Tag Archives: God

Boxing God

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. John 6:15

The crowd boxes God with their limited insights.

The crowd wanted to do things on their own route. This crowd has its own plan but this is not God’s plan– force Jesus to be king, a political king. Not king of heaven and earth but a king by their own dictionary. Who does not want to be a king? But Jesus is more than an earthly king, he is Lord and Savior. He is further than a ruler, he came to serve.

You may define him by your bounded understanding. You might expect present proceedings to be the same as past experience but God does not live by fences and property lines. Yes, he is the same God, but don’t limit him because you saw him work in this way.

We boxed God. When we  immigrated, we fixed our eyes that God will work the way he worked in our mission work. We set out to build a prayer group/community the way God has established our group in the past. Obviously, this is our experience so this is our expectation. But God can’t be boxed. He showed us that he can build on a different route. He presented his power in another direction. He utilized us in ways we are not accustomed. He put us in places we’ve never been before, never familiar to us. God showed himself in an un-experienced and unexpected manner.

You can expect that he is the same God. Loving. Faithful. Full of mercy. Forgiving father.

However, don’t expect the same route when following or serving him. He knows various roads going to his kingdom. Don’t limit him. Don’t box him. Don’t force him to your own familiar way.

After all, God’s gifts are not boxed. So is he.

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This Sign

Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

A thousand impressions a day.

This is the promise of a billboard sign space along Central Avenue.

Quite impressive number of impressions, huh!

I guess this is rationale. Why not? Cars, school buses and public transport take this route going to and from offices, stores and schools. The location of this sign is even in the middle of two major areas in the Capital district of New York. It is also a way going to shopping malls from the residential portions. So, for an hour you have at least 84 pair of eyes looking at this sign. And for those 42 people, you hope that they will remember what your sign advertised and probably buy your product or services. At least you can hope, because the sign promises impressions not sales.

Two thousand years ago, God posted a sign. Isaiah even talked about this in Isaiah 7:14 — “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

Picture this sign or billboard. Virgin. Son. Immanuel.

Any eye will be glued on this sign. Any heart will be amazed with this sign. Any mind will have this sign planted. For the Lord erects this sign, “A virgin will give birth”. Yeah, he will and can make impossible possible. For the Lord raises this sign, “God with us”. Yeah, he will be with you no matter how small is the virgin’s stomach to fit in the Son of God.

Impressive, yes. But don’t let it be just an impression. Or an after thought with all the busyness around “holiday season”. Buying gifts. Having parties. Cooking food for a feast.

Reflect on how God came near to you. Talk about on how he can make things happen such as this sign. Meditate on how God will go through great lengths to show how much he loves and cares for you.

He still holds this sign for you to see. He still keeps this sign for you to come back to him. He still elevates this sign for you to remain firm and faithful.

This sign promises salvation. Not only to thousands but to countless souls.

Don’t just drive by this sign.

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Economics of Zacchaeus

But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.”  Luke 19:8

Economics is about incentives.

Companies or persons hand their resources if in return they get incentives or benefits above what they gave.

Knowing that this guy Zacchaeus is the chief tax collector, accounting or economics are his daily life. He looks for financial benefits in every transaction. His eyes scans the numbers and says if it’s a deal or not.

Not today.

Look at his economics.

Before meeting Jesus:

Net Worth = Z (this is his total worth, assets minus liabilities)

Moments after meeting Jesus:

Net Worth = Z – 0.5*Z = 0.5Z (this is his total worth after giving half to the poor)

Further moments after meeting Jesus:

Net Worth = 0.5Z – image002 (this is his total worth after giving back 4 times to what he extorted per person, E, from the number of people he extorted, n)

Zacchaeus threw what he learned all his life about economic benefits out of his window. His financial worth decreased moment after moment after meeting the Christ. Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house…” (Luke 19:9) and Zacchaeus, by his economics, replied, “It’s a deal!”.

We don’t know if he came back to his job as the chief tax collector, I bet he resigned! We don’t know if he became a full time follower of Jesus, just like the Twelve, I bet he did in his own small ways! This is what we surely know – his life turned around and he realized it’s not about the money. That life is not about these financial benefits thus he was willing to give almost all he got.

Jesus saved him. And that is an enough incentive.

 

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Strong Arm

Be our strong arm each day and our salvation in times of trouble. Isaiah 32:2b

Each of one of us has this.

You depend on it. When you are tightening a glass jar cap or when you are opening a tight one, you use it. You lean on it. When all of a sudden you fall on the street, you put it first. When you push or pull something or when you go against something, a wall or a box, this arm gives you the foundation. It does your hardest work. When you twist a plumbing or when you get into a hole inside your car’s machine, this arm does the job. It reaches out for you. When you rebound a ball or when you jump to hand off a hanging fruit, this arm extends. It may be your left. It may be your right. It can’t be both but all of us have one – a strong arm.

Isaiah prayed that God be our strong arm, “Be our strong arm each day and our salvation in times of trouble. Isaiah 32:2b“. And God is.

He can tighten whatever is loose in your life. He can loosen whatever is in bondage to be in your personal or family life. He is the one you can lean on to. When you fall, he catches you. As you walk the narrow road and may be about to trip, he puts you on his back. He is your strong foundation, when you aim to pull your dreams or when you push away your distractions, you can ask his grace and strength to be there for you. When at your weakest, he comes up to take on what’s tough and what’s rough. He can and he will open things for you, your ideas, your wildest dreams, anything you thought it won’t be possible. He can close matters if these will hurt you or hurt your relationship with him. He extends his love and mercy to you. He reaches out for you when you are about to divert in your walk with him. He reaches out and extends himself whatever you can’t attain. All for you. You can depend on him. You can lean on him. He is the only one. He is the only one you’ve got.

You have him. He is God. He is your strong arm.

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I don’t want me to be still me

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist… Matthew 14:1-2a

He sees John in Jesus.

Not the other way around — see Jesus in John. And he has all the reasons to get startled. He is the same man who sent John to the valley of death. He is the same ruler who gave orders to put to stop John’s breath. Then Jesus appeared to start his ministry, this tetrarch saw John not Jesus. In every miracle, for every healing, for every driving-out-of-demons, he saw John not Jesus.

Sounds like our neighbors.

When I was starting my relationship with the Lord, they told me that I will, at some point, go back to my old life. That night, our conversation gave me a deeper reflection which is still challenging me today. Though I told them about my new found life in God and the ways I was serving him, the way our discussion went through and as they were predicting I’m about to slip from this narrow road, the bottom line is this — they still saw me in me. They did not see Jesus in me.

This gave me enough time on my knees to pray to God to change me, to turn my life upside down. I pleaded to him to let his face shine upon mine so they will see him not me. I cried out to the Lord to give me grace to repent from my old ways and that I may love him above all else. For no matter how many miracles or healing God can do through me. No matter how many people will hear me and get inspiration from my talks or preaching. No matter how many hours I can dedicate for his service. No matter how many hits this blog can record. Everything is in vain if they still see me in me. It won’t matter if they don’t see Jesus’ life in the way I live my life. Paul confirms this, “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Until today, my prayer still reverberates to his ears, “…change me oh God, make me like you…”

I don’t want me to be still me.

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Light Up A Candle

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Luke 11:33

Praise lights each candle.

That’s our daughter. Our daughter serves as an altar server this given Sunday. We arrived early for her to prepare some things for the worship service. She dresses up with her altar gown and walks out from the back door to light each candle in the altar and in the church. She goes to the ones at the altar and she goes to the candles at the back of the church. If there would be other candles, she would not miss them. She goes to smaller candles, and to bigger or taller candles. If the light from a candle is suddenly blown by, she goes back to bring light to that candle. Though the light from each candle would be covered by the ceiling’s electric lighting, the candles continue to provide that certain light which only them could give throughout the service.

Then the light struck my heart.

This is the call of Jesus when we bring out the light. To light up one another. To bring the light to each person. To your spouse. To your daughters and sons. To your friends. To your office mates. That when you go to a certain place and as soon as your presence is felt, your words and actions lights up each person’s heart. That when you enter any door, you share the light of Jesus to others. Share the light to the people who have been standing there and needing of “how are you doing?”, hugs, love, affirmation and encouragement. Share his light to the people whose lights may have been extinguished by trials, marital problems, job concerns, unemployment, broken friendships, or doubt of God. Go back to the person whose light may have been blown by personal difficulties or financial challenges. 

Some of us may be like the ceiling’s lighting. These are leaders, pastors or teachers. Most of us may be like candles. They prepare what is menial, they are always at the background serving with all their hearts. But both type light the church. Both type can provide everlasting spark in the heart. So, you may have a small service or a small candle, what is important is you use it to light others. No matter how small your role is, God has put the light in you so it must be shared and not kept.  You have a unique God-given light or personality or gift that you alone can reach out to a certain person or group.

At the end of the service, Praise goes to put out the light in each candle. Hopefully, we won’t do the same, to your’s or to others’. For the light of Jesus goes on and on and on and on…His light won’t melt you but build you.

So move forward my friend…light up another candle.

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Bring The Bread

In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words… Genesis 14:18

He brings the bread.

In the old and local Philippines, this boy wakes up early. He fetches his goods at the nearest street corner bakery. As he rides his bicycle, the bread within the front basket scatters the smell of fresh baked flour into the morning air. He settles at one home and another and another. At the doorsteps, he puts that sturdy brown bag which is ready to fill the stomachs of families after resting for the night. His work is personal. His work satisfies the hunger. His travel has a purpose. To bring the bread to the households. To fill the hungry with this bread.

Melchizedek did just that. The boy with five loaves did that. You can do it, too.

You don’t need to be a priest, mind you. This call for all of us is personal. As long as you want to satisfy the hunger of this world. Make it  your life’s purpose. To bring life to others as you share the bread of life. To fill the gaps in multiple hearts which can’t be filled by any ideology but by God alone.

May I bring some ways to bring the bread?

  • Be an encouragement in your homes.
  • Always speak God’s word may be in terms of positive outlook.
  • Follow God’s laws and the laws of the land.
  • Do your work well and pay your bills.
  • Be responsible to your promises.
  • Use Facebook or Twitter to spread his love and his words.
  • Show empathy and charity to the needy whose needs may be material or emotional tangibles.

You may be a priest. You may be a small boy with a packed lunch. You may be the clerk at the busiest table or a hotel receptionist. An accountant or an office messenger. A teacher or a student. All of us are called. All of us have the grace. All of us are capable.

Bring the bread.

 

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