Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Finding

Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.’ Acts 13:22

He found Peter, with his brother Andrew, fishing in the lake.

A little farther, he finds another pair of brothers, John and James, helping out in their family business, again, doing fishing.

Levi was sitting on his tax post when Jesus found him. After that, he stood up for him.

He saw Zacchaeus sitting on a tree before he called him to dine at his home with his friends.

He found Mary Magdalene about to be stoned, which was  indefinitely postponed, and gave her the love she has not experience before.

He found the Samaritan woman fetching water, she ended up taking the Living Water.

He found his disciples afraid and terrified, about to throw in the white towel, as the waves throw their boat.

He found more than five thousand people like a sheep without a shepherd thus he fed their hearts and their stomach.

Again, he found Peter…sinking in the lake after taking some steps walking on the water and Jesus reached out to him.

Before all these, he found David. He finds a lad running, not in a race, but after God’s heart. He finds a man in love with him.  He finds him thinking about him. He finds him singing psalms for him. He finds a man not after earthly treasures, not a man after a position with power and authority, he finds a man living to please God alone. A soldier who will fight giants for his King. A servant who will do his master’s commands.

Reflect on this…what will God find when he finds you?

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God’s Big Time

It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6

You had plans.

Since your college days, you had this plan. To serve God through building and sustaining a community of disciples in your locality. The blueprint is stable, you said. It can be done. Why not? You have the support of brothers and sisters. You have the skills through years of training and experience. You have the assistance of a bigger community who pledged their pastoral and administrative help for your plan. Your family is with you on this. Your profession even gives you the time to do your ministry. For the past years, you have been building this. You started with college kids. You jumped into the single professionals’ ministry. So, what’s next in line? The bigger community of disciples, which you pictured in your mind and in your heart.

And God? He has other plans.

God thought, it is too small for you to stick to your plan. God thought, it is too little for his grace for you to implement your scheme. He brought you to another nation, full expenses paid. He gave you a good profession. He gave you a ministry. He blessed you with people who support you. He showered you with this amateur writing skill to reach the broader space out there. He gave you a community and a venue where you can talk about him at the city that never sleeps.

That’s why you can relate with what Isaiah heard from the Planner, “It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

Always be ready when God’s plans unfold. Be prepared to swap your personal plans with his. Have faith in him and have courage through him, to follow his plans.

When your plans are too little for him, God gives you his big time.

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Recompense

Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, Yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God. Isaiah 49:4

“At last! The difficulty has ended!”

This was a co-servant’s exclamation after we finished each retreat or a recollection for college students. I understood him. Serving forty young people whose attention is not quite long on you when you are in front trying to contest their hearts. When you talk in front about God’s love, they talk to one another about themselves. When you prepare their food for their upcoming meal, something in you thinks if it is all worth it. You are spending your young life in wanting to bring them closer to Jesus yet your expected results seem to be impossible for now. You give them your all, they don’t give you anything except their idle time. You prepare well for this event, they don’t prepare their hearts. And it’s difficult to continue serving. Words are falling on deaf ears. Words are bouncing back from hard hearts.

No wonder, Isaiah confirms,” Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength…” You think your time spent bringing God’s words to his people is useless when they don’t respond. You think your actions of service are for nothing when the outcome is not like multiplication of the bread. You think your efforts in planning and operating the event is in vain when the end signifies your work is not finish.

But Isaiah did not stop at that point, he continues, “…Yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God.” The results, at the end of the event, are not you reward. The response of the participants is not your recompense. Your reward, your recompense is with your God. The gift of partaking is his work of evangelization or any ministry is an enough prize for us, who are lowly and unworthy servants serving the King of kings. Being with the presence of God…before, during and after the time of service is a complete benefit for us, who are called to join in his harvest.

The results, their response are not your rewards. Your recompense is with your God.

 

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Seeing Grace

When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart. Acts 11:23

He saw grace.

When he came to them, he saw the grace of God. Yes, he looked at the men and women who are faithful to the Way. Yes, he was welcomed by people loyal to the Lord. In fact, he encouraged them the remain that way in faithfulness. Yes, he saw the people of Antioch advancing the kingdom. In fact, one verse later, a large number of people were added to the Lord. However, when doctor Luke examined the eyes of Barnabas, his pupils reflected the grace of God.

The grace of God. The power to be faithful to the Lord, not the power of depending on oneself to follow him. The strength behind the loyalty more than the willingness to be loyal. The courage to proclaim and advance his kingdom further than the skills to do so. The passion to do what is right and good for others beyond what is expected from one another.

These people are far from being perfect. They just know how to yield to the God’s ever available grace. To be faithful, they depend on his grace. To forward his message, they rely on his grace. To be a growing church, they get that from grace. To receive into their hearts the Apostles’ teachings, they tap on his grace. To act upon the Apostles’ letters and words in their daily lives, they call upon his grace.

May the Barnabas of our lives, see the same grace. That when they look at your church or your prayer group, their eyes will behold the grace of God.  You may struggle. You may have difficulty. You may have heavy trials. You may have usual or unusual challenges. But God’s grace is always available. Depend on it. Be firm with it. Be strong with it.

Let them see God’s grace.

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One Message

And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you. 2 Peter 3:15

He wrote letters. Paul wrote letters. He preached the Word. Paul preached the Word. Both bringing one message.

Seldom we see leaders in the church or preachers of the Word concurring with one another. Most of the time, they try to contradict one another. Sometimes, they try to challenge one another. Other times, they fiercely debate with one another. I’m not saying Peter and Paul did not argue or debated on some issues of the early church, but when it comes to the very staple message of salvation they have one voice. To have one voice, one message, several must be done.

The humility Peter possessed. He is considered as the main leader of the church and yet here, he points to the words Paul has written. Peter thought he can’t do this on his own and needed help. Thus he referred to Paul’s letter for support. Humility. This is needed among leaders of the present church. That leaders maybe humble in lifting up one another and refer the good work each other is doing.

The brotherhood Peter and Paul had. Peter called him, beloved brother Paul. More than an esteemed co-worker, he referred to him as beloved. More than a fellow apostle, he called him brother. Brotherhood. May this gift be evident among the leaders of the church. That leaders may complement one another not to compete with one another.

The recognition of God by Peter by recognizing Paul’s given wisdom. He acknowledges there is wisdom in what Paul wrote. He knew gifts are distributed in the church and each has an important role to play. Peter pertains to Paul’s work as God’s work. Can church leaders do just that? Identify God by establishing a brother’s gift of ministry. Adhere to God’s plan in giving another person of his gifts and skills for the expansion of God’s kingdom.

And so we thought it’s impossible to have unity in the church. It can be done.

By having one message — Jesus as our salvation.

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Of Abundant Grace and Peace

May grace and peace be yours in abundance through knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  2 Peter 1:2

Why do you know you have grace when you need it?

Is it because you possess the skills to accomplish a service? Is it because you are doing a ministry which you are considered an expert? Is it because you have the ample resources for the mission at hand? Is it because you have been there, done that? Is it because the mountain is not too much to climb?

Why do you know you have peace in your very heart?

Is it because you know you still have work tomorrow? Is it because you are healthy and you are still kicking and running? Is it because everything nowadays went well and going well? Is it because your bank account is fat as it seems? Is it because the economy is recovering as it should be?

End of questions.

Peter points to one thing why you have grace and peace — knowledge of God and of Jesus.

When you know him, you know you can and you will do it by his grace. Though your skills maybe short or resources are scarce, you know you have grace because you know your God supplies your strength and wisdom to do so. Though the opposition of the service is great, his grace will be  immensely available for you, for you know your God will enable you. Though the days may follow the same route and may give you complacency, you know his grace will come to you by knowing him.

When you know him, you know you can close your eyes at night and sleep in peace like a babe and wake up revived like a young colt. In the midst of economic crisis, unemployment, family chaos or health issues, you have peace for he gives it to you by knowing him who calms the storm. Knowing your God, allows you to be still (Psalm 46:10). He brings you a table of feast in front of your enemies, that’s why you know you will have peace by knowing him.

Other translation provides knowledge of God as experience with God. The more we experience him, the more we acknowledge his grace and his offering of peace. The more you spend your life with him, the more you tap into his grace and allow his presence to give you peace.

May you have the passion to know him. May your days be filled with experiencing our Almighty God. May you have grace and peace in abundance.

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Sending Humans

When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Matthew 28:17

They saw the risen Jesus. They worshiped him. And then, they doubted.

That’s what we read from Matthew.

And yet, also according to Matthew, Jesus approached these worshipers–doubters and sends them to go out to the whole world to make disciples out of men. Jesus further gives them the authority to baptize people in the name of the Holy Trinity plus the position to teach people regarding how to follow and love him. Most importantly, Jesus promised them of his presence until the end of time.

That’s right.

Jesus sent doubters to the world to bring his life giving and life saving message. He is sending imperfect disciples to preach to imperfect people. He does not commission people who have no flaws, he sends men who are just like us, humans. He sends men, who even in their prayers, have doubts into their hearts yet they continue to lift their hearts to him. He sends men, who even in their time of worship, have worries in their minds and yet they rest in their ever dependable God.

God sends humans to humans. Imperfect to imperfect. Sinners to sinners. Doubters to doubters. So maybe they can empathize with them. So maybe they can accept them and love them. So maybe they can understand their situation for they are in their situation.

When you feel you are unfaithful to him to serve him in your church, read that verse again. When you feel your weakness pulls you before you are able to offer your time and skills for him, reflect on that verse again. When your imperfection or spiritual inadequacy prevents you in volunteering for a ministry, come back to that verse again. When a doubt or a sin blocks you to make disciples out of men, be encouraged by that verse.

God is not sending superheroes. He is sending humans.

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