Isaiah · Jeremiah

A Birthday Tribute to the Only One

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5)

“…I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine!” (Isaiah 53:1)

Who am I, Lord, that You are mindful of me; that You would show mercy on me and sanctify me for Yourself; that You would speak tenderly to me, call me by my name and tell me I am Yours? You who are the God and Creator of all the heavens and the earth; majestic, glorious and all-powerful would care for me? Only because of Your immeasurable love, mercy, and grace that I can stand before You and gaze at You. How great are You, Father? I am lost for words.

You are the only One who have seen every detail of my life and have been with me every moment. You are the only One I have that can never be taken away from me. I am Yours and thank You, Father, that I can also call You mine.

You have placed people in my life to be tangible expressions of Your love for me and I was overwhelmed by Your many surprises through them. Thank You, Father, for my family, relatives, spiritual family, and friends who showed their love, gave their time, made effort, used their skills and even showered me with gifts. May I also be a tangible expression of Your love for them. Thank You for the diversity of personalities, gifts and skills that You use for the edification of the Body. Thank You for their prayers, messages, kind words, encouragements and affirmations. You are the only One who can change us and I am left in awe at Your work. All glory be to Your Name for the sake of your steadfast love and faithfulness. 

Thank You, Lord, for another year of life. Unworthy as I am, You have purposed to give me the privilege and joy to serve You and be used by You for Your glory and eternal purposes. May I be useful to You for Your Name’s sake. You are the only who can satisfy me. Enable me to always enjoy You and mold me into the character of Jesus Christ. Be glorified, Father.

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Grateful for the birthday surprises of: the Mabuhay kids with Holgado family; my CAC family and those who were with us in the outreach; my GCF Connect family and their overwhelming encouragements and affirmations; my family, relatives, Galela and Adoremos family who celebrated with me at home; Mommy, Miko and Malyn who sent me messages even though they are away; my friends, previous co-workers, former classmates who sent me messages. Thank You! I will always treasure these.

Acts · Genesis

“What are You doing, Lord, and how do You want me to take part of it?”

GCF-Connect, Connect Agents of Change, Dr. Ronald Macam, CBAP
Greenhills Christian Fellowship (GCF) – Connect Agents of Change (CAC) Growth Group. With our speaker Dr. Ronald Macam of Conservative Baptist Association of the Philippines (CBAP).

The seemingly gentle reminder for us to have a Great Commission mindset became more than an encouragement for me. It was one of God’s ways of answering my apprehensions.

A long time ago, I asked the Lord how difficult was it for Abraham to leave his country, his people and his father’s household?

In Genesis 11:27-12:5, it may seem that the chronology of the story was:
11:31 Terah took Abraham, Sarah, and Lot to set out to Canaan but settled in Haran
11:32 Terah died
12:1 God said to Abraham to leave his country, his people and his father’s household and go to the land that the Lord will show him
12:4 Abraham went

But Acts 7:1-4 recounts the chronological sequence of events:

“The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.”

When Abraham was commanded by the Lord to leave his country, his people and his father’s household and go to the land that He would show him, he did not go to that land right away. Abraham just passively went through the circumstances. When his father decided to set out to Canaan, he followed; when his father decided to settle in Haran instead, he settled. Finally, when his father died he obeyed the Lord but not completely because part of his father’s household was with him – Lot.

It was a gradual obedience on the part of Abraham but the Lord was patient and gracious in giving him time and preparing his heart until he finally completely obeyed the Lord. The Lord is faithful and His purpose for Abraham came to pass.

Then I asked: How difficult is it to leave your country, your people and your father’s household? To leave your family, relatives, friends, and all the people you love not knowing when you will see them again. How difficult is it to leave the security and comfort of familiar things and go to a foreign country you know nothing about? But then, I realized, how can I ask these things when other people even went through more difficult circumstances to leave alone and live alone?

All these questions and anxieties were overshadowed by this longing in my heart:
What are You doing, Lord, and how do You want me to take part of it?

Being reminded of the importance and urgency of not just evangelism but also cross cultural missions has caused me to look forward to that foreign country.  Knowing that each of us is part of one Body and has a specific function, and realizing the need of other people make me forget the difficulty of leaving instead be joyful and find courage in the purposeful plan of the Lord.

***

Father, Your Word is true. You are able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine and I can only stand in awe of You. Thank you for Your graciousness and faithfulness to me, for being patient with me and giving me time to be with my family, for helping me show them how much I love them, for fixing my relationship with them [which is still in progress], for assuring me that You will be the One to take care of them and not me, for how You have been faithful in their lives as well, for preparing me and my family, and for even answering all my petty questions and doubts. Sanctify me, Father, may I be useful to You and be prepared for every good work for Your glory. You are my God so may Your will be done exactly according to how You want it and in Your perfect time.

15.01.17

Exodus

Remembering God’s Goodness and Faithfulness

clouds, sky, cottony clouds, horizon, blue sky, white sky, airplane window view

My mom flew to another country for a quick vacation and I posted a message on a social media site to encourage her, along with other family members, in remembering God’s goodness to our family [clan]. It was a quick summary of a few milestones and answered prayers of my mom.

Later that night, as I continued with my prayer time, I tried to recall where I left off and found that I was [again] worrying and complaining to the Lord. Now after being refreshed with God’s goodness and faithfulness, I saw these worries as insignificant / trivial / negligible. Then I suddenly realized that the Lord wanted me to also remember His goodness and faithfulness, to approach Him with thanksgiving, and enable me to see things in proper perspective. The Lord made me aware that I was again magnifying the concerns of the world and forgetting the truth that He is the almighty God who is in control. 

Such is the nature of man. We are forgetful and we need to be constantly reminded. Just like the Israelites who at one moment witnessed the majesty, power and glory of the Lord then the next moment were complaining and grumbling, anxious about their lives, forgetting everything He has done. Thus the Lord gave them instructions to help them remember His great and mighty wonders and revere Him. (Story in Exodus)

Remembering God’s goodness and faithfulness is a great weapon against all feelings of worry, anxiety, discouragement, disheartenment, frustration, hopelessness, or depression. It results in a grateful heart that sees what the Lord has done good and not what’s lacking or what’s not working out; a heart that sees that God is greater than all the worries, fears and problems of the world; a heart full of hope in the character of the Lord.

1 Samuel · Genesis · Proverbs

Waiting Time is Never a Waste of Time

Sunset, Manila bay, Manila, Philippines, sea, sky, clouds
Manila Bay, Philippines | October 2011

After reminding myself of my priorities, I am now down with very few choices. I went thru these choices and I tried to wait, with each day seeming like weeks and months as this is something urgent. I have been waiting but the time promised to me, as I understood it, has passed. I don’t know if I felt discouraged, frustrated, or hopeless. I would like to take action and resolve the matter based on what I think is a wise decision. “Surely,” I thought, “I can make logical decisions about this matter.”

Then, during my Bible reading, I was reminded of 3 characters who needed to wait but did not.

Abraham and Sarah 

In Genesis 15-16, the Lord promised Abraham an offspring. Abraham and Sarah waited, and waited, and waited. After living in Canaan for 10 years, Sarah was still barren. So they took matters in their own hands; they rushed God’s plan and tried to accomplish it in their own way and timing, in their own understanding. Sarah gave her maidservant, Hagar, to her husband. Just as they planned, Hagar conceived but disobedience always has its consequences. Hagar despised Sarah, Sarah blamed Abraham, Abraham avoided the responsibility and told Sarah to do whatever she thinks best, so Sarah mistreated Hagar, then Hagar ran away with her son.

This impatience only made things complicated and resulted in marital strife, strained relationships, confusion in resolving the problem. The promised offspring came 14 years after this incident. This shows that the Lord has His own perfect timing and His promise to Abraham did not depend on human strength.

Saul

Another passage that really struck me was 1 Samuel 13. Israel went to war against the Philistines. With the Israelites having only 3,000 men versus the Philistines with 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore, outnumbered is an understatement. The Israelite soldiers gathered together and waited for Samuel to arrive to make a burnt offering to God. Every day they waited increased the chance the Philistines would attack and Israel didn’t want to go to war without worshipping God. They waited and waited. Samuel said he would come in 7 days but he did not come and the men began to scatter. So Saul took matters in his own hands and made a burnt offering to the Lord even with clear instruction from Samuel to wait and clear instructions from the Lord to the Israelites that only priests or Levites were allowed to make offerings to Him. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived.

Saul tried to please God by disobeying Him. He made a decision based on the circumstance and the people around him, not on the clear instructions of the Lord, thus his kingdom did not endure.

Relevance Today

It is difficult to wait and “do nothing” especially when we are already troubled or worried. Human as we are we tend to figure things out and take action based on our own understanding and knowledge. But the Lord is clear when He said that we should not be wise in our own eyes (Proverbs 3:7). He wants us to inquire of Him first in everything. And we inquire of Him not just for the sake of inquiring but with a heart of desiring to obey exactly what the Lord wants us to do.

Waiting is never an idle time or a waste of time if done with a right heart with the Lord. Waiting is a productive time of learning to depend on the Lord and not on our limited knowledge or strength. It is a time of fully trusting in the Lord and focusing on His character and faithfulness; being certain that He is the One in control [not us] and knowing that He is concerned even with the smallest details of our lives.

09.01.17

1 Corinthians · 1 Peter · 2 Peter · Exodus · Luke

Entrusted to be Trustworthy

I feel like the task ahead of me is daunting and I hear myself making excuses just like Moses when the Lord commanded him to speak to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3-4):

“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exod. 3:11)

“O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue”. (Exod. 4:10)

Entrusted Steward
Moses, Prince of Egypt, Egypt, Israel, Bible, Exodus, servanthood
Moses was educated and trained both in the palace and in the wilderness.

These words were from the person who became the adopted son of the Pharaoh’s daughter (Exod. 2:10). He was a palace prince and had the privilege to be educated and trained in the best school in Egypt during his time. Acts 7:22 states that Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action. Yet he said he was slow of speech and tongue?

In the same way, has not the Lord blessed me with so much? Just a few days ago, I was recounting the blessings of having hardworking parents who sent me and my siblings to good schools to give us the best education we can have and not let us experience the hardship they went through in funding their own education. Yet now I get intimidated with the enormous responsibility that will be given to me and say: “Lord, I do not know anything; I do not know what to do; I do not know how to speak;  I do not know what to say.” Does it mean that all the education and training the Lord gave me were useless?!

Trustworthy Steward

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48)

This teaches us to be faithful and wise managers of the things He has entrusted us [talents, skills, spiritual gifts, knowledge, time, wealth, etc]. Everything that we have been given should be used to serve and edify one another (1 Peter 4:10). It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. (1 Cor. 4:2)

Going back to the story of Moses, after all the encouragement and assurance the Lord gave him, he said: “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” (Exod. 4:13) He had fears that we may not know of and may not understand but the fact remains that God is greater than all of his fears combined. The work has to be done; who will do it?

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)

Everything is from Him and is about Him. It should never be confidence in the flesh instead it should be confidence in the Lord because it is His strength, His wisdom, His knowledge, His gift, His provision, His work, His timing. We have no excuse. Being available for ministry lifts our focus off of ourselves and enables us to see the needs of others; it pushes us to grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord by following His example of servanthood; it gives us joy in pursuing His purposes for us; it puts us in a place where we can witness God’s work and where we can see His glory.

03.01.17