Paying Debts

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Pagkakautang at Matuwid na Pagbabayad ng Lingkod ukol Dito” for December 20, 2015)

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A debt is a debt and we ought to pay our debts.

However, we are not talking about material or financial debts. Apostle Paul mentions, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh…” (Romans 8:12)

Servants of God are bought at a price (1 Corinthians 7:23), bought by the blood of Christ, which is very priceless. Apostle Peter writes, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

However, not all people have been bought by the blood of Christ. Not all have been blessed to receive God’s forgiveness. Only those who come to Him, accept Him and believe in Him shall receive His mercy. From here, we should know that the formula consists of God’s mercy plus our effort to come near Him.

That formula was applied to the early Christians who were called by God into His church, which is the church of God. Saul, who belong to the Pharisee’s sect was called into this church. He was chosen to be God’s Apostle to the Gentile people (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). We can read the verse in Acts 20:28, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”

Take note, not all people were bought by the blood of Christ. Only those who were called into His church are bought.

Being bought by Christ’s blood means we now belong to Him. We are now His people and servants. We are a recipient of His mercy and forgiveness. Needless to say, we ought to pay something in return as a sign of gratitude to His unconditional compassion. How can we repay Him?

King David sings, “What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” (Psalms 116:12) The same question should be asked by each and everyone of us who received His forgiveness.

Continuing, David says, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.  I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people” (Psalms 116:13-14). Like Apostle Paul said, we are obliged to pay our vows in the presence of God and in His people.

To be forgiven by God is a blessing that we can’t get for ourselves alone. It is a gift from God. The Bible tells us, ““Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” (Romans 4:7-8) If we think we are blessed enough to receive such mercy, then in gratitude, we should all repay Him with our vows. Each of us has a vow to fulfill in the presence of God and in His people, which is in the congregation of the Lord, the church of God (1 Timothy 3:15).

A vow, as we have learned, is a solemn promise to God. We should fulfill it because God doesn’t rejoice on those who do not honor their vows. He called them foolish. The Bible tells us, “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” (Numbers 30:2)

And our vows to the Lord are the following: (1) we should remain in His teachings just like the early Christians did (Acts 2:41-42), and (2) to drink the cup that Christ drunk on and be baptized with the baptism He received (Mark 10:38-39). This cup that Christ drunk on is a symbolism that whatever happens to us, we should all continue to trust the Lord and let His will reign over us. Christ exemplified the absolute obedience of following the will of God, until His death.

The same cup that He drunk of, we should all follow God’s will and commands because this is the very purpose of our calling (1 Peter 2:20-24).

The Bible tells us, “If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.” (Deuteronomy 23:21,23)

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Repentance that Leads to Life

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang mga Gentil na Binigyan ng Dios ng Pagsisisi sa Ikabubuhay” for December 17, 2015)

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When we read the Bible, we can find that there are people who were attributed to be sinful (Galatians 2:15), who are pagans and do not recognize God (1 Thessalonians 4:5), who walk according to the darkness of their understanding, separated from the life of God and people who have hardened hearts (Ephesians 4:18).

Apostle Paul added that they are separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12).

But because God’s mercy and love to people are vast, He has granted the Gentile people a repentance that leads to life (Acts 11:18). And so, even if they were sinful, without hope of salvation and God, they were now given a chance to redeem their selves before God.

How did God give them repentance that leads to life?

Long before, salvation is only for the people of God, the ancient Israel or the Jews. However, God had opened the door of salvation to all people, and that includes for all Gentile peoples and nations. All these people need is to follow the requirement set by God so they will receive His mercy of forgiveness.

These requirements include repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38,47). Baptism is a sacrament instituted in the New Testament where a person gets a chance to be born again, not in the flesh but in spirit. It is a chance to live a totally new way of life, a life worthy of God and not according to the sinful ways of our darkened hearts. Repentance and baptism always go together. Repentance is a requirement for baptism. One must vow to God, not to return again from his or her former life that is troubled with sins.

A person who receives baptism shall receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-47). It is the Holy Spirit that guides us to make sure we can fulfill the laws and commands of God and live according to His will. Without it, we can only do what our hearts desire. A person who was born in spirit gets the chance to inherit the promised eternal life. It is God’s gift for those who fulfill His will and please Him.

However, Gentiles who were forgiven by God should make sure that they do not walk according to their former ways. They should not conform to the standards of this world, but instead, they should be renewed by the words of God.

More importantly, they should be avoiding things that can influence them to make the same mistakes they made in their former lives (Acts 15:19-20).

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The Beloved Child

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Sinisintang Anak” for December 13, 2015)

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The book of Matthew tells us of an instance when Christ was referred to as the beloved child in whom God is pleased (Matthew 3:16-17). The verse tells us of the voice coming from heaven, describing the Lord Jesus Christ as a “son.” Indeed, Christ was the son referred to in John 3:16. He was sent to save the sinners and fulfill the prophesy about the coming Messiah.

But, what is the true nature of Christ? Is He really the son of God, the Father, creator of all things? Or is He only a man, a prophet, and a messenger whom many people believed?

Consider verse 7:14 of the book of Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” The verse tells us of a prophecy about a child who would be born of a virgin. His name would be called Immanuel, which means “God is with us.”

The verse in Isaiah 9:6, tells us, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The SON would be the ruler and His name would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Notice, that God doesn’t give His glory to anyone and doesn’t know any other God beside Him.

From the prophesy alone, we would know that the attributes of the SON are the same with the FATHER’s. It’s because the son and the Father are one (John 10:30). Christ tells us that if we do not believe that He is the Father, we shall die from our sins (John 8:47). In verse 27, the Bible tells us that they did not understand that He spoke of the Father. Verses say, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins, They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.”

 These are all fulfillment of what was written in the Old Testament about the appearance of God in the flesh. In John 1:1,14, we can read, and the word was God … and the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Believing that there is only one true God in the Bible, we should understand that the Father made His dwelling among us through Christ.

This declaration might be unacceptable to many, however, if we study the Bible carefully, we would believe that (1) There is only one true God, (2) That He will appear and dwell among us, and (3) That Christ and the Father are One. These assertions are all affirmed by the verses of the Bible.

Instead of contesting this logic, let us ask the reason why God appears to us through the Lord Jesus Christ?

First, God needed a flesh to dwell among us. We would all die if we see Him in His very nature. Second, God needed to set us an example to follow (1 Peter 2:21). He made Himself as a son of a carpenter. He chose to be poor so we can be rich in faith. More importantly, He appeared in the flesh to show His everlasting love to His anyone who would believe in Him (John 3:16).

To become the most beloved child is what God wants us to become. And so, through Christ, He exemplified the nature of obedience and patience in fulfilling His will and commands. The only way to please God is by allowing us to fulfill all righteousness just as Christ had shown (Matthew 3:14-17).

Perfect obedience to the will of God, as demonstrated by Christ should be seen in each and everyone of us. Christ showed us how to be trustful and faithful until death. If we want to be a beloved child of God, we should follow what Christ had shown us. That is the essence of being a Christian believer.

 

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God’s Purpose of Having a Family

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang ‘Banal na Layunin ng Dios sa Pagkakaroon ng Pamilya” for December 10, 2015)

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When God created the first man, He saw the need of creating another one. He created woman so that the man will have a companion. God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18, 21-22), “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”  

God blessed them and they became one flesh, thus, started the family. The first purpose for them was to pro-create and become stewards of the other creations (Genesis 1:28). Everything was perfectly fine until sin entered the world. Life became different. They needed to work in order to eat. They needed to exert physical efforts in order to live. They needed to till the soil for crops and tend animals for dairy products.

The purpose of having a family changed too. Parents need to provide for their family members’ needs in all aspects of life (1 Timothy 5:8). A person who wishes to have a family of his or her own should face the reality of being a provider for whatever needs of his or her family members. Apostle Paul tells us, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Providing for the needs of the family doesn’t extend only to material needs. The most important role of parents is to provide for the spiritual needs of all members of the family. It is the utmost duty of parents to teach their children the ways of the Lord, so when their children grow older, they would never depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

In accepting the spiritual duties of every member of the family, the purpose of God for having a family is sanctified.

For both husband and wife, their duties are to remain faithful and loving to one another whatever happens in their life. They need to respect the sanctity of marriage and fulfill marital duties to one another (1 Corinthians 7:3-4). They need to submit their selves to one another so as to avoid being tempted by external affairs. Prayers and self control are helpful aids, to remain faithful and intact in any relationship. Apostle Paul tells us, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4)

For wives, they should submit themselves to their husbands, and learn to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self- controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God (Titus 2:3-5).

Apostle Peter explains how women should behave. He writes, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear” (1 Peter 3:1-2)

For husbands, they should provide the needs of their family members. They have to love and respect their wives as they respect their selves. Apostle Peter writes, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7)

Parents who were blessed with children should understand God’s purpose on how to treat and care for them. From the beginning, it is the duty of parents to teach their children to fear God and obey His will and commands. They should bring them up according to the will of the Lord and bring them into spiritual service. Parenting should also be according to the purpose of the Lord. It is essential to create a harmonious and sound relationship with children before giving advice or command.

Remember, compulsion is not good. What God wants is to see that our children are obeying with a happy heart and not being forced (2 Corinthians 9:7).

For children, their duties are to love and respect their parents through obedience. This is the first command with a promise (Ephesians 6:1-2). We need to recognize our parents and take care of them when they cannot take care of themselves anymore. Remember, they have given their lives for us when we were small. We should repay them by taking care of them when they grow old.

Above all, the purpose of having a family is to express love, respect and sacrifice for one another. If we are planning to have our own family, prepare to love, to give respect and to create sacrifices for others.

 

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The Riches of Christ

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang ‘Di Malirip na mga Kayamanan ni Cristo” for December 6, 2015)

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The Bible explains about the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8). Though He is rich, He chose to be poor so that we can be rich in faith (2 Corinthians 8:9). He could choose to be born in royal bed and be raised in a majestic way, but, He chose to be born in a manger and was raised as a son of a carpenter.

Christ wants us to learn something, that life is only significant if it is lived according to the will of God. Christ’s paradigms of humility and obedience are what we should follow as His servants. Indeed, there is no impossible with God. The vastness of His riches is immeasurable.

King David made sure that it is known to all ancient Israel that God’s glory and honor be praised because of His unending wealth and benevolence. The Bible tells us, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.  Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.  Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name” (1 Chronicles 29:10-13)

God made sure that His riches will be felt by His children.

Apostle Paul mentioned this, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners —of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Apostle Paul may not deserve the mercy of God because of the sins he committed. But, Christ showed His immense patience with him and not only to him, but to those who would believe in Him.

Apostle Paul repeatedly explained Christ’s richness in mercy in his letter to the Ephesians, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (Ephesians 2:12-16)

Early Christians became part of His unending riches when they were called into His church, which is the church of God. The church, in whom His blood was shed. The church, in whom all faithful and the Apostles were called (1 Corinthians 1:1-2) and that all who were called experienced the vastness of His love and mercy.

Apostle Paul writes, For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge — God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” (1 Corinthians 1:5-7)  

And so, while we know that God’s unsearchable riches were already given to us, we should therefore respond in a way suitable to the vastness of His mercy and love.

Early Christians showed their generosity amidst their poverty (2 Corinthians 8:1-4). They did not lack in gratitude, and as a result, they have offered thanksgiving to God. Apostle Paul writes about this, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)

And so, as expected, we should also show the same generosity in faith. We have been given different gifts but one spirit and that spirit always lead us to glorifying the name of God (Romans 12:3-9).

 

 

 

 

 

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A Present to God

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Isa sa Mabuting Bagay na Maipagkakaloob nating Magkakapatid sa Panginoong Dios” for December 3, 2015)

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Does God need anything from His creations?

The Bible tells us that God doesn’t need anything from us. It is clear, “He does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24)

The perfect term for this is that He is our benefactor. We take everything we need for Him and He gives everything we need. So, He doesn’t actually need us. We are the one who needs Him. The Bible tells us, “He rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6)

However, even if God doesn’t need anything from us, He expects us to behave in a particular way. The Bible tells us, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)

We cannot give anything in particular to God except that He expects us to walk according to His will. His will for us is to possess love, kindness, mercy, humility and justice. Walking humbly with God means we don’t need to walk alone by ourselves and live our lives according to our ways. Walking with Him means we are allowing Him to direct us and be our pilot and lead us wherever He wants us to go.

This is the whole duty of mankind, to fear Him and obey all His commands (Ecclesiastes 12:13). We should have known it by now that the only purpose, we have on earth is to give pleasure to Him who created us. We have been given free will to choose anything we want in life. However, everything that we choose has its consequences. If we choose wrongly, then we suffer from its consequences. However, choosing the right path will take us towards His eternal rewards.

One of the things that He expects us to keep aside from those mentioned earlier is to be always grateful and learn to appreciate all His goodness and generosity. People often forget to praise God for everything that they have in life. The Bible tells us, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it” (1 Corinthians 4:7)

It is our duty therefore to express gratitude by way of thanksgiving offerings. Early servants of God made sure that they please God through their thanksgiving offerings. King David made a song about this, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night” (Psalms 92:1-2)

David assured that he will pay his vows unto the Lord. His vows include the sacrifice of thanksgiving. In Psalms we can read, “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.  I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people” (Psalms 116:17-18)

Truly, David did whatever God pleases (Acts 13:22). The sacrifice of thanksgiving includes the special offerings, we are ought to present to God. Though, we need to be reminded that in giving, we should know that God is only pleased when we give joyfully. God doesn’t want us to give if we have a heavy heart or we are just forced to give. Just remember, in giving there is sacrifice and all sacrifices are voluntary. (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)

If we do this, God promises to never leave us in whatever we do and wherever we go. God promises to be our sun and shield, to bestow favor and honor. And for those who walk uprightly in His sight, He will never withhold any good thing for them. (Psalms 84:11)

 

 

 

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Serving the Saints

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Dapat Malaman ng mga Kapatid na Nakapaglilingkod Hanggang Ngayon” for November 29, 2015)

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One of the things that we are asked to do is to be firm in faith and continuously show a trustful service in the Lord. Serving the Lord requires steadfastness and commitment. We need to remind ourselves constantly that we should not be weary in all life’s struggles and sufferings.

Why do we need to serve God steadily? The answer to this is because life on earth is uncertain. We never know what lies ahead of us. We never know if tomorrow we shall live. We need to make the most of everything while we are still living. What if we die tomorrow and we are being held down by temptations and sins? What will be the worst scenario that would happen to us?

Apostle Paul tells us that everyday is a favorable time to serve God, that everyday is a day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). God makes sure that everyday He listens to us, He blesses us and helps us in our needs. Now, we need to appreciate those things that God is giving to us. How can we show appreciation?

We can show appreciation and gratitude to God by not complaining, by learning to be contented in life, no matter how hard it is and by showing that we do not lose heart despite that our outer self is wasting. We show that the inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). This is what the early Christians did before. They continue to serve God every day, praising Him in all the days of their remaining lives (Acts 2:46).

What is one of the things that we need to do while serving the Lord?

God wants us not only to serve Him, He wants us to extend our services to His saints (holy people). As we knew already, the holy people of God were called into His church, which is the church of God. Thus, we have lots of opportunities to do service to others while we are in His church.

Apostle Paul praises those who are doing this, “God is not unjust, so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do” (Hebrews 6:10) 

Early Christians showed examples of serving one another. In His letter to Timothy, Apostle Paul mentioned how one of the brothers in faith showed his relentless efforts of serving them and the rest of the brethren. He writes, “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day! —and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus” (2 Timothy 1:16-18) 

Also, Apostle Paul mentioned Stephanas in his letter to Corinthians, “Now I urge you, brothers —you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer” (1 Corinthians 16:15)

Why is it important to serve one another?

Serving the saints or one another is a sign of love that God wants us to have. The greatest love is the one that we can show to the Lord, but the second greatest is similar to it, that is, to love others like we love ourselves. Therefore, serving others can definitely please God.

Some of the early Christians showed their service by helping the Apostles in its ministry. Not only do they joined them in preaching the words of God, but they have given their help in terms of supplying whatever the ministry needs. This includes the financial aspects of the Ministry. (2 Corinthians 9:5-7,12)

In our present times, we are urged to do the same, to help the church and its leaders in continuously fulfilling the ministry of Christ. If we serve others, we are actually serving God (Matthew 25:40). Christ tells us on that verse, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” 

Rewards in heaven are for those who showed service to God and others, while those who failed to do so will come to a bitter end, which is the eternal damnation. (Matthew 25:44-46).

For now, while we have the chance to do so, let us encourage one another to serve each other and help the church fulfill its ministry by giving our shares and donations. The church understands our status in life and so does God. So in giving, we are not asked to give with a heavy heart. We are asked to give by faith. When we are blessed financially, we do not raise our standard of living, but instead, we raise the standard of our “giving.”  

 

 

 

 

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