sins.” (1 Jn. 4:9-10 KJV)

In another translation, the Bible says:

9God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (NLT).

In other words, the spiritual application is that as a sinner believes and accepts Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God and repent of his sins, all his sins are COVERED by the precious blood of Jesus, so God the Father will no longer see the sins but only the blood of his only begotten Son covering the sinner - - us - - as “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (John 3:16).

As we see Christ nailed to, and dying in substitution for all sinner-believers in, the cross of calvary we catch a glimpse of the unfathomable (or without measure and without comparison) love of God for all sinner-believers. Unfathomable and without measure because who will ever voluntarily offer himself to die for someone as substitute before knowing that the substituted one also loves him as much? Only Jesus Christ thus far. No one else loves like Him. It is said that Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, died for his country, but he did not voluntarily die; he was executed by the Spaniards for writing the Noli Me Tangere and the El Felibusterismo which attacked the bad practices of the Spanish priests and government officials. Rizal had no choice. His death ignited a revolution in the Philippines which ultimately resulted to our independence from foreign power.

John went on to point out that if God is love, His children (all believers) should resemble or re-echo the love of God (1 John 4:11-21). “And there shall be, like people like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them for their doings” (Hosea 4:9 KJV). “Like father, like son”. Who is our Father? Jesus prayed “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). The great Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians defined the characteristics of true love as follows:

“4 Love is patient (or longsuffering), love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking (or selfish), it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:4-8 NIV).

Do we reflect all these characteristics?

Consequently, if there is no warm glow (or indication or sign of love as above-indicated) in our hearts and actions for our brother (especially the Christian brothers), if we do not thrill to the lovely and wonderful name of Jesus, we may well question the reality of our conversion experience, or our Christianity, or our being a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Thus, John continued further: “If someone says: ‘I love God’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?” (vs. 20 NLT). So, one test of true love is that even if one does not see personally God or someone, just as we no longer see God or Jesus Christ these days, still his love for God and that for someone is evidenced in one’s thoughts, words and actions, or deeds.

Thus, a true lover is a Christian or disciple of Christ who shows God’s love in his thoughts, words and actions or character and in his dealings with his fellowmen. And he loves and serves God in any capacity he is able to do according to the talent that God has bestowed upon him.

Therefore, a true Christian should reflect the unfailing and matchless, so kind, so pure, so true love of God in all his thoughts, words and actions. Stated otherwise, one’s “transformed” character reveals his Christianity. In the words of Jesus Christ, “born again” (John 3:3).

(FGFMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin February 16, 2013)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

God Always Keep His Word

I once had a client who, whenever I make a request, will never say no, but will always answer yes, but only a few he will fulfill.

I also have a client who, even if I don’t ask, will give me something valuable like SUV vehicle, and other cars, as a reward for winning a “big” and important case for him. This client, by the way, has the largest assembly and rebuilding plant not only in Mindanao but in the Philippines, so he can afford to be that generous.

I have a client who, whenever he travels abroad, without fail thus far, would bring home a branded imported T-shirt for me which he personally delivers to my office. And he oftentimes travel abroad.

The latter two class of clients, unlike the first, are very successful and blessed in their businesses because truly as Jesus Christ have promised, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). It is so nice and invigorating to have friends and acquaintances like those I have described above.

Jesus Christ has a virtue more remarkable than the clients I just described. He is beyond compare in His generosity and gift giving and love and concern for people. In fact, the Word of God says, “But God commendeth (or demonstrate) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, He died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:8-9 KJV). This is the best gift and reward – the salvation of our soul. It is not only a material gift or reward: it is an spiritual and eternal gift.

Whenever God makes a promise, 100% he will faithfully comply. It may take a long time like His promise of a son to Abraham and Sarai - - 25 years, but surely it will be fulfilled. However, many of the promises of God are conditional. For example, his promise of eternal or everlasting life is conditioned upon our “believing in Him” (John 3:16). Another example is what Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5 KJV).

Being born again in water is the natural birth in the flesh, or being born out of our mother’s womb. Being born in the Spirit is being transformed from the natural man into spiritual when a man hears the gospel (or good news) that only Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God can save him from hell, and this man believes what he heard or read from the gospel, and becomes a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This is, what has been discussed above, the so-called doctrine of “born again”, which is the sinner’s passport to heaven. Like the wind that we never see with our eyes, so is being born again in the Spirit. As with the wind that we do not see, we can see however the effects. Thus, we know where the wind blows. So also in being born again, we do not see anyone born for the second time or in the spirit, but we see the second birth by a transformed behavior or life. Thus, one who used to speak bad words now only words of edification. One who used to gossip is no longer a gossiper, and so on and so forth. In other words, he can be described in one word: Christlike in his thoughts, words and deeds. This man or woman can be trusted in his/her word.

If God makes a promise and that promise is written in the canonized Bible, it is sure to happen or it will really come to pass. We who have put our trust in Jesus Christ (God in person) for our salvation can be sure that God will keep His word. Because “He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23). He, refers to God (Jesus Christ in person). The author of Hebrews encouraged believers to boldly “draw near” to God, confident that He has accepted us and our sins have been forgiven (v. 22). And we are to encourage one another to be faithful to Him because we know that He will one day return for us [referring to Jesus Christ] (vv. 24-25) and abide (Rev. 21:3) and reign with him forever and ever (Rev. 22:5).

Being a follower or disciple of Christ is doing or acting like Jesus Christ, like what his original 12 disciples did – worship God, serving God, showing LOVE and concern for others, to spread the gospel, etc.

The most important gospel (or good news) is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This proves that Jesus’ promise of resurrection on the last day is true because he proved it by his own resurrection, and thereafter lived forevermore. He is now in the right hand of God the Father interceding for the sinners (for us who will repent, accept and receive Him as Savior and Lord). No religious leader or anyone for that matter ever resurrected yet – only Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God, thus far. Lazarus resurrected by Jesus’ command, to show the power of God (His power also), but he died again, and has not yet resurrected up to this day.

But someone will ask, but I am a simple farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a soldier, how can I be like the disciples of Jesus Christ? The Bible tells us, “You have to remain in the work, vocation or profession where you are found by God. You don’t have to abandon or resign from your work. You can serve the Lord God whatever your vocation or work may be. Thus, the Bible says, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called” (1 Cor. 7:20 KJV). In another translation, it says, “You should continue as you were when God called you (NLT [New Life Translation]).

We have a hope that is based on the trustworthy promises of God. Trust the LORD with all thine heart (Prov. 3:5 KJV). Our future is secure. God has always proven Himself to be as good as His word or promise.

(FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, February 9, 2013)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Four Basic Essential Spiritual Truths

There are four basic essential spiritual truths for anyone to know and embrace to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

First: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

No matter how good we are, we always fall short of the glory of God. Pilate said, “What I have written I have written” (John 19:22). So, human inadequacy was in the past, now and forever, as it is written in the scriptures. We are by nature sinners who stand guilty and condemned before our God. By our thoughts and actions, we have disobeyed God’s perfect standards. But thanks be to God, for His only begotten Son whom He sent to save us, has solemnly promised, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24 KJV).

Second: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We are helpless to save ourselves. No, we can never on our own efforts, save ourselves. Forgiveness is a gift to be received by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, not a reward that can be earned. Thus, the Bible says: “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).

And we have to pass through Jesus Christ. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). There is no other way. Any other way is merely a waste of TIME and EFFORT.

Third: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Because of His love for us, God provided salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. He became a member of the human family, lived sinlessly, and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, or in substitution for the sinner (Isaiah 53:5-12). These Old Testament verses is the anchor of the statement of Apostle Paul when he said: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3 KJV).

Fourth: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Being then a believer of Jesus Christ, the Bible says:

“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).

Salvation is an individual matter and requires a personal response on the part of any one who wants to be saved. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

All who acknowledge and repent of their sins and believe and accept Jesus Christ as the only Son of God become children of God. Where do children live? With their parents. Being a child of God, you and I will live with Him in heaven. This is the eternal destiny of all children of God.

(FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin February 2, 2013)