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!

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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

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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)