Saturday, January 25, 2014

One Of The Greatest Healing Factors Is Faith In God

Some years back, I invited a certain public prosecutor who was a very close friend of mine to attend a FGBMFI meeting at the Sychar Hotel in Davao City, Philippines. He was a Silliman University graduate in law degree, a famous Protestant University in the Visayas, Philippines, founded by an American citizen, Dr. Silliman. In my conversations with him, he used to quote Bible verses perhaps to impress me with his scriptural knowledge, if not to “evangelize” me.

One late afternoon thereafter, he called me to ask that I appear on his behalf on the following day in his personal case before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Panabo City, Davao del Norte, Philippines. I politely declined because I had a previous schedule on the same day and hour also before the RTC of Davao City. But he was so insistent that he requested me to wait for him in my office because he wanted to explain personally his case, and the urgency of his request.

His problem was that being unable to pay the balance in full, as agreed between him and the seller, the purchase price of a coconut plantation that he bought in the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) Davao del Norte, Philippines, the three sons of the seller entered the land and harvested the nuts. He requested me to prepare his Affidavit-Complaint, and being a Fiscal (present day called Prosecutor) of Davao del Norte, his complaint for qualified theft case against the malefactors was filed in court. The Prosecutor’s Office fixed a P40,000.00 bail bond for each accused for their provisional liberty. Claiming to be extremely poor peasants, with the help of their lawyer, they filed a motion to reduce the bail bond to an alleged reasonable and affordable amount of P10,000.00 for each, or a total of only P30,000.00 for all of them, arguing that it is their constitutional right that no excessive bail shall be fixed for their provisional liberty.

I told my friend that being a Fiscal himself, by experience (“experience being the best teacher”), he must know that normally the court will grant such a plea. I also reminded him of my inability to appear on his behalf to oppose the motion because of a previous scheduled case in Davao City. Nevertheless, he literally forced me to prepare a written opposition to the motion to reduce bail that night which he will personally submit to, and argue in, court the following morning, because of my inability to do so.

At about 11:00 A.M. the following morning, the Fiscal’s son who drove for him from Davao City to Panabo City which is a distance of 33 kilometers, called me by telephone (cellphones were not yet popularly used in those days) that his daddy was confined in the San Pedro Hospital of Davao City where the Fiscal’s Doctor son-in-law holds clinic. I was told that his daddy suffered a heart attack after the Judge, as I predicted, immediately in open court hearing, granted the motion of the three accused. On the following day, the son called me again to say that his daddy did not survive. May his soul rest in peace.

Hatred and tension produce various psychological and nervous infirmities. Scientific studies show, according to medical experts, that many physiological ailments like heart trouble, or even actual physical diseases like arthritis and stomach ulcers can also be caused by worry, fear, bitterness, hatred, or a negative attitude toward life and our neighbors. The medical experts tell us that all of these negative attitudes and feelings can cause an actual build-up of poisons in the body that, in turn, cause illnesses, even immediate death in extreme cases such as I have related. In other words, the wrong state of mind can actually cause these physical maladies and infirmities, or even death.

That is why faith in God, or reliance on God’s care and goodness to us; surrender to God’s will, that is, “not my will but let thy will be done” as prayed for by the Lord Jesus Christ himself to His Father in heaven in the garden of Gethsemane is such a marvelous spiritual “medicine”.

Knowing that our heavenly Father loves us and is going to take care of us and our health, our family, our future, our job, everything – will eliminate bitterness and hatred and gives us peace of mind, contentment of heart, and a feeling of spiritual well-being that brings rest to our vital organs, and that, in turn, actually causes the elimination of poisons from our body, or will prevent the elevation of our blood pressure. The wise King Solomon said, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…” (Prov. 17:22 KJV). Strong faith and reliance in God’s love, protection and care for us is the best medicine there is! The Bible says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT).

Above all, let us always remember the answer of Jesus Christ to a certain Scribe who asked Him, “…which is the first (or greatest) commandment of all?” when He said: “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first (or greatest) commandment. And the second is like namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31 KJV). Thus, the evidence that we love someone is the fact that we love to be always with or near that someone talking even for sweet nothings without counting the time, the image of that someone is always in our heart and mind and embeeded in our soul, and we devote our strength and talents serving that someone to the best of our ability to please that loved one. This is how we should love our God/Jesus Christ (God incarnate, or in person, or in the flesh).

The Apostle Paul said: “Recompense to no man evil for evil. . . live peacefully with all men… avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:17-19 KJV). Stated otherwise, don’t seek revenge yourself, leave the matter in the hands of God. Trust God, He knows what to do. Just pray fervently for God’s love and care for you.

Our physical state of health is definitely dependent on our emotional state of health, and our emotional health is largely dependent on our spiritual condition. Let us be careful of our anger and temper. It will cause death, even sudden death! Instead, pray fervently and have faith in God to the end of our life. “… According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"Many Are The Afflictions Of The Righteous"

The psalmist said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Ps. 119:71 KJV).

In the New Life Translation (NLT) Bible, this is how the verse is translated: “The suffering you sent was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your principles” (of healing and obedience).

An affliction is usually understood as a physical infirmity or psychological torment or trouble. The Lord allows such things as sickness, troubles, and problems to test and strengthen our faith in God and His power to deliver us, and to help us get even greater victories out of seeming defeat or misfortune. Sometimes they happen to keep us humble and to make us pray to God.

Troubles and tribulations are God’s way to accomplish His good purposes in our lives. Sometimes “bad” things happen to test our faith in God, or just to keep us close to Him.

For example in the case of Job, according to the Bible, “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned (or avoided) evil” (Job 1:1 NIV).

The first round of test on the faith of Job was on his material wealth. His . . . “oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword” except one who reported the misfortune to him (Job 1:14-15), and while the messenger was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and hath burned up the sheeps and the servants”. Then another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them away. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” (vs. 17). In the days of Job, camels were the means of transportation. Camels were what we may call in modern times our Cadillac in the U.S. or Rolls Royce and Mercedes Benz in Europe. Finally, while the messenger was still speaking, another messenger came and reported, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” (vss. 18-19).

Of course, Job, human as he was, agonized and got up and tore his robe and shaved his head as was the Jewish custom to show repentance and submission to God’s sovereign will. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (vss. 20-21).

The second round of test was on his physical health, namely: that Job was afflicted “with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (Job 2:7). The physical pain and suffering of Job was beyond description in words. The wife of Job could no longer withstand the suffering of her husband which led her to say, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (vs. 9 NIV). But Job did not listen to his wife, instead being ever faithful to God, answered, “You are talking like a foolish woman, shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (vs. 10).

The Bible says, “In all this, Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (vs. 22 KJV).

Thus, it is indeed true that “Man born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).

For example, the Lord Jesus Christ was born of a woman, so he lived (as a true human being) for only 33 years (only 12,053.25 days more or less, to include the leap years). Although Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, and, in fact, a God himself (John 1:1), He had a life full of trouble (he was born in just a manger, not in a hospital; while still a baby, he was hunted by King Herod to be killed; while performing his mission (ministry) from his Father, he became the enemy of the religious leaders culminating in his death by crucifixion, the worst, most painful, longest, shameful and excruciating manner of dying. Praise God! we, the believers, the Christians so-called, do not have to suffer the same difficult and shameful agonizing death as Jesus Christ because of the unfathomable Love of God. He sent his only begotten Son to substitute for, or take the place of, every sinner (John 3:16).

What was the end of this truly faithful man, Job? The Bible tells us:

12 So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
13 He had also seven sons and three daughters.
14 And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch.
15 And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.
16 After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations.
17 So Job died, being old and full of days.” (Job 42:12-17)

Notice that his material riches was doubled. He was the wealthiest man in the East. The original number of his children was restored, and he and his wife had very beautiful daughters who would qualify as Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International! And, as promised by God to King Solomon if he obeyed His commandment, “lightened days of life”. Thus, Job lived a long and satisfying life (1 King 3:14 KJV).

The Word of God says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivereth him out of them all” (Ps. 34:19 KJV).

Who are these so-called righteous? Obviously, in this context, the believers of God/Christ. But then the same Bible tells us also, “There is none righteous, no, not one (Rom. 3:10 KJV). This means, no one is perfect only one is perfect – Jesus Christ (God incarnate, or in person, or God in the flesh).

It is important to remember that whatever God does, He does it in love. “All things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). God is not going to let anything happen to us who loves Him and are faithful to the end, except what is for our ultimate good. So even though “many are the afflictions of the righteous (believers)” the Lord is going to deliver us out of them all, no matter how many or whatever happens. Not just some or a few or most or many, but A-L-L of them! So the next time we are afflicted with sickness or other troubles or misfortunes in life, expect God to deliver us, just as He has promised in His Word. Only seek the Lord God through His Son Jesus in prayer and be faithful to the end like Job.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Man Of God, A Title Worth Pursuing

Happy New Year 2014!

In Bible times, a prophet of God is given the title “a man of God” (2 Kings 4:7) or “an holy man of God” (vs. 9). This is the title given to the prophet Elisha. This word “holy” has a highly significant spiritual meaning. It means “separated for God”, or belonging to God. God’s Word describes people such as Moses (Deut. 33:1) and the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:11) as “Man of God”. Stated otherwise, this was a title given to a representative or servants of our God Almighty.

Another meaning for the title can be a challenge for us to aspire for. In 2 Kings 4, the Bible relates of a Shunammite woman who verbalized her observation on the prophet Elisha. She remarked to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God.” Her reference to him as “holy” obviously indicate that she noticed Elisha was not only a man of God but also a godly man. This refers to the character and conduct of Elisha and the miracles of God accomplished through him. Thus, not only the prophets but anyone exhibiting the character and conduct of Jesus Christ (God incarnate, or in person, or in the flesh) and through whom miracles were done, can be identified as a “Man of God”. But as he which called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16 KJV).

The Apostle Peter called for us to be holy, as a reflection of God’s holiness. We may never hold an honorable title as God’s prophet or spokesperson like Moses, but we are to be holy. To be holy does not mean perfection, for no one is perfect except one, the Lord Jesus Christ.

For example, David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14). But he was not perfect, for he committed adultery with Bathsheba, the mother of King Solomon, and also committed murder of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, in a subtle way. In Tagalog, “Hindi siya nag-iisa” (in English, King David is not alone). As a memorial or legacy of God’s LOVE for King David despite his transgressions, Jerusalem, the capital of the Christian world is named “City of David”. This makes the title “Man of God” a title worth pursuing.

As children of God, though not perfect, we ought to be like our Lord Jesus Christ in character and conduct. He was prayerful, always calling on the name of His Father especially before doing anything while ministering to the people, and conducted himself with the highest moral standard. This is not only very difficult; it is impossible, for it is written, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). And the penalty for sin is death (Rom. 6:23). But what is not possible with men is possible with God, for with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).

Should we fail, what is the scriptural remedy? We confess and repent like what King David did.

32 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” (Psalm 32:1-5 KJV)

David also wrote:

51 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”
x x x x x x x x x

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” (Psalm 51:1-3; 7-12 KJV)

No one can save himself by good deeds. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, “not by works lest any man should boast; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8-9 KJV). This is the reason why God sent his only begotten Son who is sinless the perfect Son of man and also a perfect Son of God, and to die in the cross of Calvary in substitution for sinful men, or in other words, to redeem all sinners, provided that the sinner believes in Him (John 3:16). This is the reason why Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: No one cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6 KJV). Therefore, to be blessed, BE A MAN OF GOD, or better still “A HOLY MAN OF GOD”. Be separate for God. This is the title or “degree” worth pursuing.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

What Shall I Wear Today?

What clothing we wear is very important. We all want to clothe or attire ourselves appropriately and look our best everyday. If we do, we feel that we look well and good and we go through the day with joy and confidence that others will welcome our presence.

The Lord Jesus wore a special attire unusually nice that the soldiers scrambled to possess and own it when he was crucified. This eloquently shows that Jesus cares about what we wear. He is our example in everything, even in our clothes. But He is more concerned about what we “put on” spiritually.

Colossians 3 lists some of the spiritual “clothings” or virtues or characteristics with which we should put on or clothe ourselves every day.

The Apostle Paul said:

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is LOVE. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony”. (Col. 3:12-14 NLT).

What is this so-called love? The Apostle Paul attempted to define love in the following manner:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking, 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 (or endures).
Love never fails. x x x
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Follow the way of love xxx” (1 Cor. 13:4-8; vs. 13; 14:1 NIV)

Have you ever come across someone who never failed you? The reason is genuine or true LOVE!

On the matter of protection because of love, I have a very recent experience. After our fellowship at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City, Philippines, last Saturday, my Chevrolet Korean small car would not start. Not even the faintest sound of the engine or horn. The battery was completely “dead”.

I called for my nephew-driver, George, who brought along a battery. The engine revived, and I instructed him to bring the car to my client’s rebuilding and assembly plant for complete “diagnosis” of its defect, on the following day, Sunday, because the plant of my client opens on Sundays, the owner being a Seventh Day Adventist member, and it has a special diagnostic machine for the purpose.

At about 9:00 on Sunday morning, I tried to check through telephone from my client what was the “diagnosis” on the defect of the car. The Secretary answered that my car was not brought to their plant yet. So I checked by cellphone my nephew’s whereabouts.

It was the wife who answered who said my nephew “forgot” or left his cellphone because he was hurrying to leave early to go to the plant of my client which is about 20 kilometers away from their house. It was already about 9:30 a.m., when I called again my client to check whether my nephew already arrived. The answer was negative. I was told that anyone needing check-up or repair will pass through their office because a job order is needed. I requested her anyway to go inside the plant again in case the protocol was not followed simply because I am their lawyer. The feedback was still negative!

Suspecting that the car must have stopped somewhere along the way due to its unexplained defect, I requested the driver of Atty. Susan, my daughter, bringing with him her Montero to check along the way from Davao City to the plant of my client where my car stopped, but he had to pass by the house of my nephew to get his cellphone for easier contact purposes. Lo and behold, I was told that my nephew was asleep!

I discovered that the wife of my nephew made a cover-up story to protect him! I surmised that the wife fervently loves her husband, so she told a lie, similar to what Rahab, the harlot, have done to protect the two spies sent to Jericho preparatory to the Israelite’s conquest of the promised land. Significantly, the genealogy related by Matthew in Matthew 1:5 shows that Rahab became the ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The car was brought to the plant that same morning and in a matter of minutes, I received a feedback from my nephew that after a thorough check-up by the use of the special machine from Korea, the defect was only the battery. Praise God!

When my nephew handed to me the car, I told him, “You better give a gift to your wife for shielding (or protecting) you in telling me a lie that you have left earlier although the truth was that you were still asleep”. “As a prize for her fervent love and loyalty to you” I told him, “give the rice cooker” (which I got from another client) as gift to her. In addition, I gave her a cash gift for their Christmas celebration. His wife and family, I am sure, had a Merry Christmas! Instead of reprimanding the wife, the gifts speak volumes of my Christlike love for her and her family circle. Praise God!

The signs of LOVE are: mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness which should be our spiritual clothing every moment of the day. May I add, but not dogmatically, because of LOVE, some people have to tell a lie to protect someone for a good purpose, just like in the case of Rahab.

When we wear these spiritual clothings, we will deal properly with situations that arise, our human relationship will be strengthened, and we will have the good feeling that comes with knowing we are pleasing our fellowmen and more importantly the Lord God/Jesus Christ who is God incarnate (or in person or God in the flesh), in whom we have our being and the only Savior of our soul.