And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Luke 5:28
I have several questions for you, Mr. Levi. So brace yourself. I still am wondering what’s in your genes. I need answers. I have questions.
What did you see in Jesus that made you leave everything? He walked by you, you were sitting at the customs post, He said two words only and just like that you walked out and gave up everything. Levi, in our time, partial of that may happen. I can leave some things for Jesus. Someone may leave few other things for Jesus. But not leave everything. Actually, we have heard not only two words from Jesus or about Jesus but lots of bible and personal stories many of which we can’t even remember. It’s just too hard in our days to leave everything behind. It seems not practical. It seems not logical. Yet you did it. May our eyes be like yours to see what you saw in Jesus.
What is in your heart that made you think you can be a follower of Jesus? No pun intended but it’s the tax season as I write this. You are a tax collector! You were considered a sinner. You are unworthy of stepping on His footsteps. In fact, the church leaders point to you when they spoke about sin. Yet you did not remain seated, you got up. You stood up despite you are a sinner and followed Him. Levi, during our days, many are still seated. Many are still sinners but not followers of Jesus. We shun His call for we tend to believe we can not follow Him. How can He accept us with our filth? How can Jesus love us in our sins. We tend to think that followers of Jesus are not sinners but saints. Tell us, Levi. Can a sinner be a follower? Or can a follower be a sinner? May we have within us whatever is in your heart.
Who are you that you had the nerve to give a great feast for Jesus in your own house? You showed Jesus to your family and friends. You told your co-workers about Him. You and your troops ate with Him. You were courageous in the midst of probable ridicule. You were brave in the midst of indifference. You showed Jesus to them like the sun shows at the crack of dawn. In our days, Levi, Jesus is like a wallet in the pocket. We take Him out only when we need Him. We don’t show Him off to our family and friends. We don’t introduce Him to our co-workers. If we have Him, we keep Him to ourselves. We don’t give Him a banquet, we ask Him to do that for us. Convince us to do the same. To be careless and live our lives like throwing a party for Him any given day. May we have the nerves to be strong like you.
May your genes be ours. Leave everything. Get up. Follow Him.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. 2 Cor. 5:21
Llevame a mi en vez. Take me instead. These were the words of Big Jorge Reyes Sr. at the courthouse where his son, Little Jorge Reyes Jr. was being arraigned for a crime of recklessly endangering another person. Big Jorge cried and cried for his son to be given a second chance. He was willing to pay notwithstanding the amount. He was willing to take his son’s place in prison.
Such is a father to a son. He had big dreams for Little Jorge. Little Jorge was living those dreams. He was pitching for the Oregon State University baseball team, the Beavers. In his freshman year, he pitched for the Beavers to win the College World Series. Added to that, he was named Most Outstanding Player. Little Jorge has his father’s dreams coming to life. He had a future. Until, he was charged with that crime. In his second year, together with two of his teammates, he was arrested for unlawful use of a weapon when they were gun firing at beer cans in their neighborhood upon which one bullet entered one neighbor’s window and landed on the bed. Though he served jail for only fifteen (15) days, Big Jorge was willing to give up everything he has to give Little Jorge his dreams.
Jesus took our place. He gave up His space in heaven to step up in our place. He gave himself up. He willingly did. Jesus died on the cross. He gave His all for us. He came to claim our shame. He carried our cross. He suffered for our sins. Big God died for little men. He was being worshipped in heaven and was being mistreated on earth. And Jesus did this for us. And who we are? We have no future. We do not deserve a future. We sin against Him again and again. We follow ourselves rather than follow Him. We pleasure ourselves rather than please Him. Our crimes against Him warrant more than our lifetime.
Just like a father to his son, Jesus gave everything for us. He gave us salvation, salvation that is dependent in God not in man. He gave us forgiveness, forgiveness which is unconditional and accessible. He gave us direction, becoming righteousness of God in Him. He gave us life, life that is new and abundant. He gave us hope, hope that is everlasting. He gave us a future, a future that is eternal and heavenly. All because, He took our place.
When cares increase within me, your comfort gives me joy. Psalm 94:19
For two nights now, I have been sleeping in my daughters’ bedroom. They took turns in being with their mother for the rest of the night so I was booted out of our room. No, I am not complaining. In fact, their comforters in their beds are thick and new. Compared to the ones we have in our bedroom, these comforters gave me a very good night sleep. I found refuge inside these comforters. They were a shield to the drying cold outside and inside. In the midst of the winter cold and low heating temperature setting in our home, it felt warm. It felt comfy. In the morning, I was refreshed and rejuvenated.
Are you in discomfort nowadays? Are your cares within increased exponentially? Well, seems they don’t decrease as much as we live day to day.
Cares about loving God. Concerns about being faithful to Him. Issues regarding sins against the Lord. Anxieties in being useful for His work. Concerns about health. Cares with your family. Issues at work. Worries at school. Anxiety about tomorrow, about next week, about next month, about next year. Financial constraints. Your credit increasing and your income decreasing. Your visa extension. Your labor certification approval. Stability of the company you work for. Or even minute details like rodents in your house. Driving in the snow. Keeping the plants in your yard alive.
Cares and worries increase within us. Anxiety fills our minds and hearts. But God is our comforter. He is our refuge and help. He assures us everything will fall into place. He gives us reason to go on in spite of the mounting concerns. We can rest in His bosom and sleep like a child amidst escalating issues of life. He is our shield and defender. We allow Him to cover us with His love and grace. We discover peace in between wars of daily grind.
Most of the time, we just need to go out of our own room and join Him in His. Step out of our discomfort zone into His loving presence of assurance. Be refreshed. Be rejuvenated.
We find comfort in His joy. We find joy in His comfort. God is our comforter.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. Matthew 25:36
After watching the 24th Superbowl, the program shifted to a new series called, “Undercover Boss”. In this program, the main top guy of a big company does undercover with his ordinary employees. He plays to be an entry level employee. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) becomes a clerk on one day. The next day, he shares lunch with the field supervisor. On the third day, he assists the truck driver to get things done. For the fourth time he under covers, the boss suits up to be another helper for a lowly guy of the company. On the last day, he spent his day working with the front men and women who shares their time mostly with their customers. The CEO’s experience opens his eyes to the hardworking life of his employees. He creates some decision and changes some policies after his undercover work to impact better working environment in the company. Of course, at the end the boss is revealed to the employees he has worked with throughout the week. The employees’ faces illustrate shock and surprise however it gives them importance as their CEO displays concern for their work as a whole.
Jesus illustrated how our God does undercover. He will take the person of the hungry. God will ask for water to drink. He will be a person without a roof in His head. He will need clothing. He will be sick and needs attention. God will be imprisoned and will need a friend to chat with. He is God, He is King yet He will be needing help. He who at the top of all things will be at the bottom of the list.
What does this mean for us? We can serve God. We will serve God. He deserves it.
Be ready. Share your food with Him. Quench His thirst. Welcome Him in your home. Give Him shirts and pants. Help to heal Him. Make a visitation to His prison. Not just for a week but everyday, any day.
Don’t be surprise at what God will do for us to serve Him. God won’t be surprise at what you will do to serve Him.
And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ Acts 13:22
In the past weeks, I had experiences with head hunters. Head hunters are recruiters for companies who are in need of top caliber employees. They do not work for the company you might end up working with but they work in behalf of that company. Let me explain. They would browsed up professional networks to scan prospective candidates who could fill up the position inevitably. They would go after people who have good scholastic records and appropriate experience required to the job description. No, the chosen candidate won’t work for them, the head hunters are only bridges. However, since they keep and maintain a network of experts in their hands, they are the ones who scout the labor market. Experience tells, if they get you, they will not negotiate for you, you will have to negotiate for yourself. The head hunters get you, but you have to pick yourself for things to workout. So you must have the intellects to make things right, after all, it was your head their after.
Well, God is not after our heads. He is after our hearts. When He raised up David to fill the position of a King, He looked at his heart not his head. He scanned David’s heart and found it was after God’s heart. He found the would be great king to be a man ready to do His will. Jesus recruited a bunch of fishermen as His first disciples who were merely blue collared workers. God does not count on your education or achievements for you to follow Him. God is not after your education, He is after your devotion. Jesus might have saw the fishermen’s hearts which were willing to leave everything behind to walk with Him and to be with Him. God is not after experts, He is after followers. When God chose Paul, He did not leave him in the middle of the race. The Spirit empowered Paul to finish the game. God does not choose who deserves, He choose people who serves.
So friends, let’s clear up our heads, our God is after our hearts.
Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. Mark 7:25
She has the guts. She was a Kapampangan in an Ilokano home. She was a Filipino in an American gathering. A Canaanite woman in a Jewish community, well, this is the real case. In spite of this, she came and fell at Jesus’ feet not for herself but for her daughter. She begs for healing and cleansing for her daughter. Maybe she feels what her daughter feels. Maybe she came for she has no one to turn to. Maybe her child’s condition is above her love and care. Jesus told her it was not right for her to receive that blessing, yet she persevered. Upon her persistence, Jesus healed her daughter. Jesus was amazed with her faith, she was amazed with Jesus’ power.
I was in belief when we go to the church every Sunday with our mother, she was praying for her kids. She was kneeling and whispers prayers to God enumerating her eight children. She would take a peek on one child after another as she would recite her petitions. When we pray the rosary as a family in our home, she would keep in her heart her dreams for each child and lift them up to God. Whenever she would take her time, before going to bed, she would come to God and ask for blessings for her eight kids. Whenever she makes rounds to do the last look at night on her children, she would say a short prayer for them to Him. She prodded us to be close to God as she was. She taught us the way to the church same as she taught the way to God.
Imagine what a mother would do for her children. Going to unfamiliar places to seek God’s blessings and guidance on her children. Imagine what a mother would pray for her children. She would wrestle with God and justify her requests until God grants her intercessions. Imagine what a mother would do before God. She would bow and bend her being to declare God is her Lord and King.
Selfless is a mother. Selfless is a mother’s prayer.
As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. Mark 6:54
If you are a computer science graduate, a computer engineer or a deep to the bone statistician, you might know pattern recognition. Pattern recognition is a branch of artificial intelligence which recognizes pattern in a given set of data. It’s that simple. If my data are numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, the code will recognize a pattern which may be increasing by one or decreasing by one. If my thumb mark is given in a universe of thumbs, and NCIS traces my thumb print in a crime scene, pattern recognition will help them match my thumb with my thumb. Again, it’s that simple. However, my thumb mark is one and only. It is unique and no other thumb will look like mine or will have a pattern like mine. So pattern recognition must recognize my thumb trace to match it with my thumb mark. So, it’s not so simple, after all.
The people quickly recognize Jesus. And there is a pattern here. Jesus and his followers were healing the sick. They were driving out demons. They just gave feast enough to feed five thousand men. Thirteen people were leaving a boat yet they recognize one person immediately. He was only putting his left foot or right foot on the sand and He heard, “There’s Jesus!”
I wonder what if Jesus has not cured the sick. What if Jesus and the big Twelve did not drove out demons? What if the five thousand starved at that remote place? Would we see this pattern?
I better ask you. Would you recognize Him, if you were not healed? If you were not provided with much would you recognize Jesus? If your work is not that well paying and rewarding, would you see Him? If your community does not appreciate your service, would you acknowledge Jesus? What if your family life is in chaos, would you quickly say He is the Lord of your home?
I know have a lot of questions now and you have a lot of praying or thinking to do.
Bottom line is we must quickly recognize Jesus. Unpatterned. Simple? You bet.