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.

PASSING THE TESTS

James 1:2-7 NLT

[2] Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. [3] For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. [4] So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. [5] If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. [6] But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. [7] Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

I hardly know anyone who likes tests! It could be stressful. Especially if the tests spell your career. Like taking a professional board exam. How about a test that spells your destiny? In most exams, your knowledge is tested. But in real life, faith is. Faith in what? Oops, wrong question. It’s faith in whom?

Well, let me put it this way. I studied architecture. And to be a licensed architect, I needed to pass the board exam. Had to prepare. Blocked off normal routines. Got info from guys who’ve been through it. Reviewed past subjects. Even had a mock exam to get the feel for the real one. Then, after months of anxiety, comes the real deal. Two days of what I perceived as a grueling experience, I sat on those exam tables putting everything I got. Then came the good news. I passed.

Let me try to explain the feeling afterwards… IT WAS PURE JOY! My entire body wanted to celebrate. I never felt so elated in my life. Man!.. After all those preparations and tests, I’m finally an architect.

Now, knowing that the reward comes after the deed, James is simply stating what comes next. He wants us to understand that whatever we’re going through are tests. He’s telling us to be prepared. Need to learn how to stand firm. Review God’s Word. Get mentored.

Becoming a registered architect has given me legal rights to practice my profession. Giving me confidence as well as knowing that I am qualified, boosting my faith in myself.

Now, becoming a true Christian, passing the tests means you’ll have a bigger testimony. An experience you can use as you walk with faith in God. It’s something you need to prove to yourself and to God, confident that you can endure and faith in Him. The big difference between the board exams is that no one will be around to help you during those tests. While with life, God will always be there. You can even ask for the answers while going through the tests.

How far would I go to be an architect? Same question, how far would I go to be a Christian? Having faith in God and confidence in yourself for passing the test, God can now use you. Because you will now be so strong, that to waver will no longer be an option.

Congratulations!

TOGETHER AGAIN

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Peace on Earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled…

A popular Christmas carol. Familiar to many. But how many of us truly know the meaning of the song, particularly that part “God and sinners reconciled”?

1 Timothy 2:3-5 NLT

[3] This is good and pleases God our Savior, [4] who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. [5] For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity-the man Christ Jesus. 

Jesus came, not to establish a religion, but to save us. To invite us back to the loving arms of the Father.

Many can relate to this. We drifted away. Making our own paths. Doing our own things. Undergoing trials and challenges alone. The world is pretty, too pretty that we get sucked in. Getting lost, trying to reach that elusive light at the end of a tunnel. What do we see beyond that? Believe it or not, it’s another tunnel.

God wants us back. In His care. In His love. In Him. Come, my friends, listen to the angels as they hark us back to Him. Maybe you won’t hear an angelic army breaking the news to you… but hey, you’re reading this, right? Listen, deep in your hearts, He is calling out to you.

Let Jesus come between you and God. Don’t mind what you’ve been through. He knows. He felt your pain. Saw the anguish. Heard your cries. In spite of all we’ve done, God really wants us back together again.

Jesus is handing out the invitations. Receive yours and come. It spells your destiny. And it’s a beautiful one.

THE EVENT

A friend in the U.S. posted a Fox News video on Facebook showing a man on a crane bringing down a cross atop a Christmas tree in response to a complaint filed by the ACLU. Similar news reports were posted as well, banning Christmas in some areas of the U.S.

Sad, so sad. As several countries celebrate the birth of Christ, America seems bent on removing Christmas from its calendar. It is, however, not new. The stopping of Christmas started even before Christ was born. Jesus was on the watchlist of all major rulers of Israel. The date of birth was eventually set when Herod was sitting on the throne of Jerusalem. He tried to kill the child Jesus. But not sure where the child was, he slaughtered boys two years old and younger, hoping that Jesus would be among them.

Herod didn’t succeed. But many after him, tried to. Jesus was finally nailed to the cross thirty years later, but not before He finished what He was born to do.

The 25th of December was marked, by the forefathers of the faith, as the day Jesus was born. Many would argue that the Bible never mentioned it. That’s true. It wasn’t the date. It was all about the announcement.

Luke 2:11-14 NLT

[11] The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! [12] And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” [13] Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven-praising God and saying, [14] “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Yes, glory to God indeed. No less than a huge battalion of angels heralding the news to a handful of shepherds. Christmas may not have happened exactly on the 25th of December. But it was an event to celebrate WHO was born on that fateful Bethlehem night.

It’s all about Jesus. For those who believe in Him, Christmas is an event worth celebrating everyday.

By the way, while there may still be Herods in our days, there will always be shepherds to spread the good news. The Fox News video also showed that the townspeople, where the cross was brought down from the Christmas tree, responded by giving away small crosses to people in the street.