In Pursuit of God

He is a God that can enter the realm of our experiences – not just a God we can fathom with our intellect.

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There is a world of difference between knowing about God and knowing God. We may know Him – His works in the past, in the present and what He will do in the future. We may know a lot of things about Him – His awesome qualities and stories about Him. We may know Him by name, but unfortunately we may not know who He really is.

The sermon today really hit the mark. I can no longer justify myself. I was rebuked to the core, challenged to take honest assessment of myself and moved to take my knowledge of God to the next level. He is more than what my mind can conceive, much more than what every good book can describe of Him, even more than doctrines can ever produce depicting Him. He is God – the only real God with whom no substitute can ever compare.In Pursuit of God.jpg

What makes this God so special is that He is a personal God. He is not a distant God who just looks towards us – His creation, and leaves us wondering what to do with life. Instead, He has given us His lavish grace and blessings for us to appreciate that He wants the best for us. Who would have thought that an omnipotent God who alone can create the universe with just a word from His mouth will care about us – creatures who are even incapable of reciprocating the kind of love He gives us. If there is one word I can describe God’s love towards us, I’d like to say that it’s a stubborn kind of love. And I am forever grateful to that.

It’s one thing to enjoy Him – His love, His grace, His forgiveness – all His many benefits; it’s another thing to really pursue Him. Now a convicting thought lingers on my mind: how am I really pursuing Him? Or am I, really?

Is it enough that I know about His love? Is it enough that I appreciate His wondrous works that benefits the helpless soul that I am? Is it enough that I just savor the beauty of His grace, enjoying the lavishness of His love incomprehensible? Pwede, pero depende.

It’s one thing to enjoy Him – His love, His grace, His forgiveness – all His many benefits; it’s another thing to really pursue Him. Now a convicting thought lingers on my mind: how am I really pursuing Him? Or am I, really?  The mere thought makes me think how unfair I [we] really am [are] when it comes to relating to Him.

Being busy for the kingdom is not a thing to be confused with being intimate with the King. We can do all the crazy stuff out there to at least say we’re busy pursuing Him, but in the end, our soul’s connection to the Father determines the futility of our actions. In Him, there is fullness of joy, there is peace beyond understanding and love beyond any condition. No amount of activity can fake out what only God can produce in and through us.

Amidst all the ministerial busyness, is He really the One being sought after? Or are we just downsizing Him to an activity we can jot down on our planners? He is more than that. As Psalm 34:8 says, His goodness can both be tasted and seen.

He is a God that can enter the realm of our experiences – not just a God we can fathom with our intellect.

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.

Disappointments

Relationship more than obligation.
Fellowship more than affiliation.

May mga bagay sa buhay na lubhang nakakadisappoint:

1. Escalator na hindi gumagana.
2. Umatake ka sa clan war with 99% pero 1 star.
3. Magreply ka ng magreply sa katext mo only to find out di ka na pala unli.
4. Ma-late ng a minute or two pagkatapos humangos papunta sa office.
5. Magbihis at mag-ayos ng bongga pero di ka naman pala kasama sa lakad.

It’s hard to accept frustrations. Lalo na kapag sobra kang umasa. Umasa ka na titigil na sa bisyo ang asawa mo, umasa ka na mababayaran ka na ng may utang sayo, umasa ka na papansinin ka ng crush mo.

There was an occasion na nadisappoint ako sa isang tao na sobrang tinitingala ko. Ganun pala yung feeling, pakiramdam mo nabasted ka or something. Pero I was consoled and reminded by my pastor that disappointments in ministry, and life in general, are inevitable – and always expect that there will be a lot to come!

Have you ever been disappointed? Wala naman sigurong hindi. Noong bata tayo pinangakuan tayo ng pasalubong na donuts pero ang inuwi sa atin nilupak. Pinangakuan tayo na pupunta sa Jollibee pero dinala tayo sa palengke. Ang masaklap nang minsan kang mainlove pinangakuan ka ng forever, pero valid lang pala from July to December.

Masakit ang umasa at mabigo. Pero sa lahat ng kabiguan, wala na yatang mas sasakit pa dito:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me , you who practice lawlessness.'” – Matthew 7:21-23

Higit na masakit ito kaysa mabasted ng tatlong beses isang linggo. Mas matindi pa ito sa pusong sinugatan at pinatakan ng kalamansi. Mas grabe sa pusong tinadtad na parang sisig. All along you are convinced that you are on your way to heaven only to be rejected and denied by the Lord himself on that most important day.

Salvation is free and for everybody. You do not have to be popular, rich, intelligent or influential to be entitled a free pass to heaven. But while salvation is free, it is not cheap. No, you cannot earn eternal life through good works – it is only by faith in Jesus and on what He’s done on the cross that you become part of God’s family.

Sabi ni Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me Lord! Lord! will enter the kingdom of heaven” Hindi lahat ng nagsasabi na kilala niya ang Panginoon, na may relationship na sa Diyos ay tunay na makakarating sa langit, “but only those who does the will of my Father in heaven”. And what is the will of the Father?

The lordship of Jesus is more than just doing good works for Him, especially when it’s convenient, but consistently be in obedience to Him even when things get rough.

Mahal mo ba ang kapitbahay mo kahit palagi silang may handaan, nagvi-videoke sa gabi at di man lang nagdadala ng pansit at lumpiang shanghai sa bahay niyo? Mahal mo ba ang mga officemates mo kahit na ang pangkumpleto nila sa araw nila ay irapan ka hanggang sa unti-unti nang humihiwalay ang kilay nila sa mukha? Mahal mo pa rin ba si Lord kahit parang ibinigay na ng mundo lahat ng stress sa balikat mo? Yet the will of the Father is that you obey Him no matter what it takes.

The lordship of Jesus is more than just doing good works for Him, especially when it’s convenient, but consistently be in obedience to Him even when things get rough.

Mahirap maging consistent but it is worth the try and effort. After all, walang sinuman sa atin ang may gusto na maiwan sa byahe.

Relationship more than obligation.
Fellowship more than affiliation.

Why is Life so Unfair?

Whenever unfair situations in life brings us down, Jesus will lift us up.

It was a fine morning. I woke up early full of expectations that the day will be full of surprises. I went to school earlier than the usual. I did my assignment all by myself. For personal reasons, I deliberately entered the classroom late. everything was fine, until…

I entered the classroom and I saw some of my classmates checking their respective assignments (which was supposed to be done by their seatmates). But that’s not all! One of my classmates borrowed my treasured work and copied it, in a hurry, so as not to be noticed by our professor (Sigh! If she only knew how I value my work, but I guess she’s already insensitive to that, having done that for how many years I think). Adding to my frustration, while our professor is discussing the correct answers, some of my classmates are still doing their supposedly homework and takes no heed of the authority in front of them.

Life is so unfair, isn’t it? These unfair incidences in life makes me realize how the world has gone corrupt these days, and how far people have strayed away from God. However, as I’ve checked the Scriptures regarding life’s unfairness, here are the points God showed me:

1. God’s plan for life was marred by sin. Sin, the most detestable thing to God, spoiled everything in God’s wonderful plan. Supposedly, we are entitled for a life of abundance and consistent fellowship with the Creator, but sin ruined everything. Imagine the kind of life we’ll enjoy if all our needs are met because our Creator is just beside us (literally). But we cant blame them (Adam and Eve of course) for we ourselves are also sinners, and our sins are increments to the scars of God’s wonderful plan for our lives.

2. We are not of this world. Paul told about it, as well as the author of the book of Hebrews. Life here on earth is just temporary, and is fleeting. We are not really for ephemeral realm, but rather for an eternal dwelling place. Life here on earth is just a preparation on where we’ll spend our eternity. God allows frustrating things to happen to test us on how dependent are we to the One who has the power to save us from eternal damnation. Life here on earth is nothing as compared to the eternal life God has prepared for us.

Troubles may be too little or too big to handle, but rest assured, Jesus had overcame them, and we too will overcome!

3. Jesus Himself told about troubles and frustrations in this world. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!” This is one of the most assuring verses in the Bible. It says that Jesus has acknowledged the life would not be complete if troubles will not take its place. These troubles may be too little or too big to handle, but rest assured, Jesus had overcame them, and we too will overcome!

4. Sometimes (or most of the time) we deliberately disobey God, thus making our lives miserable. Disobedience (and partial obedience) deserves punishment. God is just, and He will do whatever He has said. As His special creation, we are to reflect His holiness. “Be holy for I am holy”, says the Lord. And if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God — Hebrews 10:26-27

5. The whole world is under the control of the evil one. This is the truth that is really hard to accept. John has said it in 1 John 5:19. If Satan is already the one taking hold of the whole world, what should we expect? Shall we expect fairness? Shall we expect happiness? Shall we expect justice? Definitely no. So we should be doubly careful, for the end of all things is near. Let us be clear-minded and be more serious in our prayers — 1 Peter 4:7

However, Jesus left us with a hope. He is our refuge and our strength. Whenever unfair situations in life brings us down, Jesus will lift us up. Above all, He promised us that when He returns, all the miseries and frustrations we have due to unfairness of life will soon come to an end.