Choosing Leaders

From the sermon entitled, “Ang Pagliliwanag ng Biblia sa Dating Utos na Pinaiiral Maging sa Ating Panahon sa Loob ng IDKH” for May 8, 2016)

Not all God’s commands should be followed.

Some commands are only for a specific person, people or race. However, there are commands that are considered as general or generic laws. These commands run from thousands of years ever since the world has come to existence.

Take a look at the command written in 1 John 2:7-8, we can read, “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.” 

The command to love others is an eternal law. It is boundless and should be done in any circumstance.

Although some commands are not categorically given to us, some of these commands are not restricted if we make them as our moral guides. The command to respect leaders and government is a command given to the early Christians in the New Testament. Another example is about giving back to the government through the form of taxes. Christ Himself has answered them to give what is due to Caesar, representing the government at that time, and to give what is due to God (Matthew 22:21).

Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus followed the decree of the government that time to enlist themselves in the census. Apostle Paul also writes to members of the church to submit themselves in governing authorities, telling them that all authorities are established and given by God and whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted. (Romans 13:1-4)

The freedom and right given to us to choose our leader is a sacred duty that we need to exercise. By exercising it, we are moving towards to preserve peace, justice and commitment to help the authorities to a more progressive future.

However, the Bible tells us not to follow the ways of the world. We should be different and be guided according to the ways of the Scripture. Even in choosing a leader, we should choose someone who is guided according to the principles of what we accept as the truth.  Though political figures are guided by their own personal ambitions, we need to examine which of them are rightful to be chosen and lead the country in the next few years to come.

We should also avoid the biases in politics because it will only turn friends into enemies. Once we show partiality to another candidate for example, we can’t avoid contradictions because other people have their own preferences. We should learn how to respect others’ opinions and let them campaign for their bets. Let us enjoy life by living it peacefully.

Meanwhile, what’s best for us is to pray for the peace of our country. We pray that the good Lord bless our leaders who have been chosen by the majority to propel the nation. May the will of the Lord prevail.

 

 

 

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Show No Partiality

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Aral na Dapat Matutunan sa Pagpili sa Atin ng Dios” for May 5, 2016)

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When God chose us to be of service in His house, which is the church; He chose us according to His criteria and requirements. It is not because we desire to serve Him alone that brought us together in His fold. It is because of His mercy and love that made us spiritual servants.

Long ago, when God had chosen the ancient people of Israel, we can read, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:6-7)

So, it is God’s preference of calling that we were allowed to dwell in His house and serve Him while we live. Apostle Paul also tells us that no one can boast about his calling. We are called with a special purpose, and that is to bring glory and honor to the One that called us. He says, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 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. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28)

Picture this, we have no hope before. We have no God and chance of salvation. However, He opened the gate of salvation and faith for us, so we can dwell and serve Him according to His pleasure. One thing is for sure, God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11).

If God does not show favoritism or partiality, neither must we (James 2:1-2). We should be careful on how we treat other members of the church. How we deal with one should be the same with others, that is, no partiality is allowed inside the house of God.

Apostle James mentions, “Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” (James 2:2) 

We should be aware that treating someone special just because we can smell something valuable, while we neglect others just because we don’t need them, feeling that we cannot get anything from them is totally wrong. That is an awful partiality and a hypocrisy.

Christ tells us, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that” (Matthew 5:46-47) 

Many cultures of the world, even the customs of ancient Israel and the places nearby it are discriminating to others. Discriminating is a harsh thing. The Samaritans are group of people in their times that were always been discriminated. However, in the stories and parables of Christ, the Samaritans are the ones that show great deeds and love to others.

Partiality leads us to judge others. We look on the mistakes of others and feel indifferent to them. If we are partial to them, we loose the chance to correct them and help them improve themselves.

The teachings of Christ strongly suggests end of partiality and discrimination. Remember this, we are called to love one another and not to show indifference to anyone. Whatsover we do to anyone, we do it as well to the Lord.

If we show love and mercy, we do it to God.

If we are being partial to anyone, we do it to God.

Plain and simple truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Most Beautiful Woman

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Pinakamagandang Babae ayon sa Pagtuturo ng Biblia” for May 1, 2016)

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We are always fascinated by the outside looks of a person. The world may have already set standards on what a beautiful man or woman is. People have already forgotten that the most essential and amazing things are not seen physically or by our eyes.

The Bible tells us that no matter how beautiful we are, it will eventually fade. We are likened to a flower. We will grow and bloom, but soon, we shall fade and die. Only the words of God will continue to remain. And the words of God tells us that the most beautiful woman is not actually a person.

That woman is the wife of Christ, the bride of the Lamb, which is the church. The bride or wife has always been PEOPLE, whether it was the nation of Israel as the wife of God in the Old Testament or the Church as the bride of Christ in the New Testament. Paul said it clearly (writing to the church): “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2) 

In other versions, it is clearly said, “I am jealous for you with a jealousy that comes from God. I promised to give you to Christ. He must be your only husband. I want to give you to Christ to be his pure bride.” 

John Macarthur comments on this verse:
I have betrothed you to one husband. – As their spiritual father (2Co_12:141Co_4:15; cf. 2Co_9:1-2), Paul portrayed the Corinthians like a daughter, whom he betrothed to Jesus Christ (at their conversion). The OT pictures Israel as the wife of the Lord (cf. Isa_54:5Jer_3:14Hos_2:19-20), while the NT pictures the church as the bride of Christ (Eph_5:22-32Rev_19:7).

When we became members of the church of God, we have been God’s children. In spiritual truth we may become sons and daughters, friends of God, servants and soon can be His wife. This is God’s plan for us, and no matter how hard it is for people to understand, it will always be the plain truth coming from the Scriptures.

As members of His church, we are directed to remain beautiful in our inner self, for the inner self has its unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, and is of great worth in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:4).

We can possibly do this by remaining in love, showing good deeds and mercy to everyone. By being holy we become beautiful in the sight of the Lord. Not all beautiful therefore is holy, but all holiness are beautiful. This is the reason why the church is the most beautiful woman in the sight of the Lord. And we, as members should remain beautiful as ever. As long as we remain faithful, doing His will and commands, we will always be beautiful in His eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sow Good Deeds

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang mga Bagay na Dapat Pagaralan ng Bawat Kapatid na Ibig Mabuhay na may Kabanalan kay Kristo Hesus” for April 28, 2016)

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As God called us to be holy, He expects holy deeds to be done while we live in His house.

He is holy and the expectation of holiness is inevitable. We are commanded to do good deeds because it will benefit us and not God. Apostle Paul tells us that it is good and pleasing to the will of God, that everyone knows His truth and be saved (2 Timothy 2:1-3).

Knowing is the first step. Understanding is next. Living and enjoying His truth in our daily lives should be evident always. This holiness is beneficial in acquiring eternal life in heaven.

Thus, a faithful knows that is always a daily task to live according to faith and to the truth in all manners of life (1 Peter 1:15-16).

How can do we sow good deeds and show holiness in the sight of God?

Let us start by doing good deeds in the most smalles unit of our community, our family. No matter who we are in the family, good deeds should be shown. If we are a husband or a wife, we should be good, respecful and faithful to our partner. If we are a child, we should be helpful, obedient and always giving honor to our parents. Likewise, we should be loving and caring to our siblings. If we are a neighbour, a friend, a student, a worker, a boss, a citizen or whoever we are in the community that we live in, we should always offer ourselves to help others.

By remaining to be faithful, honest and trustful in every way, we are actually living a life according to the truth and faith we have received from God (Titus 3:14). Doing good deeds are not only done inside the chapel or congregational service. The majority of time alloted to doing good deeds is not inside the chapel but outside it, when we apply the words that we hear from the sermons or preaching given to us.

Along with doing these things, we have to be humble and offer kindness to everyone and not only to those we favor. Of course, we need to avoid things that would create troubles and complications among the members of the church. We should avoid, conversation that would start fighting and can hurt feelings of others. As much as possible, do not talk about someone who is not present. If we would want to correct something from others, we should talk with them personally.

While we are sowing these good deeds, in due time, we know that we shall reap good things not only from those we have shown good. The most important reward is not coming from those that we have given love and kindness, it is coming from the One that gives rewards eternally, from the Lord above.

 

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Faithfulness until the End

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Makapagtatapat Hanggang Wakas” for April 24, 2016)

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One of the things that we usually hear in sermons is the value of being faithful. Faithfulness is an attribute of God’s servants. Being faithful means trying to walk with integrity as David said in Psalms 26:11. This is done by choosing the correct path, the way of faithfulness (Psalms 119:30).

Though the Bible has stressed the value of being faithful, the question remains, “Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6) Indeed, it is very hard to find a truthful person, especially nowadays. In many relationships, the major cause of breakup is dishonesty or unfaithfulness to partners.

People find it difficult to remain loyal or faithful to their partners. They cannot overcome temptations. The result can be devastating. How many children are emotionally affected because of infidelity issues?

One of the reasons why people learn to become unfaithful is dissatisfaction. The feeling of discontent is always a natural emotion of humans, which lead them to crave for their desires that would please them. Fulfilling the desires, especially of the flesh can lead us to do things that are always against the will of God (Romans 8:7).

So, in order to avoid unfaithfulness and to completely remain faithful at all times, the key element here is to learn how to be satisfied in life. The first thing we need to teach ourselves is acceptance. We need to accept that no matter how hard we try to fulfill the desires of our hearts and flesh, we will always fill empty. If the desire is temporary, then the satisfaction will always be temporary. If it is temporary, then the craving never stops.

Second, learn to focus on things that are eternal. Paul tells us, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Trusting the temporary world will always let us feel displeasure. Only through the things that are eternal we can find true satisfaction and happiness. Listen to what the first servants’ testimonies that brought them happiness and satisfaction in life. David has shown remarkable trust in the Lord even from his youth days. Job has trusted God more than anything in his life despite of the troubles and sufferings that he encountered.

This should teach us to be faithful in God no matter what happens. After all, we know that God will continue to remain faithful, because that is His attribute. The Bible tells us, “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalms 100:5)

And even if we are unfaithful, God will continue to be faithful. This was explained by Apostle Paul, “What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?” (Romans 3:3)

Faithfulness might be a hard habit to learn. But if we are focused on entering the kingdom of heaven, then we have to learn it and apply it in our lives, especially in exercising our faith in the Lord. Only those who are faithful until the end will receive the prize of salvation (Revelation 2:10).

If we want faithfulness to be a habit, then we should practice it even in simple or little ways. If we cannot be faithful in little things, how can we be faithful in complex and greater things?

The Bible tells us that a faithful man lives a blameless life, and his children are blessed after him (Proverbs 20:7).

 

 

 

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Greater than John the Baptist

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang mga Taong Higit ang Kadakilaan kaysa kay Juan Bautista” for April 21, 2016)

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Who is John the Baptist?

John, is the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth. He came from a priestly family (Luke 1:5). His parents are faithful and righteous before the Lord, walking in all commandments and ordinances of the Lord (Luke 1:6).

The name John was divinely given, which means God is gracious in Hebrew term (Luke 1:13). He was known as John the Baptist. Baptist is not his surname. Baptist would simply mean he baptizes, one who administer the immersion or baptism.

An angel appeared to Zachariah while performing his duty at the temple. The angel told him that their prayers was heard, and that his wife would bear a son (Luke 1:13). The child was foretold to be filled with the Spirit of God, even from his mother’s womb, and that he would be reared under the strict code of the Nazirite (Numbers 6:1-21). This was an indication of his role in preparing the way for the Redeemer.

And John grew up and waxed strong in spirit. He was in the deserts until the day of his showing in Israel (Luke 1:80). This desert or deserted area stretches from Jerusalem and Bethlehem eastward some 20 miles down to the Jordan river and the Dead Sea. It is a region of rugged hills and valleys.

Jesus Christ testifies about John in Matthew 11:11, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist…” Indeed, John the Baptist is great in the eyes of the Lord.

John is the fulfilment of the prophecy, “A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). This was fulfilled in Matthew 3:3; Mark. 1:2-3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23.

In the book of Malachi 3:1, we can read, ““I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty”

John’s mission is to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Both Isaiah and Malachi announced that he would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. As a prophet, we should consider three areas that John has covered: (1) John’s message concerning Christ, (2) Emphasis upon the coming kingdom and the demands of citizenship therein and (3) the warning of ultimate judgment.

John baptized Christ in the Jordan river. When he met Christ for the first time, he was about to stop Christ from being baptized because he knew that Christ is the Messiah. But Christ, who was setting an example for everyone to follow asked him to be baptized as a fulfilment of everything that was written about Him.

John’s death was tragic as told in the book of Mark. His head was asked as a gift. He was in prison that time because of his continuous renouncement of sins of people, including Herod Antipas, who was the tetrarch that time.

The greatness of John was dignified by Christ. Christ told His Apostles about him. He once sent someone to tell John about His deeds while John was in prison. He tells us, “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.” (Matthew 11:12-13)

Christ tells us, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11)

John may be great in the sight of the Lord, but Christ tells us, “whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11)

This teaches us to be humble in the sight of the Lord. Christ even taught His disciples the value of humility and a requirement for entering the kingdom of Heaven.

 

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Righteousness, the Good and the Bad

(From the sermon entitled, “Ang Masama at Matuwid na Pagmamapuri ayon sa Pagtuturo ng Biblia” for April 3, 2016)

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Righteousness in other terms can be defined as blamelessness; it is about virtue, morality and justice. It is about being right according to a common standard. It is all about the purity of heart and living according to what is right.

The Bible teaches us that we can be righteous in the sight of the Lord if we keep His will and commands. The laws of God are good and righteous, therefore, anyone who keeps them will become good and righteous as well (Romans 7:12). Outside of the laws and commands of God, can we be considered righteous?

The Bible clearly states that we can only be righteous if we obey God’s will and commands. If the righteousness comes from within ourselves, it is not anymore called righteousness, but self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is a form of conceit, that is, being arrogant, having pride, giving importance to one’s self rather than others, much more of a vanity or a superiority.

The story found in Luke 18:10-12, is an example of self-conceitedness. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’  “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’  “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Another can be found in Matthew 19:16-23, Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”  “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself. ‘““All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”  Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

The two examples teach us that we can be self-righteous if we always see ourselves and exalt it before the Lord and to others. We can also become self-righteous if we cannot make self-sacrifices. Being righteous therefore, is about being selfless.

Another form of self-righteousness is found in Romans 2:19-23, there are those who teach others but do not teach themselves. They teach the laws of God but they are the first ones to break them. In other words, they do not walk the talk. This is self-righteousness and a form of hypocrisy.

Although self-righteousness is tagged as a negative behavior, we can always be righteous in the sight of the Lord only if we do it right. If we boast not ourselves but boast on what God have done for us, that is righteousness.

Prophet Jeremiah tells us, “This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

An example of this is what Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans. Every time he speaks of his accomplishments, he never says that he has done everything because of his skills and abilities alone. He always says that all things were done through Christ, and he is only an instrument, and that he cannot accomplish anything without the help of God. He writes, “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God” (Romans 15:17-18).

Our boast should be this, that we can do all things through Christ who strengthen us (Philippians 4:13), that we cannot do anything if we are apart from Him (John 15:5), that we have done everything because of His grace. Paul writes, “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace” (2 Corinthians 1:12).

Meanwhile, praising others because of the positive and fruitful things they have done is also a form of righteousness. In contrast, praising one’s self is self-righteousness. We should wait for others to praise us instead of boasting one’s self.

An instance of such boasting was evident in Paul’s writings. He has praised the members in Macedonia, who despite of their poverty, have prepared long before the collection of contributions came. What they have done is an extra-ordinary feat that should be praised and worthy of boasting.

Therefore, not all sort of boasting is negative. If we boast, make sure that we are not exalting ourselves but God. Remember this, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 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. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

 

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