Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gift And Reward

A gift is received by someone without cost and without doing anything as the decision to give lies solely on the giver; while a reward is received because of something worthwhile done by the recipient.

The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and Only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son unto the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and Only Son” (John 3:16-18 NIV). Notice that the giving away of His only Son to save the soul of the sinner was the sole decision of God the Father. The Bible says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

The Word “Son” obviously refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is the Only Son of God.

The Word BELIEVE is extremely significant because it means, belief in thoughts, in words and in deeds. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34 and Luke 6:45), and, of course, this belief is translated or shown by the deeds or works of the believer. For faith (or belief) without works or deeds is dead (James 2:26). How do we know that someone has this faith or belief in God or in the flesh, Jesus Christ? By his spiritual fruit. What are these spiritual fruit? “LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE (or longsuffering), KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS (or meekness) and SELF-CONTROL (or temperance) (Gal. 5:22-23). In other words, a true believer of God/Christ possess all these spiritual characteristics and qualities. Thus, the Bible says, “by their fruit you will know them” (Matt. 7:16). How do we know that a tree is a mango tree? It is by its fruit which we can see.

What is given as gift by God to mankind? Eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

So, the number one requirement is one must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. “BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31 NIV). This word “believe” is extremely significant because it means a 100% acceptance by the repentant sinner of the fact that Jesus is the only Son of God, and that Jesus Christ, also called the WORD, is God in the flesh. The Word of God says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:14 NIV); … and “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NIV).

The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).

What is grace? It is theologically defined simply as “unmerited favor” from God. Meaning, we don’t deserve it because we are sinners. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And the penalty for sin is spiritual death (Rom. 6:23).

Salvation is given free without our doing anything – just simply believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, nothing else. This is the meaning of FAITH in this verse – saving faith, that is. For if we add something else yet, then salvation is no longer free, but it is by works. Thus, salvation is equally available by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ - - to all: young or old, rich or poor, man or woman, black, brown or white, beautiful or ugly, etc. Praise God! God is “no respecter of persons”. In our common language today, “Everybody is equal” before the sight of God.

But what about the pious and faithful and dedicated “servant” in the kingdom of God, like the apostles, priests, pastors, lay workers, preachers of the Word of God, writers (in our FGBMFI bulletin) etc.? What do they hope for or expect? Well, if they are saved because of the GRACE of God through their FAITH in Jesus Christ, and they will enter heaven, a REWARD is reserved for them.

This is illustrated by Jesus Christ himself in the parable of the talent (Matt. 25:15-25). A parable is an earthly story with heavenly meaning.

This parable relates that the one who traded or did something to produce more, to him was given a proportionate reward of 100%. The one who did not do anything but hid his talent, he had nothing. In fact, what was given to him was taken away from him and given to the one who had doubled his five talents to ten, and his punishment was:

28Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 25: 28-30 NIV)

Talent here is not only money but also it means any God-given ability, especially spiritual mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:7-10, namely: the Word of wisdom; the Word of knowledge; the gifts of healing; the working of miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirit; diverse kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues or those mentioned in Gal. 5:22-23. So, whatever money or ability that is endowed (or God-given) to us, we should use or exercise it in the service and furtherance of the kingdom of God, so we will receive a reward when we enter the kingdom of God – HEAVEN.

In Revelation 22:12, the Word of God says:

12Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he had done.”

The gift giving is while the believer is on earth or in the world, but the awarding of reward will be in heaven. So, the saved person must enter heaven first in order that his reward will be awarded to him. But remember, Faith in God/Jesus Christ, God in the flesh is the passport to heaven. No passport, no entry, just like you can’t enter the U.S. territory without passport from the U.S. Embassy. You have to pass through the U.S. Embassy first. Our spiritual passport is Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “I am the WAY, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Let us exercise our God-given gifts for the advancement of the kingdom of God while on earth, and great will be our reward when we enter heaven, the true believers ultimate destination. This the brief description of life in heaven:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:3-4 NIV)

Do we like to be in heaven? Then, let us repent, accept Him as our only SAVIOR and have faith in Jesus Christ, our passport to heaven.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Are You Looking For Money?

The Bible tells us, “The hand of the diligent maketh rich; but the slothful (lazy) become poor” (Prov. 10:4 KJV).

The author of the book of Proverbs in the Bible is King Solomon. He succeeded his father King David when he was only twenty years old. Upon his installation as new King, the Bible records:

“5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning (understanding KJV) heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:5-14)

Solomon did not ask for wealth or money but for WISDOM. When one has wisdom from God, the money and wealth will follow just like night follows day.

Money is anything of value. Your time is money. Your knowledge is money. Your skills, your God-given special gifts or talents are money. Money is not only the money we are carrying with us in our wallet or something we deposited in the bank. Money is anything we possess that solves a problem for someone. Money is everywhere and anywhere you can use your God-given talent. So, find out what is my talent or God-given gift? Pursue and develop this gift or talent, and you will prosper, or you will have the money you need!

The disciple Peter was a fisherman. The Roman government was collecting taxes. He had no money in his pocket. When he told the Lord Jesus about the problem, what did Jesus tell him? Being a fisherman, the Lord Jesus told him.

Lest we should offend them (the Roman government), go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shall find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee” (Matt. 17:27).

Notice that the Lord Jesus used the talent of Peter as fisherman. He did not tell Peter to earn first a degree in college. He told Peter to perform what he already knew, and the tax money was produced!

Today, I needed money to pay an obligation and something urgent and important I wanted to buy but I had no sufficient amount in my wallet. It was already beyond banking hours. Moreover, the check I just deposited will be made good after three days yet, and, moreover, there is a requirement of a “remaining balance” in a bank account so it will not be closed.

Suddenly, a long time client visited me. Their family had a financial problem with a local bank. I was requested to prepare a special letter-request. I gladly obliged. Before leaving, the client left with me without my asking to be paid an amount more than sufficient for my immediate needs. God provides and He is truly good all the time!

Why did the client suddenly appear to request me to write that very important special letter-request? Because by previous experience the client knows that I have a writing talent.

Notice, I used my God-given writing talent in earning the money I needed. Indeed, God provides. And why did the client come to me to solve the problem? Because by previous experience, the client knows my talent in writing. “Experience is the best teacher.”

Then comes my nephew-driver with smile asking for money to buy gasoline for his motorcycle. I was about to ask where did he spend his salary, but my lips were refrained by the Holy Spirit. Solomon said, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Prov. 17:28 NIV). Anyway, I gave him P500.00. His smile was literally from ear to ear. He even remarked, “Uncle, are you giving me all this amount?” I just nodded, signifying my assent. And I remembered my extremely efficient Secretary for 25 years who rendered overtime to finish the special letter. She asked permission with a smile to leave if there was no more work to be done. My heart was moved to give her P500.00 also for her overtime. She thanked me with a winsome smile. The joy in my heart is beyond description in words. Praise God. As I write this portion of this article, I am smiling by myself with inexplicable joy.

Don’t look for money. Look for wisdom coming from God. This wisdom will give you a “large and understanding (or (discerning) heart” like King Solomon. Where can we find this wisdom? From the Bible, particularly the book of Song of Solomon, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the book of Job as well as the book of Joshua. And, of course, the whole Bible (both Old and New Testament).

But it is not enough to know the Bible. We must act or do what it says with all diligence. I have yet to see a lazy man who became prosperous and successful in life. Joshua 1:8 says:

“8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

If we do what the Word of God says, then the money that we need will just come our way like the water from the spring.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Working For The Glory Of God

Why do most people work, and they work very hard? In the ultimate analysis, the usual normal reason is “to earn a living”.

The columnists in the three major newspapers in our country, the Manila Bulletin, Manila Times and the Philippines Herald, publish daily their articles because that is their main livelihood. And these popular well-known and well-liked columnists by many readers live a comfortable life, because they work hard and with dedication to their profession as columnist. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, we have to thank and praise God that there are these class of intellectuals endowed by God with special ability to write, like the writers or authors of the books of the Bible, for otherwise no one will be interested to buy and read these newspapers, as those who are merely interested in news can just view their TV sets or listen to the radio for those in the hinterlands.

But there are those gifted by God with special knowledge and ability to write like Apostle Paul who authored thirteen books of the New Testament (including the book of Hebrews), and the gospel as written by Jesus’ disciples like Matthew, Mark, Dr. Luke and John, and Moses the writer of the five books of the Old Testament known as the Pentateuch, King David and other authors of the Psalms, the Prophets, and of course, my favorite author, the wise King Solomon who authored Song of Songs (Solomon), Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, for man to know the will of our God.

The Apostle Paul being a lawyer and a prolific writer, wrote to the Ephesian Christians:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. (Eph. 6:5-9 NIV)

Spiritually speaking, Christians are to serve the Lord God/Christ who is our Master and Lord. We are to work for the kingdom like slaves who do not work for their expected salary as they receive none, but to please our Lord/God/Savior for His glory and honor.

In ancient days, slaves work very hard without expecting any wages in return, so should be all true Christians. There is, however, a reward waiting for the faithful worker and servant in the kingdom of God. The Word of God promises: “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free” (Eph. 6:7-8 NIV).

Our FGBMFI Weekly Bulletin have contributor-writers. Unlike the columnists in the major newspapers in our beloved Philippines, they don’t receive any single cent, but they continue to write week after week despite their busy schedule earning a living. And to write an article worth circulating all over the world if published in our Saturday bulletin is not easy - it is hard and tedious work. The writer devotes much time thinking and praying on what to write about and in actually writing his thoughts based on the Word of God. Those who are writing know that their article have to be written and re-written several times, before it goes to the press for final printing. It is like a furniture maker making all rough edges smooth, so it will sell, otherwise it will lay in a corner only to gather dust. So, it also happens to a writing which no one is interested to read.

Our FGBMFI Davao City Chapter will give an award for “the best contributor” for the year 2014. But the award is nothing compared to the reward from our God which He promised in His Word. Congratulations and Praise God for the faithful and dedicated contributor-writers of our weekly bulletin for the glory of God. Whether they receive an award from the fellowship or not, a reward is waiting for all of them when they finally reach home - HEAVEN. Without these dedicated brethren who pray and work hard to write, we cannot come out as often with our one and ONLY bulletin all over the world which we know glorifies our God Jesus Christ in the flesh (John 1:14).

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Man's Eternal Destiny

In the book of Job, the writer asked, “If a man die, shall he live again? The writer continued, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come” (Job 14:14 KJV). In the NIV version the same verse is translated, “If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come.”

In a simpler and more understandable translation, the writer is asking, “When a man dies, shall he resurrect? I will wait for my resurrection.”

The Lord Jesus Christ (God in person or in the flesh [John 1:14]) manifested to us his own example. He was 100% human, so he died like any man. The Scripture says, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” (Heb. 9:27 NIV). When a man dies, unlike the animals, his spirit goes upward to his creator (God) to be judged (Ecclesiastes 3:21; 12:7 NIV). Those who have done good, that is, whose sins are forgiven because they confessed, believed and accepted Jesus Christ as their only Lord and Savior, and have repented of their sins, will be resurrected into the resurrection of life. Thus, our Lord Jesus said: “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:28-29 NIV). But before this, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God (Jesus Christ) and those who hear will live” (John 5:25 NIV).

The Word “BELIEVED” is significant in that it must not be only in thoughts and in words but must be evidenced by deeds. It is equivalent to saving FAITH which the Bible defines, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Heb. 11:1 NIV). In other words, we are yet hoping for God’s promise of resurrection to happen. We have not yet seen or experienced it, but we are sure and certain that it shall come to pass because whatever and whenever God/Jesus makes a promise, 100% it shall come to pass. Thus, Jesus promised to his disciples (also to all believers, as these too are equally his disciples) that:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms (mansions KJV), if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:1-4 NIV).

The Apostle Thomas asked the Lord Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (to where you are going [John 14:5] NIV). The Lord Jesus replied: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV). In Tagalog (Filipino national language) “Magdaan ka muna kay Jesu Kristo.” The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ, nobody else.

Where is His Father’s place? Of course, in HEAVEN. In other words, no one goes to heaven unless he repents from all his sins and believes and accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his only LORD and SAVIOR. For this matter, the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). This is the only rule without exception. And the Bible further says, “For by grace (gracia sa Diyos) are ye saved through faith (in Jesus Christ) and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9 KJV).

The Bible further says, those who believed will have eternal life in heaven, but those who do not believe are already condemned, and are destined to go to hell. There is no middle ground. Either one goes to heaven or to hell. This theology is proved by the parable of the rich man and Lazarus related by Jesus Christ himself as follows:

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 (in heaven). 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 (or gulf KJV) 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 (the Bible or Word of God); 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 (or Word of God), they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31 NIV)

In verse 26, among all other lessons from this earthly story with heavenly meaning personally related by our Lord Jesus Christ, between heaven and hell “a great chasm (or great gulf) has been fixed so that those who want to go from here (heaven where Abraham and the beggar were) to you (hell where the rich man was in torment) cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there (hell) to us (heaven).” Worded differently, once in heaven, one will be forever in heaven; so with one who unfortunately goes to hell. There is no middle station before going to heaven. One goes to either place immediately. This is the written eternal destiny of men, and the preparation is done here on earth while one is still alive. After death will be too late - the situation can no longer be reversed. Man goes either to heaven or hell, and the choice belongs to man. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Jesus Died But He Is Alive Forevermore

 Jesus was truly human, so he died just like any human being. He is truly divine too, as evidenced by the fact that on the third day as he predicted (Luke 24:7) and as prophesied by the prophets, he resurrected and is now on the right hand of God the Father “because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors [or sinners] (Isa. 53:12).

Jesus was uniquely conceived and born by a woman without intercourse, but by the sovereign WILL OF GOD. No one was conceived like him. He did not go to school but he wrote and spoke with excellency the Hebrew and Greek language. His grammar is perfect. His wisdom is unsurpassed by anyone. He performed miracles that no one human being could. He resurrected the dead like Lazarus who had died four days already (John 11:39). True, he died physically, but on the third day he resurrected as he and the prophets predicted, with a glorified body, and lives forevermore. He went up to heaven to join his Father without riding in a jet plane or any means of transportation that is known to man. He is now seated in the right hand of God, interceding for the transgressors [or sinners] (Ephesians 1:20).

Normally, people love those who also love them, but Jesus does more, and, in fact, the opposite. He loves even sinners. In fact, the Bible tells us, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3). His love for man is beyond measure and beyond compare.

Whatever he promise, he fulfills to the last dot. His most important promise is: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms (or mansions KJV), if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:6 NIV). Where is Jesus now? He is in HEAVEN seated at the Father’s right hand interceding for the sinners.

Jesus’ death by crucifixion and his resurrection have been predicted up to the last detail. Unlike in the case of Jesus, no one has or will ever be able to predict several hundred years before how he will die. And Jesus’ death is for a cause – TO SAVE SINNERS. Jesus said, “… For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Matt. 9:13). But it is written, “There is no one righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). And it is further written, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But there is a requirement for salvation of the sinner. Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved (1 Cor. 13:31). That “believe” should be in thoughts as evidenced by words, “for out of the abundance (or overflow) of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34) and in deeds. The Bible says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions (or sins), he was crushed for our iniquities… and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity (or sin) of us all” (Isa. 53:5-6 NIV).

We have a LOVING Savior and in loving God is beyond compare. The Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. x x x The Word (Jesus) become flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1; 14 NIV). He proved this unfathomable love by what the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).