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.