Friday, January 29, 2010

Important vs Necessary

But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42 NAS)

Passport My wife and I were ready to go on a planned holiday a few years ago. Our luggage bags were all packed, and just before leaving the house, we made a final round of checking to ensure the electricity, the gas and water supply were turned off, and the windows were closed. We boarded the cab which we have called in to book earlier, and were soon on our way to the airport. Halfway through the journey, however, I suddenly realized I have left our travel papers at home. Without a choice then, I told the driver to send us back to where we first boarded.

Many of us tend to forget what is most important when in the midst of planning and preparing for an event. Like me and my wife, we may be planning to travel abroad, and we know what is most important is our travel documents. Without our passports, tickets and immigration papers, everything else we do in preparing for our travel is useless. This, of course, does not mean we need not prepare the necessary, but rather it means we need to know our priorities and what is most important.

As Christians, we have been called to prepare the way for our Lord’s return. Some of us may have labored hard to prepare the way by planning and organizing evangelistic events, by involving ourselves in many Christian activities, and by performing all the things necessary to ensure the smooth running of the greatest upcoming event on earth. All these are worthy, good, and necessary, but sometimes we may get too caught up with such activities that we neglect what is most important—Jesus.

Busying ourselves to ensure the world is ready for our Lord’s return is perfectly fine. However, if like Martha we become too distracted with all the preparations or too worried and bothered by the many things that need to be done to the point of failing to see the good part, then all our efforts would have been in vain.

Just as without our passports we cannot travel abroad, so it is the same for us if we do not have Christ as the center of our lives. Everything we did in preparing for His return would have been in vain. We ought therefore to learn from Mary to set our priorities right by choosing the good part to sit at Jesus’ feet and to put Him first in everything (Luke 10:38-42). If we, after busying ourselves with the necessary, discover we have left our first love for God, we should then remember where we have fallen and repent by going back to where we have left behind or first ‘boarded’. We must then do the deeds we have first done with the same heart and passion so as to rediscover our first love (Revelation 2:4-5).

Forgive us dear Lord for sometimes failing to put You first in all we do, and for failing at times to set our priorities right. Help us always to be mindful Lord to focus on what is the most important even while busying ourselves with the necessary. Be the center of our lives Lord, that all we do may not be in vain, for we know O Lord that without You, we can accomplish nothing worthy of claim.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! (2 Corinthians 12:7 NAS)

Rose and Thorns It is perfectly normal for us when in pain to want to remove whatever is hurting us as quickly as possible. That's because it is instinctive to do so. Not all hurts in life however can be removed just as we wish, and sometimes we may have to live with a scar for the rest of our lives.

Life in the real world is not all a bed of roses. Amid the beauty of flowers like the roses are many thorns. There will always be certain hurts in life that cannot be removed and may remain with us permanently. Physical ailments, loss of someone we loved, or the deliberate hurts caused by someone who dislikes us are some examples of long term or permanent thorns in the flesh.

What then shall we do with such 'thorns'? Shall we try to remove them or live and bear with the hurt? What if it is something we cannot remove or someone who is displeased with us? Do we curse God and die (Job 2:9-10), or do we like Job of the Old Testament say, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21 NAS)?

If our thorn in the flesh is someone who is unhappy with us, let us work towards reconciling with that someone (Matthew 5:23-25). If it be one who is a messenger of the devil sent to torment us, let us like the apostle Paul implore of the Lord three times to remove the adversity, but if God's answer is for us to be perfected in weakness through suffering, then let us learn to live by God's grace in His sufficiency that we may not exalt ourselves, but that the power of Christ may dwell in us (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). If the thorn is physical, mental or emotional, then let us again be like Paul to implore God to remove the hurt or pain, and if God heals us, praise and thank Him, but if not, then let us learn to bear and live our lives victorious in Christ (Daniel 3:16-28).

Help us dear Lord to stay strong in the face of thorns in our lives, not to give up even when we feel our hurts are overwhelming and tormenting. Teach us to be like Job and Paul to take the thorns in our lives in stride, knowing with full confidence that Your grace is sufficient for us. Lead us to the place we can find relieve Lord, and remove from us the thorns, yet not our will, but Yours be done. Comfort us in our pain Lord that we may be perfected in weakness. Keep us from exalting ourselves Lord, that Your power may dwell in us and be revealed through us.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Family Home

Then Jeshua with his sons and brothers stood united with Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah and the sons of Henadad with their sons and brothers the Levites, to oversee the workmen in the temple of God. (Ezra 3:9 NAS)

Family Home A house is not a home, and a home is not a family unless its members stand united with God as the Head. To achieve this however is not something easy these days, especially with few in a family unit actually staying together. For a family to stand united, however, is not impossible because distance can never separate the hearts or the minds if a family purposes to stand united.

A family home, in this sense, is not as the world defines, a house consisting of a single family unit, or a single residential house with people living in it, or a detached dwelling of separate house with a family living in. Rather, it is about a family that stays together and stand united in single-mindedness to serve God. This is how a family home should stand for according to biblical principles, and unless the Lord builds this house, we labor in vain (Psalm 127:1).

Jeshua, in the book of Ezra, sets the example of a family standing united to serve God with one mind, and this is what a family home is all about, a family that is able to come together with one purpose to serve the Lord when the need is required.

Who then makes up the family home? Whoever does the will of God; they are the ones that make up the family of God.

... Jesus answered ... and said, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother." (Matthew 12:48-50 NAS)

What then must a family do to make a family home? By serving the Lord whole-heartedly without hesitation or reservation, for such is the call to true discipleship.

And He [Jesus] said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:59-62 NAS)

A family home in the kingdom of God is therefore more than just a place consisting of Christians who have been born again. Yes, it is true that when we are born again, we receive the full salvation of God and are all born into His family with our real homes in the heavens, but to follow Jesus and be His faithful disciples demand a step further.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me [Jesus] cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:27 NAS)

In creating a family home that is Christ-centered, every member in the family must stand united with one mind to serve God in total submission and obedience, for in the kingdom of God, a true family home does not just consist of born again brothers and sisters in Christ, but also disciples who have labored and walked faithfully to honor Christ.

Dear Lord, help us to stay and work together with one heart and spirit to stand united as a family to serve you. We know O God that receiving You as our Lord and Savior is good enough to receive salvation, but in order for us to express our love for You and become Your faithful disciples will require more than just mere belief. We desire Lord to honor You and to totally submit to You in obedience because we love You Lord.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Natural Disasters

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5:1 NAS)

MayonOn December 25, 2009, the AFP news reported that more than 47,000 people in the Philippines fled their homes to seek refuge in temporary shelters a safe distance from the scalding ash and rocks of Mount Mayon as the volcano continued to spew ash and molten lava. Experts warned that the volcano could explode with major eruption any time, and thousands of evacuees had no choice but to spend their Christmas Day in the crowded camps. Those who lived in the camps were surviving on basic government rations with some of the men raising whatever they could from their farms to supplement food handouts. Some 96 ash explosions reaching heights of up to two kilometers were booming sounds and 871 volcanic quakes had been recorded the preceding 24 hours of that Christmas Day. The 2,460-metre volcano, famed for its near-perfect cone, had erupted 48 times in recorded history. In 1814, more than 1,200 people were killed as lava buried the town of Cagsawa.

Some of us may have experienced life in the aftermath of natural disasters. Others may have experienced difficult situations which although may not be as drastic as the natural disasters, nonetheless have faced despair and the sense of helplessness. In situations such as these, we often wonder why God permits such crises to happen in our lives. We sometimes even question God's purpose for placing us in such desperate situations. We despair because we cannot see any hope ahead of us as all that we possessed are gone.

In situations such as these, our hope and reliance should only be in God, for when our earthly tents, our house and our possessions, are torn down, we know we have each a house from God, one that is not made with hands, but is eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1). "For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked," and "while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—" (2 Corinthians 5:2-7 NAS).

Our future, no matter how smooth or difficult, should therefore be walked according to faith and not sight. If we are in need, we should pray and not lose heart, and ask of God for His providence. If we have plenty, we should not hesitate to give to the ones in need (1 Timothy 6:17-19). As believers of the Lord, therefore, let us be willing to share and give of our property and possessions to help the needy (Acts 2:44-45; Deuteronomy 15:7-11).

Dear Lord, You know our situations and You know our desperate need for You and Your providence. Help us and our families Lord to pull through the difficult situations we are facing now. Still our hearts and minds Lord that we may never doubt Your purpose in our lives, but be always assured of Your care and providence. Stir our hearts Lord that we who have sufficient or plenty, may willingly and generously give to help the needy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Lessons from a Pet

My Pet Donkey
I am my master's pet, bought at a price to keep him company and to serve him and his family.

My master is a prophet, appointed by God to bless, but sometimes he sways from his calling, and chooses riches over the rest.

The LORD has opened my eyes to see my master's folly, but my master in his foolishness refuses to see. If only I can talk, I'll do something to make him see, but who am I for my master to listen to me?

One day, as my master rides on me along a narrow path of vineyards, I saw an angel with a sword drawn in his hand standing in our way, so I turned aside to save my master from the slay, but my master strikes at me with his stick and forces me back the same way.

So without a choice, I trot the narrow path, pressing myself to a wall with my master's leg pressed against the wall, but my master, unable to see the angel, became angry and strikes at me again and again, and in my pain, the LORD opened my mouth and granted me speech.

"Master, what have I done to you that you have struck me these three times?" said I.

"Because you have made a mockery of me!" my master spoke angrily. "If there has been a sword in my hand, I will have killed you!"

"But master, am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to go against you?"

"No," my master said.

Then the LORD opened my master's eyes, and he was able to see the angel standing in the way with his sword drawn and ready to strike, so in fear my master bowed all the way to the ground, and earnestly beseeched the angel.

"I have sinned," my master said, "for I did not know that you were standing in the way against me. Now then, if it is displeasing to you, I will now turn away."

So, Balaam, my master, “who loved the wages of unrighteousness ... received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet” (2 Peter 2:15-16 NAS).