Follow the Planner

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. Matthew 1:24

He follows the plan.

The man is a carpenter.  Joseph studies the blueprint before cutting the wood. He looks at the template before he pounds the hammer. He carefully looks at the measurements, he balances the beam, he assures every nail is in its rightful place.

Not this time(s).

“When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph…” Matthew 1:18b. This was their plan — wedding. They set the day. They identify the location. They list the guests. He picks the suit, she picks the dress. But the wedding gets cancelled.

“…but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.”  Matthew 1:18b-19.  This was Joseph’s plan. His future wife is already a future mother. Break the engagement not as same as glass hitting the floor or as the sun breaks the dawn but like a father kissing her sleeping child good night.

“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” Matthew 1:24. Change of plan(s), again. First, the wedding. Second, the breaking of unity of their hearts. The third plan skips all their or his plans. No wedding, no Mary dumping, but the carpenter starts on building a home.

The carpenter’s protocol is to follow the plan. As the plans changed, he changes his code —  Joseph doesn’t follow the plan, he followed the Planner.

You may have been in his position.

  • An unexpected unemployment.
  • A disease coming unannounced.
  • Family issue suddenly getting in the middle.
  • Your business not as usual.
  • Surprising election results.

His universe, our universe works according to His plan so your career. The alignment of the planets are in order so your family concerns will be. Your situations change, your church or government leaders change, He is still King and sits on the throne. No matter what the plan is, the Planner looks out for you. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

His love, constant. His faithfulness, consistent. His presence always present. Remember plans change. The Planner doesn’t.

Follow the Planner.

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The Less Is Not The Least

…and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. Luke 21:2

Luke paints a picture of less.

Poor. Widow. Two. Small. Coins.

If that is not a case of lack of something, I don’t know what it is.

Poor is having not much. It is a state of need of enough or of more. Pockets are full of air. Bank account can’t be counted.

Widow is having no company. No hands to hold but yours. No walks with somebody. No dinner with somebody. Sleeping all alone in a cold night.

Two small coins sound like not much in her purse. Even if these metals clash, no sound will be heard from a good distance. If you drop them in a collection box, even the dropper’s ear might miss the fall.

Yet this less is not the least, for Jesus notices it.

How many times you retreated in giving because you have less? How many times you were prevented from helping because you have not much?

Does this sound familiar, “If only I have more money, more time, more resources, more skills then I can give.” Luke’s painting tells us this is a myth.

Even in times of lack, you can give back. For even in times of less, you can bless. Even in times of not much, you can do much. Even if you feel you’re small, you can give your all.

For Jesus, for Luke, for the widow and for you… the less is not the least.

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Distance

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Matthew 5:1

There it is again — the separation.

That distance between the crowds and the disciples in coming near to Jesus.

In here, Jesus goes up the mountain. The crowd stays on the plain. The disciples follow his trail.

Are you part of the crowd?

  • You saw the climb is stiff, so don’t bother to hurdle it.
  • You were healed or fed earlier; you decide stay and rest your body.
  • You heard enough insights, so keeping that distance is all right.
  • You counted the time Jesus took from his walk up to his sit down and said that’s too long.
  • You wanted to go up but saw only twelve men are following him closely so why take the courage, why take the risk.

Are you a disciple?

  • You saw how stiff the mountain is but you also see your Master, sitting pretty, at the top of the mountain. Thus, you climb the mountain.
  • Your following requires no rest: body, mind and soul. Where he is is where your heart is. His place is your place — he is your resting place.
  • You thirst for more than his words, you long to be in his presence.
  • You count your blessings, you don’t count the cost in loving and serving him.
  • You follow with your all and on your own, your loyalty to him is not dictated by the decision of others.

How much distance you keep from Jesus defines if you’re one of the crowd or if you’re a disciple.

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He Still Stops

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Mark 10:49

He has stopped a lot of things.

He stopped being comfortable in heaven by being born out of woman’s womb in a manger. Jesus stopped fishermen to start to become fishers of men. He stopped water in being water to become wine. Jesus stopped waves from turning their boat. He has stopped grumbling stomachs when he multiplied the bread. He stopped death by raising the dead. He stopped countless evil spirits from residing in human souls. He stopped sin by dying and stopped death by rising.

And he stopped for desperate cries of mercy.

He was leaving Jericho with his disciples with the crowds when blind Bartimaeus cried out for pity. Many tried to silence him but the blind man used his able sense and kept on screaming. That is when and where Jesus stopped.

God has a business running the universe, galaxies and lots of matters you can think of. But he stops when you cry out to him. He delays his itineraries when he hears sincerity in your prayer screams. When you are at your roadside begging and at worst, helpless; God stops. He wants to answer your pleas. He wants to know what he can and will do for you. Your cries to him do not fall on deaf ears.

You, my friend, may need God’s roadside big-time assistance today. He is waiting to hear from you. Shout out and cry out to him. Don’t stop even if people will stop you, still cry out to Jesus. He still stops.

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That Fig Tree Moment

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” John 1:50

Here is mine – our mother bringing us to church every Sunday, where I look forward not to church but to the street foods she would buy for us after church. This is my fig tree moment. I don’t remember any of the bible readings. I don’t recall any of the priest’s homilies. I believed because a woman of faith planted a seed of belief by encouraging his children to go with her to church. It was a small thing but it was a fig tree moment.

Same as Nathanael’s.

He believed in Jesus because Jesus told him he saw Nathanael under the fig tree. It was a small thing but that started his belief in him. This guy have not seen the waves silenced yet and yet he believed. He hasn’t watched five thousands being fed from a boy’s lunch yet, yet he had faith in him.

Jesus promised him that he’ll see greater things than that and he did! Healing of the sick. Waving to the waves to be calmed. Multiplication of the bread. Feeding the hungry. Fishing bulk of fishes. Casting out demons. Dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Ascension to heaven.

Be reminded of your fig tree moment. Remember your fig tree moment. Recall that small seed which grew into a tower of faith. Look back where it all started for this is where Jesus promises that we will see greater things.

Greater things like – graduating college even coming from a large family with financial struggles, passing the board exam which you did not expect, able to teach and preach the Gospel even without formal training, offered employment after being laid off in three days, able to reach people you don’t know and you’ve not met through this blog. We can go on and on and we are not near the finish line yet.

Believing in Jesus, in small ways or big time – this is the lesson of that moment…that fig tree moment.

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Greatest

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Luke 9:46

Nothing has changed, right?

We still want to be the greatest…the best…the wisest. We still argue.

Have you watch the US GOP Presidential debates? Politicians raising up their seats. Putting down others’ accomplishments. Pointing to their laurels and thumbing down opponents’ honors.

Don’t go too far. Look at the 2016 Philippine would-be presidents. They serve in the same government yet they belittle whatever gains the other candidates have achieved. No one takes the back seat. Nobody has a better platform, than me.

Let’s go nearer. Look at your Facebook newsfeed. One friend or maybe you are better than other friend. The other friend comment back and says he/she is greater than that one friend. “Mababaw ka dahil AlDub fan ka, malalim ako dahil napanood ko ang Heneral Luna”. So, when does watching a movie make you a better person? “Malungkot ang mundo mo dahil ayaw mo sa AlDub.” Happiness is to each his own, di ba?

Well, it’s in our nature to want to be great, to be better than somebody else. Everybody has this thirst to be the best and to be the wisest. Even the nearest persons who walked with Jesus, who ate with him and who talked to Jesus face to face had the same fervor. This hasn’t changed and is happening around us – we are the greater church, we are the better congregation, we are the holier community. And just like us, they argued about this.

The same book provides the key to be great – be the servant (For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is greatest. Luke 9:48). You don’t have to push the person beside you to the lower level when you climb the higher step. Compliment rather than compete. Work together rather than being at war against each other. Understand before being understood. Focus on the strengths of each other and improve on each others’ weaknesses. Lift up, not tear down.

Nothing has changed. If you want change, may be you may want to start with yourself. Be the least. Be the servant.

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He Knows

“But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.” Mark 9:32

“I don’t know…”

This was my reply to my sister on her question why this difficulty we have in the family is happening right now. May be she was asking why now that we all are in advanced age levels that supposedly we should be making responsible and acceptable decisions. Or maybe she is wondering why now that we don’t have parental support or even why now that some of us may not be physically present to provide our moral support. “I don’t know…” seems to be an appropriate response for matters we don’t understand.

The disciples were not different from us, “But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.” Mark 9:32. This was the time after when Jesus declared that he would die but will rise again.

Though the twelve did not understand the plan of salvation and resurrection, these beleaguered twelve still stayed with Jesus. They still followed him. They continued to walk with him, eat with him, did a lot of things with him. They would not understand his teachings or his proclamations yet they made sure to stand for him, by him and with him.

May be there’s something you don’t understand right now…

· Sickness has been a burden for you to carry and still no healing or answer to your query.

· Resumes have been submitted but job doesn’t resume.

· Money is becoming a major issue in the family and minor financial rain fall is forecasted.

· A brother is wavering in his faith, not only lack of faith but opposing the faith he grew up with.

We don’t know. We don’t understand. The disciples stayed with him though they did not understand. Hopefully, even when there are times we don’t understand, may our hearts’ desire is that we still stand for him, by him and with him.

For even when we don’t understand, his promises stand. For even if we don’t know, he knows.

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