Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Admitting our Flaws & Sins

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As a believer, I have encountered several Christians who can easily judge others without looking onto their own faults. I admit, I used to be like that, that I can see the sins of others in a snap but then I realized that we have no right to judge others. I have also witnessed believers who stumbled and were criticized by other Christians. Sometimes, we overlook our own vulnerabilities and flaws, nobody is perfect. This kind of false confidence isn't a good thing but for the devil, it is a big advantage for him. I know that as a believer, we should have this full confidence standing with Christ to be righteous but we must also remember that we also have internal problems and weaknesses. The best thing to cast away and overcome this is to be firm in front of him. Never fall into temptations and don't let our weaknesses control us. Most importantly, we should ask for guidance and protection from God.

In 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.), it says here that these temptations are part of his test, that He will not give it to us without knowing that we can win over it. And yes, there is always a way out of it. We shouldn't justify the sins that we committed, instead, admit it and take full responsibility of it then look toward unto Him and ask for forgiveness. We shouldn't make any excuses and blame others for the ungodly works that we did as we have no right to redefine and rationalize sins. We should be careful in our every step and we should all be humble in front of Him. His words are our armor and best protection we can have against those strategies that the devil is doing to win us.

He has an unlimited forgiveness for us but true repentance only means if we change our mind and turn our back on those flaws. There is no excuse for ignorance so if you feel that you are drifting away from Him, there are a lot of ways on how to return to His direction. Committing sins isn't the end of our Christian life. Submit to the Lord our sins, take full responsibility, give your full power to avoid doing it again and ask for forgiveness. We have given two options on how we can reach His kingdom, to turn away from Him or go directly to His path and the latter is the best choice and decision that we can have in our life.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Humility and Humbleness

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My devotion this morning is about not trying to step on to others or compete with them or show them that you are better than them. Then I read on my Facebook news feed these words: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less." I think we had the same devotion but I'm not sure but I believe that this is the words God wants me to convey and learn today. It is not bad being proud about ourselves but still, there are guidelines and factors that we need to consider. In my opinion, those praises are better if given to us naturally, without demanding about it and be humble on accepting it. Humility is a manner of modest or low view of one's own importance.

We should imitate the humility showed to us by Jesus and it is also a direct command from Him which can be found in Philippians 2:3-4 "3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." It is very clear, never think of yourself as better than others and don't think or do something for your own interest. Maybe on a normal day, we have the tendency to compare and look others and say to ourselves, "oh, I have a better job than him", "oh, I will do this thing to just to prove I am the best", "oh, I am better looking than him", "oh well, my clothes and shoes are branded because I can afford it and he can't". Be reminded that our attitudes and actions are interdependent. Our actions will show what we are inside; it is very hard to deny it. What inner attitudes we have may affect others and is the cause of our outward attitude.

Pride can be a primary source of selfishness and we might not be aware but sometimes the way we boast and building up ourselves by bringing down others is unacceptable. There is no one in this world that is better than the other one. Be reminded that what we have now or any victories that we have reached, all came from Him so instead of always aiming to be on top and number one, why don't we share it to others. Encourage them, teach them and never underestimate the attitude of humility and outcome it may bring to others. When we are doing good to others, do not think that it will give us some points and target self-interest just to show that we are way on the higher steps than others. Do not treat ourselves as the most important person in the world; instead, the best way to clothes ourselves with humility towards others is by regarding them as more important than ourselves. If we will reflect on this attitude with Christ, we are set free from the bondage of selfishness and empowered to put the interests and needs of others above our own. The result of this manner is a way to spirit of love and unity.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Obeying Without Questions

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In decision making, we might be considering several factors before we can make our final thought about a certain thing. We seek advice, ask for guidance from our close friends and inquire for opinions from our loved ones. There is one thing that should surpass all these considerations and that is to listen to Him as He wants us to make right decisions and directions that are according to His will. He will provide us the instructions and steps that we must take but we must obey it without a doubt and questions. I remember those days before coming here in Dubai, I was asking Him to give me answers whether to leave or stay in Singapore. God told me to wait as He was "cooking" something special for me. I waited patiently for His answers and after five months, I left for Dubai.

Before leaving Singapore, I had many questions. Am I ready to leave my ministry and lifegroup? What does future hold me in Dubai? Is there any lifegroup and I can join with? With all those questions, He insisted that I should go here, so I obeyed even if it hurts leaving people behind who made me for who I am right now. They are my second family and I treasure the friendship I have with them. So I packed my bags and went here. There were some challenges and moments of sadness but He helped me a lot and made me realize that there is more in this place than my job. I'm starting to love my stay here and I believe that there will be more precious moments that I can treasure from this country. Maybe God wants me here for a reason and I am still waiting for that revelation.

With these things that I have experienced, I learned that for us to be able to hear Him clearly about His instructions, we should have a clear and pure heart. We must ensure that our intentions are good and obey Him without a doubt. Surrender everything to Him and be persistent in praying as it is indeed the most powerful tool we have. I remembered that I even fasted for two weeks just to get the answer and the results were according to His plan and I believe that time will come that what my heart desires can be found here. I also had peace in here that I didn't feel during my last days in Singapore since I had many things on my mind and some problems that I didn't know how to solve. His instructions are clear, wait for His time as He has the perfect timing in everything. Knowing and trusting God's promises will erase the doubts that we have. Maybe the answers that we are waiting for might take months before we receive it. I realized all of this in Psalm 25:9, "He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way". There is no useless time in waiting for his instructions as we can be sure that the directions we need is the right and perfect way.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Causatum of Betrayal

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Being betrayed by the one we love is one of the most painful things that we can experience. It's unimaginable the effect it may cause to the relationship with that people. But how we should response when we are the one who betrayed by our loved ones? We might not realize it but simple things can lead to another level of betrayal. If you are a parent, how would you feel if your child was expecting you in the audience during the recital program? As a friend, what emotions would we feel if we were not around during our friends' unfortunate events? As a son and daughter, isn't it too painful in our hearts that we were not besides our parents' when they needed us the most? Though there might be some excuses, the thought and words "if only" will still hunt us. If we put ourselves in those situation, isn't it too painful when we were betrayed?

If read Matthew 26:36-46, Jesus experienced being betrayed by His disciples. He was in times of trouble and distress and a simple request was not accomplished by those men. It was too hurtful to realize that His "friends" were not watching Him during those times. He was praying and asked them to watch Him but what did they do? They slept and rested. Jesus experienced this thing not only once and even pointed out to Peter to pray to cast away any temptation. We are living in a demanding world right now and it is not easy to balance life's demands by loved ones and serving Him. But be reminded that if we don't know how to do it, we are betraying not only the people around us but also Him. 

So we shouldn't ignore His calls and justify those times that we are not doing our purpose. We might also need to consider the ways on how we can show our love and care to our loved ones. We can be both in this scenario, a betrayer and the one who was betrayed. We don't know what battle the people around is fighting. They could be hurting and afraid to be alone, so fellowship and praying together is a powerful tool to overcome it. Why don't we take our steps now to show our care to those people in need because loving these people is also a way of loving Him. Our measurement of our love for Christ is our sensitivity to the needs of others. Pray to God to open your eyes and heart to see clearly the things that we can do for others and take actions about it.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Repercussions of Unforgiveness

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Oh yes, it is very easy to say the word "forgive" but in reality, most of us is having major trouble in accomplishing such behavior. It is indeed very hard especially if were wronged. Keeping anger and resentment is one of the most dangerous things a person can do. Holding onto it can result into negative effect and unexpected consequences. You might not be aware but unforgiving can spread into everything that you do. A feeling of anger can affect your work and relationship to others. You can't perform fully your duties if you are clinging into that state. For example, if you saw a person you had trouble with in your way to office, the instant thing that you might do is to tackle different way just to avoid that person. You might not realize it but unforgiving also affects not only the mind and spirit but also your physical attributes such as your muscle and chemical balance in the brain. An attitude of bitterness can lead way to tension and anxiety.

In bible, we can see how God directly commanded us to forgive. Matthew 18:21-22 (21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.) is the perfect example of how shouldn't we linger into unforgiveness, it is clearly a violation of God's law. This also hinders the ability of a believer to perform his church duties and can be a distraction in maturity and growth. The way you worship and pray to Him will be in hypocritical manner since your heart isn't pure and there is a part there which is damaged. It is ineffective to honor the Lord if your try to justify or hide wrong attitude. You can also affect other believers since they see in you a stage of disobedience. The list of the effects of unforgiveness goes on and might lead to self-destruction.

I know that forgiving isn't easy but prayers and pure heart is the perfect match in order to overcome it. If you forgive someone, you should also remember that you are casting away your right to get even to that person even if you were wronged. Give up that anger and never ever think of revenge and vengeance. Isn't it refreshing if you don't have any anger in your heart and your journey to your life will be lighter and can be perfect? Seek guidance from Him as in His presence, everything is possible and everything is easy.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Key to a Perfect Life

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You might have read several articles on how to improve your lives and how to achieve the good things life can offer. There might also be some personalities or famous people whom you look up to reach that goal. We want all the perfect things in life such as relationship, financial, fame and power. Many people can give you the basic steps on it or the stages that you need to follow. But we all must know, there is only one that we can depend on to attain such stable life. There is only one code that we need to understand, it is to seek Him. Once we started seeking Him, all good things will follow. Everything will be as bright as the diamond and the happiness will be endless.

It clearly states in Ezra 8:22 (I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.”) the difference of two colliding attitudes: seek and forsake. The only stage that we need to reach is to deeply understand and know Him. You will then realize that once you committed to follow His steps, you will experience a love that transcends any human relationships. By seeking Him, there will be a great joy that we can share to others. I have posted on my Facebook account the words: "Look for joy inside you and let it burn the pain". It is indeed true! Just focus your eyes to the joy that He is bringing and any anger and hatred will be easily healed.

In His arms, there is contentment and satisfaction. There will be no empty space in our hearts and soul. We should remember that all those earthly pleasures will fade away eventually. But His blessings will be unstoppable and it's an important thing that we can get in His presence. God loves it when we go to Him and ask for guidance, He will be gladly to help and aid us. He is the great provider and for sure He will always provide our needs. There is no need to pay subscriptions of magazines just to guide us in our everyday lives. The bible is our armor and by reading it, we are assured that we are protected. There is no need to watch those video advices from other people, instead, bring to life all the lessons that His words are saying. To make it brief and clear, ask yourself if there is an instance when you didn't think of Him for an entire day. Because if that's the case, then you are not earnestly seeking Him. Don't forget Him, that's a one major rule.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Purpose of Conscience

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I'm sure every one of us has a conscience because God gave it to us. It is like a radar or a warning system that sends us signal once a disobedience is about to occur. It also alerts us for some important things and factors in order to avoid harmful activities and decisions. The conscience also gives us power to identify those things that are moral and immoral. The question is how we respond on it. Do we ignore it or we use it as an important tool to weigh options that leads us to a better understanding?

Speaking of tool, as a believer, it is actually the "magic gadget" being used by the Holy Spirit. He is responsible to pattern this apparatus conforming to the God's principles and teachings. It sharpens us on the way we think so an immediate response is a must. But we should be reminded that the next thing to happen completely depends on us; how we act on those warnings and signals. It is the sole responsibility of the Holy Spirit to send us notification and advise us on the things that we were about to execute. We can choose to ignore these warning bells and stop hearing about it and put completely to ourselves the control for those situations. But be warned, there's a price for every ungodly things that we do.

In 1 Timothy 1:18-20 (18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.), mentioned those people who chose to reject the alarms of the conscience. They paid no attention to every word that God gave to them. Result was shipwreck faith. Our faith in Him will be destroyed if we stop on listening to those voices. If we completely ignore the radar then it might stop working and that's the time that we should be scared. 

Let's listen to those whispers and pay courtesy to all those signals. Whether we call it radar, alarms or warning, it is very important for a believer to understand the principle of obedience and faith. Don't wait the time when the Holy Spirit will not speak to you anymore. God gave us this opportunity to have someone to be with us and be ensured that it will guide us correctly.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Money, Money, Money

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This morning, as I checked my investments in the stock market, I was astonished to what I saw. Oh yes, I earned enough and it was a tremendous mark. Being a "newbie" in the stock market, those green marks gave me a huge smile. Sometimes, I really think that money is a big part of our everyday lives and generally, we can't live without it. I am blessed that I have a sufficient supply of it but I never put into my mind that this thing will dictate my lifestyle. I've been to those times of being needy so I know exactly how to be wise enough in spending and not allowing money to change me. 

There is a saying that money is the root of all evil. Do you agree on this? Well the Scripture doesn't exactly state this thing. Read carefully what 1 Timothy 6:10 says: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs". When I first read this passage, I immediately concluded that yes, it is money the root of all evil. Fortunately, my spiritual leader here in Dubai opened our eyes and emphasized the words love of money. Money can be generally good or evil; it matters on how we use it. We can help others using the money and we can hire an assassin to kill a man by spending our money. It really depends on how we execute our spending manner.

What generally makes the love of money the root of evil is the way on how we trust on it for what we need. It is like permitting the money to control us and depend only to it. It is a huge insult to God! Failing to have faith in Him will take away all the opportunities to have a deeper relationship with Him. We cannot take our money when we die, money will be useless in times natural disaster as only God controls it. He can immediately make us poor and strip us out of wealth. Oh yes, He is that powerful. On the other side, the love money isn't always involved in the evil things. But it becomes root in our hearts that we become blinded by its prestige and power and that we sometimes come up with incorrect decisions and ungodly things.

We have been warned so we better take the necessary precautions about it. Spend wisely, save for your future and spend it only on the good way. Sharing it with others will bring you a good feeling and a priceless smile can be seen to others. The world isn't all about the money, we have family and friends and especially, we have Him who gives us unending grace and never ending love.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Honoring Your Parents

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Recently, I've met someone whom I believe, is a very loving son. If you think that giving up dreams and goals just to take care of your parents can only be seen in movies, then you are wrong. During his college application, he got three scholarships abroad but he declined all of it because his parents were old and sick and he is their only child. He took care of his parents to the very best that he can. So he continued his studies in his home country and worked as a coach. In my opinion, he showed not just about loving your parents but also honoring them. 

Ephesians 6:2 (“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise) clearly states this directive from God. Honoring our parents is a commandment on which we should all obey. This directive should include loving them, bringing joy into their hearts, respecting them, taking care of them and most importantly obeying them. Yes, we are growing so fast and we might be busy in our present work, responsibilities or appointment. But we should never forget that our parents are growing old. Are you willing to sacrifice your happiness just to show them that you love and respect them? How much of your time you are willing to provide to them and taking care of them? We might also think that our parents caused us a lot of pain and that they did not do so much for us. There will be those memories when there was a lot of pain and struggles. Just surrender your hatred to God and empower the importance of forgiveness. Say to God that you are open for anything and He will show you the true meaning of love.

We should remember that obeying Him has its own gifts. In Exodus 20:12 (“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.), reveals the priceless gift that we will receive. I know it won't be easy for others to honor their parents due to the negative things that have happened in the past. Why don't we just remember those beautiful and happy moments with them, those joyful times that we spent with them and forgetting all the hatred and aches. And to the parents, let your children fly on their own and walk into their journey and embrace them with love. My happy moments with my parents were those times that I was with them abroad and spent quality time with them. Those days were priceless.

Presently, this guy that I'm talking about is now in Dubai. He asked his parents' permission to work here to earn more and be ready for his future. His parents allowed him, probably they thought that it is time for him to grow and find his passion. Maybe this is the priceless gift that this guy received that after taking care of his parents and ensuring that everything is okay now, he can now accommodate the plans for his future. This guy is my personal trainer in gym; I truly admire him on this aspect. I'm happy that I found this kind of person who is passionate on what he is doing and at the same time, a very loving person, friend, human being and most importantly, a SON.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

The True Meaning of Contentment

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Many are saying that humans don't know how to be contented in anything; that it is the natural behavior of each one of us. What we normally do is that we compare ourselves with others and looking for anything that we might lack. It is not bad to aim higher or wish for upper grounds but when do we know that we should be contented? For example, you already have the latest iPad but since iPad mini have emerged, you want it too. You have a good job with a good salary but still after a few months, you might want higher pay since your lifestyle has changed. What is the true meaning of contentment and how can we make sure that we will grasp it.

In Philippians 4:10-13 (10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.), it is so amazing that Paul written these words while he was in prison and still, he had all the satisfaction that he needed. These verses clearly state that contentment is the freedom from worry and frustration about anything in life. Once we have learned and accepted that He is in control of everything, then we don't have to worry about everything. Let Him guide us in our every steps of our journey. Don't let any adversities or trials cheat us out of peace. Don't allow any negative intruders sink in our minds that will only lead us into discontentment.

We might have experienced how to be in great need and there were times that we are so plenty. These phases teach us the difference of having everything from nothing at all. That simplicity is a great virtue in every aspect and we should learn to be contented in a simple way. Free from any sadness and letting Him do the rest. There are some situations that we can't control and that it will only bring us again to discontentment. I'm not saying that once we have learned the true meaning of this thing is that we will never encounter anxiety or frustration again. The question here is how we should respond when are facing them. How should we act in times of uncontrollable things? Should we get angry? Do you try to escape? Are you becoming desperate? Why don't we imitate Paul, he surrendered everything to Jesus so that he will get the real peace.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Aftermath of Discouragement

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Whenever we are facing trials, we become an easy target of the devil and he will do the best that he can to give us negative effects. Most importantly, we might be facing discouragement during these hardships in our life. We sometimes question ourselves on what we could have done wrong and it will totally lead to doubt ourselves. This destructive force can bring us into a situation on which we will become weak.

Discouragement will result into confusion in everything. Our judging power will be affected. Also, the things that we normally do for Christ might be lessen and our attention will be focused on analyzing things. It seems like we are in the dark and the joy that we had will be changed to anger. Then the blame game comes in on which we normally blame others and finger point at someone else that caused us this bad situation. Perhaps we might look fault with God on why He is doing these things to us. Then the feeling of guilt will enter next and will probably blame the past mistakes that we did. After that, bitterness will develop that could cause a manner of vengeance and retaliation. Discouragement can also bring us into depression and great sadness. Be reminded that there will be no healing and restoration if we don't act on these things. We should be helping ourselves with a complete guidance from God.

James 1:2-4 (2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking), clearly states that this point of our life which we are encountering several trials is only a test of faith so we must work hard to overcome it and don't let discouragement overtake us as it will result to bad things. Above behaviors do not portray the true spirit of Christianity. Just pray to Him and ask for revelations and search for any trace of destructive factors that persuade us to this manner. Cast away discouragement immediately in our lives and always look forward for a victorious life with God.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Flourishing Discernment

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We might sometimes think that we are smart, well-educated and matured enough to make decisions for ourselves. Yes, we are living in a fast-paced world and immediate decision making is becoming a trend now. But have we considered His Words in coming up resolutions. We all know that wisdom comes from Him and He also wants us to develop the way we impose a conclusion in everything that we do. That is discernment, the ability to identify right from wrong, true and false, correct and error in a biblical way and this thing requires time to develop.

Wisdom is a very powerful tool and we should use it wisely for any judgment that we use. Also, let's continue to grow and don't get contented with what we have now. There is always a room for improvement and nourishment. Let's be hungry and thirsty in cultivating lessons and reading the scriptures will enable us to provide the best judgment. It clearly states in Hebrew 5:12-14 (12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.), that we need to learn all over again and make a restart in every factors in our lives.

Life is full of situations that require immediate discernment. We shouldn't make a rush decision, instead let's provide time on this. Listen carefully to His voice and commit yourselves and time to Him. Don't let your busy schedule and appointments hinder you in understanding the directions He wants us to follow. Spend quiet time with Him and absorb the truth in unhurried manner. Then as we consume the lessons, let's apply it in our lives, put it into practice and make it a training ground to enhance discerning good from evil. The scriptures will reveal to us God's perspectives that will help us to make a wise choice. So it should be our priority to spend time with Him and continue to grow. Keep the fire burning and always look for an opportunity to cultivate more lessons in life. In order to make the best decision for our life, let's always put our eyes on Him as I'm sure, this kind of Christian trait takes time to flourish.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Handling Criticism

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Many of us, for sure, aren't a fan of criticisms. Most of the times, those critiques were unacceptable and being given to us even without asking. Our initial reaction was to reject it especially if those words were harsh and in the stage of stepping on our ego. This may also lead to violent response that might cause committing sins. It is very important to pay attention when we are receiving criticisms. Another result could be a force examination of our weakness and question our abilities and strengths. But isn't it a good thing? It can also help us to comprehend where we stand and identify those things that need improvement. We can also prevent in doing the same mistake if we listen carefully. 

Our leaders or other believers might criticize us and we need to penetrate in our mind those words if such opinion can bring us to spiritual growth and unleash our potentials. This kind of attitude is strongly expressed in Proverbs 10:17-18 (17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. 18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.) 

But hey, it doesn't mean that all criticisms are valid and correct. But as a Christian, it is substantial to know how to respond and assess those things. Don't play the blame game, reject immediately or defend yourself. Primary thing to do is ask God if He is telling something for you then give thanks to that person who took time in showing interest to you and inform him/her that you will reflect on such observation. During the evaluation of criticism, consider important things such as your beliefs, character, lessons you've learned and His teachings. Criticisms could be an opportunity for growth and we must apologize if necessary.

I used to reject criticisms before even I analyze it and that was totally wrong. My church mates in Singapore used to give opinions and provide necessary explanation for some things that I didn't understand. But I have learned that lesson and we should accept things that can prosper and progress us in our journey to maturity. So the next time someone complained about a food that you cooked, take it as an opportunity to improve your skills and never hate that person or swear that you will never cook again.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Let's Talk About Sex

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Before arriving here in Dubai, I thought that this emirate would be very strict in every way. But I was wrong; this city from UAE is far from the imagination of others. It is much open here compared to Saudi. In Saudi, a man and a woman can't walk and talk in a shopping mall unless they are married. Restaurants have different space for men and women; there are no movie houses and no alcoholic drinks at all. Here, you can do whatever you want to do and alcohols are available in bars and you can only buy outside of bar if you have liquor license. It is actually a good way of controlling things here. But what really surprised me here in Dubai is the execution of the law regarding sex. If you got caught engaging sex activity to a person who is not your husband/wife, you will go straight to jail. Getting pregnant here if you are not married is also an offense and against the law; you'll get jailed and deported. A man and a woman can't live together in a room except if they are married; if you won't follow, you will face eviction and probably jail time.

In my opinion, the rule is kind of correct. Of course in true Christian way, sex is only allowed between married couples. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with such law here and it is also conforming to the law of morale. They just have different kind of punishment here, but in our case, we know to whom we are answerable. Temptation is inevitable in this world and we sometimes prefer instant pleasure without understanding its consequences. The behavior in sexual immorality will progress unless we make the best way to put a stop on it. As we continue to commit such sin, the penalty progresses and we might drown into the sea of lustful sins.

This scenario was exactly described in James 1:14-16 - "14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters." Committing this ultimate sin can also lead to pregnancy and acquiring some diseases. If we continue to perpetrate such act, it might cause loneliness and the self-esteem might be in trouble. Yes, premarital sex can be seen widely in most places but this shouldn't be an excuse and we shouldn't tell to ourselves: "Why can't I do it if others can?" Sex apart from marriage is in violation of Scripture.

In the long run, if we carry forward in this lifestyle, it will only result to greater sin and this will lead to doubt our salvation. It will also cause questioning the power of prayer and forgiveness. If we maintain such disgrace act, we might lose our capacity to determine which is right and wrong. An "express pleasure" is nothing but a piece of unworthy time and act. But hey, there is good news. The power of Jesus' blood forgives our sins. He is always there waiting for us. We are always welcome to His kingdom if we will only confess our sins and run away from those wrongdoings. Don't worry about dealing physical and emotional consequences as Jesus restores our spirit to purity.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's Your Choice

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It was year 1996 when I watched the Filipino film "Magic Temple". The story was quite unique and was tagged as major improvement in film making. It won several awards in Metro Manila Film Festival of the same year. But there was one scene that marked on my mind. It was the scene where Jubal and Sambag have to decide which road to take in order to reach their destination. One of the roads was so broad with very colorful lights and full of beautiful things; while the other one was so narrow and dark. Jubal took the narrow one and Sambag chose the broad one. In the end, Jubal was right as the broad road seemed so easy that took Sambal in danger.

In real life, when we want something, we have the tendency to take the easier ways to accomplish it. We are so focused on the beautiful things and casting away all hardships and challenges. Well, life isn't all about happiness and reaching our Father's kingdom isn't an easy road to take. In Matthew 7:13-14 (13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.), Jesus described two kinds of roads, broad and narrow. We all believe that we are destined to heaven and we are thinking that the only thing that we should do is to do good. It's just a part of a bigger portion of a puzzle.

On the broad road, life is so easy. Taking a journey is no sweat. This will only require us few commitment and all kinds of philosophy will be accepted. This road seems to be full of promises; we can do all we want to do. It's all about partying, happiness and indulge into material things, we are free and we only do what we think is the best. In this road, it has all the things that we desire but in the end, nothing lasts forever, no lessons learned, nothing made us stronger, nothing prepared us for something bigger. We became so contented that we forgot that there is more into life.

Narrow road has a small entrance and requires us with only ONE prerequisite to enter and that is through faith in Christ. I am telling you this road isn't easy, faith in Christ is path that we give full commitment to our Savior and the lifestyle will include sacrifice and trust. One major rule is to love God and love our neighbors. He will tell us what's the best for us, He will decide all the things for us and the only thing we can do is to obey. The path will be harder than the other road, there will be detours and road blocks but they were only a test of faith. But we are assured that if we take this road, all His promises are guaranteed.

Yes, it is our choice which road to take and we should be wise and making this decision. The broad one which leads to hopelessness and no relationship at all with God or the narrow one that brings an everlasting life. It is actually an easy choice and this shouldn't be a question. Surrender to God and ask for relationship with Him and that's a start to enter His kingdom. 

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dealing with False Guilt

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Most of us feel guilty once we have performed wrong doings or violated God's law. It was like the feeling of being responsible for the things that caused negative to our life and even to others. The Holy Spirit is giving His full force and a lot of efforts to turn us away from committing sins and lead us towards to our Heavenly Father. I just realized that not all guilt comes from ungodly actions. 

Have you experienced that sometimes you question your performance for not reaching your goals? Or even feel so ashamed of the past events that we can't move forward? Even not fulfilling the expectations and criticisms by others has a big impact to us. Those times of rejection or pattern of abuse from a family member or encountering a power tripper supervisor can lead us to negative feelings. We can think of those ideas such as, 'what did I do wrong?', 'why it isn't enough?', 'why didn't I act on it', 'how did it happen, what was I doing?' These things are great and powerful tool that our enemy uses to spin our heads away from God. Whether false or real, these feelings can lead to the division of our attention. We can't think properly and we might question God's goodness. It also wastes our time and energy and insecurities will enter to overpower us. We might not feel the true love of God as we mingle and entertain those thoughts. Then what's next? It may lead to depression and hopelessness.

To cope up these, others channel their feelings through over shopping, overeating, excessive amount of time watching television and surfing the internet. But in the end, after those things, the feeling of guilt is still there. I admit that before I had the personal relationship with Jesus, I had the tendency to overeat and waste a lot of money just to push away those condemning thoughts and I assure you, those things will not help you at all! We must remember that dealing with guilt quickly is very important.

In Hebrews 10:22, "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.", it commands us to draw near to God as He will cleanse us. Point your eyes towards only to Him. Also, in Romans 8:1-2 "1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death", we must be reminded that there is no condemnation in the Kingdom of God. We must first admit and acknowledge our emotion and surrender everything to Him. Then identify the issue and pray it to God. If you commit sins and violated His commandment then ask for forgiveness and take necessary measures to amend your attitude (1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"). If you have the feelings of false guilt then ask God to adjust your thoughts and let Him guide you and point you to the right thinking. Praise Him because He promises forgiveness and the removal of guilt.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Why Evax (Evangelism) is Important?

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When I first experienced the true relationship with Christ, I was so delighted and filled with joy. It was like I am living in a world of nothing but happiness. I have learned a lot and was full of excitement for every devotion, life group and services. But one time, I was invited to this street activity where we should invite other people to join our church and our journey to perfectness. They called it EVAX or short for evangelism. In dictionary, evangelism means the spreading of Christian gospel thru zealous activity for a cause. Indeed, the bible says that we should let others know His works and love for us through discipleship. During the evax activity, I was so hesitant to approach people walking in Orchard Street and ask them to join us in our church and let them know how important it is to be saved and how joyful to be in His arms. I was very shy and I can't even do it on my own, I have to be accompanied by others. Honestly, I was saying to myself the words yuck, cheap, ewww and other degrading words. 

I know I know that was wrong but eventually, I realized that what we were doing was so pleasing to His eyes and that it is our responsibility, as Christians, to help others and let them be aware about salvation and grace. If we will read John 1:35-42 ("35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter)), we will see how Andrew first heard the good news poured out by John and he followed and spent time with Him as he longed to know Jesus. After finding inner peace and learning how good it was to be in the presence of Jesus, Andrew invited his brother with delight and full of eagerness.

We might have been in a negative path before but we were saved and glad that those days are over. We are now filled with joy and love through His presence. But this feeling doesn't stop in devotion, prayer and attending life groups and services, we should and we must let others know the happiness that we have found. We should motivate others patiently and cast away all the hindrances in our evangelism. Before I leave Singapore, we still had this activity and though I was still shy on doing it at first, once the conversation started, I was so comfortable in talking to others and inviting them to attend our activities was priceless. Here in Dubai, I don't think that public evangelism is allowed. It will be very hard for others to do evax but we must remind ourselves that there is no absolute reason to by shy about it; instead we should be proud that we have Him in our lives. Let's continue to invite others and share them the life changing events that we experienced and the journey to true Christianity.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Are You Carrying a Heavy Load?

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In our lives, it is impossible not to encounter any burden. Yes, it is a part of being human. Whether the burden is about financial or relationship, waking up everyday won't be easy once we rethink those things. We might also be thinking what the future holds for us that can put heavier loads on our shoulder. Exhaustion is inevitable but we can lighten up the burden if we handle it biblically. In Matthew 11:28-30, it says there: "28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We all know that life wouldn't be easy and Jesus is very aware of that. He doesn't want us to carry unnecessary things for He knew that our Heavenly Father can help and assist us. The above passage assures us that we can find peace in His arms; a promise that there is hope and in Him, we can be relived. Before we come to Him, let us first admit to ourselves that we have burdens that we want to surrender to Him. Next is to identify what is the real issue then we can raise it up to Him. When we pray, we can ask Him to take good care of us and the burden on our shoulders to be lifted up even a slice of its weight. The answers may vary, the response could be immediate in a miraculous way or He may allow those burdens to remain for a little while so that we can learn from it or think it over and identify what might have caused it. But the good news is we are assured that we are not facing the challenges alone as He is always there for us.

If you are carrying heavy load now, come to Him and find peace and relief. Don't stumble and hold them solely but instead continue to pray and believe and trust Him that everything will be okay eventually. We can be victorious and the freedom from burden will come soon. Let Him take those burdens from you.

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Make it Full not Partial

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Sometimes we may feel that God's commandments can be altered or that we can substitute other ways in following Him. Example, God challenged us to serve Him by participating in Kid's ministry but instead, we committed to ushering as we might feel that it is the same for Him, that we still serve Him and that it was just a small modification to His words. Another sample is discipleship, we are instructed to influence 3 people but we chose only one, the one who is closer to us and to whom we can also be beneficial. We have this attitude that tells us that it is the same thing, doing good and executing His commands, that it was just a small amendment but still a complete way of showing Him our obedience.

We sometimes think that we can forget those small details and instead, we are convincing ourselves that there is nothing wrong in such ways. But if we will read 1 Samuel 15:1-23, God sent a message to Samuel which must be told to Saul. He instructed Saul to destroy and attack the ENTIRE Amalekites and that nothing should be spared. But Saul took King Agag and collected fat calves, sheep and lambs - everything that was good. Since Saul did not completely carried out the instructions, he was rejected as king. It was clearly showed in these verses that we should follow ALL His commandments and words. No alteration, no modification, no substitution, not partial but in full obedience.

I was once told that partial obedience is disobedience. We can't please Him by showing what we think is a good thing just to follow Him and neglecting the true meaning of His instructions. Our wisdom only comes from Him and we should not rely in our own understanding. We should always consider the very detailed steps in fulfilling His commands. There might be challenging instructions that will also require us to get out of our comfort zone. We shouldn't be afraid and most importantly, we shouldn't improvise and we shouldn't put in our minds that our plans are better than Him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Faith and Hope

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We might be having some confusion on how to differentiate such two words. I admit that I had the same situation before I became a believer. I used to combine these two words and stating they have the same nature. But as I progress to study His words, it reveals to me slowly that they are indeed different but their goals and purposes are the. We can also identify them as two sides of a coin. It is also a good timing to better understand this since I'll be discussing this topic in our small group tomorrow. One most notable context that I read before in a book (sorry, I forgot the author) was the detailed differences of these two words; I remember it because I used an acronym to memorize it. So let's call it the FESOS list:
  • Functionality - Faith states what is to be done; it gives direction and descriptions and teaches us. Hope conditions our mind to be strong and courageous.
  • Effect - Faith is a judge, it judges errors while Hope is the soldier which fight against adversities, despair and waits for better things
  • Sources - Faith comes from understanding while Hope rises in the will.
  • Objective - Faith concentrates on the truth. Hope looks to the goodness of God.
  • Sequence - Faith is the beginning of life before suffering while Hope comes later and is born of great trouble.
We must remember that hope without faith is like taking an exam without reviewing and we are wishing that we will pass it. There should be knowledge first to better understand the hope that we have. As a Christian, we should have the insight of faith as it directs and contains the intellectual knowledge of directions and guidance so that in times of adversities, we can hold on to hope for better things. In short, by faith we begin and by hope we continue. (Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see). We can also say that Faith is the creative side of Hope since it says in Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith, it's impossible to please God".

I also read before that Hope is the blueprint of Faith. We know what we want to do in our lives, we have this vision and we already have the knowledge. Hope is the plan that faith carries out. We should learn and understand the words, base our hope in His words and not in our wishes. In Hebrews 6:19 it says there "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain". Hope described as the anchor of life since we are like a ship in this world on which we might encounter storm that can toss us up and down and even put us in the great danger. But with this anchor, our hope, we can keep steady and steadfast and looks forward for better things that will come into our lives.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Why Follow Him?!

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For sure we all know all the gifts and promises that He has for us. That when we reach the kingdom, there will be endless happiness and will be fulfilled with love. Of course, all we need to do is to obey Him and give Him the highest praise and continue to put our trust in Him. But let's see what are the eternal rewards that we will receive after accomplishing our tasks here on earth. As we all say, we must be strong and full of endurance in this game called life. We should never stop in doing good and spreading His words. Since we are in this game, we will also have our own medals after the race.

1. Medal of Extreme Joy. Since we have accomplished the discipleship tasks, aren't the new believers that we helped would be our greatest joy and glory?! I mean, the happiness in our heart is priceless once we see those people who were lost but now with our help, were saved and walking towards the journey of Christianity. In the presence of our Lord, these new believers will be our gift to Him and the feeling can't be compared to anything on how we succeed in the spiritual development of others. (1 Thessalonians 2:18-20 "18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.")

2. Medal of Life. Problems, trials and hardships are unavoidable in this game. During the race, we will be encountering tests that will determine the level of trust and love that we have for Him. Whether the test is an uphill climb or a rocky road, just be reminded that spiritual growth happens in adversity. We should never give up, instead continue to love and trust Him and the eternal reward will be an unending life. (James 1:12 "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.")

3. Medal of Triumph. If we are effective in our ministry, executed a perfect discipleship and victorious over sins then there is a triumph that awaits for us in the finish line. That reward will be imperishable and the light that it brings will enlighten and inspire others. (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 "25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.")

4. Medal or Righteousness. There will always be temptations, there will always be hardships, oh yes, Christian life is not easy but if we live righteously then these things are nothing. As a believer, we should always pursue godliness and should strive to meet God with a pure conscience. (2 Timothy 4:5-8 "5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.")

So after gathering all these medals, what should we do about them? Well, it will be our gift to our Lord in the time that we meet Him. Offer them into His feet as sign of appreciation for all the things that He have done to us: saved us, equipped us, guided us, protected us and loved us unconditionally.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Your Honor

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My today's devotion made me think and assessed myself on what are the good things that I did in my life that have pleased Him? I even asked myself of the wrongdoings that I have executed. We all know that our life on earth is temporary and that all material things can't be brought to another life. On the day of judgment, are we ready to face Him? Can we say, "Your Honor, here are the good things that I did…"? Let us be reminded that He takes His seat as Judge and have prepared all the rewards that we qualified for.

Yes, Jesus Christ will be our judge and not the God father. In Acts 10:42-43, it says there that "42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” I believe that this responsibility was tapped on His shoulders because He is the one who commanded us to go into the world and make disciples and He will decide how we did on such task by analyzing our mind and thoughts. Yes, I believe that after following His words and fully accept Him, trust and obey; our next primary goal is to make disciples. To testify to others how great He is and how loving our God.

As a judge, He can't be bribed. He is a just and impartial judge. In making a judgment, He doesn't put as "evidence" what others say about us. Our works will be justified based on His own standards. All the worthless things that we did will vanish and He will look only into the valuable parts of our lives. On how we did our purpose, on how we react to every situation and how we prosper and mature as a believer. In the "court room", there is no place for shame and guilt over the past sins and mistakes. It is a place where self-condemnation is not allowed, He will expose the "real" us by washing away the bad things we've done until the "man who pleased God" will remain. Let us encourage one another to do good things and be a perfect imitation of His works. Let us be the best reflections of our Lord both here in earth and in heaven.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trials Again?!

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Many things have been discussed about the trials, faith and obedience. For sure all of us have experienced difficulties in life and faced them in different ways, in different approach and several resolutions might have been applied to them. We should be reminded that these tests are part of our journey towards spiritual maturity. Yes, we are being tested and God doesn't want us to suffer. These are like midterm or final exams on which we must give our commitment and that we will never give up and put our trust in everything He do in our lives.

The best example of that greatest test and challenge was the time when Abraham was asked by God to offer his only son, his most cherished and precious son. If you will read Genesis 22:4-18, Abraham took the life of Isaac as it was directed by God and he didn't hesitate, instead he followed what was told to him. If we will only open our hearts, don't you think it is better to call these kinds of trials as obedience rather than suffering and sacrifice? Those latter words can bring negativity and don't imply any great results for us.  But if we put in our mind that those things are way of showing our obedience, then trusting and putting our faith to Him won't be that burdening.

Now, if we think that we are ready and we are doing those good things and yet we receive another adversity, don't take it as a tragic factor. Instead, take it as a challenge as it means that God wants us to take our faith and commitment to a new level. It is also a reminder that He is faithful to all His promises and that we will be greatly blessed for our obedience. Let's commit ourselves to God and the words "give up" shouldn't be part of our Christian lives. Yes I know that most of the times, these tests are painful but if we will only focus our eyes unto Him then we will be sure that He will wrap us with unending love and will lead us to great victory. Just remember the famous quote "In God We Trust".