Tag Archives: Acts

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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Fhey It Forward

But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house. Acts 9:13-17a

Being in a community of single professionals, leadership transition was an important matter since the lives of the members are in transition. They get married. They move from one job to another. The are transferred from one branch of their company to another. Most of the time, its the time for the current leader to step down so someone may take his or her place.

So many who are in position or who are responsible in collaborating to choose the next leader among a pool act like Ananiases. They debate the bad sides of the potential leaders. Just like Ananias, they tell about their past not so good experiences with the next would be leaders. They speak of the weaknesses of the people being considered to step up and lead the flock.

You may have undergone this route, Fhey. Brothers and sisters have scrutinized you. Lingkod members may have screened your personality. Leaders may have argued with one another that you maybe the one or not the one. Or you yourself has put yourself through this. You looked at your past sins, why be the branch moderator? You reminded of yourself about your character loopholes, why choose to lead? You are comfortable where you are, so why shake the house? Come to think of it, Paul might have thought this way, why lead the church I used to persecute, why build the church I used to destroy?

Ananias’ realization is this — he is not the one choosing who will be the one but God. This is God’s plan, not Ananias’ and not Paul’s. Ananias responded and Paul responded. God chooses who are the instruments, the instruments make themselves available for God’s work.

The people who chose you to be their moderator did not really choose you. You did not, too. God did. No matter what your past is, he chose you. No matter what your personality is, God chose you. You grew in the community satisfied being on the background but God chose you to take the front line. You are afraid your skills may not be enough but God chose you. You responded to his call and become one with his plan. You make yourself available for his kingdom. God does not look at your skills, he does not evaluate by your preferences, God chose you because he has a plan for you to become his powerful instrument.

Allow the Ananiases to pray for you. Let them lay their hands on you to strengthen you and to remove the scales blocking your vision. Ananias did that to Paul. One of Paul’s strong verse is this, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14. This was Paul’s direction ever since Damascus. Press on. Give your all to the call. Eyes on the goal. Loving lavishly and serving selflessly.

You can do this for God will empower you. Just always remember one thing, Fhey It Forward.


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Remember Ananias

But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house. Acts 9:13-17a

He had thoughts against God’s.

Ananias had to wrestle with the Lord before coming to Saul who was persecuting the growing church. He had valid reasons. Saul has done unholy things to the holy ones. If he’ll go to this man, he is also risking his life, never to see the church grow as he might have imagined. More than that, Ananias might have thought who he was compared to such person of stature in Saul. Will this Saul give me his time or take my life? Will this Saul listen to me or speak to his influence to stop me from breathing?

You know what happened to Paul. Ananias obeyed the Lord and came to Saul. Before Saul became Paul, Ananias the reluctant became Ananias the obedient. Before Paul became an instrument to the Gentiles, Ananias was instrumental for Paul’s conversion. Before Paul wrote the letters we read from the Bible, Ananias’ name is already written in Paul’s heart. Thus when you read how Paul was radical, because a man called Ananias put himself on the line. When you listen to a sermon about Paul’s one heart for God, note there was Ananias who was committed to God alone.

I wonder if my Ananias had the same reaction to God when he felt the urge from God to invite me to this Christian life seminar. He might have told the Lord, its just a waste of time. Edwin will just make fun of me and of the invitation. No way Edwin will respond positively. There’s no chance Edwin will attend or complete the sessions. Not a slightest probability Edwin will take God seriously.

But when he handed me the invitation, I signed in. I don’t remember what transpired over the moment of invitation yet his coming to me made the greatest difference in my entire life. God came to me, and I came to know him. I still work to be radical for him and God is patient with me. I still pray to have a single heart for God and God is enabling me through struggles. All of these changes in my life and experiencing of God’s graces are not reality if my Ananias did not do what God called him to do.

Everyone of us has an Ananias. A man or a woman who heard God’s call for them to come to you. A person who stepped out in faith to tell you about God. A friend who courageously stood up and told you about his life in God. A relative who shared her time with you when you were blind. A neighbor who entered your house and entered your heart by his actions and words rooted in the Lord.

When a Paul preaches, listen to Ananias by his side. When a Paul writes, read Ananias through his letters. When a Paul is remembered, remember Ananias.

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Shrink

…for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God. Acts 20:27

This is not a good situation. You are trying to wear a pair of pants which you just wore a week ago. Seven days ago, it perfectly fits you. Now, after laundry service, the trousers are two or three inches short of your legs’ length.  It shrunk. It shortened. When it’s fine it covers what it suppose to cover. When it shrunk, it does not serve it’s purpose. It can’t wrap what’s suppose to wrap. Generally this happens when the washing instructions are not followed. Some clothes require cold washing. Some must be immersed in hot water. A clothing will surely shrink if you don’t follow the instructions.

This is not the situation of Paul. He told his audience, “I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.” He did not shrink as a messenger. He covered everything that has to be proclaimed. He spoke with completion. He begun and ended without leaving any details for his listeners to hear. He took every opportunity as his last stand when he declared God’s plan. His message did not shrink. Paul proclaimed the entire plan of God. A message with no postscript. A paragraph without footnotes. A book without references. His message about God’s plan is complete. The key here is this – Paul followed the instructions.

May we be like Paul. Messengers who will not shrink. Servants who will complete the service. Servants who will start and finish the race. Servants who will cover the uncovered.

May our message be like his. May our lives spell God’s plan from A to Z. May our words and works reflect His face, fully not partly. A message where God is a God who completes.

Be sure we don’t shrink, let’s follow His instructions.

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Openness

When they came to him, he addressed them, “You know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia.” Acts 20:18

Privacy. We treasure it. We keep it. We procure it. It’s one thing everyone would like to store. You don’t share your address to everyone. We don’t share our pictures on Facebook to anyone. We put walls in our internet usage. Passwords are controlling entry to your email or computer. Life locks are alpha-numeric or conventional. Whether you are rich or poor, it’s one resource which keeps us secure.

In the secular society, this makes sense. In living with the people of God, it doesn’t.

Public life not privacy drives our church and community. Paul lived this way. “You know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia.”, he said.

  • Ephesians knew how Paul lived.  They knew him. They knew how he lived amongst them. How he worshiped. How he followed Jesus. How he is empowered by the Spirit. They knew where he lives. They knew his daily activities. He told them about his passion. He shared to them his life. They knew his weaknesses. They knew how he lived the Gospel.
  • Paul opened his life for them, the whole time. There was consistency in Paul’s publicity of his life. Paul was always showing the Ephesians each minute, each hour, day in and day out. He did not leave any second for his life not to be known and not to be shared. He did not keep a secret.
  • He did this from the very first day he came to them. Now that’s the test for openness. First day at school makes us awkward. First day at work makes us careful. Paul’s first day in Ephesus? He begun to make his life known. Not awkward but forward. Not careful but careless.

Make your life known among the brothers and sisters. Share your life. Inspire them by showing them how you live. Be open to bring to the light the darkness in your life.

Our closeness with God’s people depends with our openness.

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Unknown God

Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. Acts 17:22-23

Now that’s surprising.

People in Athens were religious yet they follow an unknown God. They were faithful in their church services. They were in presence in every religious activity. They faithfully prayed. They expectantly worshiped.  They reliably followed. They have in their hearts a passion for serving one another. They were religious. However, Paul discovers they have do all these things for and to an Unknown God. They prayed to an unknown God. They worshiped an unknown God. They followed an unknown God.

Is that really surprising?

No.

We find ourselves in those situations at times. We maybe faithful and religious. We seem to know God yet we do not know Him. We know He has provided in the past, now that there is a present great need, we slide and make His giving unknown to us. We learn from our experience God works out all things on our behalf, now that there is an imminent concern, we give up what we know about God’s faithfulness. We received God’s grace in our struggles of yesteryear’s, now that there are other mountains to climb, instead of expecting of what God will do this time, our hearts and minds magnify the mountains. We forget. We don’t remember. We suffer amnesia. We pluck the delete button. A God whom we know becomes unknown.

Let’s follow Paul’s path in Athens to know an unknown God. Walk around your life. Look carefully in your heart, mind, family and lifestyle. Discover uncovered parts of your being. Proclaim a known God.

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Scattered

Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Acts 8:4

Scattered people scattered the word.  They were scattered yet they preach the word. They should have lose hope since they were broken up as a group however they were still united. They were dispersed and should have gone into each of their own way however they still walked on the same path.  They had separate ways yet they were still one.  Others went north. Some went south. Few were in the west. Several might be going east. In all these directions, they followed one direction that is to preach the word.

I know a group of people who are in their shoes.

Others are in Singapore. Most of them remained in the Philippines.  A bunch are in the Middle East: Bahrain, Dubai and Saudi.  Some of them are in North America – United States and Canada. Few of them live in Australia. A missionary priest in Indonesia. Scattered to scatter. Distributed to distribute. Spread out to spread. The word.

We might speak different languages now yet we still keep the same tongue – preaching the word. We might be living in different cultures yet we keep the same way of life – preach the word. We might not be attached as much yet we still touch people – preaching the word. In all these directions, we have one direction – preaching the word.

Now, that is God’s plan for His people. Just like seeds in fertile soils. Be scattered. Grow and preach the word.

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