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).  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Be The Best Advertiser Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship’s (FGBMFI) method of spreading the Gospel as envisioned by its Founder, Demos Shakarian, was by personal testimonies by the power of the Holy Spirit on the reality and goodness of God/Jesus Christ in person, in the lives of the members, which is shown or evidenced in their acts of love, words, thoughts and deeds. The Lord Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, your mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).

In this way, others will be persuaded by the Holy Spirit to receive and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their LORD and only Savior. In advertising business, we term this a “word-of-mouth” advertising, which is the most effective way of encouraging others to buy a certain product or commodity.

A certain smart car manufacturer used a motto in its advertising that stressed the importance of word-of-mouth recommendations. It simply said, “Ask the man who owns one.” There is nothing quite like a personal testimony or word-of-mouth approval from a satisfied customer. For example, in the commercial world, like those advertising a bath soap, a popular beautiful and sexy movie actress with smooth-looking skin is selected to endorse the product, implying that she is a user of the soap.

For Christians, what “product” are we to advertise?

We are called to be witnesses (or advertisers) for Jesus Christ, but with the additional requirement of product knowledge. In other words, how well do we know our “product”? We represent Christ in everything we do and say. Therefore, when we speak out for Christ, we must do so with all boldness and sincerity, accuracy and authority. This means we must be familiar with what Scripture says about sin, salvation, and man’s need for grace through faith. If we do not represent the Gospel accurately, or our acts will not match our talk, our witness for the Savior will be ineffective.

Therefore, we must study and memorize, as much as possible, God’s Word. We should learn by heart its doctrines and put them into practice in our daily walk with God. That will make us a better, perhaps the best, witness or advertiser of God/Jesus Christ in person. This is the primary reason why the organizers of FGBMFI of Davao City conceived of our Saturday morning breakfast fellowship.

One of the first and original disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He was instrumental in witnessing and bringing his own brother to the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:35-42 KJV). But before he witnessed to his brother, he first encountered the Lord Jesus in person. Worded differently, he was an eye witness to Jesus’ existence and he experienced himself the reality and goodness of the LORD Jesus. This is true in the courts of law. The most effective witness is an eyewitness of the matter in question or in issue.

Let us strive to be the best advertiser of the LORD Jesus in thoughts, in words and in deeds.

In the gospel as written by John, we read about Andrew, who went to his brother Peter and said, “We have found the Messiah.” He then “brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41-42). Andrew’s personal encounter with Jesus Christ and the realization that He was the Messiah prompted him to introduce Peter to our LORD and Savior. He did not only advertise by word-of-mouth, he persuaded his brother to see and “taste” the “product” he advertised. This is one way by which our chapter will grow not only in “stature” before Christ but also in number. It is not easy to catch fish; it needs hard work and much sacrifice in time and effort. So also in catching men for the kingdom of God. There is a reward reserved for fishers of men. Our Lord Jesus promised: “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12 KJV).

One Sunday, many years ago, I invited my own older brother to my Sunday School class. During lunch time, I fed him with sumptuous food. Just as we catch a fish by feeding it, so it is with men. Thereafter, I observed that every Sunday, without absence, he was excited to attend my class. I don’t know then if he was interested with the lesson or in the sumptuous food. But, I am sure that through the working of the Holy Spirit, he became a true disciple of Christ, because later on he asked for a Thompson Chain Reference Bible and he had attended my Sunday school class from Sunday to Sunday although the sumptuous food was no longer served every Sunday.

When we witness to unbelievers or non-believers and tell them what God says about their lost condition and need of a Savior, we should personally recommend the Lord Jesus to them, and spend precious time, effort and even money. We should not worry about the expenses for God will certainly and undoubtedly refund us, even more, sometimes a hundredfold and time spent for the Lord is time well-spent to be rewarded in eternity, and oftentime even within our lifetime on earth. We have to tell them what God has done for us and how He has satisfied our deepest spiritual need. This is the best advertising of all. When witnessing, if people ask, “How do you know it’s true”? Remember that they cannot dispute what Christ has done for you, because it is your personal experience.

We are Christ’s “Letters of Recommendation” to the unbelievers or non-believers.