Can ministry earn me favor and blessing? 

Many of us church volunteers and leaders, love to participate in God’s work to advance His Kingdom. But could it be that our purpose for doing so is to get more of God’s favor, blessing, and even His Presence? 

We probably know that the gospel offers forgiveness and salvation. But do we think for one second that when it comes to God’s favor, blessing or access to Him, we need to strive for it?

Think again. The Gospel in itself offers His provision and His Presence, too. 

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. – Galatians 3:29

There is a tendency for us to forget this given the system of the transactional world we live in. We’re simply limited from comprehending this grace completely. It won’t even take our lifetime, not even an eternity to fully grasp it.  
If we can truly begin to understand this grace, we will feel compelled to serve God with excellence and dedication, to honor Him in every way as a response

If you’re in Christ, you are already favored, forgiven, and free. He is pleased with you, not because of the ways you seek Him out, but because of His Son who sought you out. Not because of the ministry work you do, but because of His ministry’s work on the cross. 

Lord, we repent if there’s any hint of pride in the work we do for You. Help us humble ourselves to meditate on the real assessment of ourselves–sinners saved by grace. May we always remember that we cannot gain Your approval, favor and Your Presence. Because once we are in Christ, we already have all these. In Jesus name… Amen.


Wanted: Promotion 

Everyone wants to be promoted. But not everyone is willing to do the activities that lead to the promotion either out of fear or laziness. 

We can be inspired to overcome these as we observe the life of…

David the “Shepherd Boy”

David was a young man who’s job was to take care of sheep. At this point, David’s nation had a problem: they felt like they were going to loose the war because they had no answer to the Philistine’s champion named Goliath.

In the midst of this, David was given a menial task – to deliver food for his brothers who were soldiers. Nevertheless, he faithfully did it.

Now, because he was at the right place at the right time, David saw a job opening, “Wanted Giant slayer”. He checked out the job description, and with confidence declared that he would like to take this job. His brothers and the King thought that this kid was way too ambitious.

But these facts persuaded the King.

David’s faithfulness 
His current job may have seemed unimpressive. But David impressed the King with how he treated it.

But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him
.- 1 Samuel 17:34-35

David was an excellent worker. He may not have had the military experience, but he didn’t need the title to fight like a soldier to defend his flock. 

Be faithful with the task that you have by going the extra mile. The experience you get from giving your best will give you the competency and confidence you’ll need when the opportunity for a promotion comes.

God’s faithfulness 
David had guts, but more than that He had God.
And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine…
– 1 Samuel 17:37

If you acknowledge that every success you had in the past came from God, then you don’t have a reason not to trust Him. David had this quality of trust because he knew and experienced God personally. 

Now because of these, King Saul gave David the promotion, and David did not fail the King and his nation. 

Do not underestimate your humble beginnings.
Don’t look down on the repetitive, seemingly insignificant tasks. Being faithful means executing the activities of your current role with passion, and with a sense of purpose. 
If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones…Luke 16:10

The most important of all is faith in God. Remember all the good He has done for you and you’ll remember that He is a God who will reward your faithfulness with His.

Unboxing the Gift of Lordship 

As I was rehearsing for a time of worship last Sunday, the Christmas song “O Come Let Us Adore Him” got me. From the line “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord,” the Holy Spirit made my mind and my heart pause on that thought and take a slow and closer look at it.

The lyric does not just invite us to adore Christ for saving us from sin. It highlights His Lordship. The song is an invitation for us to Adore the fact that God is the Master, the Boss, the One who calls the shots. 

Having said that, this now presents a problem for the sinful nature of man–that part that wants to be in control. Yup, we all have it. In varying degrees, somewhere deep in the human heart is the desire to be “the Lord”of our lives. 
But, friends, we should be grateful that God did not just send His Son to save us, but to be our Master, the Director, the Driver of our lives. Think about a world without a God who is Lord. Would there even be a democracy? Would there even be laws that protect human rights? Would there even be freedom? 

The theme of the song is similar to this Psalm.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! – Psalm 95:6

“…our Maker!” This makes sense of Jesus’ lordship. Because He made us, he sure knows how to fix our deficiencies, he sure knows how to troubleshoot us when our short-sightedness causes a short circuit of sin. And He definitely knows how to lead us well to a great destiny that He has well prepared for us. 

So this Christmas, let us be grateful that in His coming He decided to direct, correct, and protect us not from afar but from within. To be our Father, Friend, Savior and Lord. 

So let us not resent His lordship, but rather respond in worship and gratitude. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!


The Best of Rest

I had a blast this weekend! My family (in-laws) and I went to Cebu to support my sister-in-law (Noelle) who joined a major triathlon event. Little did I know that I would be in for such a treat. 
We were blessed to have a room with a balcony facing the beach. Because of such a breath-taking view, I seized the opportunity to schedule my quiet time there first thing in the morning. The first morning, I found myself reading the Word in my quiet little nook overlooking the beach with so much gusto, worshiping God, and waiting for Him to speak.
I realized two things: First: The beauty of creation still cannot compete with the beauty of God’s presence. In fact, it actually complemented it. Second: It was not only because of the magnificent setting that made me experience this–it was the choice to seek Him. This makes sense not because I make good choices, but because it’s only by His grace that He has led me to this promise found in His Word…
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

I believe that when you seek God with all your heart and He encounters you, a peace of a different kind and an inexpressible joy comes like a flood wherever you may be. And it trumps the feeling of being in any desired destination in the world. 
I’m writing about this experience to underscore an important truth – God is the rest you’ve always been looking for, and that rest can only be found in intimacy with Him. 
Will you choose to come close to God even if your location is so pristine that it distracts you? Or if your location is so uncomfortable that it produces many excuses to turn your back on Him? 
…Make that choice to come close to Christ no matter what. 
Nearness is a gift, but closeness is a choice” – Jim Lafoon 

Our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.” – Augustine of Hippo 
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28) 

The King is Here

The Bible accounts show many facets of Jesus. The problem with us is that we either tend to favor one over the others or we are mindful of one more than the others. 

But we need to know that Jesus is everything the Bible says about Him altogether, at once. 
Jesus’ being a Servant, a Sacrifice, and a Savior should not water down His Kingship. And on the other hand His Kingship should not water down His being a Servant, Sacrifice, and Savior. He is the only King who showed an intense passion for His people by dying on the cross for their salvation. Yet, He demonstrates His Kingship by expressing His authority over sin and death by conquering the grave on the third day. It’s by this resurrection that His authority was showcased, and this reshaped the world. 

Its evidence is found in…

The thriving Church today
That’s 2000+ years of continued growth in number. How can such a movement be preserved in the midst of all the attempts in church history to eradicate the church? Also, in the midst of the failings of the elders from the past and from the present, the Church still thrives. Jesus promised this by His authority, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭16‬:‭18‬ ESV)
The Church of Christ still stands strong.

Changing lives – 
More and more people’s lives are permanently changed and being renewed constantly by the day. Emotional high can bring change for just a moment, but the continual revelation of the Person of Christ brings a change continuum in each one who genuinely encounters Him. A change that is NOT JUST a result of thanksgiving (for our good deeds cannot repay the justification that the cross has given us), but a change that comes from a revelation of His power to bring new life to the believer in this age and to the time when His Kingdom will come down here on earth in all its glory – the time of ultimate redemption. More and more people are having a genuine relationship with Jesus.
So when you see Christ, don’t just picture Him as one who’s mortal body hangs lifeless on the cross. 

But combine that with His empty tomb 

and One who will gloriously come back here on earth soon.
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:7-8

His authority is the expression of His victory!
Submit to Him as your Lord. Receive Him as your Savior. He is BOTH!  

He Is Pleased…

I have struggled with pleasing men in different degrees. I would like to think that as I age in “Christian years” and “in deeper learning” the degree of man pleasing would decrease day by day.

But I came to realize that it isn’t a particular season or length of time that builds maturity, but it’s the right or opportune moment that works it out.

In the seasons of my life, I have received certain measures of success: In my High School years, in the field of sports and in speech competitions; from college to mid 20’s, in the area of music; in my late 20’s to my early 30’s, in the corporate world. As a Christian, I have dealt with man pleasing in most of these seasons, but through it all, I’ve had the privilege of men exhorting me to be humble, rebuking me for my arrogance in many instances, and teaching me to fix my eyes on God for that much-needed pat on the back. I thought I was completely delivered from it… Until I entered into full time ministry.

In my earlier years in full time ministry, at some point I got lost in pouring out my heart and soul into pleasing people. As if the burden was on me to make people happy. It was as if I had something to prove. All that was really exhausting and I found myself stressed, physically sick always, grumpy, etc. All this because no amount of back patting satisfied me. So I strived to perform for more.

I had a terrible case of amnesia. I forgot that in my pursuit for pleasing men, Someone greater than all of men is already pleased. I forgot that when I received Him as my Lord and Savior, He already smiled down at me from the heavens. Oh what a terrible case of amnesia!. The classic case of idolatry.

I’m not ashamed of what I’ve been through because I believe that in sharing with you my weakness, you would learn that insecurity can hit you from the blind side if you’re not careful in remembering that God already is pleased with you because of what Jesus has done on the cross. The truth of the Gospel has the power to build your security. And insecurity challenges you in different seasons of your life. You may now be parenting a teenager, entering a college, being the new guy in the office. With new seasons come unchartered territory, And one of man’s greatest fears is the fear of the unknown.

At the height of the newness of your season, what would make you secure is the truth that God is already pleased with you. That should lead you to worship Him with your work/ministry and not perform to win the hearts of men.

But I do believe that as you respond to how God sees you, through your example, men will want to know about your “secret”. And when that time comes, go and share what the Gospel says … through Christ, God is already pleased.


The Privilege of Prayer

Last week, our son Blake got a prize for being the youngest at the 1st birthday party of our friend’s son. After getting the prize, the host who I barely knew mentioned that the whole church was praying for Blake.

Just to give you a background, two years ago we lost our daughter Brooke. That was the most painful experience we ever had so far. During that time, I had the opportunity to ask our church to stand with us in prayer during a prayer meeting. And by the grace of God and through the intercession of many, we have weathered the storm of losing our precious daughter.

And now that Blake is here, very healthy, very cute, very smart (at three months he’s just so talkative), once again our prayers and the prayers of righteous men and women who stood with us have been answered.

Prayer is such an awesome privilege. What a blessing it is to access God anytime and anywhere to present our requests and to pour out our hearts. But on the other hand, prayer is not just about asking God for your needs. As believers, we are all called to pray for one another.

The Bible says in James 5:16 that as we pray for each other, we will receive healing. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, we are commanded to pray for everyone that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

But the awesomeness of praying in community is the fact that many can celebrate with you when prayers are answered.

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1‬:‭11‬ ESV)

As a husband and wife, my wife and I value praying for one another. Because of Gods faithfulness in our lives, we have decided to access this privilege and to respond in obedience to God by praying for others.

Just a few hours ago, we met with one of our prayer partners. We started laying down some of our prayer items and listened to hers. It was a refreshing time! Even if those prayers have not been answered yet, somehow we feel as if we’ve received answers to our prayers because of someone speaking life into things that don’t yet exist.

I encourage you to make the most out of this privilege of asking for prayer and to step up to the call of praying for others.

I’m sure that you’ll find it to be very rewarding as you find joy in the faithfulness of God and as you celebrate with your friend when their breakthrough comes.