Monday, December 28, 2009

Seven 2010 ReSOLUTIONs For LIFE 101

1 Continue sowing good seeds... little ones... biG ones... with a loving heart. Trust that GOD will grow them all. "Obey GOD and leave all the consequences to Him." (Pastor Charles Stanley). So is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

2 Praise GOD for every thread He weaves in my Life 101 tapestry. It's all part of His creative design and ultimate purpose of making me CHRIST-like. For GOD created my inmost being; He knit me together in my mother's womb. i praise Him because i am fearfully and wonderfully made; His works are wonderful, i know that full well. My frame was not hidden from Him when i was made in the secret place. When i was woven together in the depths of the earth, His eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in His book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

3 Respect and love all children...every single child is a gift from GOD.

4 Remain in the VINE... for every branch that does not bear fruit is cut down and gathered for the fire. GOD prunes the fruit bearing branch so that it may produce even more... so be glad for the pruning, even if hurts! (John 15)

5 Don't judge -- everyone ripens in due season, according to GOD's process. Only GOD can rightfully judge for He is the only One Who is able to see the whole picture and all the inner motives. For with what judgment i judge, i will be judged; and with the measure i use, it will be measured back to me. (Matthew 7:2)

6 Be a ready vessel ... to be placed anywhere, anytime ... to be used anyhow by the Master Potter, as He so desires. As the clay in the Potter's hand, so am i in His hand. (Jeremiah 18:6b) Don't criticize or complain about the work He wants to do through me -- He Who has started a good work in me will finish it! Just keep cooperating, gladly waving the white flag of surrender daily.

7 Rejoice...be thankful for all things -- for every thing, every event, is by GOD's perfect design and under His ultimate control.

i know that GOD causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) NO thing is beyond His almighty righteous right arm Nothing is impossible with GOD. i know that GOD can do all things; no plan of His can be thwarted. (Job 42:2) My peace is knowing that GOD truly is in control.

i know for certain that these reSOLUTIONs will become my Actuality for it's already my Reality that i am a child of GOD, indwelled and filled by SPIRIT. i myself cannot do anything of lasting value, nor can i continually do the good things GOD wants me to do. It is by the power of the Holy SPIRIT abiding within Who does the good works through me. Not by might nor by power, but by My SPIRIT, says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6) i am confident that these reSOLUTIONs are "done deals" for these are within the will of GOD, are Scriptural, and because JESUS has promised to His followers that anything we ask in His name, believing that we will receive -- will receive what we ask of Him, when these desires are aligned to His will and ultimate purpose -- to conform us to His likeness. CHRIST is Faithful and True -- whatever He sets His mind on, it will be done -- just like He finished His sacrificial work on the cross at Calvary, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16b)

2010 is but the continuance of the above Life 101 Solutions -- hence the reSOLUTIONs. GOD is not finished with me yet!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The GOOD News -- The Gospel of GOD


What is the GOOD News -- the Gospel of GOD? The definition, according to John MacArthur's Study Bible, is this: "GOD will forgive sins, deliver from sin's power, and give eternal hope." (Page 1691, Note on Romans 1:1)

Those who believe and follow the writings of the Bible, the Torah, the Qur'an (where all three books include the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses) -- understand that GOD, as a holy and righteous Judge, hates sin, cannot and will not tolerate sin; and therefore, must judge the doer of sin. Because of man's gift of free will, sin abounds today as it has throughout history. Sin created enmity between GOD, the Creator, and His creation, man.

But GOD, in His omniscience and loving wisdom, provided a substitutionary payment to atone for the sinner through the blood of the sinless Person of CHRIST JESUS. In 739 B.C., the prophet Isaiah foretold this act of grace from GOD. (Isaiah 9:6,7 and 53:1-12) In A.D. 30, the Reality of the Gospel of GOD became Actuality -- payment was made for all mankind, on the cross, by the blood of the promised Substitute -- JESUS, the CHRIST... the MESSIAH.

GOD, the ultimate Judge, in His holiness and righteousness, requires justice for sin. JESUS, the GOD-Man, GOD's own only Son, was the ultimate payment that satisfied the Holy One's wrathful vengeance against sin. JESUS took upon Himself all of mankind's sins -- past, present and future -- and incurred the full brunt of GOD's unfathomable wrath against sin.

Can i even grasp this thought: the excruciating agony at the cross -- yet physical torture was "less painful" compared to the emotional, mental, soulful, spiritual anguish of total separation from the fellowship of One-ness which the Father and Son shared before time began. That moment when the Father executed His own Son at the cross -- venting His holy anger at the sinless One who became sin -- could that moment have been like a thousand years to JESUS? (With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2 Peter 3:8)

This is why believers in CHRIST throughout history have died for their faith and others have left all to do GOD's will -- their faithful allegiance to JESUS as the crucified CHRIST who took on Himself the sin of the world and as the risen Savior who has promised eternal life to those who trust in Him.

No other leader in all the world's major religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese and African traditional religions), has died and risen -- yes, risen!

Secular scholars and researchers who have diligently investigated JESUS' history and the Bible's accuracy have concluded to the veracity of the Bible and it's sacred writings about JESUS. (i.e., Simon Greenleaf, Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, considered by many to be the greatest authority on legal evidences; Josh McDowell, who wrote Evidence That Demands a Verdict to disprove the resurrection of CHRIST believed the evidence he found and converted; Frank Morrison, a British lawyer who went to Palestine to disprove the resurrection ended up writing the book, Who Moved the Stone? to prove the resurrection; Lew Wallace, wrote Ben Hur, to prove the reality of the resurrection of CHRIST -- from Faith Bible Institute workbook; C. S. Lewis, author, who questioned his own religious roots, re-embraced CHRISTianity after fully examining and taking it apart.)

No other Person has fulfilled GOD's Word as prophesied in the Holy Scriptures. No other Man has performed the countless (witnessed and documented) miracles that confirmed His deity... and the most outright visible sign from GOD to authenticate JESUS as His Son -- was the empty tomb... the fact of the resurrection.

CHRIST JESUS is the only way to receive GOD's forgiveness of sin -- to make peace with GOD -- to be justified before the holy Judge's blinding purity.

JESUS Himself said plainly, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)

Only JESUS' own pure righteousness can withstand GOD's laser beam scrutiny. Only the CHRIST can stand between GOD's holy wrath against a sinner on Judgment Day. JESUS is the reason for the confidence of peace before GOD's holy and righteous judgment -- He is the believer's personal Defender -- the holy Advocate.

No religious leader, teacher or prophet -- past or present -- no man, can survive GOD's righteous and holy and perfect judgment. Only the totally pure and perfect, holy and righteous GOD-Man, CHRIST JESUS, has accomplished what no mortal ever could -- victory over death... salvation... redemption... atonement for the sinner -- so that all who believe in Him may receive His gift of eternal life and peace with GOD, the Almighty Creator.

GOD so loved the world, His creation, that He sent His only Son to be killed, as the Lamb to the slaughter -- and all that GOD asks of each sinner is acceptance of His most precious gift -- His very own Son.

GOD's promise is this: whosoever believes in CHRIST JESUS will be saved. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him. (John 3:36)

Here is the $1,000,000 question: Will you go to Heaven when you die? Your fate is in your own hands. It's not your sin that closes up the gates of Heaven for you, but your rejection of the GOOD News -- the Gospel of GOD, which is the Revelation of CHRIST JESUS.

i have claimed the promise of the GOOD News from the GOD who cannot lie, who never ever breaks promises, who is ever faithful and true to His Word. i am saved...Hallelujah!

Have you claimed GOD's promise of the GOOD News of JESUS CHRIST?


Please donate. ALL donations will benefit the Naselesele Village school children in Taveuni, Fiji. VINAKA VAKA LEVU! 


Thursday, December 17, 2009

CLOUDS In Your CHRISTmas Season?

Behold, HE cometh with clouds. (Revelation 1:7)

Here in San Diego, winter clouds have rolled in...all beautiful -- whether dark greys or puffy whites, golden yellows or fiery oranges, blushing pinks or soft lavenders. Oswald Chambers wrote a fitting commentary about clouds in the July 29 entry of his classic devotional, My Utmost For His Highest.

In the Bible clouds are always connected with GOD. Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to dispute the rule of GOD. It is by those very clouds that the SPIRIT of GOD is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith. "The clouds are but the dust of our Father's feet." The clouds are a sign that He is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow and bereavement and suffering are the clouds that come along with GOD! GOD cannot come near without clouds, He does not come in clear shining.

It is not true to say that GOD wants to teach us something in our trials: through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child -- GOD and my own soul -- other people are shadows. Until other people become shadows, clouds and darkness will be mine every now and again. Is the relationship between myself and GOD getting simpler than ever it has been?

There is a connection between the strange providences of GOD and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of GOD. Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging GOD's character, we do not yet know Him.

Is there anyone "save JESUS only" in your cloud? If so, it will get darker; you must get to the place where there is "no one any more save JESUS only."


Below is my journal entry on the same date for 2009:

"Rejoice indeed when i encounter a cloudy day -- for JESUS is with me, to reveal Himself to me in a deeper, more intimate way. Clouds are the means with which He makes me one with Him. All trials in my life are designed by my Father to make me see JESUS only!"

i was able to own this Reality at last, after a prolonged travail in the Valley of the Shadow of Death -- to thank GOD for everything, no matter the circumstance, good or ill, disturbing or pleasant, joyous or mournful.

i believe that GOD will remove every thing which competes with JESUS in my affections. If i don't willingly surrender these idols which vie for a higher priority in my life, GOD will get my attention with a whisper of His still small voice through His indwelling SPIRIT. And if i turn a deaf ear to His voice, He may resort to something louder and stronger, like a thunderous whirlwind with ominous clouds in tow. But if i truly trust in GOD as Omniscient Love -- truly knowing what's best for me and only allowing what i can bear, and that He will cause all things to work together for my good because i love Him (Romans 8:28), and that He will use even this tumult for His purpose of drawing me closer to Him -- then i can indeed rejoice as these clouds engulf me -- but not overwhelm me...for i have received (by faith) the privilege of walking with CHRIST, hand in Hand, through it all.

My prayer for you, my brothers and sisters In CHRIST, is that GOD will continue to bless you with inner strength and might through the Holy SPIRIT abiding in you, according to His almighty indescribable power (Ephesians 3:16) as you walk in step with CHRIST through your own personal clouds -- for He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or hope! (Ephesians 3:20) And if you are not In CHRIST, i pray that GOD may give you the gift of repentance so that you may receive CHRIST in your heart through your faith in Him as the risen Redeemer who takes away all your sins.

Salvation that comes from trusting CHRIST...is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, "The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart." For if you confess with your mouth that JESUS is LORD and believe in your heart that GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with GOD, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. (Romans 10: 8-10)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

CHRISTmas Roots

As a child growing up in the Philippines, raised by Catholic parents who didn't know GOD, who did not read the Bible, and who went to church because it was the thing to do -- my memories of CHRISTmas past were warm, fuzzy pictures of warm bibingka (rice cakes cooked with fragrant banana leaves on charcoal fires) bought from street vendors, homemade paper decorations (some from the silver foil lining of cigarette packs), a meagerly decorated pine tree with very long needles, star-shaped paper lanterns alight from inside with candles (yes...they were fire hazards!), CHRISTmas carols, and very simple gifts of plastic toys or homemade clothes or a few pesos.

But no memories of the gift of JESUS.

i did not hear the story of the Baby JESUS being born in Bethlehem, though i knew the virgin Mary was His mother. We children (my older sister, younger brother and i) were not read any bedtime stories of Him being a carpenter's son, nor that He was of Jewish roots, nor that He was the Messiah...the Savior of the world. It never really registered that CHRISTmas was JESUS' birthday celebration. No one told me that the true reason for celebrating CHRISTmas was the birth of CHRIST JESUS. Duh! It was just about presents and sweets and attending the midnight mass with bibingka afterwards.

(The ShoppE at Rose's CHRISTmas merchandise)

That was a lifetime ago...and yet how current today. i wonder how many children today are as ignorant as i was then, more than 40 years ago, because today's parents don't take the time (nor have the inclination) to explain to their children that CHRISTmas is about JESUS. Here in the land of plenty, where department stores were open at 3 or 4am after Thanksgiving to usher in the CHRISTmas season -- how many parents taught their children, by example, that shopping for toys (adults' and children's) in that mad frenzy was what got them excited at CHRISTmas time? How many parents acquiesced to their children's demands for this gadget or for that widget -- whether they could afford it or not, adding on to their mounting debt, because to them CHRISTmas is about stuff? (Though at The ShoppE at Rose's, one may shop guilt-free, for the prices are ultra-low and every cent goes to missions and charities.)

i'm no longer an ignoramus about CHRISTmas. i'm not saying that i'm smart nor even wise, nor intellectually savvy nor even a crack wit -- i just know today what CHRISTmas is really all about.

CHRISTmas is about Love...it really is...and it's only about Love.

And it starts with GOD, the Father -- and ends with GOD, the Son.

For GOD so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NLT)

For GOD, the Almighty Father, Sovereign Creator of all the heavens and the earth, of everything seen and unseen, Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all anyone can ask or even think (Eph 3:20) -- out of His infinitely gracious heart -- gave to the world that He so loved -- His only Son, JESUS, as sacrificial atonement for our sin debt, so that everyone, whosoever believes that JESUS is the Son of the One True GOD, Who came down from Heaven, born of the virgin Mary, destined by GOD to be the Suffering Servant, Who took on the whole world's sin (past, present and future) in His sinless earthly body, Who satisfied GOD's holy wrath by dying on the cross, and Who was raised from the grave by the omnipotent power of the Holy SPIRIT, thereby defeating death -- will also grant victory over death and everlasting Life for those who trust in Him as their Lord, Savior, Messiah...the CHRIST.

The miracle of CHRISTmas is not so much the virgin birth...the bigger miracle of CHRISTmas is how GOD Himself -- Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent -- came to be contained in the most vulnerable vessel of all...the flesh of a helpless human baby. The true miracle is how the inconceivable SPIRIT of LOVE, the Word Himself, became manifest in the physical world -- so that we, the created, were able to touch and laugh and cry and eat and walk with The Creator. The Inconceivable conceived in the flesh... Immanuel... GOD with us! It's inconceivable and incomprehensible...yet GOD, in His almighty power and infinite wisdom, conceived this miraculous expression of His ultimate Love, through the humanity of JESUS CHRIST.

This CHRISTmas "present," this today, holds the most heartfelt and meaningful CHRISTmas of all for me -- because this year, after being so ignorant of the true meaning of CHRISTmas for so long -- i know that the cause for celebrations and festivities is the birthday of JESUS, my Beloved CHRIST. Whether or not December 25 is His actual birthday or what has become the traditional date (for some Bible scholars have proposed September as JESUS' month of birth, Willmington's Guide to the Bible), it doesn't matter to me, for every day is CHRISTmas -- every day i'm alive is a gift from GOD. And every day i receive this gift of life is another day to live for my GOD and Lord, JESUS CHRIST.

What would CHRISTmas be without the CHRIST? What would CHRISTmas be without GOD? Would it still be "merry"? And even if it's not December 25, what would any day be like without any presence of GOD at all?

For GOD is holy... love... mercy... peace... joy... longsuffering... kind... good... faithful... gentle... just... righteous... compassionate... laughter... light... almighty... wise... true... pure... creator... sovereign... eternal... forgiving. GOD are all these things and infinitely, indescribably more. Without GOD's presence, and all that He is, can you imagine the unimaginably horrific world it would be because of the utter absence of His loving presence? It doesn't take much stretch of the imagination to picture hell without the presence of GOD...but the Reality of it is unfathomable to the finite mind.

How can i not see JESUS as the ultimate CHRISTmas gift to be received? To be desired above all earthly gifts...those fleeting gifts that will lose their luster after a few turns around the block? JESUS is the gift that lasts forever, Who never fades but continues to radiate Love in and through that whosoever who believes and trusts in Him as Lord and Savior.

What is CHRISTmas but GOD's love made manifest? And what is CHRISTmas without JESUS? It would be a heartless joke played upon mankind -- fostered by that father of all lies, that wolf dressed in sheep's clothing, that angel of light fallen from heaven -- deceiving hardened hearts with political correctness... so right in man's sight, but ultimately abominable in GOD's eyes.

But GOD is GOD, and satan is most definitely not... he's just a wannabe... like many of the world who are puffed up with pride.

Then Job replied to the LORD: "I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You." (Job 42:1-2)

Even my Lord JESUS in humble obedience said, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39)

Because JESUS paid for my sin-debts by His atoning blood on the cross, i am free today and forever from GOD's holy wrath and righteous condemnation. Through GOD's abundant grace, i received the gift of the Kingdom of Heaven -- the ultimate Paradise -- through my faith in CHRIST. So is JESUS gift enough for all time? For me...a resounding Yes!

And you? What gift can you receive this CHRISTmas, this Holy Day, that could be worth more than Heaven itself, through saving faith in CHRIST JESUS?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Island Dreams -- Mere Shadows of GOD's Heaven

i have an ache in my heart. It's a longing to go back to the islands.

To me, this longing ache in my heart to go back to some island paradise is in Reality my being drawn closer to CHRIST's presence. I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. (Jeremiah 31:3) The perfect sun-drenched and idyllic tropical island paradise is but the physical representation of what JESUS' presence means to me. Today i fervently seek a closer, deeper intimacy with JESUS -- and sometimes the yearning for His Kingdom is so strong as to drive me to tears.

My deceitful mind would try to rationalize this soulful yearning as self-pity, or as a desire to escape earthly responsibilities, or as mere emotional homesickness for my other home -- that sun-kissed garden island, Taveuni -- imperfectly embodied as the island of my dreams.

But SPIRIT revealed to me that my deep longing for that unnameable something is not merely for Taveuni, but a crying out to GOD to be with Him -- in His presence -- for His tender embrace is comfort indeed, His perfect company is beyond words, His glorious presence an indescribable bliss!

In the presence of my LORD is unimaginable beauty, unsurpassed by any created thing on earth Yes, He is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16) -- for man has marred beyond repair the creation of GOD, physically and spiritually. There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. (Proverbs 14:12) There's no need to describe how humankind has adulterated GOD's pure intent of a paradisaical heaven on earth. There are still a few glimpses of paradise, but even these natural havens have been corrupted by man. But at least i can look at what's left of GOD's creation and still stand amazed in awesome wonder at His grand artistry -- the diversity, the minute details and perfect fit of everything -- i see GOD in nature...and i fall to my knees in worship and thankfulness that this infinitely wise, all powerful Sovereign Creator is my very own Father -- through my faith in the atoning blood of His Son, JESUS CHRIST.

In my Father's Kingdom is light -- all light...no more shadows or darkness -- literally and figuratively. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of GOD illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. (Revelation 21:23) In His house is perfect harmony with all my brothers and sisters in CHRIST -- can i even grasp this joyful truth?! That amongst the innumerable personalities in heaven, we would all get along, no matter what skin, culture and idiosyncrasies clothed our spirits on earth. The nations of the earth will walk in its light, and the rulers of the world will come and bring their glory to it. (Revelation 21:24) That we would be literally walking on air because the joy in all of us would so make us so exuberant that we can't but float in effervescent, uncontainable lightness of being! He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever. (Revelation 21:4)

Even with my very finite mind, i can imagine this because the truth of GOD's Word tells me so (if anyone is in CHRIST, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. II Corinthians 5:17) -- that when i meet JESUS after this body has been used for GOD's purpose -- i will become at last in Reality what i've prayed for -- to be that likeness of CHRIST that GOD had always intended -- with my own individual personality, yet with all the perfection (wholeness) of JESUS. And all in heaven will be like CHRIST -- whole and in love! i can't explain this mystery, but i know that it is glorious truth -- for GOD purposed this before even His creation was made manifest. There is a happily ever after!

The world as it is today is sick -- literally ailing, like a man with a cancer. On his person, you can already see the symptoms manifesting as painful sores and unhealthy pallor. In his eyes, if you would look deep into the windows of his soul, you would see fear and desperation lurking behind the shutters of his earthly facade.

So when i long with such intensity for GOD's Kingdom, can you blame me? Can you understand? There is no escape from this earthly world that is full of ugliness and sin. It is what it is! Yet as a follower of CHRIST, knowing that this earth is but training ground and that the true Reality (real Life) is heaven -- i can live here with equanimity and can view this life with calm detachment because this is not all there is...and this world is not my real home. We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. (Philippians 3:20)

But there are times when i just want to be in GOD's Heaven already! Those times when i wish the Rapture were already Reality...It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. (I Corinthians 15:52)

So on the days i get impatient and antsy, i ask Him to enable me, to empower me, by His abiding SPIRIT so that i may continue to worship Him wholeheartedly, no matter what -- to wait for His return, standing firm on the Rock of Ages, immovable and steadfast in the palm of His almighty righteous hand; and to watch for His directives -- to be alert and ready to follow His lead...to be unattached to the things that grab at my heart...to be at all times holding on very loosely to the stuff of the world...to be vigilant of my heart so that nothing may separate me from my fellowship with GOD as i walk in step with Him.

Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For GOD has said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)

For to walk with GOD, with CHRIST JESUS, is the most wonderful GODventurez of this lifetime...and to be with Him in His presence forever is my Reality -- the Truth that allows my inner being to walk undaunted in this fallen world, with unfathomable peace and indescribable joy, which is in the Person of CHRIST JESUS -- my LORD and Constant Companion.
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy SPIRIT, who leads into all truth. (John 14:16-17a)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mary, Mary, Mary OR Martha

During the hustle 'n' bustle of preparing for celebrating JESUS' birthday, i want to practice being a "Mary" rather than being a "Martha." But which Mary?

In my opinion, the most important Mary in all human history is the virgin Mary, the mother of JESUS, the CHRIST. She was the vessel blessed indeed by GOD and chosen by Him to supernaturally bring into the world the Word -- to manifest His only begotten Son into human flesh. And there could only be one such Mary for one such ultimate miracle of bringing the infinite One into the finite body of a tiny vulnerable baby...and young Mary was one that had such great faith that though she couldn't understand the how of it, she believed that with GOD, anything was possible.

This Mary was quite young, a virgin betrothed to Joseph -- she knew what great consequence would befall her when she was found pregnant outside of wedlock, and with a baby not even Joseph's. Yet her answer to the angel's announcement was, "i am the LORD's servant, may it be to me as You have said." (Luke 1:38) Her faith was such that she received the honor of being chosen to be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah with a fully trusting heart --obeying GOD and trusting that GOD will deal with all the consequences.

Can i follow Mary's example of being this trusting...of saying Yes! to anything and everything that GOD wants to accomplish through my life, no matter the havoc it may wreak to my own plans? Can i say, like Mary did, "My soul glorifies the LORD and my spirit rejoices in GOD my SAVIOR" (Luke 1:46-47) when GOD tells me to let go my agenda and instead get in step with His own -- never mind where or when or how He wants me to follow Him...to just go for GOD no matter the cost? Do i have the inner strength, the great faith, and glad obedience that Mary exemplified? Only GOD knows...the time will come when He will clearly show me the direction He wants me to take. And that's when i'll know if my faith is such that i will say Yes! -- no matter what His directive may be.

Another Mary is Mary of Magda, who was a fully devoted follower of JESUS. He healed her by driving out her seven demons. How can she not surrender her life to Him after that? She followed Him...all the way to the agony of the cross at Calvary...she watched Him die. Mary Magdalene had the courage to watch her LORD die -- she didn't run away as almost all the other apostles did. During the worst time of her life (seeing her LORD crucified), she remained resolutely faithful to JESUS...and He honored her unwavering loyalty by allowing her, a woman, to be the first witness to His glorious resurrection.

Can i stand...just stand, in the midst of life's turmoil, waiting patiently on the LORD, steadfast and determined to keep my focus on JESUS and not the circumstance which is trying to cloud Him from my vision? Will my faith cave in, making me run away to escape from the pain of GOD's process? Or will i allow the Holy SPIRIT to fight my battles, trusting that with Him, "i can do all things through CHRIST Who strengthens me"? (Philippians 4:13)

And during this busy time of family get-togethers, shopping for unique gifts at The ShoppE at Rose's, tying loose ends with Bible studies, painting projects -- can i just sit still, like Mary, at the feet of my LORD JESUS? Or will i be like Martha, frustrated with all the busyness of the season's festivities -- being overwhelmed with too many good works for CHRIST that i neglect to make time for one-on-one fellowship with the most important, utterly precious Person of my life?

JESUS knew what was best -- not just the good enough -- for the household of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha did good things for JESUS -- she made Him comfortable and feel welcomed in their house (which i think was probably very clean and organized), served him good meals, and ran around Him in circles -- busily doing good works for Him.

"But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "LORD, don't You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" (Luke 10:40) For she saw her sister Mary just sitting at JESUS' feet, listening to Him, in rapt attention. And JESUS said (and i wonder what tone He used when He said her name twice) --

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

During the busyness of my everyday life, will i choose to sit at JESUS' feet -- being nourished by His Word, being at one with Him through unceasing prayers and steadfast focus on His Person, being led by Him to do what He desires to have me do rather what i am expected to do as a CHRISTian?

Will i choose to be a Mary or a Martha?
Today, i have chosen to do what JESUS, my LORD, said was the better thing...which is the best for me. i will not allow the hectic busyness of celebrating CHRISTmas time take away my celebrating CHRIST Himself. JESUS is the bottom-line reason for CHRISTmas...

CHRIST JESUS is my bottom-line reason for living every day. He is The ROCK, the sure and only Foundation of my season on earth. \o/

Thursday, November 19, 2009

my CHURCH

In one of my Bible studies (this one with Faith Bible Institute, and John Yates as via-satellite instructor), during the study of The Book of Revelation -- on the chapters about the seven churches, i was convicted to look at my own "church" -- the church that i am today.

The Church is the body of CHRIST, which He is the Head and Owner, and i (and all born again believers -- no matter the denomination, nationality or country) as His follower, is a member of the whole body. The Holy SPIRIT Who abides within, in His still small voice, asked me: rln, how is your "church"? Are you SPIRIT filled? Are you a beacon of light to those around you, to the community in which you live? Are you zealous for CHRIST as He was (and is) for the Father? Does His SPIRIT control you...does His Presence enliven your "church"?

In Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, there were seven churches with certain characteristics which i could apply to my own "church" today -- a checklist, so to speak, to gauge my own inner spiritual condition. Which of these churches describe the inner me today?

The church at Ephesus -- the loveless church.

JESUS commended this church as hard working (evangelistic), patient (longsuffering and enduring all for Him without quitting), separated from the world (discerning of the truth, not tolerating evil people or wickedness, agreeing with Him in repudiating the deeds of the immoral Nicolaitans), persistent in their faith though persecuted. Yet He condemned this church for leaving its first love -- love for CHRIST Himself and fellow believers. This church had many good works, yet it neglected its first love -- communion with GOD and fellowship with His family. His counsel -- repent!

The church at Smyrna -- the persecuted church.

JESUS commended this church for suffering persecution (and slander from the synagogue of satan) and poverty for His sake (GOD saw this church as spiritually rich). He had no condemnation for this church. His counsel -- be fearless, remain faithful -- even when facing death, for those who are victorious will receive the crown of life and will not be hurt by the second death.

The church at Pergamos -- the compromising church.

JESUS commended this church for holding fast to their faith in Him amidst satanic influence (the city's populace worshipped many idols and objects) and martyrdom. He condemned this church because some members practiced the doctrine of Balaam (sexual immorality and idolatry); and some practiced the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (sexual immorality, perversions, self-indulgence). His counsel -- repent!

The church at Thyatira -- the corrupt church.

JESUS commended this church for their good works -- their constant improvement in love, service, faithfulness, patience and endurance. Yet He condemned them for allowing Jezebel to corrupt the church, to teach and seduce the members to commit sexual immorality, heresy and idolatry. His counsel to those who remained undefiled by Jezebel's corruption -- hold fast to their faith in Him until His return.

The church at Sardis -- the dead church.

JESUS commended this church for having a few who were not defiled, who were still a GODly remnant of the true faith in CHRIST. He condemned this church for being dead though it had a reputation for being alive -- for going through the motions like a walking zombie, but actually spiritually dead, for their deeds were far from right in the sight of GOD. His counsel -- watch, strengthen (that which remains and is about to die); remember what they have received (salvation, the Gospel), hold fast and repent!

The church at Philadelphia -- the faithful church.

JESUS commended this church that though it had little strength, it obeyed His Word and not denied His name...it obeyed His command to persevere. This church openly confessed to the inspiration of the Word of GOD, and openly confessed to the incarnation of JESUS, the Son of GOD. He had no condemnation for this church. His counsel -- hold fast to what they have so that no one may take their crown.

The church at Laodicea -- the lukewarm church.

JESUS had no commendations for this church! He had nothing good to say whatsoever. He condemned this church for its arrogance and pride -- for saying, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing." He condemned them for their ignorance of their true state -- "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked." His counsel -- replace their material riches (wealth derived from the city's commercial industries -- banking, wool, medicine...eye salve, in particular) with the true spiritual riches which lead to genuine salvation: faith (gold purified by fire), works blessed by GOD (white raiment for their nakedness), forgiveness (spiritual eye salve, that they may see).

His counsel -- repent! Be diligent and turn from indifference. He is at the door, knocking -- calling (the Son of GOD asking to be allowed in!!!)...open the door of your heart.

(The above are basically from John Yates' commentary of the seven churches, as derived from Willmington's Guide to the Bible.)

So which church do i most resemble today? What will JESUS commend me for, and what will He find in me to rebuke? Do i do good works for self-aggrandisement rather than simply out of love for Him? Do i compromise His Word by not standing firm to His Truth? Do i obey GOD's commands or do i still conform myself to the world? Do i worship Him by rote rather than with passionate gratefulness? Do i still value the riches of this world rather than setting my sights on the true riches of His heavenly Kingdom? What is the condition of my inner church today?

Here's another guide which helped me in gauging my walk in CHRIST:

According to Pastor Charles Stanley, a church is healthy and effective when it is founded on these eight doctrines:

The Bible -- as the inerrant Word of GOD.
The Deity of CHRIST -- that JESUS CHRIST is not only the Son of GOD, but that He is GOD.
The Virgin Birth of JESUS CHRIST -- that the Holy SPIRIT supernaturally placed Him in the womb of the virgin Mary.
The Bodily Resurrection of CHRIST -- JESUS fully conquered death and rose on the third day.
The Second Coming -- that JESUS is going to return.
The Judgment -- that there is a time for each person to stand before almighty GOD and give an account.
Heaven and Hell -- that CHRIST's judgment will result in different eternal destinations for people.
Salvation -- that JESUS CHRIST went to the cross and died a sacrificial, atoning death, and that His sacrifice is the only way to be saved.

Okay, so far so good...i believe all the above and live intentionally (as enabled by the Holy SPIRIT), according to these foundational beliefs in CHRIST. (Midway Church teaches the above as well.)

Pastor Stanley states further that a healthy and effective church "builds faith and disciples... strengthens a believer's relationship with GOD, and helps him/her understand the Bible and scriptural principles for living... also provides avenues through which to serve... concerned about people around the world who have never heard the gospel... and should make an impact in its community, as well as globally."

How is my "church" -- my own inner spiritual process as a fully devoted follower of CHRIST? Am i applying GODly principles in my life? Am i walking the Life of JESUS by serving, by sharing the gospel? Am i impacting my family, my community...wherever GOD may choose to place me, even globally?

This i can say, with firm conviction --i am a saint being sanctified, one day at a time... that CHRIST has made me a new creature altogether, that i am His workmanship, that He is the author and finisher of rln, and that He is Faithful and True and will not leave any part of me undone!

All things i can do through CHRIST who strengthens me... without Him, i can do nothing... and without His Love, i am nothing -- nothing at all.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fully Devoted FOLLOWer of -- ?

Every person on earth is a fully devoted follower of some one or some thing -- some idea or some cause...some addiction or some passion.
Every person lives according to what he (or she) believes in his deepest core, according to what he values intrinsically -- to what he loves, to what he's attracted, to what he is physically, emotionally, mentally, soulfully attached. And if a person thinks he is beyond being attached to (or ruled by) anyone or anything, then that person may be ruled by his non-attachment (the Eastern delusion of reaching nirvana by striving to be non-striving, non-attached to anything). Or if a person is living a seemingly "good" life, materially satisfied, not committing any "major" acts of moral wrongs (believing that lying, stealing, gossiping, blaspheming, coveting are not "real" sins), living according to the laws of the country he lives in, and is, in his own conscience, free of the sins that he perceives as morally wrong in those around him -- he may be a devotee (fully devoted follower) of this lifestyle of ease and spiritual deception.

To what thing can a person be a fully devoted follower? The world has millions of fully devoted followers whose prime goal in life is to be rich and famous -- money, fame and power; to look like 20-year olds even though pushing 60s -- the illusive fountain of youth; or to have that ideal happily-ever-after relationship, whether married or just shacking up -- Cinderella and the Prince Charming come to life.
To whom can a person be a fully devoted follower? god. The god of self...me, myself and i -- what feels good to me, what is best for myself, what i will. The god of self-seeking, self-realization, self-aggrandisement. Even if a person is an atheist -- one who chooses not to believe in GOD as First Cause, and all Creation as the caused effect of the Creator's divine will -- he by his choice is a fully devoted follower of god...the god of himself.

Or others may be fully devoted followers and worshipers of these "gods"... Mary... Buddha... Mohammed... Joseph Smith... Confucius... spirit-in-all... higher power... the force...

But those who profess to be true CHRISTians, born again of the SPIRIT of GOD, whether this or that denomination, what does it really mean to be a fully devoted follower of CHRIST?

(Since i have no formal Bible college training, nor am i a church-authorized Bible teacher, nor even a "mature" CHRISTian, i can only draw insight from who i am In CHRIST and what discernment i have been given, as shaped thus far by the indwelling SPIRIT of GOD.)

What is fully? To me, fully is all i am and all i have -- my whole life -- as expressed through my heart, will, mind, body, finances/ possessions, and hopes for the future. Fully means to surrender all, not grudgingly or unwillingly or fearfully, but in loving, joyful obedience -- all of my heart -- by loving CHRIST more than any relationship, activity, achievement, or possession...by making Him the sole focus of my emotions, desires, and passions...by allowing Him to reign over my soul.

will -- by committing myself completely to Him...by emptying myself of all desire to exercise my rights to my rights...by denying personal self-will...by bowing down to the Truth that GOD's will for me is allways best -- joyous, interesting, vital GODventurez...so much better than i could ever imagine...by stopping my striving against His almighty will, and instead resting in the confidence that i am His child and that He loves me to the infinite power.

mind -- by seeking to know the Person of CHRIST and His Word, so His principles and values become the foundation for all i think, say and do; by setting aside my old learned habits of thought, views and prejudices...and instead accepting GOD's view point on all things as the right view. i will lean not on my own understanding, but trust in GOD with all my heart. (Proverbs 3:5)

body -- by acknowledging that my physical body with all its strengths, talents, and sexuality are given to me from GOD; and as a new creation In CHRIST, a dwelling place for His SPIRIT, to be used by GOD to accomplish that which He desires to accomplish through me, according to His rules, not mine. My part is to cooperate by keeping this GOD-given body as healthy and fit as i am able so that i may be that vessel, fit for His intended work.
finances/possessions -- by recognizing that money and all my possessions are gifts from GOD. He is the Source of all good things in my life, and i am to be a good steward of all the possessions He has given me. It means seeing money and possessions (whether material things, or abilities and talents, or what's most precious to me -- my time) as blessings GOD has given me to be used to also bless others through me. i am not to hoard or keep any of these possessions to myself, but to share them with those in need around me.
future -- by giving my dreams and desires to GOD, trusting the outcome to be His perfect and loving will; by deciding to be a servant like CHRIST...by practicing JESUS' ultimate command, Love one another as i have loved you; by putting Love in action...which is serving others.

Fully devoted is total surrender, absorption, attention, to the Person of CHRIST JESUS Himself -- not to any particular doctrine, or cause, or good works, or church, or denomination. It's crucifying the old nature in me -- cutting out anything and everything that stands in the way of becoming one with CHRIST. It's getting rid of "stuff" -- hindrances, stumbling blocks -- such as confidence in my own self, my own judgment; traditions or beliefs that are safe and familiar, but contrary to GOD's view point; spiritual pride, born of personal accomplishments or "higher" education; habits or lifestyles not pleasing to GOD; fear of ridicule or rejection for declaring JESUS as Lord of my life; love for self-glorification or honor; love for worldly "stuff" -- material or otherwise -- stuff that satisfy but for a brief time.
Being a fully devoted follower of CHRIST is putting into action all i've professed as a child of GOD, as a born again believer. As a passionate follower of JESUS, it is believing and trusting in Him completely; it is declaring His Truth (the Good News) to all, and by the enabling power of the abiding Holy SPIRIT of GOD -- it is acting and living out the abundant Life which i received in 2003 when i said yes! to JESUS as my Lord. In short, it is walking the talk, one day at a time.

For me, it is the most precious and amazing privilege, this undeserved grace of GOD -- that i have been allowed to receive the free gift of redemption of CHRIST...that i have Heaven now. i don't have to die to be ushered into the very Presence of GOD. Heaven, the very Presence of GOD, is my Reality today, and forever...all because i said a resounding Yes! to the Father's invitation to make JESUS, His Son, LORD of my life.How could i not rejoice and revel in being a fully devoted follower of JESUS? In Him is the mind of GOD -- infinite wisdom. In Him is everlasting life -- no more limitation, old age or decay, or discord. In Him are Love, Joy, Peace -- the real kind...the kind that surpasses way, way! beyond the world's superficial understanding of these much longed-for realities. In Him is the power and authority of the Father, by the Holy SPIRIT given to all believers. In CHRIST, i have all that i need, all that my heart desires, all that i could ever imagine or hope for in this life and certainly after this life!

To what or to whom are you a fully devoted follower?