Monday, November 28, 2016

A Christmas Message: Jesus came to save us

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The Christmas story recorded in Luke 2:1-20 (NIV) states: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a
decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

In today’s world, many felt that the Christmas story is an old wives’ tale occurred more than two thousand years ago. However, whether people believed it or not, the fact remained that it happened as part of God’s plan of salvation for humanity. The Christmas message is here to stay, and the birth of Jesus as the Saviour is at the heart of it. Wayne Grudem wrote,

God, in his wisdom, ordained a combination of human and divine influence in the birth of Christ, so that his full humanity would be evident to us from the fact of his ordinary human birth from a human mother, and his full deity would be evident from the fact of his conception in Mary’s womb by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit (Systematic Theology, 530).

When people believed the Christmas message, faith was involved. Brett Blair emphasized, “Faith understands that God intervenes in the natural course of events; on the other hand, if the natural course of events should happen to answer prayer--that which we call a coincidence--faith still believes God is present.” What’s the Christmas message we need to remember today?

·      Point #1: Christ became like us and in doing so, God became near to us. He came for the purpose of giving us access to God's throne of grace through His Son Jesus to give us life purpose and meaning. Most importantly, forgive our sins, and the hope of heaven beyond this life. Remember to look past the commercialism of Christmas. It is not about the gifts we receive or what we give to others but the greatest gift from God on the first Christmas.

·      Point #2: The central theme of Christmas is the incarnation—that God became a man to redeem man, “that in Christ "lives all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). John opens his first epistle by saying that Christ was from the beginning "which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have touched (1 John 1:1). In other words, God comes in the flesh.

·      Point 3: The first Christmas celebration became a heavenly party participated by the shepherds in the fields. Heaven and earth celebrated together as the Saviour of the world came and born in a humble manger.  The natural and the supernatural mingled on that glorious day. On that first Christmas,  a big heavenly celebration spilled on earth over the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In understanding these points, Joel Pankow stressed,

God became man - born in the manger with one mission. He had to take on our flesh - born of a virgin - so that he could fulfill God’s will - and save us. He fulfilled his mission of dying for you. He fulfilled His mission of making you holy and that’s the simple reason for Christmas and its celebration.

So set aside the things you have become preoccupied with and remember that you have a Savior. You have a Lord. You have a Christ. And you have His promises.

Let’s talk again!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Financial Lessons from Ants

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Proverbs 6:6-8 provided a clear illustration of how ants work together, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”

I found this interesting article from (, where the author explained in detail the ant’s way of life,

The ants are balanced. They eat what they need today. They eat enough to get them through the winter. But they don’t eat too much. If they didn’t eat enough today, they’d die. If they gorged themselves on too much food, they’d explode. They find the perfect balance and this is what financial health is all about with God’s wisdom like the ants.

In other words, keeping the present secured while preparing for the future is what the ants are expert at doing. Unfortunately, people usually engaged themselves into two extremes: forgetting the future because of preoccupation with the present and a future-oriented direction without considering the present. Here’s what the author of observed, “If we live too much for the future, we risk not appreciating the present. If we work too much, we miss out on our children’s lives.” Our life was given by God to maximize its full potential and to discover God’s plan for our lives without being immersed in finding ways and means to stay afloat. What’s more, our life is too short not to enjoy the fruit of our labors with our family, which interestingly was the main reason for doing so. Thus, keep in mind that when your time is set to spend time with your family; it may become too late because the time passed by due to busyness with accumulating wealth.

What are some strategies towards a balanced financial health that we can learn from the ants? First, watch out against the snare of greed (1 Timothy 6:9-11). Merriam-Webster dictionary provided this definition for greed: “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed.” In, the Greek word for “greed” is “pleonektés” which means “one desirous of having more and describes an individual who became “covetous or avaricious; one desirous of having more.” Also, one of the Ten Commandments is against covetousness or greediness. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with having more, the difference comes in with wanting more without contentment and this is where greediness dwells.

Next, implement a detailed budget system. The writer Luke described what it means to calculate,

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:28-30).

After settling everything, aspire to become debt-free. Proverbs 22:7b stated, “…the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Aside from having what I call “necessary debts” like mortgages and car loans, keep everything else in control especially credit cards. Living within our means will surely help in this matter.  W. Graham Scroggie, an English pastor and writer said, “There are two ways in which a Christian may view his money--"How much of my money shall I use for God?" or "How much of God's money shall I use for myself?

Afterward, live within your means and invest wisely. How? It begins with honoring God first with everything we own. Proverbs 3:9-10 emphasized, “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” St. Augustine in reflecting what Jesus said declared,  Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; where your treasure is, there is your heart; where your heart is, there is your happiness.”

I believe that there are more strategies out there but highlighting some of them here aligned closely to how the ants lived their life of freedom from potential problems of greediness. That’s why; consider the ants carefully that if God mentioned them and their lifestyle in the Scriptures, we must take notice for our benefit towards financial health and security. Remember that the wisdom of the ants is transferable to our situation and today. Therefore, what do we have to loose when we consider them?

Let’s talk again!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Genuine Friendship: Qualities to Discover

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A British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of answers received were the following:
  • "One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable."
  • "One who understands our silence."
  • "A volume of sympathy bound in cloth."
  • "A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down."
The winning definition read: "A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out" (Bits & Pieces, July, 1991).

What characterizes genuine friendship? Proverbs 17:17 emphasized, “A friend loveth at all times.” There is an excellent illustration in the Scriptures of what how Proverbs described in the life of David and Jonathan. First, they honor one another when Jonathan gave David his military clothes to recognize David’s calling from God (1 Samuel 18:4). He wasn’t envious being the next in line to his father’s throne but yielded for his friend’s sake and followed God’s will. Second, they were loyal in defense of one another especially after King Saul ordered David killed. Jonathan defended David to his father and reminded him of his faithfulness to him in the past, including killing Goliath (1 Samuel 19:1-3). Finally, they freely express their emotions with one another as more than friends but brothers to protect one another no matter what (1 Samuel 20).

In David and Jonathan’s friendship, the Scripture provided additional guidelines for developing genuine friendships. There must be a covenant of love made: “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:3). There must be a strong bond that exists: “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24b). Lastly, there must be a sense of sacrifice willing to pay for one another: “Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for friends” (John 15:13). Most importantly, somebody declared, “Everyone hears what you say. Friends listen to what you say. Best friends listen to what you don’t say.”

Here’s something I found from The Youth's Evangelist on how to cement friendship:
  • Take your friends as you find them —do not try to remove the motes you see in their eyes.
  • Use the Golden Rule always.
  • Do not talk about your "peeves."
  • Remember that sincere and appreciative letters establish a pathway to the heart of a friend.
  • Be a loyal, faithful friend. Remember that "none can be called deformed but unkind."
  • Remember that souls are greater than vocabularies, so try to read the overtones in the written and spoken words of your friends.
  • Cultivate a sense of humor.
  • Do not expect the impossible; a wood thrush and a yardstick have little in common.
  • Do not keep "tab" on the affairs of your friend.
  •  Do not usurp your friend: be glad that he has other friends besides you.
  • Never force a confidence, nor betray one reposed in you.
  • Share your blessings with your friends.
  • Don't be supersensitive. You would not willingly hurt a friend, so give your friend credit for having the same feeling toward you.
  • Remember that to have a friend you must be one.
  • Remember that a friend is one before whom you may think aloud, who understands your silences. 

At the end of the day, it would take two or more people fully determined to enter into genuine friendship with all the necessary ingredients of strengthening their relationship. However, given the inclination of individuals towards a letdown, the only secure relationship is one that endures no matter what because somebody said, “Prosperity begets friends, adversity proves them.” Knowing this fact, we should not be dissuaded in pursuing meaningful relationships as much as possible. People may fail us, but it is what makes every friendship becomes worthwhile. Never giving up on people must become the slogan to engage in because friendship is an investment of time, patience, sacrifice, and life.

If you are looking for an ideal friendship that you can enter with a guarantee of genuineness and faithfulness,  it can only be found in Jesus. He did the first half what it takes to develop a genuine friendship when He died on the cross for our sins. He is waiting for you to make the next move. Now, what would stop you from making Him, not just a friend but a Saviour as well? Come on and ask Him to come into your life. 

Let’s talk again!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In Dealing with Enemies

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Somebody said, “One of the greatest and most beautiful things man can do is to reconcile, and make friends, those who are enemies. Both Martin Luther and John Bunyan brought their great lives to a close in an attempt to reconcile men: Luther, two brothers; Bunyan, a father and a son. Likewise, if we may say it, the greatest and the most beautiful act of God is his working out a plan of reconciliation of man with God by the precious blood of Christ.”[1]

The Scriptures provided a clear pattern in dealing with our enemies, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21-22). Another stated, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles” (Proverbs 24:17). In the New Testament, Jesus said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). Paul emphasized, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”On the contrary, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:19-21). What do these verses mean? Albert Schweitzer, a French-German theologian, provided this simple explanation, “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” However, Abraham Lincoln offered a brilliant perspective in dealing with his enemies, "Do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends?"

Here are five godly ways to deal with an enemy according to Simone Williams shared in an article called The Praying[2]

1.     Avoid the conflict –Paul says in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” In other words – as Christians, we should avoid conflict once we can. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26: “be angry and sin not“.

2.     Do not hold a grudge. In Ephesians 4:31, it says: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outbursts, and blasphemies, with all malice, be taken away from you.“ Instead, follow Benson’s Commentary; “Conquer your enemies with kindness and patience, which is the most glorious victory.”

3.     Do not try to get back at the person. We are not God! His word is clear in Romans 12:17,19:“Repay no one evil for evil. Commend what is honest in the sight of all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,” says the Lord”. Stop playing God and leave it alone. 

4.     Continue doing good to/for that person. Proverbs 25:21 says: ”If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Barnes' Notes on the Bible described how it is done, “Show them the loveliness of a better spirit; the power of kindness and benevolence; the value of an amiable, Christian attitude. So doing, you may disarm them of their rage, and be the means of bringing them to better minds.”

5.     Take the matter to God. The Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7:“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus“. When we take it to God, He will give us the grace to endure. He will give us the grace to do the four things (among others) mentioned above. He will give us the grace to continue shining for Him in the midst of enormous pressure.

Finally, we can learn from Nelson Mandela’s principle in dealing with enemies, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”[3]

Let’s talk again!

[1] Reconciliation Sermon Illustrations. (n.d.). Retrieved from
[2] Simone Williams, Five Godly Ways to Deal With Your Enemies - The Praying. (n.d.). Retrieved from
[3] ?If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to ... (n.d.). Retrieved from

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Reality of God's Forgiveness

James Newton shared, a story about Thomas A. Edison: They were working on a crazy contraption called a "light bulb" and it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put just one together. The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb, he gave it to a young boy helper, who nervously carried it up the stairs. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work. You've probably guessed what happened by now; the poor young fellow dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs. He gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one. That's true
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Luke recorded an excellent illustration of the depth and breadth of God’s forgiveness. He recorded, “Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly” (Luke 7:39-50, NIV).

The focus of the narrative was about a religious leader’s prejudice against a woman he called a “sinner.” With his remark, Jesus shared a parable to demonstrate the right attitude towards others. Moreover, it would expose the value and reality of God’s basis for forgiveness. Afterward, Jesus asked him a question and having understood the simple mathematical logic presented, his reply was affirmed. As Luke alluded,  The debtor who loved the most was the one to whom most had been forgiven” (Luke 7:42). It was through this simple yet powerful story that hammered a sharp lesson for us to remember. It is because of God’s great love for us that we become "kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another."

Our imperfections must keep us anchored on God’s mercy and grace towards us as John Chervokas illustrated this truth this way: “Opaquing fluid is the magical liquid that covers over your errors, your typos, your unfortunate slip-ups. You brush on the liquid and start all over again--hopefully this time with no unfortunate slip-ups. Opaquing fluid is forgiveness, an obliteration of a goof with no telltale traces that the goof happened at all.” From this beautiful gadget, it exemplified the reality of God's forgiveness for humanity to learn. We need to be reminded that Jesus did it on the cross of Calvary when He asked God to forgive those that crucified Him. Would there be a worst situation than what Jesus went through? He died for our sins and forgave others so that we can do the same to those that offended us. Thus, through His forgiveness, our hearts will be flooded to forgive others as well. Roy Smith emphasized, “The art of forgiving is a spiritual grace every Christian should develop and because Jesus forgives, we must also forgive others.”

What are we waiting for? God’s forgiveness can become a powerful weapon in a vindictive-filled world. Furthermore, it is what would heal hearts chained and imprisoned by the anguish of lack of forgiveness. Unfortunately, our stubbornness and pride becomes a hindrance to release any level of forgiveness. However, when we seek God’s help, He is more than willing to flood us with the ability to do so. When we surrender to Him, He will set us free to release others and set us free in the process. Life is too short to carry any baggage filled with unforgiveness. Jesus said it best, “ Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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 (Matthew 11:28-29).

Let’s talk again!