Hebrews

Nagsimula sa Wala

Walang tirahan…
Ipinaubaya ng mga magulang ang lupang pinag-aawayan.
Kung kaya’t minsa’y nakatira sa tabing dagat,
Minsan nama’y sa kabundukan,
At kung minsa’y sa *pinagpapaupahang lupa.

Walang pangkain…
Umiinom lamang ng mainit na tubig malam’nan lang ang t’yan bago pumasok sa eskwela.
Walang pambili ng kendi kung kaya’t namumulot na lamang ng balat nito upang gawing pera-perahan.
Nahulog na bunga ng sampaloc ang mirienda at minsa’y pasalubong sa mga kapatid.
Walang panghandang *suman sa Pasko at mga okasyon, kaya pinag-aari kung ano ang meron.

Walang salapi…
Binabagtas ang eskwelahan mula sa kabundukan nang nakatapak upang hindi madumihan ang tsinelas na gagamitin sa pagpasok.
Init ng araw sa paggamas ay ayaw nang maranasan kung kaya’t pursigido sa pagsusumikap na makapagtapos.
Hindi umasa o sinisi ang mga magulang na walang pangbayad sa matrikula, bagkus ay nagsumigasig na itaguyod ang sarili.

Nakipagsapalaran sa Maynila…
Nilisan ang probinsyang kinalakihan upang makahanap ng trabaho at makapag-aral sa kolehiyo.
Nagtrabaho sa lahat ng maaaring pasukan.
Mananahi sa umaga at estudyante sa gabi.
Araw-araw nilalabhan ang nag-iisang uniporme.
Nagtatago sa mga kaklase na nagyayayang kumain,
At lumalagi sa silid-aklatan kapag breaktime dahil walang pambili ng pagkain.
May ilang semestre na kinailangang tumigil upang mag-ipon ng pangmatrikula ngunit hindi kinalimutan ang layunin na makapagtapos.
Kahit inabot ng walong taon sa kolehiyo ay hindi alintana ang layo ng edad sa mga kaklase.

Sa kabila ng lahat…
Ang Diyos ay marunong.
Marahil ay hindi na lumuwas ng Maynila kung mayroon nang pagmamay-aring lupa sa probinsya.
Marahil ay hindi na nagpursiging makapagtapos kung hindi nangarap ng mas maalwang buhay.
Marahil ay hindi na nagsumikap at nagpunyagi kung hindi naranasan ang matinding hirap.

Jovita Fayen Recella-Perez; graduation picture, UST, University of Santo Tomas
Tanda ng naabot na pangarap.

Sa awa ng Diyos, nagbunga ang lahat ng pagtitiis, paghihirap at pagsusumikap.
Kung tutuusin ay hindi nagsimula sa wala, dahil simula’t sapul ay baon ang pangarap na makapagtapos ng pag-aaral at kalakip nito ang hindi matatawarang determinasyon, pagpupunyagi, sipag at tiyaga na hindi bumitiw sa adhikain.
Sa pagpapala ng Diyos, dininig ang mga panalangin at naabot ang mga pangarap.

*pinagpapaupahang lupa – lugar na pansamantalang pinagtatrabahuhan (hal. lupang sinasakahan)
*suman – ang pangunahing handa kapag may okasyon sa probinsya.

…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1b-3)

Ephesians · Mark · Romans

Acceptable Worship: A Selfless Service

Mark 10:45, cross, Jesus Christ, servanthood, servant attitude, service, love, service to the Body, selfless service, meaningful service, humble service, humility, mountain, Bible
Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines | May 2012

Continuation of the study on Romans 12.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

In view of everything the Lord has done for us, the only proper response is to worship and the very essence of it is to give Him glory. He has called us to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, pleasing to God — which is our reasonable act of worship. A sacrifice acceptable to Him because it is offered according to His terms; otherwise it ceases to be a form of worship.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He has given us a new nature. He commands us not to be like the world; not to act, think, speak, behave like the world; not to value and pursue its empty ways; not let ourselves be deceived by its beliefs. Instead, we ought to submit ourselves to God and allow Him to transform us in the likeness of His character, holy and pleasing to Him, distinct from the world, set apart to be used for His purpose. We let our minds be renewed by soaking ourselves in God’s Word. Then we will learn to know His will for us — His good, pleasing and perfect will.

When we became a believer in Christ we have become part of His Body. Just as the different parts of our body has different functions, the same is true with the Church. Jesus is the Head and the Church is His Body. In his grace, He has given each of us different gifts, according to the measure of faith God has allotted us, to enable us to serve our specific and unique functions in the Body of Christ.

Just like our fingerprints, no two gifts are alike. No two people can serve exactly the same way. A hand cannot do the function of other body parts, nor can the left hand serve as a right hand. A body cannot also be all eyes, there has to be different parts. Knowing this will help us understand that we need each other. We form parts of one Body and we all belong to one another. We perform our functions thereby serving the Body to edify and strengthen one another until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

To serve our purpose in the Body the way that is acceptable to God, we ought to have a right notion of ourselves. This brings us back to who we are in the Lord. We serve with a heart of offering ourselves to the Lord as living, holy sacrifice pleasing to Him to bring Him glory. Therefore the proper attitude of service is humility before a holy God. It should not be done with an attitude of pride, arrogance, or vain conceit. Neither should we have an attitude of self-abasement or self-deprecation and choose not to serve at all. These two examples are focused on self, on one’s own strength and capability or the lack of it. To quote what John MacArthur said in his sermon, “Humility is not obviously overestimation, nor is it underestimation, it is right estimation.”

Paul exhorts us to think of ourselves with sober mind. We ought to have an attitude of God-confidence knowing that the Lord has given each of us different gifts for the purpose of using every part to edify the Body, to meet the needs of others according to what the Lord has called us to do. A capability not our own but only by the grace of God and we are confident in the Lord that He will use us and maximize our God-given potentials for His glory. So we have nothing to boast or be afraid of because the gift is from God, the power to use it is also from Him and the fruit is His work. Unworthy as we are, He has given us the privilege and joy to be used according to how He purposed us to be and to witness His glory as we serve Him.

It is good to remember that when we serve, our heart’s desire should be to offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, to be faithful stewards of what God entrusted us and has specifically purposed us to do, and to imitate God’s character and follow Jesus’ example of service. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Mark 10:45)

This study is divided into parts:
Acceptable Worship: An Offering Prescribed by God (Romans 12:1-2)
Acceptable Worship: Selfless Service (Romans 12:3-8)
Acceptable Worship: A Love That Conforms to God’s Character (Romans 12:9-10)

References:
Interlinear Bible
Parallel Bible

This is a summary not an exhaustive study. For further understanding of Romans 12 you can check these sites: GCF’s sermon series on Romans or John MacArthur’s sermon series on Romans.

John · Romans

Acceptable Worship: An Offering Prescribed by God

Romans 12:1, Bible, present your bodies, offer yourselves, offering, sacrifice, living sacrifice, holy to the Lord, acceptable to God, spiritual worship, Mt. Pulag, Sunrise, mountaineering, hiking, trekking, early morning, sun, orange sun, blue sky, clear sky, ambangeg trail
Mt. Pulag, Philippines | May 2010

I asked the Lord how to deal with a specific situation that keeps on happening for quite some time now. The verse that was brought to my mind was: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

As I read through the whole chapter, checking the verse and its context, I was amazed because I haven’t seen or understood it this way before. I usually see it as three main points connected to each other just like how it is divided into section headings but I haven’t seen it as one whole text on the basis of the first verse. And the last verse “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” is a very fitting conclusion. So I would like to share what I have learned hoping that you too may be equally blessed.

A summarized study on Romans 12.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

The Lord has shown His love, mercy and grace for us by redeeming us from our sins and reconciling us back to Him through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Having known and experienced this truth, the proper response is to worship and give Him glory. Confessing Him as Lord and savior means we ought to surrender our lives to Him. Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, set apart for His specific purpose for us, living our lives according to the likeness of His character, distinct from the world, and pleasing to Him. This our divinely reasonable worship – a sacrifice acceptable to Him because it is offered on His terms.

Having been accustomed to our sinful nature and the pattern of this world, prior to us knowing Christ, the Lord commands us not to be identified with the world any longer. Instead, we should be different from it as God has given us a new nature in the likeness of His character. We should not live as though we are still of the world, holding the same values and having the same mind and character with it.

The world pursues after: success, power, fame, money, etc. All these are sought for the benefit of self: self-interest, self-satisfaction, self-image, self-esteem, self-actualization, self-preservation, and the list goes on. We were deceived and once ignorant of the truth that the world does not revolve around us and the things it values are fleeting and empty.

Through God’s grace, He made us understand that He has created us for Himself to bring Him glory and not to ourselves or even other created things; that we are not at the center, God is; that He is the only one who can ever satisfy us, not anything or anyone else that we pursue in this world.

So how do we veer away from that ignorance and deception? By knowing the truth and filling our mind with the truth. Jesus said, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

Accordingly, the Lord also commands us to be transformed in keeping with our inner reality or new nature and be changed in the character of Christ by the renewing of our minds through the daily reading, study and meditation of God’s Word. This is an act of surrender to the Lord — letting the Holy Spirit transform us by the renewing of our minds through His Word. It is His work and His Word, all we need to do is to submit.

Then, through testing, we will learn to know what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will. The more we know the Lord through His Word, the deeper our understanding on what is an acceptable worship for Him. When we know and continue to seek the Truth then we would not be easily deceived by the lies of the world and be dragged along with it. Instead, our minds would be renewed and we would be transformed in the likeness of the character of Christ by making His Word true in our lives through our obedience to Him.

This study is divided into parts:
Acceptable Worship: An Offering Prescribed by God (Romans 12:1-2)
Acceptable Worship: Selfless Service (Romans 12:3-8)

References:
Interlinear Bible
Parallel Bible

This is a summary not an exhaustive study. For further understanding of Romans 12 you can check these sites: GCF’s sermon series on Romans or John MacArthur’s sermon series on Romans.

2 Chronicles · Exodus · Isaiah · Uncategorized

God’s Battle (Part 2): A Pathway Through the Wilderness

Isaiah 43:19, The Lord is doing something new, wilderness, wasteland, a new pathway, The Lord will make a way, mountains, trees, grass, way, route, dirt path, green grass, sky, blue sky, field, pathway through the wilderness, Nagsasa Cove, Nagsasa backwoods, Zambales, Philippines, trekking
Nagsasa backwoods, Zambales, Philippines | March 2013

I went out unafraid of the vast army ahead of me because of God’s promise the night before.  However, as the day unfolded, my heart was again in turmoil. I began to worry about a lot of things. I easily lost sight of Him. In my eyes, the vast army became greater than my Lord.

“Are you really going to deliver me? Why? How can this be Your battle? Why would You show favor to me when I am at fault? Was that really Your message for me or am I taking that passage to suit my own desires?” I asked Him.

I was fearful and was prepared to retreat but the Lord took hold of my heart and shifted my focus back to Him. He made me realize that my emotions were dictated by what I was magnifying. If I want my heart to be still, then I need to focus on the steadfast character of the Lord and not on the changing circumstance and people around me.

So I took refuge in His Word: “Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… and the Lord will be with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:17) This was the only thing that kept me going each day.

Finally, I had relief from the storm. The Lord delivered me but not the way I thought it would be. He led me to a safe place however, it was through a route I never wanted to take. Wanting to understand what had happened, I asked the Lord: “Was it really necessary? Does it really have to be this way?”

He replied through the passage in Exodus 13:17-18: “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.”

Even though the Israelites went out ready for battle, the Lord knew they might change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war against the Philistines. So He led them through a different route. Then He had them turn back and encamp by the sea. Pharaoh thought ‘the Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert’ so he pursued them but the Lord gained glory for Himself through Pharaoh and all his army. (Exodus 14:1-4)

At first, it didn’t make sense for me to take a longer and more difficult route when there are easier alternative routes for that same destination. Then pondering on my prior hesitation in acting upon a decision, I believe the Lord did this so that there is no chance or possibility for me to change my mind and choose not to go out of my comfort zone. The Lord is provident and He knows my heart. He knows exactly where He is leading me and what route I should be taking in the same way He knew exactly where He would lead the Israelites in their journey from slavery to the Promised Land.

Just when I thought the battle is over, He said this to me again: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Oh yeah, the Lord is not yet done! That was just the first leg of a journey I have never ever imagined even in my wildest dreams! I await with eager expectation to see the fruit of and witness His glory in what He is doing now.

18 “But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:18-19)

God’s Battle (Part 1): Finding Peace and Comfort In the Face of a Vast Army

Matthew · Philippians · Romans

Proper Perspective: Seeing Things as They Are

Romans 8:28, everything work together for the good, love God, His purpose, God's purpose, anawangin cove, nagsasa cove, cove, beach, sea, blue sea, sand, white sand, mountain, mountain and sea, Zambales, Philippines, more fun in the philippines
Anawangin, Zambales, Philippines | April 2010

ref, refrigerator, fridge, kelvinator, white fridge, black fridge, small fridgeTuesday was the last time I saw this fridge in our house.  It will be shipped to Marinduque, my Mom’s province, in few a days and I guess I am feeling a bit sentimental about it.

This fridge had been a reminder for me of the time I lived independently. (Well, not totally independent because I was with my sister. I think my family couldn’t just let me live completely alone so my sister had to come with me and I also preferred it that way.) It evoked a lot of memories and realizations.

It was in February 2009 when I decided to live separately from my family. The event that led to that decision was a sibling conflict. I slept at my friend’s house for a week and finally decided that I was not yet ready to go back home. Looking back, it’s funny to think that at 24 I ran away from home. Not like a typical teenage runaway, huh?

My sister and I chose a newly constructed apartment two blocks away from my family’s. I knew I would miss them soon and hoped the tension would shortly subside. I also wanted my sister to see them anytime she wanted.

When we moved to that new place, I was so excited about buying stuff and checking the items on my shopping list that I didn’t notice I filled the apartment too quickly. We had all the essentials in less than two months and this fridge was one of those. When I received my card bill on the fourth month, I was surprised!

“I thought everything was at 0% installment?!” I asked looking at the total amount due.
“They were… and they all piled up…” I answered back as I reviewed the transactions.

I miscalculated my purchases. The accumulated installment amount for the succeeding months were more than I could handle and that’s not including rent and other expenses. But the Lord saw us through. I was able to pay the statement balance month-on-month just like before. How? The Lord made it possible.

This is one of the many occasions the Lord taught me that the last thing I should worry about is provision. In fact, He commanded us not to worry or be anxious about anything but in every situation – pray (Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 6:25-34). He made me realize that we were able to make both ends meet not because my mom is resourceful or because I have a good paying job but only because He is our provider.

It was also during this time when the Lord opened my eyes and gave me a proper perspective about my brother. He seemed tough and stubborn on the outside. I thought he never listened and would deliberately do the opposite of what I said, and this always provoked me.

One night, when they visited us in our apartment, I noticed something I never knew before: a comment that was meant to be a constructive criticism disheartened him. I further observed and realized that he is in fact vulnerable to everything we say and do. This broke my heart. I was too harsh and unloving wanting to break what I thought to be his impenetrable shell not knowing that I was already crushing him. How could I be so blind?

As much as I want to undo the negative effects of all I did, I cannot change the past. I am just grateful that the Lord revealed this truth to correct me. I can only hope and pray that the Lord would eventually heal all the pain I have caused him, and that He will also call my whole family to Himself and enjoy Him forever.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

John · Psalm

Nothing Without You

John 15.5, vine and the branches, Jesus is the vine, remain in Christ, apart from Him we can do nothing, we can do nothing, remain, abide, bear much fruit, bear fruit, sunset, anawangin, zambales, philippines, sky, sea, mountain, sun, dark blue sky, orange sun, orange sky, beach, horizon, more fun in the philippines
Anawangin Cove, Zambales, Philipines | April 2010

I have been trying to write something for this week’s post but I cannot seem to come up with something substantial. Last week, I started to draft the continuation of my previous post – “God’s Battle (Part 2)”. Then I tried to edit and add something to it on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday but there’s nothing coming out. I tried to write a new draft and even a new topic but I still cannot complete it. I don’t think it’s because I am experiencing writer’s block or maybe I am but I have only been writing about my journey and there’s a lot to write plus I also have my journals to look at. It’s just not as fluid as before.

As I believe this is something the Lord prodded me to do, I have somehow committed to do this every week. I asked Him, “Do You really want me to do this? I cannot think of anything; if You really want me to do this then You have to help me.”

I also thought maybe I am just pressuring myself to be able to consistently do this every week. What if the Lord wants me to take a break for now? I am also preoccupied with a lot of more important things that need to be accomplished this week: work deadlines, study for the lesson on Friday, etc. Maybe I need to finish the lesson first. Maybe I can just share short devotionals on my Bible readings. Maybe I need to be able to adjust to the Lord’s leading and not just insist on my own scheduled routines. I don’t know, maybe I am just blabbering. 😛

Hence I would like this to be another reminder for myself. That everything I know and can do are all from Him. I am nothing and have nothing without the Lord. It is only because of His wisdom, knowledge, grace and strength that I am able to do anything.  Apart from Him I am nothing. (John 15:5) Apart from Him, I am not able to do anything that would bring Him glory and is of eternal value. I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” (Psalm 16:2)

2 Chronicles · Uncategorized

God’s Battle (Part 1): Finding Peace and Comfort In the Face of a Vast Army

It took a long time for me to come up with a decision. I weighed the pros and cons, and from that I had an action plan but I was hesitant and thought of prolonging it. Then I inquired of the Lord on what I should do. I had hoped He would tell me to do what my heart desired. Instead, He instructed me the opposite and even told me to go the extra mile and do what was difficult for me.

His message was clear and I was rebuked that my desires and actions were reflections of my defiant and arrogant attitude. He wanted me to submit and give respect to authority, to imitate His character, to not just have an exceptional output but more importantly have a right heart before Him. He also wanted me to do something that was not even necessary.

After a few weeks, I asked Him again on what I should do. I had a feeling that this decision or event was something inevitable and I thought maybe the Lord just wanted to correct my heart before making that decision. But He told me the same thing as before, it was a no.

As the situation went to a climax, I cried out to the Lord wanting to be out of it. I asked His leading if I can do what I had been asking Him. The Lord comforted me by reminding me of His character and the things He has done:

Father, You are the One who is ultimately in control – You always are in all situations.
You are the same yesterday, today and forever.
You never change Your mind. My days are already set before You.
You are faithful and dependable. You have shown Your faithfulness time and time again and I have no reason to doubt You.
You are true, steadfast and unchangeable.
You are not swayed by mere men.
You are God all-powerful and all-knowing.
Yet in all Your majesty and splendor, You make time for me.
You have turned Your eyes on me and have shown me mercy…

The Lord led me to read 2 Chronicles 20:1-30. It is about how King Jehoshaphat with the men of Judah defeated the vast army of the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites without lifting a finger against them. The Lord told them to march down against that vast army. When they arrived on the battlefield, they found all their enemies dead and a great amount of plunder to carry. It was indeed God’s battle.

At first, I just wanted to be continuously encouraged by God’s character and the things He has done by reading Jehoshaphat’s prayer:

O Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?…

As I continued, I realized the description of what I felt – I was in distress!

9 …will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.

 12 …For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

The Lord comforted me all the more in His response to Jehoshaphat’s (their) prayer:

15 …This is what the Lord says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them…

17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”

Problems, challenges and trials reveal the contents of my heart, my inclinations and my character. The Lord is faithful in revealing my deepest sins, rebuking, correcting and confronting me. At the same time showing and reminding me of His character, comforting and encouraging me to follow Him and do what is right in His sight.

That night, I was at peace and ready to face a vast army. The situation did not change but the Lord changed my heart. I found peace and comfort just by hearing His voice through His Word and by Him guiding me where to go. I found peace in the truth that though I am shortsighted, He who directs my path is all-knowing and trustworthy. I found peace in the assurance that it was what He wanted me to do and He promised to be with me. The Lord gives peace not in having a favorable circumstance but peace that can only be found in Him alone regardless of the situation.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

God’s Battle (Part 2): A Pathway Through the Wilderness