Saturday, May 25, 2013

He Did Not Love Money

I humbly dedicate this article in memory of our departed member and Spiritual Adviser, Rev. Shiloh R. Haigh.

When we love someone or something, our thoughts, plans and actions are geared towards, or occupied by, that someone or something. We don’t want to part away with that someone or something, and we literally become “slaves” or subservient to that someone or something. And this makes us temporarily happy.

Do we want to be joyful here on earth and on the next life to come?

Much of our time (I said, “our” because that includes me), is spent acquiring wealth, particularly money and properties, which don’t last and which we can’t bring with us when we depart from this world.

The Lord Jesus Christ related a parable about a certain rich man whose obsession was to accumulate more material wealth, rather than striving for heavenly or spiritual wealth. The parable is vividly related by Jesus himself in this manner:

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21 NIV)

Notice the numerous “l’s” of the rich man in planning for material wealth for himself alone.

The Lord Jesus Christ was not teaching his disciples or us not to earn money. Nowhere does the Bible say it is wrong or sin to have money or things that money can buy. It is when money becomes the driving purpose of our earthly lives, and disregarding completely our spiritual lives on earth which should continue eternally with Jesus Christ in the new next world to come that money becomes a hindrance to our spiritual life. For then, like the rich man with his barns or storehouses or bank accounts, we end up pursuing the accumulation of things that eventually will be left behind by us, and our spiritual life becomes barren.

There is another parable related by our Lord Jesus himself about a certain rich man and Lazarus. In this parable, the rich man had no concern about his spiritual life, while poor Lazarus was impliedly spiritually rich. For our better understanding and appreciation, this is how Jesus related it.

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades (or Hell), where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
(Luke 16: 19-31 NIV)

There are many lessons contained in this parable, like the reality of hell which is a place of torment; that once in hell, one can no longer transfer to heaven; heaven is a place of comfort; the time to prepare for heaven is now, during our earthly life, NOT after life; our guide is the Bible (The books of Moses and the prophets); no one who dies can come back to evangelize. But for now, let us just concentrate on material wealth and eternal worth.

How tragic to live our entire lives enriching ourselves materially, only to end up with nothing of eternal worth. And if we just live our life accumulating material wealth and entirely disregarding our spiritual life like the two rich men of the parables, our next destination will be in hell.

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV).

To paraphrase Jesus’ words, it is much better to be rich toward God than to work for material treasures or wealth which do not last and will be left behind when our earthly life ends (Luke 12:21).

One of our Spiritual Advisers in FGBMFI, Davao City Chapter, Rev. Shiloh R. Haigh, passed away so quickly last May 19, 2013, also his birthday, at age 72. He was the most generous Minister in giving financial help that I have ever known in all my life. Usually ministers and evangelists expect to be given money, but not with Rev. Shiloh - - he gives money lavishly! He was not only a generous BELIEVER but also very dedicated and faithful in his preaching and evangelism ministry.

The lasting monument of his ministry is the establishment of a certain Christian school in Butuan City, Philippines, which is of eternal worth. The Lord Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die…” (John 11:25-26 KJV). His soul is alive and shall return to God, his creator (Ecclesiastes 3:21; 12:7). He did not love money, but was always ready and willing to part with it to help the needy. Rev. Shiloh’s soul now lives in comfort with Jesus Christ his Savior and Lord. Let us hope to God to meet him there.

(FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, May 25, 2013)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Our Most Valuable Treasure In Earth And In Heaven

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt. 16:26 KJV). This truth suggests that the most important thing in this world is the soul of man, not any material thing or treasure that we see with our naked eyes and can hold in our hands. We can own all the silver and gold in the world; all the precious jewels and diamonds; all the lands and buildings and all that is found in this world, but nothing compares to the value and importance of the preservation of man’s soul to whom the Lord Jesus promised to live with him in heaven eternally.

The importance of the soul of man to God is eloquently demonstrated by his sending His only begotten Son to suffer the supreme sacrifice of death by crucifixion to redeem the soul of man from the penalty of sin which is death (Rom. 6:23).

The Bible tells us that “Naked came I from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither” (Job 1:21 KJV). The Apostle Paul, reiterating this Old Testament precept said, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6:7 KJV). Again, the Lord Jesus also said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21 KJV). This suggests that we can also have treasures in heaven.

What then are these treasures in heaven above since we cannot bring our treasures on earth when we leave this world? The answer is: nothing else but the souls that will enter heaven in fulfillment of the command to “Go unto all the world and preach the gospel (the Good News) to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16 KJV). In a more detailed command to his disciples, the Lord Jesus commanded: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (Matt. 28:19-20 KJV).

Each day, you and I are writing the story of our lives by what we say and do as we serve God and mankind in our respective vocation or profession in life. Are we seeking the great, but often neglected, wealth of the Bible? The psalmist wrote: “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Ps. 119:72 KJV). He also said, “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches . . . Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (Ps. 119:14, 18). The “law” refers to the Ten Commandments, and the Testimonies are the words of God embodied in the entire canonized Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Therefore, we should not neglect to hear or read the canonized Bible that we “may see (or experience) wondrous things” of God.

The Bible is the written record written by Holy men of God who were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21), through which we get to know Jesus Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). Its nuggets of truth and wisdom are equally available to all of us. All we have to do is listen to the Word being preached or taught – “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Or we can read if we know how to read. If we have Christ (the wisdom and righteousness of God [1 Cor. 1:30] then all the things we have need of shall be added unto us (Matt. 6:33).

A life well-lived is directly related to a Bible heard or well-read and applied in our daily lives. As we live out our life story, let’s be sure to tap the treasure of God’s Word day after day. The Bible is a treasure house, where we can always find whatever we need from day to day for heart, soul, mind and spirit. Let us be sure to acquire as our treasure on earth a good Bible, the old King James version (KJV) which is a translation of the Hebrew and Greek originals nearest to the original manuscripts and preferably a New International version (NIV) which is easier to understand because it is our everyday English language, before acquiring jewelries, lands and buildings or other earthly things. Let us dig the pages of the Bible where there are treasures waiting for us to be tapped. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Jesus Christ) and all the things you have need of shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). If we have Christ in our heart, every need shall just follow!

Most important of all, we will know, believe, accept, receive, and LOVE Jesus Christ as our LORD and only SAVIOR. The evidence of this is our Christlike character which is described in Galatians 5:22-23 as fruit of the Holy Spirit, namely: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. “Ye shall know them by their (spiritual) fruit” (Matt. 7:16 KJV). Do we reflect these characteristics in our life?

Jesus Christ is the most valuable treasure to us on earth and in heaven, for in Him we have life and our being, and shall have the blessing of eternal life, now and in the new world to come.

(FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin May 18, 2013)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Our Lasting Legacy

The first President of our Philippine Commonwealth government, Manuel L. Quezon, who topped the bar exam for lawyers during his time is remembered more for his obsession and crusade for Philippine independence from the United States of America (U.S.A). His famous statement was “I prefer a government run like hell than a government run like heaven by Americans.”

President Manuel Roxas who also topped the bar exam during his time with an unsurpassed grade of 96%, left a legacy of a good name in Philippine politics. The Bible tells us, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Prov. 22:1 KJV). For this reason, Mar Roxas, his illustrious grandson, easily won as Senator, and possibly will yet become the President next to President Noynoy Aquino who, by the way, was elected because he carries a “good name,” a legacy of his equally illustrious parents.

President Ramon Magsaysay, a simple mechanic, a guerrilla officer and a hero of World War II had his famous slogan: “He who has less in life should have more in law”.

President Ferdinand E. Marcos who also topped the bar exam in 1939, long after Quezon, with a very high general average, besting President Roxas, but whose grade was reduced by the Supreme Court after an interview en banc, so he will not surpass the grade of Roxas, is more remembered for his declaration of Martial rule. No President before him attempted to do it and I suppose with the lesson learned by Filipinos on the EDSA revolution, no succeeding President will ever attempt to again declare Martial Law rule in the Philippines.

In the U.S.A., John Wilkes Booth is remembered for taking the life by assassination with a gunshot at the back of an unarmed President Abraham Lincoln, who was himself an outstanding lawyer of his time, though he only studied law in a log cabin. Booth is not remembered as a hero but a villain. In contrast, President Lincoln is remembered as the one who preserved the Union of the U.S.A., freed the slaves, and exhibited “malice toward none and charity for all”. Consequently, by Divine providence, the U.S.A. had become and still today is the most powerful and economically progressive country in the world despite the economic crisis all over. This is the solemn promise of God to Abraham when the said, “I will bless you and whoever bless you I will bless”. Notably, America has since been blessing Israel with military assistance even as it attempts to police the whole world (Gen. 12:3).

People are remembered by future generations by what they have done or accomplished in an extraordinary or amazing manner in their lifetime whether bad or good, but more for good.

For us Christians, what achievement, good for the kingdom of God, will people of the future generations remember us, as soon as our name is mentioned? Of course, there are well-known and excellent Evangelists like Billy Graham, Pat Robertson and many others whose names are written in the Book of Life. Some are remembered as Founder of Christian organizations like Demos Shakarian of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship, International (FGBMFI), or Church denomination like John Wesley of the Wesleyan church, and so on and so forth. These names are also indelibly written in the Book of Life.

Going back to Bible times, the redeemed sinners listed in Hebrews 11 like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab (the harlot) and other great Bible characters like David and Solomon, and many others, are all remembered for one common virtue: “All these. . . obtained a good testimony through faith” (vs. 39). These great names in the Bible are so because of their faith in God and their outstanding service to the kingdom of God.

King Solomon toward the end of his luxurious and colorful life said, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV).
One of the criminals hanging on the cross of calvary with the Lord Jesus Christ said to the other unbelieving criminal also hanging with them, “Don’t you fear God…” Because that criminal believed Jesus Christ as the Son of God as eloquently proved by his statement, “Lord, remember me when thou art in paradise”, Jesus said, “I assure you today, thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

We might be a sinner like the believing criminal, but as soon as we accept and believe Him as our Lord and Savior and our God, and confess and repent of all our sins, we shall be saved (1 John 1:9).

The Bible tells us that: “But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6 KJV). Long after their deaths, the record of the lives of faith and obedience of all these great men of the Bible still inspire us today. Will our lives of faith and obedience in God (Jesus in person) inspire others after our death?

The indefatiguable Evangelist Rev. Shiloh Haigh will be remembered by FGBMFI, Davao City Chapter, as a generous servant of God who initiated the publication of our FGBMFI Saturday Bulletin – this Bulletin. This is one of its kind in the whole Philippines, and perhaps all over the Christian world. He also generously shouldered the allowance of our Bro. Teddy Reyes when he was on forced leave due to illness and for a considerable period of time thereafter. Ted has fully recovered, by the grace of God, and now still as active as ever as the coordinator of our fellowship. Glory be to God! Praise God for an FGBMFI member and adviser like Rev. Shiloh Haigh.

None of us in FGBMFI, Davao City Chapter, perhaps will be recorded in history books after we leave this world. King Solomon said,

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.” (Eccl. 9:5-6 NIV)

But certainly all of us will leave behind memories with our families and close friends. Those closest to us are watching our response to God through times of testing and blessing, and in serving Him and other people. Are we living in faith and obedience to God (Jesus Christ), particularly in spreading, teaching or preaching the Good News of salvation, through our life? What will be the legacy of our life to mankind and to the kingdom of God on earth? Will our God be pleased with the legacy we leave behind as a child of God? What legacy have we left behind when we enter heaven to be with the Lord Jesus forever and ever?

Someone said, “The legacy of a godly life as perceived by others speaks more eloquently than our words.”

(FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin May 11, 2013)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Living A Contented Life

The extremes of life on riches and poverty can be dangerous because a person with too much riches, especially in money may encounter as much difficulty as one with too little. This is the reason why Agur, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in Proverbs 30, prayed to God: “Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Prov. 30:7-9 NIV). Very significantly, the Lord Jesus Christ endorsed the prayer of Agur when he taught his disciples to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11 NIV).

This is telling us that the best situation in life, financially and with property, is just “enough”, that is, one is not very rich but also not very poor, so he will still need God who is the source of life and everything. On the other hand, an extremely poor man will be forced to do something to have money for his survival. And if that poor man has not acquired enough education to land any job, he will be forced to steal or rob or even kill in the process.

Human nature, however, is the insatiable desire to have super abundance of money and property. No one is contented of what he already have. Thus, if one has a surplus car, he would want a brand new. When he will have a brand new, he will want a latest model brand new Mercedes Benz, and so on and so forth.

In every rule, there is an exception. In the case of our faithful and dedicated member Cris Arrieta, he has a customer who offered to pay him and he accepted, the latest model of Mercedez Benz. This is his gift from God.

If we want to have a peaceful life, be contented with what we have, Work hard with all honesty so that your acquired riches either in property or money will not be sequestered by the government, and you will not land in jail.

The Apostle Paul who might be a good example of one who lived a contented life, was a Pharisee, a lawyer-follower of Jesus Christ, not very rich nor very poor, and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin (the equivalent of our Supreme Court of recent age) said, “For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11 KJV). He further admonished us, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For me brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6:6-7). He further warned and encourages us in this manner:

9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Paul’s Charge to Timothy

11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (vss. 9-12 NIV)

What is Paul telling us? All our efforts must be geared towards “laying hold of eternal life” which is ultimately a life where the character, attitude of everyone is Christlike; where there is no more rich or poor; and where “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain; for the former things are passed away… and behold all things are new” Rev. 21:4-5 KJV). Finally, the Bible tells us, “Be content with such things as we have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5 KJV). Between being very very rich in money and property in exchange for our soul, better have just enough and be in heaven to enjoy a life eternal where everything is provided and all things a new.

To be sure, there is nothing wrong in being or becoming rich in money or in property, if it is attained by inheritance, or through honest hard work and perseverance. Our society needs rich and prosperous people who are honest and generous with their riches, especially to the less fortunate and needy brethren.

Rev. Shiloh Haigh is a very hardworking evangelist. He has demonstrated his generosity by supporting in financing the initial issues of our FGBMFI Saturday Bulletin during my term as President. His reward in heaven is waiting for him.

Agur impliedly reminded us, instead of always asking for more, we should seek the balance expressed in Proverbs 30.

Normally, a person is poor because he is lazy. Solomon said, “The hand of the diligent (or hardworking person maketh rich but the sluggard (or lazy people always sleeping or relaxing) is made poor (Prov. 10:4 KJV). Of course the industrious diligent, honest and trustworthy are those who get promoted in position or rank and salary.

So, be diligent in your studies or in whatever work or profession you are engaged in, and spend only for what you need. The Apostle Paul said, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17 NIV).

Contentment is realizing that God has already given us all that we need. Anything beyond is bonus from God, just like when King Solomon was granted his request for wisdom. God granted him bonuses of “a large and an understanding heart, riches and honor and long life” (1 Kings 3:12-14 KJV). Praise and glory be to God through Jesus Christ our LORD.

(FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, May 4, 2013)