Having Good Fellowship with One Another

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Mabuting Pakikisama sa Lahat ng mga Kapatid” for June 25)

An older couple holding hands

The word “koinonia” means fellowship, which describes communication, caring and helping with one another. Fellowship is a beautiful word. It means companionship, which a person cannot do without another person. It means communion, being united, intimate and close with another. It also means friendship, having a good relationship, camaraderie to another person, having solidarity and mutuality.

In other words, it is God’s way of letting us fulfill the law to love one another (John 13:34). It is important that each member of the church knows the importance of fellowshipping with one another because it is one of God’s reasons why we are called into His church. Apostle Paul mentions this; “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)

 

Having fellowship with others would mean that we need to live with and be involved with others as Apostle Paul did in Acts 20:18. He was with the brethren of the church the whole time he was there, in person, talking with them, laughing with them, and communicating with them. And he felt happy being with them (Romans 15:24). He saw the love and concern of all the members of the church, citing their amazing contributions despite their poverty (2 Corinthians 8:4).

What will happen if we allow ourselves to commune with others?

Not only we are fulfilling God’s command to love one another, but also as we go on with our lives connecting with others, we are actually having a relationship with Christ. Remember, He told us, “…whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45) These words are the same as whatever we do to another, we do it unto Him. If we show love to others, we are actually doing it to God.

And imagine the comfort that others could feel when we open ourselves to them, help them and inspire them to keep the faith burning at all times amidst many sufferings and trials we experience everyday. Apostle Paul experienced this, “For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn —conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever. “ (2 Corinthians 7:5-7)

Although God commands being united with others, this can be a way of making others uncomfortable, especially those who are not used to with this kind of relationship. It is better that a senior member of the church enlightens them regarding this kind of association.

Another thing, connecting with others can be bad too. Having a friendship with others can be misinterpreted. We all need to be careful about this. Not all who are connecting with others are doing it for the right reasons. Others are just taking advantage of the situation. Therefore, we need to put some limitations when we connect ourselves with others.

Apostle Paul warned all the members of the church, “Do not keep company with those who have not faith: for what is there in common between righteousness and evil, or between light and dark.” (2 Corinthians 6:14) We need to separate ourselves from evildoers. We are called unto holiness, and we are children of God, so we need to be aware of that.

Apostle Paul reminds us about God’s promise, “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)  

God’s command is to walk in love (2 John 1:6), not in darkness. Apostle John reminds us about this, “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7)

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Selfishness and Selflessness

(From the sermon entitled “Ang Pagiging Makasarili ayon sa Biblia” for June 18 and 21, 2015)

Finger-Pointing

The words of God are so powerful that even the attributes of people in the end days are told and described. When Apostle Paul wrote to his companion Timothy, he tells, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves…” (2 Timothy 3:1-2) 

The song The Greatest Love of All, popularized by Whitney Houston tells us Learning to love yourself, It is the greatest love of all… People believe that the greatest love of all is learning to love one’s self. There is nothing wrong with loving one’s self. In fact, we all need to learn how to love ourselves before we can love others. Love must come from the inside, and then it has to be manifested towards others.

So, there is nothing wrong with the lyrics of that song. However, loving one’s self is not the greatest love of all. The Bible tells us that the greatest love of all is to lay one’s life to another. The greatest love is selfless, not towards one’s self, but towards others. Loving one’s self is correct, however, people have shown it wrongly. It turned out that the love they have given to themselves is selfishness.

When is love towards one’s self becomes selfishness?

When love is exhibited towards one’s self and becomes egocentric or directed only to self rather than to others, it is called empty conceit. When it results not to happiness and affection, but disorder and evil practices, it becomes vanity. Therefore, it is not love at all but greediness and egocentricity. (James 3:16)

When a person only sees himself and only care about his personal desires, and do not give interest to the needs of others, then that is egocentrism. This attribute is very evident nowadays. Unfortunately, this is true. The majority of people has forgotten about caring about others. Selfishness have driven many to compare themselves to others. They have forgotten the commandment of Christ about loving others. The only love they knew is directed towards them.

Selfishness can lead to destruction. The ancient Israel, who were only thinking about self-survival have put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They have spoken against God (Psalms 78:18).

The rich bachelor in the New Testament was not able to follow Christ’s invitation because of fear of losing his wealthy life (Matthew 19:21-22). Who would want to sacrifice his wealth for the sake of Christ nowadays?

Selfishness can end friendship according to the Bible (Proverbs 18:1). What a selfish person would want is only to satisfy his needs and desires. He really never intends to satisfy the needs of others, be it his friends or love ones.

This trait is not of God, but of the devil. This is a worldly attribute and can be seen for the majority of mankind. Apostle James tells us, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 3:14-15)

And prayers of such people are never heard, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3) So, where do their wealth come from if not from God? Well, the world has the power to give pleasure and abundance. And this world has been given to the hands of the wicked. That explains how their wealth is amassed.

Christians are not supposed to possess this earthly attribute. We are supposed to be different in thoughts, actions and in our words. Apostle Paul tells us to think like Christ, “then make my joy complete by being like- minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (Philippians 2:2) Paul tells us to be united in thoughts, thinking like Christ, being like Christ and behaving like Christ.

Paul also encourages us to think with all humility, according to the faith given by God, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Philippians 12:2-3)

If we learn to feel what other people feel, then that’s a step closer towards loving others. In Christ, we are all brothers and sisters. We are commanded to respect, care and love one another. This is what we have learned from the doctrines given to us. All we have to do is to keep it and obey it with all our hearts.

Who have shown the greatest example of selfless love that we should imitate?

Jesus Christ is the perfect example of selfless and unconditional love. By showing His unselfish love towards mankind, He made Himself a man and lived like a man. Apostle Paul tells us of this, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8) 

He came here to serve and not to be served (Mark 10:45). He has shown a great example on how we should serve one another. He has told us that He was doing the will of the Father; telling and teaching us that it is always the will of the Father that should be followed. By following Christ’s example, selflessness is not only exhibited to other people, but its greatest paradigm is directing it towards God. The commandment tells us, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

The story of the Good Samaritan is another paradigm of selflessness. Samaritans are not really respected people during those times. They were a very low class of people. They are a mixture of races, and most of them are partly Gentile and partly Jews. But why did Christ choose them to be the main character in that story? Simply, Christ was trying to tell them something. He wants them to understand that it is not the race, the color of the skin, the status in life that is important in obeying the will of God.

Those who have less in life should manifest more love, more selflessness, because they have nothing in life. They have nothing to be selfish about. Christ tells us, blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven… (Matthew 5:3) The lowly ones, like the Samaritans, who may not be poor in the story, but a businessman, have shown that even at their status in life (they were treated as low in their society), they can be selfless and can show love to anyone. Unlike the Scribes and the Pharisees, who can only love those who love them and those whom they have chosen to love.

The story tells us not to choose whom we can love. Anyone is our neighbor, even our enemies. And we are commanded to love our neighbor. We are commanded to love one another. But be careful, it is ‘not love another one.’ If we show partiality to loving others, then we are committing a sin against God (James 2:8-9).

The command of God is to love others as we love ourselves. We show love to ourselves in many ways. We don’t try to hurt ourselves, to make it feel uncomfortable, and as much as possible; we always want ourselves to be happy. This is what God wants us to give, that is, the way we treat and love ourselves should be given and directed towards others. Simply put, live according to the love and faith given to us. (Galatians 2:20)

If we can do this, then we are showing that we are indeed true followers of Christ and truly children of the Most High (John 13:35). Apostle Paul tells us to learn how to put others first before ourselves (Romans 12:10); this is how a true brother or sister in Christ should behave. Apostle Paul has given us this example, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24) 

Let us all contemplate about this. Selfishness is not a trait we should possess. We should be selfless and humble because it is a trait that Christ wants us to have. Remember this, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17)

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According to His Good Pleasure, which He Purposed in Him (last part)

(From the sermon entitled “Ang Minagaling na Ipinasiya ng Dios ayon sa Biblia” for dates June 11 and 14, 2015)

come-hand-final

God wants us to know the truth and live by it.

What do we need to know about the truth on Christ being in the flesh?

What many people do not understand in Christ being in the flesh is His plan of giving the ancient Israel a chance for salvation. God has kept His promise to His people. However, the ancient Israel did not honor their covenant with God. Christ tells us, ““Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:37-38)

What did Christ mean when He said “the house is left to you desolate?” The term desolate can mean abandoning, forsaken and deserted. Did Christ want to tell us that the ancient Israel is now abandoned? What about His promise to these people?

We have learned that God curses those who do not bear fruit. Christ tells us about this in Matthew 21:19-20, Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

The lesson of this story is not about how Christ makes the tree withered so quickly. It is about why did Christ curse it. Christ is telling us here that the ancient Israel who has broken their vows and covenant with God will be desolated. Did God really take it away from them? Jesus has the answer, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit…” (Matthew 21:43)

Why did God take it away from them? God took the kingdom away from them because they failed to see the coming of God to them. In Luke 19:41-44, we can read, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Christ came but they failed to accept Him. John 1:11 tells us, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” Instead of accepting Christ, they ignored Him and murdered Him. In the books of Acts of the Apostles 3:14-17, we can read, You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.”  

Most of all, they did not believe that the Father and Christ are one. So, when Christ attempted to tell them that He and the Father are one, they tried to stone Him for what He said (John 10:30-33).

What truth do we need to understand concerning the latter days?

There are events that are assured to happen in the concluding days as written in the Scriptures. These prophecies have long been written down and just waiting to happen. Zephaniah 3:8, tells us about the wrath of God for all nations and kingdoms who did not listen and abide in His will and commands. The verse tells us, “Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day I will stand up to testify. I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to pour out my wrath on them— all my fierce anger. The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.”

Many may not believe that God would consume these nations because of His anger. They believe that God is love and mercy. They forgot that God is also a God of justice. He will execute His judgment and He will carry it out justly.

The concluding days will reveal signs of His coming, and after that, the end of this world.

When will these things happen?

The Bible did not tell us the certainty of dates, but tells us the certainty of its fulfillment. Zephaniah 1:14-18 tell us, “The great day of the Lord is near — near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.” Therefore, it is very near to us now, because this was written thousands of years ago.

What do we expect on that day? Zephaniah continues, “ That day will be a day of wrath— a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness — a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. “I will bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord ’s wrath.”

Indeed, that day is a day we never imagined to happen. But it is now waiting to happen. Isaiah 13:9-13 tells us about it too, “See, the day of the Lord is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.”  

These destructions are inevitable. They were already written and God had already decided to make them happen.

Although these events that would take place in the future are very frightening, servants of God need not be afraid. God will never forsake His people. Jesus promises, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22)

While we have the time, while God is giving us chances and opportunities to serve Him and follow whatever pleases Him, we should not take every chance to be wasted.

Now is the time to seek Him, and look for Him. And to avoid God’s anger and wrath, we should listen to what the Scriptures are telling us, “before the decree takes effect and that day passes like windblown chaff, before the Lord ’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord ’s wrath comes upon you. Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord ’s anger.” (Zephaniah 2:2-3)

Now is the time to serve Him, to do good deeds unto others, to love, to forgive and serve one another. Remember the saying, the righteous will remain firm and won’t be moved by anything. If we trust God in all our ways, then these truths that were revealed unto us will not only be heard and read, but these will guide us and lead us unto eternal life. Let us all live according to these truths.

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According to His Good Pleasure, which He Purposed in Him (Part 1)

(From the sermon entitled “Ang Minagaling na Ipinasiya ng Dios ayon sa Biblia” for dates June 4 and 7, 2015)

The goodness of God

The ways of God are very far from our thoughts and habits. Sometimes, we really cannot understand His ways. But in many instances, God reveals His ways to His people so we can understand His will better.

God had revealed His will through the Holy Scriptures. He had made us known whatever pleases Him through His words, which were written. He wants us to understand them better and thus, He commanded us to seek the truth, read the Scriptures and find out the purpose of all His actions.

Let us take a look at Ephesians 1:9; Apostle Paul writes, “…Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him.” God’s will is mysterious to many people. This is because people don’t have time to seek His will. How can they know the truth if they don’t even bother to seek them? How can they know His will if they are not interested to know them?

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells us about God’s decisions to do something for Himself. Although a mystery to many people, but for God, it was a plain and simple revelation of Himself, something that pleases Him.

What is this that pleases Him that He wants to do? What Apostle Paul has written is the mystery of the manifestation or the revelation of God in the flesh through Christ. The Bible tells us, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16) 

Was this mystery come into fruition? Yes it did! God manifest Himself in the flesh through Christ. Isaiah writes, “… the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) Isaiah repeated this in Isaiah 9:6, citing the traits of the son given unto 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.”

Noticeably, the traits of the son are all traits of the almighty God. He is a Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. The son, although will be born unto a virgin actually has no origin. Prophet Micah mentioned this in chapter 5, verse 2 that the one coming from Bethlehem is from the old, from everlasting, meaning eternal.

If the son is from everlasting, does He have the same trait with God? David writes in Psalms 90:2, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever you had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” God’s origin is clear here. They have the same origin mentioned in Micah 5:2, they both came from everlasting, from eternal.

Therefore they are the same, because they are one. God manifests Himself through Christ, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh, and lived among us.” (John 1:1, 14)

Why did God decide to manifest Himself in the flesh? Jesus tells us the reason why He was born, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)

Apostle Paul tells us, God is pleased that everyone knows the truth and be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Not only that He will testify to the truth, but also He came to reveal us about the truth. And what is the truth? That the reason He came here is to save all sinners. Apostle Paul writes, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”(1 Timothy 1:15). However, Christ can only save sinners who have repented. Those who did not atone for their sins will not be saved (Luke 15:7,10).

In the days of the Apostles, those who repented were baptized, and those who were baptized were added to the church, which is the Church of God. We can read in Acts 2:38, 47, “Praising God, and having favour with all the people, and the Lord added to the church (Greek word-“Ekklesia”) daily such as should be saved.”

So, those who have accepted Christ, who repented from their sins, and were baptized, were given a chance to become part of Christ’s truth. Indeed, to become part of His purpose, pleasing to Him, is an ultimate blessing from God.

The question here is why did God add to the church those who will be saved? Why did He choose the church as a dwelling place for all His people?

The answers to these questions are clear. First of all, we need to understand that the church built by Christ is not an ordinary congregation. God purchased the church with His holy blood, and that makes it very valuable to Him (Acts 20:28). The Bible also tells us that without the shedding of blood, there will be no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). Christ’s blood was shed so that everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness and eventually, be saved. So, everyone who was blessed and added to Christ’s church would become part of salvation. Christ will save His own body, and we all know that the church is Christ’s body (Ephesians 5:23).

Again, let us just repeat the purpose why Christ was born, and that is to testify to the truth. God wants to testify for His words. For His words are the truth (John 17:17), and powerful (Luke 1:37). God wants everyone to believe in His truth (words), and if all do so, will lead to salvation. So when Christ speaks about the truth about Him and the Father, He tells us, “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:7) Christ did not only introduce the Father, but He has let them see the Father, who is dwelling in Him.

So when Philip asks Him about the Father, Jesus tells us, “Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:8-14)

Christ has revealed here that He and the Father are one; that the Father dwells in Him. Anyone, who does not believe that He is not the Father will die from their sins, and this was written in John 8:24, 27, “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.”  

What else did Christ tells us about God’s truth? Christ revealed to us that the only way we can come to the Father is through Him. He told us, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Christ had taught us about a new way of life, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body (church), (Hebrews 10:20). He wants us to have fellowship with the members of the church, which is His body. Everyone who was called into the church is an important element of the body, all are important, all are loved.

Not only that Christ wants us to know the truth that is in Him. He also expects everyone to live according to the truth. Christ tells us, “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17:19) God wants us to live a holy life in His house (Psalms 93:5) and He wants us to be holy in all manners and aspects of life (1 Peter 1:15-16).

What do we need to know about Christ in the flesh?

To be continued on the next part…

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How to be a Noble Person

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Mahal na Tao sa Buhay na ito at Mahal na Tao sa Buhay na Darating” for May 31, 2015)

preaching-a-sermonHow can a person be considered as a noble one? Is life’s status a basis for being called a noble person? Is it something that we can acquire at birth? How did the Bible clarify this?

The dictionary tells us that the word noble, especially in former times, is a person of noble rank or birth, belonging to a hereditary class with high social or political status; aristocrat. Therefore, a person is considered as a noble one if he was born from noble descent. A person is also called noble if he has outstanding traits.

The Bible calls princes as noble people (Job 29:9-11). Judges are also called noble people (Proverbs 8:16), as well as those who have high authority and rule over a large number of people (Matthew 20:25). Jesus tells us about these people in authority as those who would always want to be recognized or acknowledged by others. They wanted to be respected by all people in their community. They would always want to be positioned in the higher seats of the synagogue and/or in the dining tables (Mark 12:39). Jesus warned all the people about these people, particularly the Scribes and the Pharisees. They wore long robes and loved to be respected by others (Luke 20:46).

Let us notice that while these people are considered to be noble by others, holding high positions in their communities, they were not called by God to be members of His church. What God has called are people who are simple, poor, not influential and not with noble birth (1 Corinthians 1:26). People, who were considered to be noble at that time like the Scribes and the Pharisees are only noble in the outside, but full of wickedness in the inside (Luke 11:37-41).

God selected them because He wants to send a strong message to these so-called noble people. The Bible tells us, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27) These weak and foolish people were considered to be noble by God because He had paid them with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).

How valuable are these people to God? The Bible tells us that it is the blood of God that was used to purchase all of the members of His church (Acts 20:28). Anyone who belongs to this church will be included in the purchase. Anyone who belongs to this church will be called noble people of God because they are His children. John 1:12-13 tell us about this, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

And this is not according to the likes of anyone, but according to the mercy of God. Apostle Paul writes on this, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

Another purpose of God when He called the poor and foolish ones is that no one can boast before Him (1 Corinthians 1:29). However, are all called be considered as noble people? The Bible’s answer is NO! There are those who were called and did not remain in Him. Some of them walked away from their spiritual duties. Some of them did not remain obedient to His will and commands (2 Thessalonians 3:11)

Those who were bought by God through the blood of Jesus are the true noble people because they believe in God, and obey His will completely. They do not let themselves to be defiled, like what the Bible says, “These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.” (Revelations 14:2-5)

To God, they are His children, His noble people, and heirs to His kingdom in heaven. God called us because we are poor and were not noble in the sight of many men, but we have the greatest chance to prove that we are rich in faith and in serving God. Apostle James writes on this, “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5)

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Rich People can Enter the Kingdom of God

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Mayayaman na Makakapasok at ‘Di Makakapasok sa Kaharian ng Dios” for May 21 and 24, 2015) 4590597244_6d89f276d8_z Yes, rich people can enter the kingdom of Heaven. Unlike what most people think, rich people have a chance for eternal life.

The most important thing for someone who believes in God is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the ultimate goal for every believer.

The Bible tells us that the house of God (1 Timothy 3:15), which is the church of God and composed of members with common doctrinal beliefs is a house built upon Spirit (1 Peter 2:5). It is not an edifice or a structure, but a spiritual house, a kingdom of God here on earth. Members of this congregation became part of the elect or the chosen people of God for His kingdom (Luke 22:22), a city that bears fruit of righteousness (Matthew 21:23) and was purchased by His own blood (Acts 20:28). No wonder why Jesus tells everyone to enter the narrow gate, because it is a road leading to His kingdom in heaven (Matthew 7:13-14)

God’s house, according to the Bible is the door to heaven (Genesis 28:17). If it is the door to heaven, then people should persist to enter because it is a step closer towards God, in His kingdom.

God’s kingdom in heaven meanwhile, is prepared into all worthy faithful. No abominations will enter God’s kingdom (Revelations 21:27). Only those who have triumphed and who have purified themselves will be worthy of spending eternity with God.

How does the Bible explain those who are unworthy of His kingdom in heaven? The Bible tells us that those who are unrighteous will definitely fail to enter God’s kingdom. Apostle Paul writes, “No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater —has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:5) This is the reason why many of the apostles advised members of the church to be clean in all manners of life (1 Peter 1:15), and most of all, live according to the faith that we have received from Him (Hebrews 10:38).

Additionally, those who lack trust in God will not be given a chance to dwell in heaven. People who trust with their material wealth instead of trusting God should not ask for salvation. Desiring wealth in this life is not bad at all. However, if the desire of men is more than the desire to serve God, then wealth can be a hindrance in receiving eternal life with God.

Jesus tells us, “we cannot serve two masters at the same time.” (Matthew 6:24) Material wealth is needed to live a decent life. However, we should not put all our trust and hope for it. Material wealth is only temporary. It can be lost, it can be taken away from us and we cannot even bring it when we die. If we talk about faith, we cannot count on wealth alone to become worthy of God’s kingdom.

Apostle Paul writes, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17) However, there are rich people that can definitely enter the kingdom of heaven. They maybe not rich in material wealth, but they are very rich in faith and abundant in many ways, especially in spiritual matters.

Members of the church during the time of the Apostles were called not because they are rich or they are successful in life, they were called because they are poor so that they can be rich in faith. We can read, “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5) They are very rich when it comes to trusting God’s powers, rich in good deeds, especially to other faithful, always prepared to do holy works. In other words, they are rich when it comes to giving glory and praises to God, and this is what Apostle Paul writes, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.” (Romans 2:7)

They glorify God through their holy works, such as helping those who are in need (Isaiah 1:17), contributing to the church’s missionary works (1 Timothy 5:10), walking according to truth, and most of all by following the will and commands of God. God wants us to train to be godly.

Although physical training has a value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Let us all save up for the wealth that cannot be taken away from us, wealth that can bring us to the promised eternal life, in heaven, with God.

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Be Glad and Be Thankful for all Blessings

(From the sermon entitled, Ang Kapalarang Lubos na Dapat Ikagalak at Pakaingatan sa Buhay na Ito”, for May 28, 2015)

trusting

Those who are grateful in life can feel happiness and contentment. Although many times we suffer from trials and tests, God had shown that He never abandon nor forsake us. He continually helps and guides us, so we can overcome life’s sufferings.

Studying and analyzing life helps us realize that whatever life we have today are a product or a summation of what effort we put in it and the mercy and love of God. God allows us to have victory and abundance in life. He also allows us to feel insignificant amount of pain. Sadly, when people are abundant, they forget to be grateful, and when they are suffering because of poverty, they usually blame God for it.

The Bible tells us that we should not always put our hopes to whatever fate we have now. Let’s say we are blessed enough to have an abundant life materially, we should not rely on it. Psalms 62:10 says, “though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.” People set their hearts on what they have here on earth. They would die for sure if this wealth would be gone. They don’t know that they cannot bring all their material possessions when they die. The Bible clearly says, “…his wealth will not follow him down into the grave.” (Psalms 49:17)

Life has many uncertainties. The only certainty is death. Life will end no matter how we use it. Life will conclude no matter how bad or beautiful it is. Verses of the Bible tell us of this, “Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever, like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he? ’ Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found, banished like a vision of the night.” (Job 20:6-8)

The rich man in Luke 12:16-20 tells us about someone who put his hope in his wealth more than what should be accorded to God. This man only thought of how he can increase his wealth and have an abundant life in his present time and in the future. He forgot that life has an ending. So, when God told him that his life will be taken away from him that night, he was asked where will all his wealth go? (Luke 12:19-20)

Life is not all about abundance. What we should aspire is to become part of God’s mercy, to be called, to be His child and dwell in His house (Psalms 27:41), to see His beauty and goodness in the church of God (1 Timothy 3:15).

More than living an abundant life as many dreamed of, dwelling in God’s house, is a providence that only a few have received. Jesus tells us, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul.” (Matthew 16:26)

Material prosperity, like life, is only temporary. It is only borrowed and God allows us to use them so we can be of His purpose. What we should yearn is to have an eternal life, and it could be fulfilled if we dwell in the house of God and remain faithful and firm.

God is worthy to be praised! He has called us and placed us under His protection inside His house. Let us offer our praises and thanksgiving as a pleasing sacrifice; and let us be peaceful for whatever purpose He has given us (Colossians 3:15). Life will end, as well as wealth, but if we gain righteousness before God, it would surely lead us to salvation.

Worry not and do not lose hope. Never be afraid, because God will never abandon us. More than these, and anything in this world, we are very important to God because we are His children. He is very pleased to give us what He had promised, His kingdom in heaven, and living an eternal life with Him. Jesus tells us, ““Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)

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