Without the Ministry I am Lost

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...
Jesus’ reason to live was to obey His Heavenly Father by the means of selfless service.

There are many things that could keep any Christian away from the ministry for a certain point of time.

One of the most common is sin. Sin destroys the strength and the credibility of any servant of God. It also renders him/her powerless – he or she is stripped of the miraculous empowering of the Holy Spirit.

Another factor is the busyness of secular life. Though everything should be spiritual for the saint, but much of the activities that comes from the world takes away some precious time that should be set aside for God alone.

Yet to avoid the ministry is a suicide for the growing Christian. In fact a Christian could never grow without being involved in the ministry. The ministry does not need Christians who think they don’t need the ministry. Rather, these proud Christians could never survive without the ministry.

I am saying this out of Scriptural truth and experience. The ministry is not just important in the life of the believer. It is also essential.

God bless His hard-working servants in the vineyard.

The Good Thing About God

Grace-for-all
Grace conquers all our deficiencies.

Actually the title isn’t so good. Upon finishing reading this short reflection, the reader will come to see that there are countless reasons to prove that God is so good.

For one thing, who in the earth could say that he or she deserves God’s Grace? Of course there are many out there who would dare to claim so. These are the people who have missed altogether the true meaning of Grace. For them grace is earned, which is at once at odds with its real definition. Grace, Biblical grace is unmerited favor. Favor is for the obedient, but Grace is given even to the disobedient.

The forgiveness of God comes close to the list. God is so merciful and forgiving, that to forgive and forget a multitude of sin could be seen as part of His character. Yes I am emphasizing forgiveness here, and not His wrath to come at the day of Judgment when He recompenses every man for his or her evil deeds in hellfire.

The sweet sovereignty of God is another one. If not for His sovereignty, there could be no miracles or other stories that defy physical and natural limitations imposed by nature. Because of this many lives are saved – not in the natural means. And even problems, the insurmountable ones are overcomed. Thanks to His omnipotent power.

There are still a lot more, but let me tell now my story. For the past two weeks I have been down and could not move. I really feel unworthy. But God told me to act as a leader in an outreach – yes, He tells me to act – unworthy though that I am.

The Endless Pursuit

Jesus

Sin always finds its way in me. No matter how much I try to avoid it, in so many subtle ways it could always reach out to me. God’s Grace however, catches me for restoration.

Matt Redman sings in his new album, Your Grace Finds Me, that God’s Grace is the same for the saint and for the sinner. Yeah, yes. There is grace for the righteous and for the sinner, or in other words, for the saved and the unbeliever. But also, no. There is a special kind of grace that is exclusive only for the saved. In God’s eyes, the saved are forever righteous. They have been justified. And, in great contrast, the good works of the unsaved are like filthy rags. Strong comparison. Heart-flattering for the saint, condemning for the wicked.

Sin damages my heart, and God’s Grace is always there to heal me. After committing the most hideous sins, i would bow down in prayer and ask for cleansing and forgiveness. Yes, immediate cleansing I receive, but it should not stop there. True repentance always calls for the changed mind and heart, and of course ways of life. Period. Anything less than that is not true repentance but only confession.

It is indeed an endless pursuit. Running away from sin, being taken by sin, and being catched and snatched away by God’s grace.

As long as a saint is on earth, the pursuit is endless. In heaven, this pursuit cannot happen. How I long to be with Jesus!

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The Fear of Failure

Adaptation of above image illustrating an Inte...
The thought of failing is already fearful.

Who is not afraid to fail?

They say that the above-average intellectual people have low frustration tolerance. I cannot say that I belong to this group of smart people, but I could admit that I can barely tolerate frustration. I am so weak in handling failure. I am afraid to fail.

Failing again a quiz in Linguistics this early morning is making me nuts for the whole day. I know I have not given my best – of course, but still there is no excuse, no justifications – ever. Failure is failure. If I have only listened well in our former class and reviewed my notes, things for sure would not have been this way. I could have not attained a high grade, but still I could pass it.

Being a BSEd student is really a challenge. Eighty-five should be the lowest grade in all subjects. Getting lower than that in even a single subject is a heavy load already. It could never be. But it happens.

My last semester last school year was just a test for me. I didn’t know until now, why I did pass. God gave me a rating of 1.83 for the whole semester, and I take that as a sign that maybe, He wants me really to study again. Ouch. Thanks, I am really grateful, but a part of me says I am already tired of studying all these years.

Am I a people pleaser? Many are looking upon me, so I could not fail. But of course I am much more capable of failing than succeeding – on my own. I could be a winner, but that would only be by God’s Grace. His grace alone.

The Applause of the Crowd

Any ministry, especially those that exposes one in front of a crowd, like preaching calls for a great test of character. One temptation that is always present is vanity for there will be always a crowd that will applaud you.

Of course while in front you try yourself to be bold – or else you will not be convincing and powerful. A timid preacher or a song leader will be a contradiction of terms.

But to be bold pulls the heart also to be proud – this should be overcome, or the motive and the purpose of the ministry will be overthrown.

Yet to be bold while doing the blessed task of preaching isn’t the hardest part – I find it too often that the most challenging area is the afterwards – returning to your seat and to be soon acknowledged and praised for the beauty of the content and the power of the delivery of the sermon. Wow, tough issues indeed.

For my part I try to be silent. I very rarely ask anyone after the preaching how good or powerful it was. I think this act of asking calls for pride more often rather than the genuine sincerity of humble asking. Sometimes I would only ask other mature Christians if my exegesis and interpretation of the Text is right.

The more important part is God’s act – God’s way of continuously changing my heart for the better – to be humbled down. He does this in many ways. Internally, He gives me a new heart, externally, He uses people and circumstances.

Praise be to God only, no matter how unworthy I am, He blesses His Word as I preach it to the crowd.

 

All Things New

"Forgiveness 3" by Carlos Latuff.
Forgiveness – an essential element in starting anew.

We do not naturally want bad endings. We do not want to be hurt, and when we do, if we could only turn back time, we would have corrected it. But for us the only sure available option is to start anew.

To begin again, however, is not that always easy. Often it is harder than we thought. Being dreamers in nature, we are always in the illusion that it would be better this time – that we are capable of doing better while exercising the least of efforts. Wrong.

As we strive to be better, there are many things that would pull us downward. The thoughts of past failures are always there. The inward weaknesses, the fleshly desires which are often undealt, would shake our determination to succeed. Noteworthy to mention – the judgement of the people around – those people who have marked out how filthy you are based from your past mistakes and sins – always play insurmountable forces to hold you back.

The only incentive then is to look upward and realized that there is Someone who is capable of ‘forgetting’ your errors and would not judge you, seeing that you are truly repentant and really try to change. Your forgiveness and shame could be deeper than the sea, but His forgiveness is even deeper than the abyss. You may have not felt real love, but His embrace is wider than the sky.

His Person and love alone are great motivations for each one of us to be hopeful that as long as He grants us to live another day, there would always be hope for genuine change.

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Prayer Request:

A God-glorifying ending of the semester.

The Epic Battle

Armor of the condottiero Roberto da Sanseverin...
Let us wear on our complete spiritual armour and engage in battles!

The Christian life is a fight. A fierce battle. Every side could be at odds, every corner could be a battleground. Of course many are your friends, but many still could act as your enemies, no matter how much you befriend them.

Do not give up! Heads on toward the battle! Put on your helmet, wear your armour and sandals, carry your shield, raise up your sword! This is another combat! An epic battle!

Strike hard! Aim best! Shoot ahead! There are many witnesses – the saints of the past are all watching, watching and expecting that every Christian would share the same victory they had.

Every unnecessary weight should be removed – excess burdens. Sin should be dealt and buried and burned. Run the race without those filth! Just run with freedom in Christ!

Yes, look unto Jesus – the Author and Perfector of everything that we have as Christians! Just look and reflect unto His Glory, and in the process be the more transformed into His blessed likeness. The more we look at Him, the more peace we gain, the greater is our focus, and increasing is our strength!

That is the way to our epic battle! That is the Christian Life! Turn away from baggage and filth, and focus on the Holy. This way, we could win this. Like the countless saints before us, we will win this too!

 

Prayer Concerns:

Family relationship and the ministry. My preaching this Sunday at Calapan Bible Church, with Acts 16:1-5 as the Text. Wisdom in studies, especially in Math, I am really weak in this subject.

Thanks!