Friday, May 31, 2013

Bad Decisions

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5:22 NAS)

Wrong DecisionsIn certain parts of the world, the term ‘ding-dong’ refers to a person who is slow-witted or foolish. Where I live, if a person makes an irrational decision, we sometimes say of that person is a ding-dong.

Jesus, in His sermon on the mount, said whoever calls his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing’ or ‘You fool’ shall be guilty before the supreme court enough to go into the fiery hell (Matthew 5:22). This is in relation to speaking out in anger for which reason reconciliation is advised prior to coming before God when we remember our bother has something against us (Matthew 5:23-24).

As a team, we sometimes have to bear the consequences together. Even so, there is no need for us to blame or talk bad about the decision-maker or to label him or her a ding-dong, good-for-nothing, stupid or fool. A wrong decision made does not deserve a death sentence except when it is done deliberately against God’s counsel or offer of salvation. If we have any counsel or advice, we should let the person know prior to making the decision. The choice however is not ours to dictate, for God has granted freewill to everyone. 

With each decision, nevertheless, the consequences will be bore in full. We know how the story unwrapped with Pharaoh’s decision not to let the children of Israel go in the days of Moses (Exodus 5-14). We also know what happened to Nabal when he in his foolishness turned away God’s elect, David (1 Samuel 25:2-39). Knowing the consequences the yet unsaved have to bear without Jesus Christ as Lord, all the more so we need to bring them into the kingdom of God.

Are we making decisions without consulting God and His word? Are we blaming others for the bad decisions they made? Are we neglecting the sharing of the gospel to the unsaved? Let us not be the ones making foolish decisions or saying the wrong things or be the ones sentencing people to death.

Forgive us dear Lord for the many wrong decisions we have made and for the not-so-nice things we have said in our anger. We know You have given us the freedom of choice to make the right decisions, so guide us as we seek Your will to fulfill. Help us not give up on those who have chosen the wrong path, but lead us as we continue to speak to them and bring them to You.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Shaken but not Shattered

Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? (Galatians 3:3-4 NAS)

Shaken but not Shattered
When I was a teenager, several crises in my life happened in succession one after another which left me rattled. A loved one was seriously ill, an affectionate relationship was broken, and a discord in church separated many friendships and the congregation. All of a sudden, it was like the entire world had turned against me and I was left all alone with no one to turn to or share my agony. For a little while my faith in God was shaken but thankfully I was not left shattered. In my sorrows, the Lord comforted me and restored my soul, and I soon returned to Him.

Like me, the two followers of Jesus on the road to Emmaus were left disillusioned and confused after all that had happened in Jerusalem (Luke 24:13-14, 18-21). They were hoping that Jesus was the One to redeem Israel, but His death had left them rattled, unsure of what to believe when told He had risen (Luke 24:22-23).

Jesus said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).

When their eyes were finally opened to recognize Jesus, they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:31-32).

Perhaps, like the two followers of Jesus and me, there are things we have planned in our lives that did not work out the way we have hoped or crises that have left us shattered in spirit. Are we disillusioned or confused because of all these happenings that we become unsure what to believe anymore? Is our faith in God shaken because the entire world seems to be against us and we feel all alone suffering in agony?

Take heed what the Lord said and let us not be like those who are foolish or slow of heart to believe. Do we not know that Jesus suffered and died for us willingly? How is it then that we should doubt God’s love for us to think that He will abandon us in our times of agony or sorrow? Stand firm and do not let anything move us because our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:2, 58; Galatians 3:3-4). Like the followers on the road to Emmaus, let our eyes be open to recognize Jesus in all circumstances and our hearts burn within us as we listen to our Lord by His Spirit and word.

Open the eyes of our hearts O Lord that we may see You in our moments of disillusion and confusion. Do not let us be rattled to the point of straying away from You dear Lord but keep us safe in Your protection and care. Remind us Lord in our agony and sorrow that we are not alone and You are always present to help and comfort us. Keep our hearts burning for You Lord that we may in Your word grow to understand Your will and know You more and more every day.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Spicing Up the Message

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5 NIV)

Spicing Up
"I think the content is lacking the sizzle to keep the audience interested," said the overseer. "So far I'm not seeing enough likes or comments being generated on our blog and social networks."

That is the kind of remark I would wish never to hear from my boss, but I get that a lot as a copywriter and content manager. Writing persuasive copies is what is expected of my job and unless I bring in the numbers and visitors to the websites I manage, I am at risk of losing my livelihood. This is how the commercial world works when it comes to measuring performance and the success of an online marketing campaign in getting across the message to its audience. It is all about spicing up the heat using persuasive words accompanied by outstanding design to catch attention, create interest, and stir up desire that leads to action.

Unlike the way the commercial world works, getting across the gospel message to the yet unsaved is not about using wise and persuasive words, but by the guidance of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). There is no need for us to spice up the gospel message to create the sizzle or desire. Our focus should be to accurately handle the word of truth; for while we may plant the seed or water it, it is God who causes the growth (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Corinthians 3:6). 

Nevertheless, there are a few things we can do to help the yet unsaved better understand our intent in sharing the gospel. Like the way the secular world uses the AIDA approach to create Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action, there are also many approaches we can use to share the gospel. One of them which I have found particularly useful is summarized in a word, BRIDGE. ‘B’ is to be genuine, ‘R’ is to reach across our prejudices, ‘I’ is to invest time, ‘D’ is to dialogue relevantly, ‘G’ is to go beyond the surface, and ‘E’ is to expect to be surprised by God.

Are we spending too much time trying to create the sizzle to get people to come to our church or to a gospel event? Is the numbers a concern to us in gaging how well we perform as a church or in bringing people to our Lord? Are we spicing up too much heat to draw the crowd that we become careless in handling the word of truth? Jesus in the Gospel said there is much rejoicing in heaven even over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7, 10).

When sharing the gospel, therefore, be prepared to expect the unexpected when the Holy Spirit leads. Rather than use wise or persuasive words to create the sizzle to bring in the numbers, let us be genuine in presenting the full gospel in truth. Take time to share without prejudices and do not talk without relevance. Go the extra mile whenever needed beyond just touching the surface that those who hear the good news may through us experience God’s love and receive His salvation.

Dear Lord, thank You for loving us so much. Our hearts yearn O Lord to share Your good news and to reach out to the yet unsaved in bringing them into Your kingdom. Help us Lord not to be too caught up in our enthusiasm to create unnecessary sizzle to increase the numbers, but to genuinely go beyond the surface to express our love while sharing the gospel. Keep us in tune with You at all times Lord that when Your Spirit leads, we may be ready to expect the unexpected for Your word of truth to get across more effectively.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Showers of Blessings

Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it. (Isaiah 45:8 NAS)

BlessingsWhen the weatherman said it was going to rain for the next few days, my wife and I were not dampened in spirit because it had been extremely warm and humid back home. We were on our holidays in Scandinavia and were looking forward to visiting the Briksdal Glacier in Nordfjord, Norway. When the day arrived for our visit, we traveled up on a troll car amid the raindrops dripping on our waterproof jackets with hoods on. The spectacular view of the glacier with its streams and waterfall was an amazing sight to behold and it was well worth the visit despite the bad weather.

Many a time, we are too easily dampened in spirit when we hear or know something difficult or unpleasant is brewing up and coming our way. As believers in the Lord, there is no need for us to fear because God is always looking out for us. Even if we are amid tough times or going through the ‘bad weather’ right now, we can still enjoy and behold the wonders of God’s great love for us.

Like showers and raindrops which are often symbolized in the Bible as blessings from heaven poured down dripping upon us in abundance, much more God is willing to bless us (Job 36:27-28; Ezekiel 24:26). Our LORD is always ready to open His rich treasury, the heavens, to give us rain on our land in its season and to bless all the work of our hand (Deuteronomy 28:12).

Are we troubled by what lies ahead or burdened by the things happening right now? Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

Rather than be fearful or burdened, therefore, let us rise above our circumstances and put our complete trust in God. Ask of Him to drip down from the heavens and pour down His righteous deliverance. Pray that the earth may open up to God’s salvation and spring forth to bear fruit (Isaiah 45:8). 

Thank You, dear Lord, for always looking out for us and blessing us. You O Lord are an amazing God. You care for us and comfort us when we are troubled and grant us rest when we are heavy-laden. Amid our difficult times Lord, You are always present with us, and we are able to experience Your deep love for us. Pour down Your righteous deliverance Lord and let the earth open up to Your salvation that through us Your good news may spring forth to the world and bear fruit. In You Lord we put our complete trust and rise above our fears and circumstances.

Friday, May 3, 2013

With One Mind

make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (Philippians 2:2 NAS)

With One Mind“Their personalities don’t really click, but they get along well working together.”

That’s a remark many bosses can accept from supervisors when it comes to evaluating team spirit and resolving members’ conflicts. Unless a team works together in harmony toward a common goal, it can make or break an organization or a project.

Like the members in a team of a project or an organization, all of us as believers in the Lord are also members of one body in Christ (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27). The Bible exhorts us that we should therefore be of one mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, and intent on one purpose (1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:2). We may differ in personalities and at times need to resolve conflicts. Yet we must always stay together to encourage one another, and all the more as we see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25b).

In humility of mind, therefore, let us regard one another as more important than ourselves. Rather than merely looking out for our own interests, look also for the interests of others. Do not be haughty in mind to think of ourselves as wiser than others or do things from selfishness or empty conceit (Romans 12:16; Philippians 2:3-4).

Have this attitude in us which was in Christ, who although He existed in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. Instead, He emptied Himself to take the form of a bond-servant (Philippians 2:5-7). Like Christ, let us then instead of asserting our rights, be like-minded, sympathetic, compassionate, and humble in spirit toward one another. Even if our personalities do not really click, let us learn to get along well working together (1 Peter 3:8).

Dear Lord, help us live harmoniously with one another despite our differences in personalities. Make our joy complete O Lord to be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Humble us Lord that we may have this attitude in us not to always assert on our rights but be ready to serve with compassion and love.