SPIRIT POOR

Matthew 5:3 NIV

[3] “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Several years ago, Maya and I shared the Gospel to a young lady during a garden party…

Lady: You mean, if I only accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I’ll get to heaven?

Me: Yes.

Lady: I don’t think it’s that simple. It should be more complicated than that. (Stood up and sat in another table)

Me: (to Maya) Hmm.. Just because it’s from God, it has to be complicated? (Maya simply smiled)

Then I heard a faint shout, “Bote, dyaryo…”. I glanced and saw a “mambobote” pushing his cart and passing by outside the wrought iron gate.

Me: I bet I’ll have better chances with that guy. He would understand the Gospel. It’s simple.

God: (in my heart) Yes, the Gospel sounds simple enough. But I had to bear what my Son went through to become the Gospel. It’s for people like that mambobote. Man’s intellect and logic blind them. Arrogance hinders them. Until they come searching for me, they won’t find me. Doesn’t that young lady remind you of someone?

Me: Yes, Lord (with welling eyes and bowed head), she does.

God: Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Maya: (apparently “heard” our conversation, smiled and put her hand on mine) We must continue sharing Jesus.

Me: Amen. Excuse me. (I stood up and started walking towards the gate)

BEAUTY AND THE BEST

The beauty and fitness business is a multi-billion dollar industry. From eye brows to skin care, from hair care to diets, from gyms to plastic surgeries. People spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to keep fit, be beautiful and stay young. But for how long? Scientists are even planning to slow the aging process and extending life expectancy to hundreds of years. Ridiculous? Probably not to people who have the money and would like to hold on to their earthly ambitions as long as they can.

Psychologists claim that how we look tremendously affect how we feel. A good looking body would bolster confidence, thus making us emotionally happy. We have put too much emphasis on our bodies, that we forget that they don’t last long.

2 Corinthians 5:1-5 NLT

[1] For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. [2] We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. [3] For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. [4] While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. [5] God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.

The body decays, no matter how long we extend its existence. The “tent”, as Paul describes it, is temporary that we need to focus on what is eternal… Our spirits. It is wise for us to be more concerned where our spirits will eventually end up. Pay more attention to what we do inside than what we do outside. Besides, to be with God, we won’t be floating around like leaves blown by the wind. We will have new eternal and glorious bodies.

Receive Jesus as Lord and Savior and your spirit is guaranteed to be with Him forever. This is the best decision you will ever make.

TRUE NORTH

The compass is the most vital tool in navigation. When we were in grade school, one of the science projects we did was to make one. The materials were a bowl, a round cork from a bottle, a magnet and a big sewing needle. It was simple enough. Put water in the bowl, magnetized the needle, pierced it through the cork and let it float. Voila!.. you got a home-made compass. For an eight-year old, it was magic. No matter how we moved or spun the cork with the needle, the pointed tip of the needle would always eventually point north.

Most of us wouldn’t bother learning how it works or even try to understand magnetic fields. We would only care that a compass would guide and lead us to the right way. You’ll find a compass in the Bible too.

John 14:6 NLT

[6] Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

This is one of the often quoted Bible verse in the world. But many of us may not be able to fully understand God’s eternal love and grace.

Just like a compass, it’s so simple yet trustworthy to point us true north. Jesus, the compass to everlasting life, who truly loves us so much that all we have to do is believe and have faith and fully trusting Him to lead us home to our true Father.

FARMING

Luke 8:11-15 NLT

[11] “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. [12] The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. [13] The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. [14] The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. [15] And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

This parable (Luke 8:4-10) Jesus told started with a farmer. I used to think the farmer was God, who seems to know little about farming. I mean, why would one scatter seeds at random? Isn’t one suppose to study, evaluate, clear and cultivate the soil first before planting seeds in it? Then I realize the farmer is a believer. The seed is His word and we are the ones who apparently need to study Agriculture 101.

Looking at the illustration of the four types of ground, I was a footpath. Hard, dense, compacted and most probably impermeable. Nothing good would grow on me, except grass and weeds. Been walked on or driven over by heavy carriages, I was insensitive. Heat, cold, rain turned me into a couldn’t-care-less type of guy. Any good thing that would fall on me, would simply be blown away. Sometimes being a footpath, I wasn’t flat and steady, I made people stumble. Or when I’m covered with mud, people slipped.

Now, I’m a believer and a pastor. How did I turn into good soil? Well, another farmer came along. And then another. These guys kept on scattering the seed. And for the seed to grow in me, I had to go through a transformation. I was cultivated. Apparently, the field is growing. Footpaths had to give way for the expansion. There were times I tried to hold on being a footpath, destiny had to use a jackhammer.

God was patient with me. When the footpath eventually became open ground, I needed to be softened up. The cultivation process was slow and long. The seed finally germinated and took roots. Somebody watered me. Someone put fertilizers on me. Others kept the bugs away. Until I grew and started bearing fruit.

Now that I’m also a farmer, I realize it is a good thing we don’t know much about farming. Clearing the field and turning a footpath, rocky or thorny grounds into good soil are God’s job. We simply have to obey the One who owns the field. Scatter the seed. Sow. Our job is to keep on spreading His word… And expect a huge harvest.

ENEMY POSITIONS

Proverbs 16:7 NLT

[7] When people’s lives please the LORD, even their enemies are at peace with them.

Hallelujah! We all need a respite from our battles, praying it would last. Who doesn’t want peace, anyway? But then we read this…

2 Timothy 3:12 NLT

[12] Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

The first passage from the Old Testament seems to be in contradiction with the second one from the New Testament. One assures us our enemies will leave us in peace, while the other tells us we’ll suffer persecution. Paul and the other disciples, even Jesus himself, suffered tremendous persecution throughout their ministries. Most led to painful death. What gives?

Well, both happen. There are times we really experience peace (apparently) with our enemies, as well as persecution (which our enemies make it painfully clear). Why so?

I am reminded by the words of a pastor who once said: “Do not confuse the facts of life with the acts of God”. In most cases, we’re too impatient, too eager to see things our way, too scared we want to fast forward things so it would come to an end before it’s time. The point is, God isn’t through with us. It’s not over until He says so. Faith remains the guiding factor in a Christian’s life. We need to believe and trust Him. Peace may be elusive, but it will come as He promises… ALWAYS.

Persecutions come and go. We need to be strong. We need to stand. In battle, we must know who and where our enemies are. We must realize that our enemies take up two positions. One, they are at the gates. Two, there are some WITHIN the gates. First things first, the enemies within the gates are what we need to deal with. I strongly advise we take up our own positions and guard our gates… Our hearts.

LIFE ROUTES

Proverbs 4:26-27 NLT

[26] Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. [27] Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Well, in real life, it tends to curve a bit or takes sharp turns. Waze is a great tool to drive your way around town. It calculates, analyzes and advises you to take the shortest route and getting to your destination at the fastest possible time.

But sometimes we tend to ignore some of Waze’s recommendations, particularly when you’re in “familiar” territories and telling yourself you know better. Sometimes it’s scary when it tells you to go in totally strange alleys and feel compelled to turn back. Worst is getting lost when you lose your WiFi connection and take a wrong turn somewhere along the way.

That is how we are in life. The Bible already teaches us the right way. But we tend to deviate and try to move on our own. Some lose their connection with the Holy Spirit and that’s where we totally get lost.

Waze is not a satellite-dependent system but rather gets its street informations from other “Wazers” or people who have gone before us on the same destination or route. They even tell you if there’s heavy traffic, road constructions or accidents along the routes.

Same in life. We have pastors, mentors and parents to help guide us. We should listen. Learn from them. They’ve been there, done that. Yet to keep on the right course, we still have to be dependent on God. That is why we need to stay connected with the Lord all the time.

Happy driving!

WAIT FOR IT

Psalm 40:1-3 NLT

[1] I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. [2] He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. [3] He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

When we are in troubled times, anxiety rises. When we worry, stress becomes a constant companion. We cry out to the Lord, but somehow half expecting an instant miracle. When one is in this predicament, two things we don’t do or even consider to think about… And that is to “wait patiently” for God’s help.

Yup, I can hear you say… “Are you kidding me?!” How can one “wait patiently” with the world crashing down on you? Most people would probably panic!

In fine dining restaurants, waiters don’t usually serve your food. They take your orders and let busboys do that. Then they would stand a short distance from you but watches your every move. If they see you lift an empty glass, they’ll know the glass need to be filled up. When a customer raises a hand, or simply looks their way, waiters know they need something and approaches him. A fork falls, immediately it’ll be replaced. A waiter’s job is to make sure you’re needs are met.

Waiting is not a passive thing. Waiting requires patience and alertness. Always ready and not let ourselves be caught off guard when something you’re expecting to happen do come along.

God’s help will come, believe it. He hears our prayers, have faith. We just need to wait patiently. Then, you’ll be singing a different and beautiful song.