Monthly Archives: April 2011

Witnesses

You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24:48

The witness died.

I read this from a newspaper’s headline. He saw what happened in a murder. He saw who was murdered and who did the murder. When he volunteered to testify plus a couple of days, he was murdered, too. The witness is now dead.

The disciples took this route. Jesus declared they were witnesses. They saw what happened. They saw multitudes healed. They saw thousands satisfied and fed. The saw him walk on earth and on water. They live with him. They ate with him. They saw him dead. They saw him risen. They did not only witness one event, they saw a lot. Jesus emphasized, “…these things.” They lived to be witnesses and suffered to death rather than deny the things they saw, rather than denounced their faith.

Nowadays, some of his witnesses might take the same road. They can be killed because they live as his witnesses. These modern day disciples may take the step to the grave for their stand in their faith. But not all.

Yet all of  his witnesses, like you, are called to die to oneself. Die so others may live. Die from pride. Die from selfishness. Die from compromising. Die from nonchalance. Die from fear of ridicule in declaring his kingship. Die from keeping the light within the confines of comfort. Die from declaring monopoly of God and his grace.

Like the disciples, you have seen a lot. Miracles. Blessings. Healing. Providence. Opened closed doors. Changed lives. His grace available daily. Dare to trek the direction to be his witnesses. Step forward, march on to proclaim what he has done, he is doing and he will do.

Jesus was crucified, died and was buried. He is risen and is alive. You are witnesses of these things. Take the stand.

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The God Who Won’t Go

And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” John 20:13

I wonder how many times he has done this.

I’m talking about my boss. He is cleaning up an office cubicle again. Box after box. Binder after binder. Paper after paper. Another subordinate has left the company where my boss has been working for thirty-two years. I was imagining in those three decades, how many times he has done clearing out a cubicle when a colleague bids goodbye to the office. How many boxes has he put out? How many binders has he filter out to be thrash? How many project studies’ documents has he kept from that deserted office nook?

When I was interviewed by him, I asked him this, “How do you do it? “What is that” he said. “Going to the same office for thirty years”, he replied, “Besides I love the work, the company is my family.” And yet, people left. Co-workers who became his friends abandon him. Owners sold and new owners bought the company and he is still there.

I wonder how many times she has done this.

I’m talking about Mary Magdalene. She is weeping again. Another man left her. Yes, a man after another man. Tears after tears. Broken heart after broken heart. Loneliness after loneliness. Another man she trusted with her life disappears, as she thought. However, this time she is wrong. This time is different. So, is the man she is after. The man she is visiting at his tomb is not dead. He is alive. He is risen.

He is Jesus.

He does not leave you. He does not disappear from your life. He is not like the co-worker across your cubicle, Jesus is permanent in your life. His presence is constant with you whether you are faithful or you falter. He loves you though you may not express it back. He is not going anywhere. He is with you years after years. Decades after decades, more than thirty. He stays for he loves you and for you are his friend, his family.

Don’t weep. Jesus stays with you. Grow with him. Live for him. Love him. Love with him. Nobody is taking him away, he’s still there with you. He is the God who won’t go.

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Stone Cold

They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large. Mark 16:3-4

You have the same exact question.

You have been laid off. Who will roll the stone of unemployment? You are working for unity. Who will roll the stone walls of division? You are in a mission field. Who will roll the stones in the heart of people? Your family is in a brink of brokenness. Who will roll the stones of pride and hatred? You are a sinner and you are praying for acceptance. Who will roll the stones in the hands of the judgmental? You have kidney problems. Who will move the stones in it?

The three women of Easter knew they were dwarfed by the large stone covering Jesus’ tomb. So they asked the same question you asked. Who will move it for you? Who has the power to pushed it aside? — A God who is alive. Jesus has power over sin and death, much more over the stone. No matter how large the stone is, in your life, he will roll it. He will crushed it. He will push it aside for you to enter life into its fullness.

One thing the women did is this — they looked up. The did not look at one another to move the stone. They did not look at their strength or abilities to roll back the rock. The women did not look at their devotion or faithfulness to open the entrance. They looked up!

Look up to the God who is victorious over death and  sin. Look up to the risen Christ who loves you and who wants to bless you further. Look at him and not at your skills or talents or education. Depend on his faithfulness not on yours. Jesus opens anything that is closed. He clears the road blocks in your life.

Jesus is alive. The stone is not. Jesus has the heat in his body. And the stone? It is stone cold.

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Death of Death

We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. Romans 6:9

The search for a way or ways to beat death has been long conducted.

Juan Ponce De Leons of the world are still looking for the fountain of youth. Doctors have been operating people to change their internal organs. Cloning is introduced to replicate oneself. To look young, a visit at the plastic surgeon is appointed. To keep breathing, an apparatus is engaged to pump air into the body. To suspend death, you look for things which can give you life like career or family. All these things may postpone death. All these things may transfer your death day to another day. However, none gives death to death.

But Jesus.

Paul’s reminder to the Romans and to you, “We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.” He was dead. His blood in his veins flows no more. He rose from the dead. His veins started to feel blood flow and never has stopped, ever. He dies no more. For he alone has power over death, as with life.

Jesus is not another Juan Ponce, he has no need for the fountain of youth. He has no need to change defective body organs. He did not need a medical equipment to inject air into his body. He did not clone himself, he was the same Lord and God. No career or family to give him life, for alone he is life. There was no postponement of death, there was cancellation, not to be scheduled forever. There was no transfer of death day to another, it was deleted forever in the equation. He trail blazed the way and is true to his promise, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16.

You will not perish. You will not decay. You will not rot six feet underground. Death will have no power to those who believe him. Death will not an issue to those who follow him. Death will not be feared by those who love him.

Jesus beat death. He dies no more. He massacred death. It has no power over him. He put death to death.

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Quick Answer

Do not hide your face from me now that I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. Psalm 102:3

Exactly three months ago, God quickly answered even before I called.

It was a Thursday the 13th when I got laid-off from the company I used to work for. Its not that I did not expect it but it just came too soon. I wanted to stay with this company for I liked the way it operates and I wanted to give my loyalty. In fact, there were several headhunters giving me calls and emails but I had to turn them down courteously. But life is full of surprises and this is one.

As I went home to my wonderful wife, I said to myself, this is where God will show he is God. After discussing our options, I decided to call one of the headhunters who called me previously and expressed my interest on the opportunities their office might have. The person quickly returned my call after hearing my voice mail and told me she’ll refer me to a certain global corporation. After a day, a manager from the said corporation phoned me to set-up an interview with me in the coming week. The company offered me the job after another interview session and verifications but I had to wait for pertinent papers to be processed before I can get on board. All happened in three weeks.

For about two to three months of distressed days without an income for the family, we experienced God’s face in the faces of family, friends and brothers and sisters in community. We enjoyed God’s carefully listening ears when we raised up our concerns to the same people who helped us and supported us.

  • Siblings were always on-line to encourage us, always giving us their consolation, asking us how are we doing.
  • A friend lent us funds to pay our mortgage for one month. A brother in community expressed his intention to help us in this area, too.
  • Had the longest email (63 replies all in all) in my entire life with brothers and sisters for continuous encouragement and prayers.
  • Friends calling our home and asking how we are doing and inquiring how can they help us. Friends giving us financial aid amidst their own economic difficulties.
  • God paving way for my wife to do dog sitting which gave us good amount of money to live by.
  • On my 40th birthday, two friends were in tug of war to treat us in restaurants. We scheduled them in two separate days so they can be accommodated.
  • A brother of mine sent us financial support which was good for a month’s food supply.
  • My daughter’s bible school teacher affirming their prayers for us each time we see them in church.
  • Our pastor enrolling in our prayer warriors list.
  • My family getting closer to one another and to God as we went through the tough times.
  • I am starting on a new journey in the corporation stated above this week.

God does not hide his face on the distressed. His ears ever attentive to his children. Even before I prayed, God has an exit plan from the present trial. It was not late. It was not delayed. God showed he is God. Before I called, he quickly answered.

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As If Nothing Happened

Then each went to his own house. John 7:53

He was a man in a black leather jacket and he was handing leaflets to people.

Unlike the woman in her sweatshirt who was also giving simple white papers for promoting a nearby commercial establishment, his brochures were glossy and were folded nicely. I know this for he handed me one. As I stretched out my hand to meet his, he greeted me, “Sir, have a nice day.” My eyes quickly gazed on his paraphernalia and the bold all capital letters jumped out, “10 REASONS JESUS CAME TO DIE”.

As my daughters and I walked away, I was really jumping glad in the ministry the  guy was doing. A few more steps further, I saw him vigilantly approaching people who are walking their way in this market place and giving out his message by hand and by heart.

At home, I was wondering. Thinking if each of those who received the man’s leaflets went to their own house just like this crowd in Galilee. They discussed if he is a prophet. Some of them said he is the Messiah, some of them doubted this thought. But all of them went home. As if nothing happened after meeting and hearing the Christ. Nobody left his boat like Peter. Nobody left his table like Matthew. Nobody ate with Jesus at his home just like Zacchaeus. Nobody spread the news about Jesus just like the Samaritan woman at the well.

They all just went home.

Any event, new or old, where we meet Jesus must impact us. Any routine ministry, small or big, have his presence. An ordinary Sunday service has his power. Listen. Reflect. Open your heart. Open your mind. Don’t just go to your own way. Don’t just go to your own house. As if Jesus was not present. As if nothing happened.

 

 

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The Father’s Work

Jesus answered the Jews: «My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.» John 5:17

John’s father gave him an ultimatum, “Clean the windows or else.” *

John was blinded by an  accident. He was devastated. He imprisoned himself in his room only to come out for meals. He said his life is finished. For a young man who has been used to see the world, his eyes opens only for the darkness.

So, on that day, his father challenged him to go out of his room, out of his shell. He heard the bang of the door as his father exited their home. He was mad, “Didn’t my father know I’m blind? And he has serious valid inquiry, “What if I fall in wiping the windows all around the house?”

He took up the challenged. John mapped and traced his way around the house, and moved and climbed the ladder to clean the windows. John finished the job without falling or destroying something. He was glad to realize that his life has not ended after all. That his dark vision has a bright future. His life went forward after this incident.

After some time, John was told that all the time he was cleaning the windows, his father was on his side and his father was keeping him from falling down.

When life becomes dark, we tend to think the Father has stopped working on our behalf. If problems and trials block our sight of the present and the future, we have the concept of the Father leaving our side. When the challenge is just too much to handle, we feel abandoned by the Father. As the sun sets, and as sure as the sun rise, the Father’s love shines on us. He is the Father who does not leave the house and who doesn’t leave his child.

The Father stays on our side and continue to work for us. He keeps us from falling. He guides us and clears the path ahead of us. Sometimes we may not see, but he is with us. Sometimes we may not feel, but he is on our side. When we our about to have imbalance, he levels the ground for us.  In the midst of family problems, he is at work. When you are jobless, he is doing his job for you. When sickness overcomes the body, he is the healer reaching out. Between relationship issues, he is working for peace and unity. He is at work until now,…24/7 for his children.

Come out of your dark room. Take up the challenge and work. The Father’s grace is upon you. He is on your side always, and he is enabling you. This is the Father’s work.

* This is story is adapted from Max Lucado.

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