Kicking Out the Monster

Because envy is too great an enemy.

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“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. Luke 15:25-30 ESV

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The Bible instructs us to love our brothers. It tells us to love our enemies as well. Basically, we are to love everyone who comes our way. But loving people is harder when envy and jealousy comes in the way. When you have envy in your heart, helping people without grumbling inside is next to impossible. Envy is too great an enemy.

Envy is a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. It is a monster inside. The Bible even says, “Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?” Proverbs 27:4.

How do we deal with this monster within us? Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to this problem. But focusing on the Lord is a significant help. Look upon the Lord. He has great plans for you. Resting on God’s promise can tame the envious monster in us, and eventually will be knocked out.

Accepted

He even died for my sins so I can share the joy He offers.

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Day 10: God says you are…

ACCEPTED

Naalala ko pa yung mga unang pagkakataon na pakiramdam ko ay hindi ako tanggap. Sa mga laro ng bata, kung sa tingin nila ay masyado akong lampa para sa mga pisikal na laro, hindi nila ako sinasali. Dahil wala naman akong sariling Playstation or Gameboy ng bata pa ako, hindi rin ako makasali sa kwentuhan tungkol sa mga laro nila. Nakukuntento na lang ako na makinig, manood at makitawa ng patago.

Highschool when I felt rejected for not being able to borrow a book from my classmate. Masyado na raw makapal ang mukha ko. Kahit nga sa crush ko, di ko pa nililigawan basted na. Haha! On one occasion, as I express my emotions to my pastor about frustrations and disappointments in ministry, I was just told “marami pa yan”. I guess I really have to embrace the certainty of rejection in life.

But let me remind you that even though the world rejects you, there is Someone who accepts you no matter what. He loves you in spite of your imperfections, your fears, your failures.

Some people were rejected by their biological parents, leaving them as orphans at an early age. Some were rejected by their employers when they miss the mark in terms of their work. Some were rejected by their spouse, some by their friends, some even believe that the world has turned its back towards them. Different stories, same heart-breaking emotion.

But let me remind you that even though the world rejects you, there is Someone who accepts you no matter what. He loves you in spite of your imperfections, your fears, your failures. Tuwing nakakaramdam ako na para bang wala nang tumatanggap sa akin, na parang wala akong bilang sa mundong ginagalawan ko, I just look up the cross and remind myself – Someone has accepted me and called me special. He even died for my sins so I can share the joy He offers. Eto yung joy na hindi kayang ibigay ng anumang larong pambata, at mas nakakaligaya pa sa mga Gameboy at Playstation.

In Christ I am accepted. So are you.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:7

Don’t Pull Out the Plug

Whatever your situation, no matter how frustrating it is, we can always bring the matter to the Lord.

At one time or another, we have experienced a season of disappointments on God’s plans and directions in our life. There are moments when we pop the question, “where are You Lord, and why is this happening to me?” We doubt His instructions, and more so His instructions, or most of the time His silence – His seemingly lack of concern to the emotional turmoil we are dealing with.Don't Pull out the PlugThis has been the case with prophet Habakkuk. He lived during the final days before the nation of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians. He was burdened, and in his distress he called out to God in the most honest, truth-seeking prayer he can mutter.

As I read the book of Habakkuk, I was able to glean significant realizations on how do we relate to God during our times of distress and how can we be encouraged with the example set out by the prophet. But the most important thing to note is that Habakkuk is just like us, so natural on his emotions, but unlike most of us, he is exemplary on his faith.

  1. Like Habakkuk, we can honestly cry out to the Lord

The prophet was brutally honest about his frustrations on what is happening around him. Injustice was rampant and he is sick with violence and plundering he witnesses from time to time. His frustrations were vent out to God: “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?”

Is this scenario familiar? Daily we hear the news and cringe on humanity’s dying morality and justice. National issues frustrate us every single day.

Let’s make it more personal. We all have our share of frustrating situations, like being backstabbed by a close friend, or failure to settle a maturing debt. Or maybe, a loved one was rushed to the hospital, leaving us in a state of panic.

The problem is when people have questions, instead of looking up to God for answers, some prefer to form societies, and within these gripe groups they try to seek for answers.

Whatever your situation, no matter how frustrating it is, we can always bring the matter to the Lord. He doesn’t mind you asking Him questions, neither is He bothered when you blurt out your doubts. Habakkuk is a perfect example of a person who courageously uttered His frustrations to God. In the first place, He knows our hearts and all out thoughts, so why shy away in your prayers?

The problem is when people have questions, instead of looking up to God for answers, some prefer to form societies, and within these gripe groups they try to seek for answers. The good thing about Habakkuk’s prayer is not just his honesty, but to whom He expresses it. He knows that when it comes to the matters of the heart such as his frustrations, only the Lord has the answer.

  1. Like Habakkuk, we must wait upon the Lord

Habakkuk received an answer from the Lord, but the answer is not what he has expected to hear from the God of justice. It was like he is expecting that good will triumph against evil, but what he received as a response was “something more evil will wipe out the evil” – a stark contrast from what he desires to happen, or at least expects to happen.  He obviously cannot fathom God’s train of thought on that matter.

Habakkuk embraced God’s promises and sovereignty even in times of his confusion. He trusts God’s timing that someday, justice will be served and His questions and doubts will be given a crystal-clear answer.

Just like us. We pray for certain things to happen but God gives us a different response. Indeed, His ways are higher than ours. His timetable is different, His logic incomparable to us human beings. Hence, some ends up being bitter, forsaking their relationship with the Lord.

Yet when it comes to Habakkuk, the Lord’s incomprehensible response served not as a reason for him to desert God, but as a reason to cling to God more. In fact, his name Habakkuk came from the Hebrew verb “habaq” meaning embrace. Thus his name probably means “someone who embraces or clings”. Habakkuk embraced God’s promises and sovereignty even in times of his confusion. He trusts God’s timing that someday, justice will be served and His questions and doubts will be given a crystal-clear answer.

  1. Like Habakkuk, we ought to put our joy in the Lord

Disappointment in life is often a ticket to sudden halt in our spiritual journey. When things don’t go well, when we can’t find any reason to rejoice because of what we see around us, it is easy to lose focus and energy, even lose joy in our Christian walk.

During the time of Habakkuk, it is hard to find encouragement when you know that imminent danger is coming your way. Yet Habakkuk chose to put his hope and joy in the Lord. Towards the end of his book, he has written an encouraging psalm that is for us to take hold of:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Habakkuk is saying, in our language, that “even when all things went wrong – even when the economy falls, when the prices of commodities soar high, when the elections turn out differently from what I am expecting, even when my health fails and people desert me – still I will trust in You Lord. You are the source of my Joy and my strength, and in You alone I place my trust”.

This doesn’t mean we will dismiss our questions. This doesn’t mean we will stop seeking answers. This only means that even when we don’t understand his plans, we will not pull out the plug of our relationship with Him.

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Habakkuk is encouraging us, don’t pull the plug.

Train of Thanks 11

Because we’ll never run out of things to be grateful for.

I am posting this Train of Thanks post not on a Monday because I was very busy yesterday. But better late than never right? The good thing is even when we sometimes get behind our schedule and frustrate our plans, God is never late in accomplishing His plans in our life. That alone is a great blessing we can always praise Him for.

Let’s start the round up!

  1. I am thankful for the kindness of my client for allowing me to take a leave for a week and for her payment for my VA services – just in time for my Davao errands! I am thankful that my PayPal account does not remain stagnant. 😀
  2. I was forced to rest from my daily work due to *excuse me* LBM. I am thankful for the healing, and also thankful for the rest.
  3. This week has the first payday weekday of the year! Yay!
  4. I was given a chance to speak about the topic “Feed My Sheep”, in reference to Jesus’ reinstatement of Peter on John 21. During and after my message preparation, my appreciation of Jesus being the Good Shepherd to His pasture soared higher. I even posted a status about it. Researching on the behaviour of the sheep and relating it to myself being a wayward sheep at times, I could not help myself but thank God for tending me in spite of all my waywardness. In every sermon preparation, the speaker is the first recipient of every rebuke, every instruction and every blessing God’s word brings.Quote 3
  5. I could not thank God enough for His timely provisions. I thank God for people He uses to bless me materially so I have some money to spare for the busy week to come (has now come as I am writing this).

What are your thanksgivings for the week?

When Good God Gets Angry

When the good God gets angry, will you repent and take His offer?

When Good God Gets AngryWe are familiar with Paul’s words to the Romans “If God is for us, who can be against us?” This is a comforting message to claim when the world turns its back on us. When we feel persecuted and we face people’s angst on us, we know that we got God on our side. If He is on our side, does it matter who is against us?

But what if God has this to say: “I am against you”? Does it matter who is on our side? We can have all the superpowers and the most influential in this world but if God is against us, we know we are in deep trouble.

This is the overwhelming message of God to Nineveh through the Prophet Nahum. Nahum, whose name means “comforted”, or “consolation”, brings a message of destruction for the ruthless city of Nineveh, who was once offered mercy when they repented through Jonah’s reluctant warning a century ago. It is as if they “repented of their repentance”. They turned their backs to the Lord who offered them mercy.

Now they are back from their old, evil ways. Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria, brings terror to their neighboring countries, overpowering their enemies. They were so cruel that they would leave cities utterly destroyed. And now that this ruthless nation turns its attention to God’s own people, He finally intervened.

The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.
But with an overflowing flood
He will make an utter end of its place,
And darkness will pursue His enemies.

What do you conspire against the Lord?
He will make an utter end of it.
Affliction will not rise up a second time.

Nahum 1:7-9 (NKJV)

How do we reconcile God’s wrath with God’s love? Is one primary and the other one secondary? Are they flip sides of the same coin? Or is there no way to bring consistency out of these two natures of God?.

Yet while He is committed to bring about justice, He is a good God – a God full of patience.

When the Bible speaks of vengeance, it is not because about Him getting even because He’s into retaliation. It is not because He wants to get even with all the offenses we have done against Him. What He’s after is for justice to be served. He is a just God in the first place, and should He opt to not to bring justice, He is not worthy to be revered. Being just is one of His unchanging nature. His righteousness and commitment to what is good and just is evidenced by His anger against evil.

Yet while He is committed to bring about justice, He is a good God – a God full of patience.

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.

The Lord has His way
In the whirlwind and in the storm,
And the clouds are the dust of His feet.

Nahum 1:3 (NKJV)

God isn’t delighted when the people He created will also be the subject of His wrath. He doesn’t delight in the suffering of the wicked so He gives His people an opportunity to repent. He gives His people an opportunity to see how wrong we have gone, how unruly we have become. He is totally committed to bringing about justice because of His holy anger, yet He is also totally committed to His people. That is why He is slow to anger. He can both be good and angry.

In His total commitment to execute justice, there should be a recipient of such judgment. Someone has to pay the price. And unfortunately, we are all worthy candidates. But again in His total commitment to His people, He is the One who provided an offering to receive judgment. He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, justice is served. Through Jesus Christ, we can be set free from God’s wrath, only if we believe and take for ourselves what He did on the cross for us.

When the good God gets angry, will you repent and take His offer? Or will be like Nineveh and ignore the warning?

Arrogance and Downfall

Have you ever wondered why there are people who are so arrogant and self-righteous yet the Lord seems not to care?

The book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament, yet being the shortest doesn’t mean that he has the least message to say. This book assures us, as children of God, that He got us covered, and those who are arrogant has a special place in His judgment.

Have you ever wondered why there are people who are so arrogant and self-righteous yet the Lord seems not to care? Given, there are people who are rude and lawless in their acts, but I am referring to those who think so highly of themselves that they have reached the level of ‘beyond annoying’. Umamin ka na, even once in your life may nakilala kang ganito ang ugali.

This is the case of the Edomites, Israel’s neighbor to the south. The Edomites trace their roots from Esau, Jacob’s older brother. If you are still familiar with your Sunday school story, Esau and Jacob have this sibling rivalry even while they were still in their mother’s womb. They grew up fighting over the attention of their parents, and eventually parted ways when Jacob pretended to be Esau with a stew and goat’s hair and deceived their father. In fact, their family is an excellent source of lessons for parenting and sibling relationships. Good thing, after a very dramatic episode on the latter part of their life, the brothers agreed to embrace peace and forget their rivalry.

However, generations later, their descendants are still in conflict with each other. The Edomites are still hostile with their Israelite cousins. Their hostility led them to think that they are far above and greater than their neighbors. Because they lived in seemingly impregnable cities that were cut out of rock cliffs, they arrogantly felt as if nothing could touch them. Lalo na nang ang kanilang kaaway ay inatake ng ibang bayan, sila ay nagdiwang at nagtawa pa sa sinapit ng iba! O di ba, parang kontrabida lang sa telenovela!

God hates pride so much because it is an overemphasis on self. It is as if saying that we can go along well even without God.

If there is one message that the book of Obadiah wants to tell us, it is that those who are proud will be humbled, those who think so high of themselves will be brought to low, and those who rely too much on their own will soon find their efforts crashing down.

God hates pride so much because it is an overemphasis on self. It is as if saying that we can go along well even without God. The Edomites has adopted this kind of arrogance. They thought they don’t need anyone else, not even God. The Bible says, “pride goes before destruction” – and God issued His verdict through Obadiah that soon enough, the Edomites will receive what their deeds deserve. The pride in their hearts has deceived them and it caused them their downfall.

Now, if you know someone who has the kind of arrogance like the Edomites (o baka naman tayo rin pala ang ganun), remember that God’s primary concern is not to bring them to their destruction; neither are we entitled to condemn. We are to love and pray for them, thinking more of their salvation than their judgment. Keep in mind that God’s judgment is reserved only to those who refuse to acknowledge Him until the end.

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The ancient city of Petra, now in ruins.

The history books tell us that Edom did OK for perhaps a hundred years after their final warning from God’s prophets. Then, during the fifth century (400-499) B.C. the “Edomites” were overwhelmed by other Arab groups. In turn, these groups were taken over by the Nabataeans, who started living in the area sometime around 312 B.C. By the way, the Nabataeans, not the Edomites, are the people who cut the temples in the sandstone walls of Petra. Under the Nabataeans, the city of Petra flourished until 106 A.D., when the Romans conquered Petra. From that time it slid into disuse, to the point that Edom was almost uninhabited from the 7th to the 12th century A.D. It revived slightly in the 12th century when the crusaders built a castle there called Sel. Afterward, it remained so forgotten that it had to be rediscovered in 1812 by Swiss traveler Johann. L. Burckhardt. (Source: http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/fulfill.shtml)

If Jesus Comes Back Today

Jesus is coming back. Rend your heart, not just your garments.

If Jesus chooses to come back today, I wonder how the world will react. I bet netizens will be so active in flooding their social media feeds. I’m thinking of hashtags like #TouchdownJesus or #WelcomeBackJC will trend with number of posts and tweets unimaginable. Acts of compassion and kindness will be most evident during these times. But these events are just pigments of my imagination. In no way these are biblical, purely speculative.

If Jesus comes back today, what would really happen? We have accounts on the Bible that says His coming will be like a thief in the night – no one knows when. Yet with certainty He will soon come and take with Him all those who are His.

But more than the manner and the specifics of His return, have you ever thought about how you will choose to welcome Him?

We are living on the last days where all major signs of His return happens right before our very eyes – wars and rumors of war, pestilences, drought, unexplainable weather disturbances, uncanny sightings of celestial bodies and rampant evil. If Jesus will ask us for reasons why He ought to return now in our generation, I believe we can raise enough justifications. But the prerogative is not in our hands. Only the Father knows when.

But more than the manner and the specifics of His return, have you ever thought about how you will choose to welcome Him? I have heard of a story of a good lady who patiently waits for Jesus’ return that she refuses to go on a bath thinking she might get caught naked and unprepared. I just don’t know if she’s still holding on to this resolve.

Yet the lady is preparing herself. No matter how silly it may sound to us, no matter how extreme her view is, the bottom line is she wants to be prepared. Because who knows, the Big Day might come tonight or tomorrow?

The prophet Joel has this to say: “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.”
Joel 2:12-13 NASB.

Preparation for the Lord’s coming is not about keeping your hairs and your nails trimmed, nor making yourself presentable. Our earthly appointments calls for that kind of preparation, but our preparation for His coming needs the rending of the heart.

Preparation for the Lord’s coming is not about keeping your hairs and your nails trimmed, nor making yourself presentable. Our earthly appointments calls for that kind of preparation, but our preparation for His coming needs the rending of the heart. To rend ones heart is to make it open, available for the mighty works of God.

Are we prepared for His return? Have we forgiven those who trespassed against us? How about leaving our sinful lifestyle behind and clothe ourselves instead with humility, kindness and love? Have we opened our hearts to the Lord? And most importantly, have we accepted Jesus’ offer of salvation and full life?

The day of the Lord is not just another day in the calendar or a significant news-worthy, trend-worthy event. It is a dreadful day to reckon with, knowing that He will come both in judgment and in love. In judgment for those who rejected Him, refusing to apportion His grace for the wages of sin; in love for those who long for His return, patiently waiting in faith for the consummation of His promised redemption.

Jesus is coming back. Rend your heart, not just your garments.