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.