Sunday, December 30, 2012

JRAM Declaration Theme for 2013

The Scriptures are filled with many declarations. Jesus shouted, "It is finished" before He died signifying the completion of His sacrifice as the Lamb of God. Then He declared that He will come back again in John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Here are declarations that we believe and lived by. Thus the Jesus Rock of Ages Ministries also have a declaration theme for 2013, “Greater Things Have Yet To Come.”

It is coupled with a Scriptural declaration taken from Joshua 3:5 (ESV) exhorting the nation of Israel to, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you." One key to attaining this to fruition is to consecrate our lives to see God’s greater things. The person in the image that represents each one of us is shouting from the mountaintop this declaration. Thus, we are but echoing what Jesus told His people would do, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12 ESV).

We believe therefore we speak that 2013 would be a year for “Greater Things Yet to Come.” Get ready JRAM congregations…..

Friday, December 21, 2012

What will you do on December 25th?

Christmas is celebrated and enjoyed not just by adherents of Christianity but even those that are outside of it. There is something unique about it that many are enthralled by its significance. While for us, Christian believers, it is about the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Let us set aside for a moment the many controversies about celebrating it during wintertime but focus instead of its value to us: the coming of the Immanuel, “God with us” our Savior, in human form.

What are expected of us as Christian believers in relation to Christmas? How should we celebrate it? I believe that there are many great things about it that we need to emphasize: the miracle of the Virgin birth; the promise fulfilled in sending the Savior of the world; God’s love for humanity; and many others worthy of note. While other religions celebrate their faith through their own holidays with such gusto, unfortunately, it is not the same with Christians on some levels. I do not intend to offend but to awaken many of us to the fact that Christmas is a Christian celebration. Sadly, it is being hijacked by secular observance of materialism; other symbols used, whether intentionally or unintentionally, draw away from Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas celebration.

I believe that we as Christians must begin to place great value on celebrating Christmas whenever it comes. Remember that there is a war against it and we are not exempt from the attacks of relegating it as an ordinary celebration. In addition, there are Christians who cannot celebrate it openly due to religious persecution. Even the “Merry Christmas” greeting is being labeled offensive by many sectors.

I would like to appeal to many Christians to set aside Christmas day, December 25th, as high priority for a witness to the world of its importance to us by simply attending a Christmas Day service wherever you are during this time with other Christian believers whenever possible and not to miss it for any other reason. Although many will argue that it can be celebrated on our own in the privacy of our homes with our families, however, in my opinion, it is very important for all Christians to make a public profession of our faith and to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior especially on Christmas Day.

Just observe how many celebrates their birthdays as important milestones. How much more that Christmas affects not just Christians but many people all over the world. Isn’t this something to look forward to and to share why Jesus came to this world? He did not bring any gifts but He became the greatest gift as the Savior of the world.

C’mon Christians of the world, December 25th is one of the two major significant day of our calendar, the other, Easter. Come out and show the world that we are proud of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The angelic host announced His coming and it is now our turn to announce that He came. Let’s celebrate it while we can do so openly. Would there be a time that we can’t? I hope not.

Christmas day comes only once a year; therefore, let’s not miss the opportunity of celebrating it with other believers in our community. Go to your local church or find a church to attend a Christmas service on December 25th whether you’re at home or on vacation. There’s no other reason worthy enough to miss attending a Christmas Day service to commemorate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

As for my family, and myself, we will be counted present among other believers who will choose to attend a Christmas day service to honor Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. How about you and your family, where will you be on Christmas Day?

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why the World WILL NOT End on December 21, 2012…

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Blessings

Time flies and Christmas is here again. Although there is a huge contrast in celebrating Christmas here in Canada and the Philippines, nonetheless, the reason is the same: Jesus coming to the world 2,000 years ago. This is the main reason that we should celebrate it in the first place: He came. And to fully understand its significance to humanity, we should go back to the beginning of its origin. Why do we celebrate Christmas? Is it a time to indulge in shopping extravaganza?  Is it just to buy and exchange gifts? Another holiday excuse to rest and take the time off? Unfortunately, this is what transpires in celebrating Christmas every year. However, we should aim to consider the main focus of it all, i.e., Christianity has Christmas in order to celebrate the coming of Jesus the Savior in this world.

Historically, Christmas was done to become an alternative to a pagan holiday coinciding during winter season and it was an intention well thought of. Every aspect of this pagan holiday was altered to reflect the greater meaning of Christmas. On the other hand, the early church in the New Testament does not celebrate Christmas or the birthday of Jesus but instead his death, burial and resurrection. But no matter what the reason maybe, we have it, thus, Christmas must become an opportunity for hope and love to abound. Also, this is the time that families get together; generosity becomes the norm of the season; friends celebrate to enjoy each other’s company. Altogether, there is something about Christmas that anyone wants to be part of.  There is probably the negative side of being stressed on what to buy and what to give our loved ones and friends. But I think (and I maybe wrong!) this is one way of celebrating Christmas fun and enjoyable? How to avoid stress? Just go out there and give what you believe will be acceptable as the best gift in your own opinion. (A special note to those who will receive, don’t criticize what you will get. Just express your gratitude towards the giver and smile when you open the gift and enjoy it just the same as the giver hopes that you will do).

What makes Christmas such an important holiday for Christians? When you come to take a hard look at it’s meaning, you will find that humility is at the core that made it all happen. Humility was the key attitude of the first Christmas characters. When greeted by the angel Gabriel and told of the news of her pregnancy through the Holy Spirit, Mary’s immediate action was fear yet she was assured as recorded in Luke 1:30-33; 38, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." Her reply was, "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said…"(NIV) Even Joseph, Mary’s fiancé after hearing her pregnancy initially decided to break off their engagement but was visited by an angel in his dream explaining God’s plan and upon understanding it withdrew his plan. His next action and immediate response was definite and calculated as described in Matthew 1:24, “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” (NIV)

But the most important action was done by Jesus above all as described in Phil 2:5-8, ‘Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself.” NIV

Humility is setting aside what you believe by allowing God to change your aspiration towards His desire for your life. Therefore, humility is at the core of Christmas. It was the foundational principle of this season and all Christmas blessings we enjoy today emanated from this attitude. In the 21st century, how are we going to apply humility? The answer is clear; adopting a mind-set of humility will clarify our intentions in all our activities. It is the intention of being a blessing this Christmas.  It must become the hallmark of our actions. And to bless others must be the firm resolution of those who are able to do so. Mary, Joseph and Jesus became the Christmas blessings for humanity when they humbled themselves to obey God’s plan. 

What then will be your Christmas blessing to others this Christmas? You need to think for a while and come up with a list. It should be intentional not incidental blessings. If you are looking for an opportunity to genuinely bless and become a blessing to others, Christmas is an excellent occasion to begin. Merry Christmas to all!

Let’s talk again!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Life’s Disruptions

Life is filled with many disruptions that may seem to bother us a lot yet we should not become too carried away to describe all disruptions as mere annoyance. Moreover, there are life disruptions that can be blessings in disguise and may bring us what we are waiting for to come especially those that come from God. He has His own way of bringing disruptions in our lives that will bring alignment to where He desires us to be situated. “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established(Proverbs 16:1-3 ESV).

Let me share what I come across to illustrate what I mean: “As the golfer approached the first tee, a hazardous hole with a green surrounded by water, he debated if he should use his new golf ball. Deciding that the hole was too treacherous, he pulled out an old ball and placed it on the tee. Just then he heard a voice from above say loudly: “Use the new ball!” Frightened, he replaced the old ball with the new one and approached the tee. Now the voice from above shouted: “Take a practice swing!”  With this, the golfer stepped backward and took a swing.  Feeling more confident, he approached the tee when the voice again rang out:  “Use the old ball.”

It is very obvious that the golfer in the story needed the time to relax and gain a needed boost of confidence before hitting the ball. I think it was not about which ball to use but just to have a time to breathe and unwind before hitting the old ball. Usually, this is what little or big disruptions are all about, to have just a short pause for a much needed composure. They come our way to provide us ample time to pause and think before continuing onto the daily grind up until the next big move. Sometimes we consider them as momentum breakers but might have the opposite effect and instead become momentum boosters. Just always keep an open perspective about the disruptions that comes your way beginning today. You never know what will happen next.

Let me add another important reminder for us to think about every time a disruption comes: “When God bolts the door, don't try to get in through the window.  The will of God never will lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.” It becomes especially true when we say, “Lord, let your will be done in my life.” God takes it seriously when we utter these words to Him and we must know for sure that we are ready for what He will bring our way as a result. Always remember that our view of disruptions maybe different from God’s view as prophet Isaiah described it powerfully, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

Allow me to provide you these things to ponder: a) Every plan can be followed through unless God disrupts it; b) Every plan can be complete unless God intervenes in the process, and, c) Every plan can be realized unless God takes over and gives you a better one. The bottom line is simply this: “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life is either expressly set down in Scripture or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture, unto which nothing at anytime is to be added whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of man” (From the Westminster Confession of Faith). When God is fully in control of your life, every disruption that comes along your way are necessary to bring you closer in fulfilling your destiny that God has given you since you were born. Never lose sight of this fact and you’ll appreciate that the little pesky disruptions might be a way for God telling you, “Don’t worry, I’m just putting these things in order to make your journey of life much better and more exciting.”

Let’s talk again!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Never Miss A Blessing

“There was a king who placed a heavy stone in the road and hid to see who would remove it. Men of various classes came and worked their way around it, some loudly blaming the king for not keeping the highways clear, but all dodging the duty of getting it out of the way. At last a poor peasant, on his way to town with his burden of vegetables for sale, came, and contemplating the stone, laid down his load, and rolled it into the gutter. Then, turning around he spied a purse, which had lain right under the stone. He opened it and found it full of gold pieces with a note from the king, saying it was for the one who should remove the stone.” How many of us can relate to this story? Unfortunately, it is a story that illustrates how many people have missed many blessings and opportunities for a blessing. Keep in mind that in all of our present situation and everyday challenges, blessings from God may take many forms. God loves to bless His people as the Psalmist testifies, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalms 84:11 ESV).

I hope that when we become fully warned, we will never miss a blessing anymore but instead reap every blessing when given the chance. Jesus taught the keys to a blessed life after He taught the Sermon on the Mount called the “Beatitudes.” On the other hand, we are expected to adopt them as the “Be-Attitudes,” blessings will occur. Here’s the attitude with their corresponding blessings: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:3-11 ESV).

Just like the story illustrated above, receiving the blessing was pre-conditioned after removing the stone. Therefore, it must be clearly understood that blessings are always conditional. Jesus clearly showed it also. While there are blessings that God has created for our benefits, (Genesis 1) there are specific blessings that needs to be received as a response to specific command and condition like the “Beatitude.” Just be sure not to reject any negative situations right away for they may contain the blessing we need. Remember that God’s principle in blessing people are totally different from how the world bestows it.

Let me share another story to illustrate how we can never miss a blessing: “One morning R.C. Chapman, a devout Christian, was asked how he was feeling. "I'm burdened this morning!" was his reply. But his happy countenance contradicted his words. So the questioner exclaimed in surprise, "Are you really burdened, Mr. Chapman?" "Yes, but it's a wonderful burden--it's an overabundance of blessings for which I cannot find enough time or words to express my gratitude!" Seeing the puzzled look on the face of his friend, Chapman added with a smile, "I am referring to Psalm 68:19, which fully describes my condition. In that verse the Father in heaven reminds us that He 'daily loads us with benefits.'"

In order not to miss any blessing from God, always seal it with a gratitude-filled heart. Filipinos have this playful way of securing a birthday gift from their friends before their actual birthday, “Thank you for the gift for my birthday!” While to some it maybe annoying but God will never be annoyed by such gestures. Instead, He is more than willing to release many blessings to those who believe Him as the Giver of all blessings. Try it and you’ll see the effects.

Lets talk again!

Find me on Twitter: @AldrinNavo

Monday, November 12, 2012

Heavenly Banking

The story is told of a South African farmer who disliked his occupation and envied those who were into the diamond business.  Farming provided a meager existence but those who discovered diamonds seemed to live a life of luxury.  Accordingly, he sold his poor farm and joined countless others in search of diamonds.  Soon after, he hit tough times, became financially ruined and committed suicide. Meanwhile, the new owner who bought the farm came across an unusual stone as he toiled over his farm.  He carried the stone home, put it on his mantle and consequently forgot about it. One day, a friend dropped by and noticed this unusual stone.  With permission, he took it to a dealer and to their surprise, the stone turned out to be one of the largest diamonds ever discovered and the poor farm was transformed into a huge diamond mine.  If only our first farmer friend had been more patient.

This true story speaks aloud to many that are trying to find wealth and luxury in the wrong places.  Too many fortune hunters not content with their heritage, run to distant rainbows in pursuit of their dreams of happiness.  Matthew 6:19-21 is an excellent reminder and it states, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (ESV) In these verses, Jesus encouraged those that desire to follow him must not store up treasures on earth, which can decay or be stolen. Rather, store up treasures in heaven that have lasting value. Simply stated, your heart will be where your treasure is.

What comprises your earthly treasures? What’s in your heavenly bank account? Remember that everything we have now is provisional during our lifetime and whatever we have acquired on earth cannot be brought with us when we leave this world. Many have tried to do so but to no avail. As an example, the pyramids in Egypt that are filled with many earthly treasures are evidences to what the Pharaohs wanted to do, i.e., to bring with them in the afterlife many untold riches and wealth accumulated as part of their journey. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. It is only when we begin to follow the instruction that Jesus spoke about acquisition of heavenly wealth will be the source of our needed security including with it the perfect peace of knowing that our life’s achievement is heavenward.

Many can argue that what Jesus prescribed is unrealistic but just looking around to know that it is indeed a reality will awaken us to its truth. No amount of riches nor power attained can amount to what awaits us in eternity especially if Jesus becomes the real Owner of our earthly and eternal life. Thus, this Scriptural verse is an excellent reminder of this principle: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? (Mark 8:36-37, ESV) Therefore, let’s secure the most important treasure we have in this life, i.e., our soul wholeheartedly turned over to Jesus’ care. It must become the chief priority rather than the accumulation of earthly wealth. However, if we have been fortunate enough to become a steward of such wealth from the Lord, just make sure that what we have will not be a reason for us to lose our heavenly treasure.

With the story illustrated above, our lives can be compared to diamonds in many ways.  A diamond, when found, looks dull and rough. To have any worth, it has to be cut and polished.  Likewise, when coming to Christ, we may be dull, scratched or blemished. He will refine us so that facets of our personality will begin to glow and cascade light, His Light. Are you interested in this type of treasure? Then, let’s begin to allow Jesus into our life and in every aspect of it to experience what real treasure is all about. When we do, we will never be the same again and having such confidence will provide us sanity in this treasure-crazed world!

Let’s talk again!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Best Out of Worst

No copyright infringement intended
People have their own way of responding to any given situation especially when it appears worst. In addition, when seen from a skeptical onlooker, it will always be worst than it seems.  However, every situation that comes our way can never be viewed immediately as good, bad and best or worst. Instead, it should always be perceived with a hopeful perspective and knowledge of the fact that when God is involved, He can transform any “worst situation” into one of your “best experiences.” Besides, there are many biblical characters that experienced it first-hand.

What we need to gain is the right perspective and here are some examples: a) When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, "He's so big we can never kill him." David looked at the same giant and thought, "He's so big I can't miss"[1]; b) Joseph reassured his brothers after going through many “worst” situations and spoke, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20 ESV); c) the Psalmist declared, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalms 119:71 ESV); d) lastly, without forgetting what the apostle Paul said, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV). One thing is crystal clear, i.e., the Bible is filled with testimonies that when God is with you, He will never abandon you.
Here’s a story about the “The Fern and the Bamboo” that I came across to illustrate this truth: One day I decided to quit...I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality.... I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God. "God", I said. "Can you give me one good reason not to quit?" His answer surprised me. "Look around", He said. "Do you see the fern and the bamboo?" "Yes", I replied. "When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In the second year the fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. "In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. The same in year four. "Then in the fifth year, a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern, it was seemingly small and insignificant. But just six months later, the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle. "Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you. "Don't compare yourself to others." He said. "The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful. "Your time will come", God said to me. "You will rise high." "How high should I rise?" I asked. "How high will the bamboo rise?" He asked in return. "As high as it can?" I questioned "Yes." He said, "Give me glory by rising as high as you can." I left the forest, realizing that God will never give up on me. And He will never give up on you. Never regret a day in your life. Good days give you happiness; bad days give you experiences; both are essential to life.
What’s the primary purpose behind this concept of “best out of worst”? If you are a Christian believer, Peter has this to say, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV). Therefore, always look beyond your worst situations and realize that God can bring out the best out of what seems worst.

Let’s talk again!

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[1] God Can Make It Happen (Victor)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Better Things Ahead

No copyright infringement intended

As the world totter in crisis nowadays, we can only hope for better things in the horizon. Everything that goes down and touches bottom has only one direction but up. Have we touched bottom yet? What to do when we still hear news about companies considering filing for bankruptcy and many others experiencing the squeeze as well in their own businesses? Should we be concerned and begin to panic? We can glean from biblical principles to find solace and encouragement in these times of crisis and one of the many popular verses comes from Matthew 6:25-34 as it states: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)

Read it carefully and one will find specific instruction that deals with the daily concerns of life’s basic needs. It has provided simple but workable solutions to what ails humanity at its core, i.e., worry and fear. Jesus described this kind of attitude as unjustified and unnecessary especially when we reflect carefully on some simple illustrations of care that God has done to other created beings in our planet. We must not lose sight of what God has done in the past and what He will do today and tomorrow as soon as we fill ourselves with unbelief and doubt. The outlook of better things is hindered by our “little faith.” Thus, we see worst things and hopelessness rather than holding on to God’s promises of better things.

One very clear reminder is to stop worrying about tomorrow when today is already chock-full. Here’s something to consider as written by Reynolds Dodson in Reader's Digest, June, 1992 as the rules for crisis management:
1.  Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
2.  Look first, and then act.
3.  When you do act, act aggressively.
4.  Seek help. 
5.  Don't get locked on a detail. 
6.  No matter how bad things get, be truthful. 
7.  Look for the silver lining.

The silver lining can never be found on our own ways and means. When we have exhausted all means possible and still nothing happened that favors our way, then it is time to apply the biblical principle stated above, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” Let it become a proven principle when applied deliberately and consistently in our daily life.

Remember that crises are part of our life and they are here to stay whether we like it or not. However, we have a choice in dealing with them that includes God in the equation or to depend on our own ways and know-how. God guarantees His words and promises with complete success especially when we fully obey His will at all times. Otherwise, we will be left with uncertainties without any guarantees but more anxieties. Being anchored in God’s promises might be the best option at this time of crisis, pandemics, political upheavals and many other related events. Trust God more than anything else in his world and you are in a very good hand. If you remember the Sunday school song that says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands” then everything will always be better ahead.

Let’s talk again!