Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nothing is Impossible

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When I heard that there was a plan of building Hope church in Dubai, at first, I thought it won't be easy since this is a Muslim country and besides, there are big Christian churches that have been established here. I told to myself, it is impossible. How can we invite members as it is not allowed to do it publicly (in Singapore, we can distribute some pamphlets about the church in a mall or street)? How can we start, we don't have any leaders here? Where do we get the money to spend in lifegroup and services? But those doubts suddenly diminished when inch by inch, we reached our goal. This November we will be celebrating our first anniversary and I couldn't believe it! It has been a whirlwind and exciting journey.

This experience thought me that indeed, nothing is impossible with His guidance. I am so blessed to meet these believers who helped hand in hand in building this Hope church in Dubai. As the saying of my forever favorite verse (Philippians 4:13) - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". We are all overcomers and if sometimes we experience problem that seems to have no solutions and we don't know what to do, we should learn to focus our eyes only to Him because He will teach us lessons that we can't learn in any other way. It is also an opportunity to understand and nurture His presence in the midst of a situation of walls of nothingness.

When we are asking the question 'What am I going to do?', just remember John 6:5-6 (5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do). These are all tests and there is nothing, as in nothing that He can't do even in our wildest imagination. It is a reminder that we need to implement things according to His process and procedures and that everything comes from God and not from human solutions and resources.

In every obstacle that we face, just remember that God has the solution and sometimes, He might require our involvement and participation to achieve. He may even ask us to do something unreasonable for us. But believe me; everything is within reasons and for our own good. Initially I had many doubts about planting church here in Dubai but now, it so fulfilling that we have accomplished something that can please Him. We didn't do it on our own, we believe He has always been guiding us and giving us wisdom when it comes to decision making.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Christian Backsliders

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Yesterday, I received a sad news about a dear friend who might lost her way from the path to a good relationship with Christ. It was so surprising to learn that story as we never imagined that it could happen to her. It got me asking myself, how can be a strong and matured Christian swayed away from his/her belief? What made her do that and what are the factors that might have contributed to drift away. My devotion today is about the probable reasons why some Christians are backsliding and how can we help them and avoid such situation.

I am not an expert in defining backsliding but in my understanding, it is a point where there is a spiritual regress and disobedience. It may also mean perpetual state of willful rebellion. In bible we have references for this. Jeremiah 3:22 (Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding. Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God) and Jeremiah 31:22 (How long will you wander, unfaithful Daughter Israel? The Lord will create a new thing on earth— the woman will return to the man). In these verses, the important words are faithless and unfaithful which have the same meaning.

There are many reasons that we can itemize and think of. I have been to this situation before but I am glad that I have managed to bounce back and enlighten the fire again. In my experience, I realized some of the aspects that might result to backslide could be:
  1. Refusal to Face Their Own Guilt. Yes, sometimes they will be questioning their mistakes and incorrect actions and try to defend them. They often not think of the danger that will come to them if they do not receive forgiveness for wrongs done. Since they have committed disobedience, they are thinking to harden their hearts and will choose such a way to harden more to avoid the wrath that they might receive.
  2. Fear of Condemnation. Truly, there is no condemnation in Christ. But backsliders are thinking that if their church leaders give them advice and provide other solution, for them, it is condemnation and it will lead to inquest them and question their own cleanliness. They become proud and they will not listen to any words that they will receive and this will also head to rebellion.
  3. Full of Pride. I think this one is the totality of the previous items. Backsliders will think low about gospel and His words. They will try to uphold their reasoning and will put in their mind that there is nothing wrong to enjoy some things as we only live once. The way they will shield their ways of life will become stronger.
  4. The Listen to the World. They will stop living a holy life because they will accept advice from unsaved people whether it could be family or friends. They could also be influenced by what they see in television, movies and even social media. The trouble will start once they also pay attention to the temporal things in this world. 
  5. Poor Examples. We cannot deny that there are some bad examples that surround the Christian life. It could be a church leader or a friend in their own lifegroup. Once these bad samples caught the eye of a believer, they might be questioning their faith and will query on the validity of their status.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[a] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.)

So how can we help the backsliders? We can pray for them. It actually depends on the situation and the level of disobedience. It is not easy to let them understand and could result to arguments. But if there is a chance, try to be reasonable if there is a possible discussion. As they say, prayer is the most powerful thing that we have. As for the believer, we can avoid to backslide by focusing our eyes to the Lord. Some people can let us down but with Christ, we can always count on Him. We should always examine our faith, 2 Corinthians 13:5 (Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?). Come to Him for forgiveness and seek Him every day. Stay in His words and be surrounded by other believers.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Facing New Challenges

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Yesterday, my boss talked to me about a new opportunity. It was way better than my current position and tasks. I admit I was very hesitant at first because for sure it means bigger responsibility. Also, I didn't feel comfortable yet as I feel that I am still a "newbie" in this level. But honestly, it is the best job opportunity I've ever had (of course a salary increase is a big possibility) and I wasn't expecting this as early as now. Another factor is that most of my colleagues have better and longer experiences than me and that they are also older. This is indeed a big challenge for me and I am having doubts if I can do it.

We all know that most of answers to all our questions can be found thru His words. So I seek for His messages about it. I decided to make it my devotion for five days so that I can have answers about it. After few days of reading His words, I realized that we should do one thing in this kind of situation, face challenges with faith. So I found these verses from Joshua 1:1-9 and it was an instant affirmation of His plans to me and the pointers i have learned from it.

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

  1. Be Strong and Courageous. If new responsibilities and bigger challenges are about to come your way, we should face them in a manner of full confidence and positive attitude towards it. We should also be strong and keep in mind that He will not give us something that we can't be victorious.
  2. Obey His Words. Upon the transition of these challenges, we should always consider that each action has its own guidelines. In every decision, let's consider His teachings and messages so that the outcome will be according to His plans. When we are obedient in His words, it will be a sure success. So we must always follow His directions and have a heart that always praises Him.
  3. Meditate on the Scriptures. It will also help us if we will have a daily devotion and meditate on His words. To accomplish the will He has for us and to keep us the right path, biblical thinking is the best approach in everything that we do. Trust me, once you put into your heart His messages and listen to His voice, everything will be easier.
  4. Fear No More. Like what He said, He will always be with us wherever we go. So we shouldn't doubt our abilities and we should cast away those fears. Faith and prayer is the best weapon that we have.

I told my boss that I will inform him my decision after my two weeks' vacation in USA but as early as now, I am sure what will be my answer. I have learned that if new challenges come into our way, we shouldn't avoid and run away from it. We shouldn't retreat and doubt ourselves, just read the promises He made to Joshua and we will realize that they are also applicable to us. So we should focus and keep our eyes only to Him and we must obey His instructions. We should also remember that these opportunities can give way to be a blessing to others and to serve Him more.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Water Baptism

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It was February 2011 when I had my water baptism. It was in Siloso Beach in Singapore. For me, it was like a magical event. I was surrounded with friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. On that day, I felt that I made the right decision and that I made Him proud and happy. And behind those smiles was a heart of joy and fulfillment and it was so touching and I was so emotional. I was so fortunate to have my leaders around me that convinced, explained and made me realize the importance of public declaration of faith.

Baptism is from the Greek verb "baptidzo" which means "to immerse". So basically, when a person is baptized in water, his or her body is totally immersed in the water and brought out again. It also symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our identification with Him in them. So what is the meaning and significance of being baptized? We can narrow it to these sections.
  1. Identification and Union with Jesus Christ. When a person receives Jesus as Lord, he identifies fully with what happened to Jesus. Water baptism is a physical act that should indelibly mark the mind of the person being baptized with the reality of his union with Jesus Christ.
  2. Public Testimony. It serves as an outward sign and testimony of inward grace. It is like given an opportunity to openly testify to others of his born-again experience. When a person is born again, he is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. 
  3. The Old is Gone, the New Has Come. When a person being baptized is under the water, it is like a representation of being buried and a proclamation that the old you no longer exists. The symbol of coming up out of the water signifies our being raised to new life with Christ. It is now living and making Him the Lord of every aspects of your life.
  4. Not the Act that Saves Us. We should be reminded that water baptism is not the act that saves us. It is actually the act that symbolizes how we are saved! We have first to accept and make Jesus us our Lord and Savior and believe that God raised Him from the dead. Water baptism is an experience after salvation confirming and strengthening our commitment to live a godly life.
Water baptism will be of great and significant time in our life as a believer. It is part of the solid foundation that we need to build upon. The time to fully follow and obey Jesus and fulfill the plan and purpose He as prepared for our life. 1 Peter 3:21 (and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ)

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Monday, August 18, 2014

The Effects of Insecurity

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We can't deny that sometimes insecurity lingers into our mind and that we cannot run from it. We try to avoid it but we can't help to compare ourselves to others and doubt our own strength. To begin with, being insecure is not a healthy attitude. Trust me, it will not help you at all. To start, why don't we discuss the effects it brings to us?
  1. Insecure People are Angry. There will be a moment that sometimes, we feel so poor about ourselves; that we are not satisfied with what we have now. We are not contented to the level of accomplishment that we are earning. These results to anger as we, sometimes, resent the success and happiness of others.
  2. Lack of Confidence. If we don't trust ourselves and very doubtful to what we have, and that our confidence level is so low, we become prideful and snobbish. It causes us to withdraw from others and maybe misinterpreted as act of arrogance. It may bring thought to others that we don't want to be surrounded by other people.
  3. Fear. If we are insecure about everything, we become fearful. Due to this, we can't make our own decision and that we will always depend to others. We will become very afraid that our decision might result to a mistake. Well, who doesn't make mistake? Remember that making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn how to do it and correct it in the future.
  4. Difficulty in Relationship. Difficulty in establishing good and lasting relationship is another effect of insecurity. Insecure people tend to question their value and how can they contribute and improve anyone else's life. Everyone needs a deep and meaningful relationship whether it is friendship or a romantic one. It helps us grow and contributes to our maturity.

Every time I feel insecure, I always pray to God, for Him to make me realize and recognize my areas of self-doubt. We can always ask Him to help us towards the freedom of insecurities and wipe away all our doubts. The verse that becomes helpful is this: Psalm 143:8 (Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life). Just trust Him, He loves us so much.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rejoice in the Midst of Trials

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Everytime we have a problem, our primary focus, sometimes, is being withdrawn from God. We mainly concentrate on the issues that are coming to us and think about it most of the time that will lead to lose our attention from the Lord. It is not easy to suffer from a situation that you don't know what to do and don't have any idea how to overcome it. We should remember that during these hard times, we must focus our mind and spirit to the Lord and take advantage of the situation to meditate and become closer to Him.

It is so amazing to read David's verses of praise that are in Psalm 145:1-13. Despite those sufferings and lots of circumstances, he just surrendered everything to his Father and continuously praise Him and bring all the praises. For him, the center of his life is only God and that there is nothing that He can't do. All of his attention was only to God and he used his situation as an opportunity to meditate in His words.

As a believer, we are mostly being tested in the midst of trials; on how we will react on it and how our faith and trust will evolve. Adversities are part of Christian life and it makes us stronger about everything. When meditating through His words anticipate divine help and believe that we will claim victory for all these kinds of situations. So treat the problems in a positive way, rejoice in it and continue to believe in His power and spend time with Him. Use these times to devote a time only for Him. Isn't it wonderful that despite all these circumstances in life, we are rejoicing because we know that His presence will embrace us and lead us to His promises?

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

God's Silence

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Have you ever felt that God is 'missing in action'? That we continuously praying but we can't feel the response and only hear our breathing? Maybe you were thinking that He hated us because you weren't able to feel his presence? Well, think again. He has always purpose in everything and His view is wider than ours. This silence means something, it has its goals and we shouldn't be worried. During our problems and adversities, we sometimes feel that He is not listening and we call out 'where are you God'? Yes, He can be very silent and the Holy Spirit may leave us... but not temporarily and doesn't mean He is abandoning us.

If you will read John 11:1-6 (1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days), Martha and Mary came running towards Jesus about their brother Lazarus who was very sick at that time. Jesus listened but stayed few more days. You might be asking why He didn't come in rescue immediately. His silence has its very purpose:

1. He Wants Our Attention. We could be very busy in our career or personal life that sometimes we forget Him and when the time comes that we need Him, he 'cannot be reached'. This silence is one way of Jesus to call and grab our attention. It means that we should always put Him number one in our daily priority list. Haven't you noticed that if our parents are very silent, we became curious and would ask questions what is worrying them? It is the same thing, He wants us to run towards Him and witness His great power and in this verse, He showed us that He conquers death and that nothing is impossible to Him. Our attention also prepares us for greater things that will come into our lives.

2. He Wants Our Trust. When we pray, we sometimes want an immediate action and response. But His silence also teaches us to fully trust Him. By this trust, our faith becomes more intact and our foundation is being nourished. Trust Him in everything that we do. When Martha stated that she believed that Jesus is the Son of God indicated that full confidence and trust is very rewarding and the result was, Lazarus was raised from death.

I know it is very frightening and frustrating that sometimes we cannot feel God's presence but be confident that God is always with us and His silence won't last forever. There is always a purpose, just embrace the promises that He has for us and learn the lessons of His words.

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