Baon

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I remember when I was younger I always brought lunch to school. My mom would make a heavy lunch to make sure I didn’t go hungry. My first-grade lunchbox typically contained rice and meat, some biscuits, a sandwich, a juice box, a hard boiled egg and sometimes a bottle of milk. Yes, I was a heavy-set boy.

I remember I developed a habit of looking over to my classmates’ baon, mostly just out of curiosity. I remember one time one of my classmates brought a cheeseburger to school for lunch and I remember thinking how lucky she was. I still enjoyed my lunch, but somehow I felt there was something improper because I did not have a cheeseburger.

Today as I look back I realize that the problem was not with the baons… the problem was within my heart. The problem was not external, it was internal. I realize that I was demonstrating a typical condition of the fleshly heart: my attention was drawn by the externals, and I was attracted by what my eyes saw. Somehow I let the external things affect my internal heart.

Today my meditations led me to John 21:20-22:

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them… Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

Peter had just experienced a profound moment with Jesus prior to this exchange. In John 21:15-19, Peter already had a one-on-one session with Jesus. Kung baga ay tiba-tiba na siya kasi na solo niya si Lord… but somehow, nung Nakita niya si John, lumitaw ang kanyang puso. Naimagine ko na habang nakatingin siya kay John sinabi niya kay Lord, “Eh paano naman siya? Anong mangyayari sa kanya? Bakit ganun yung ginagawa niya?”

Peter’s words reminded me of my baon days. Despite having Jesus already, Peter’s eyes were still drawn to his classmate. He became concerned about the externals, and if he was not corrected it would have affected his internal heart as well.

Hindi ba ganun din tayo? Madalas natural na sa atin yung tumingin sa iba, na ma amaze sa mga externals nila, na ikumpara yung kanila sa kung anong meron sa atin. Delikado yan, kapatid. Kasi pag hindi yan na korek sa iyo, posibleng maapektuhan ang internal na puso mo. Dalawa lang ang resulta nyan… either tingin mo sa classmate mo ay mas mataas kesa sayo at bababa ang tingin mo sa sarili mo; or tingin mo sa kanya ay mas Mababa kesa sayo at tataas naman ang tingin mo sa sarili mo. Either way, mabantot yun at hindi amoy Jesus.

So how can we overcome this? The answer is found in Jesus’ words: “What is that to you? YOU follow ME!”

What Jesus is essentially saying is that in this Christian walk, it is ultimately about you and Jesus. When He returns he will not ask you about what your classmate did; He will ask you one question: “Did you follow Me?”

The only way we can overcome is by keeping our eyes on Jesus. To meditate on Him, on what He has done for us, on what He is doing in our hearts and our lives; on seeking to find His instructions about our next step. (Heb 12:2)

Church, let us not give in to the temptation from the devil to look at the externals of our classmates. Ganun palagi ang gawain ng kaaway eh… pakikitaan ka ng mga panlabas para ma corrupt ang iyong panloob.

Remember, higit na mas mahalaga sa Lord ang internal kaysa sa external. Huwag kang magpadala sa nakikita mo (1 Sam 16:7)…. Bagkus ay magpa ubaya ka sa ginagawa ng Panginoon sa puso mo.

Let us focus on what God is doing internally in our own hearts, instead of what He is doing externally with our classmates. If we spend our days this way, we will realize na lavish-lavish pala ang ginagawa ni Lord sa atin. We will realize na tiba-tiba tayo kasi one-on-one tayong tinatrabaho ni Lord.

I’m praying for all of you today, that you will discover God’s marvelous works in your own hearts. May we all be overwhelmed by Him today.

 

Rocks and Thorns

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Today is quite unusual; I went to the office with this urge to write about what the Lord has been searing in my heart lately. Cornerstone, a lot has happened in the past few weeks and these words from God have been carrying me through, and I hope they will do the same for you too.

First, let’s look at a few verses (with my emphasis), then we’ll connect them together later:

“…Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…” (John 15:1-2)

“…Listen then to what the parable of the sower means… the seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy; but since they have no root, they last only a short time…. the seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful…” (Matthew 13:18-22)

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-2)

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.” (Psalm 92:12-15)

Now here’s what the Lord has been carving in my heart:

As some of you may already know, a good gardener will be dedicated to cultivating, nourishing, protecting and growing his garden. That includes pruning the plant to produce more fruit; to prune means to cut away dead or overgrown branches to encourage growth. Also, a good gardener will remove rocks and thorns and anything else that will hinder the growth of his planted seeds.

Our God is no different; in fact, He is the perfect and divine Gardener. We are His garden, and our heart particularly is His soil. He is dedicated to cultivating, nourishing, and growing His word that has been planted in our hearts. That includes pruning as well as removal of rocks and thorns.

This is the truth: pruning hurts, and removing rocks and thorns also hurts. These are not sweet experiences. The Lord’s word to me is clear: what has happened in Cornerstone in recent weeks is pruning by the Lord’s hand. The sad news is that the cutting away of other branches is painful; the good news is that it was done by the Lord’s hand. That means this whole thing was never out of His control; behind everything that has been happening is still God’s hand, diligently working in His garden. Why would God do such a painful thing to his garden? Simple answer: for growth, for more fruitfulness. Growth for those who have left, and growth for those who have remained; growth in maturity and love for God, and fruitfulness in the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Another major part of God’s gardening work is the removal of rocks and thorns. Jesus said that rocks hinder the growth of roots, and thorns choke the seed. If our heart is His soil, that means His goal is to remove the rocks and thorns in our hearts. According to Jesus, thorns are the worries of this life; but what are the rocks? Let me propose this: the rocks are anything that springs up from the old self that hinders the growth of God’s life in us. (Rom 8:5-8, Gal 5:17-21). Kasama dyan ang mga pag uugali ng lumang sarili; kasali na dyan si pride, si ego, si emosyon, si anger, si unforgiveness, si bitterness, at lahat pa ng mga kamag-anak nila.

Therefore, ang trabaho ng Diyos sa atin ay yung patuloy na pagbubungkal ng ating puso, para matagpuan ang mga bato at tinik, at para ma alis Niya ang mga ito.

Alam mo ba kung bakit masakit tuwing tinatamaan ka sa sermon? Or kapag kino-correct at dinidisiplina ka sa church? If you think about it, masakit dahil tinatamaan ang lumang sarili mo; masakit dahil inaalis ang mga bato at tinik; masakit kasi ilang taon na naka baon sa puso mo ang mga bato at tinik na yan; masakit kasi gustong alisin ng Diyos yung matagal mo nang inaalagaan. Ganyan tumrabaho ang Diyos, kasi yan lang ang paraan para mag ka ugat at magka bunga ang tinanim Niya sa iyo.

Now if that is the work of God our divine Gardener, then this is the work of the devil, the evil accuser: Instead of focusing on what God is doing in your heart, the devil will draw your eyes away towards the person God is using to remove your rocks and thorns. He will magnify the pain, and convince you that the pain is caused by outside sources; either the person God is using, or the situation God has placed you in. The devil will tell you the problem is outside and not inside your heart; he will tell you “other people” are the problem. Sasabihin niya sa iyo, “Masakit yan kasi sinasaktan ka nila! Walang problema sa iyo! Sila ang may problema! Sila ang dahilan kaya ka nagdurusa! Banatan mo din sila!”

After years of experiencing God’s painful gardening in my own heart, this is what I have learned: The most prominent evidence of spiritual immaturity is “tampo”, or to be displeased against someone who has hurt you. Why? Because “tampo” will focus on the other person who has supposedly hurt you, instead of focusing on the rocks and thorns that God is working on in your heart.

Refreshingly, the most spiritual mature Christians I’ve met are those who are not easily displeased with people; mga hindi madaling mag tampo. Why? Because they are more aware of their own sinfulness and of their own failures, instead of the sinfulness of others. Therefore, they are the ones who are first to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, instead of distancing themselves from others. Sila yung magsasabi ng, “Oo, masakit yung sinabi mo at ginawa mo sa akin… pero masakit yun dahil may tinatrabaho ang Diyos sa puso ko… kaya hindi ako nagtatampo sa iyo, bagkus mamahalin pa kita kasi ginagamit ka ng Diyos para lumago pa ako.” These are the believers who “delight in the law of the Lord”, meaning they meditate on what God is doing in their hearts instead of meditating on the hurt that are caused by others.  Another thing I learned about these spiritually mature believers is that they do not leave when they get hurt; rather, they stay and let God work in their hearts to remove rocks and thorns. They are the ones who are “planted in the house of the Lord, and flourish in the courts of God”. Look at those words: “planted and flourish” are connected. You will never flourish if you are not planted. You will never grow fruitful if you move around and do not develop roots.

Cornerstone, let us seek the Lord together; let us not fall into the devil’s trap. If you are hurting and are tempted to retaliate, don’t… instead, seek what God is working on in your heart. Let us not focus on what others are doing to hurt us. Instead, let us look to the Lord, and seek what He is cultivating in our hearts. You should ask yourself, “Why does it hurt? Bakit masakit? Bakit ako nagagalit? Ano yung tinamaan? Ano yung tinatrabaho ni Lord sa akin? Is it my pride? My ego? My emotions? My worries?”

I can assure you, if this is how you respond to God’s dealing, you will grow in your Christian walk. God will mold your character; He will enlighten your mind to understand His ways; He will illuminate your eyes so you will see all that He wants to show you; He will sharpen your hearing so you can hear His voice; He will strengthen your spirit so you will be able to discern how He moves; He will transform you so that when people see you they will encounter Him.

Today, I’m praying for all of you to experience this reality para pag balik ni Jesus madami siyang mapipitas na bunga ng Holy Spirit mula sa inyo. I love you all… Buhay ang Diyos!

The Gospel according to Ahab

Today’s readings are on 1 Kings 20-21, wherein we find King Ahab’s wars against King Ben-hadad of Syria. Ahab was one of the most wicked kings of Israel, and the most all-inclusive description of his life is found in  1 Kings 16:33:

“…Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him…”

Now in 1 Kings 20, Ahab is under threat from the mighty King Ben-hadad and his 32 allies. They have set their sights on Israel as their next target, seeking to plunder the coward King Ahab and the nation of Israel.

Yet here is what I do not understand:

“…and behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord….” (1 Kings 20:13)

This cowardly, idolatrous, and ungrateful king did more to insult the living God than all kings before him, and yet the Lord still reaches out  to deliver him from the forces of Syria. For what reason? So that Ahab may “know that I am the Lord” says the Almighty.

One thing I see shining in this passage: God’s desire to love and be known by His children far outweighs His wrath against their sinfulness.

If I am honest, I am no better than Ahab. I, too, keep secret idols in my heart and chase after these from time to time. I, too, seek earthly pleasures to my heart’s content, constantly turning away from God’s outstretched hands; I, too, am a chronic disappointment to the faith I profess. If all were to be weighed today, I would surely be found wanting.

Yet when I consider how God graciously reached out to Ahab despite his sinfulness, I also remember that God’s lovingkindness towards me is everlasting and true. (Psalm 117:2, Is54:8)

Yes, I am no less sinful than Ahab; but I can live daily in repentance for I have a God whose mercy outweighs His wrath towards me.

How can I be sure? How can I know that He would not change His mind today and send me to hell anyway? Because His lovingkindness is not a mere concept; it is not an idea that can be repealed; this lovingkindness appeared as a PERSON in JESUS.

I remember God’s words through Paul’s letter to Titus:

“…but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy…” (Titus3:4-6)

As for you, reader, you too are no better than Ahab; but just as God’s love yearned for Ahab’s repentance, He yearns for yours also. I pray that He’ll melt your hearts today as He did mine. 🙂 ❤maxresdefault (1)

The Michal Syndrome

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Cornerstone! God is alive! I’m still following Youversion’s Reading God’s Story: One-year chronological Plan. I still can’t get over yesterday’s readings, so let’s meditate a bit more on the story. Here’s the setting: David had just become King, and his very first order was to seek the ark of the covenant and have it brought to Jerusalem to be the center of his government. It was a huge celebration, and David offered sacrifices every 6 steps of the journey, and everyone feasted on all sorts of food and music. David danced with all his might at the front of the procession and his royal clothes have become undone. So we pick up the story from there:

“As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. David returned home to bless his family. Michal, Saul’s daughter, came out to greet him: “How wonderfully the king has distinguished himself today—exposing himself to the eyes of the servants’ maids like some burlesque street dancer!” David replied to Michal, “In God’s presence I’ll dance all I want! He chose me over your father and the rest of our family and made me prince over God’s people, over Israel. Oh yes, I’ll dance to God’s glory—more recklessly even than this. And as far as I’m concerned . . . I’ll gladly look like a fool . . . but among these maids you’re so worried about, I’ll be honored no end.” (2 Samueal 6:16, 20-23) ESV & MSG

Isn’t it interesting? Habang nag paparty ang buong Jerusalem, may isang babae na hindi masaya. The Bible says Michal despised David in her heart; to despise means to hate, to detest, to scorn. In effect inisip ni Michal, “Yuck! Ano ba yan! Hari tapos ganyan ang ginagawa? Nakakahiya! Halos mahubaran na siya oh!”

If you think about it, she actually has a point. A king should always be held in high honor; hindi dapat gumagawa ng kahit anong kahihiyan ang isang hari; para kay Michal, mahalaga ang kahihiyan sa kanilang pamilya.

Yet there’s one thing that Michal overlooked despite having a logical point: she did not include God in her assessment. Nakita lang niya yung asawa niya, yung mga tao sa paligid, yung kahihiyan na nararamdaman niya… pero hindi niya sinali ang Panginoon. Kaya naging napaka liit ng tingin niya sa asawa niya kasi hindi niya tinignan kung saan naka tingin si David. Hindi man niya aminin, kaya mababa ang tingin niya kay David ay dahil mataas ang tingin niya sa kanyang sarili.

Kaya nung nagharap sila, malinaw na sa Panginoon naka tingin si David; hindi sa kahihiyan, hindi sa pagiging hari niya, hindi sa iisipin ng ibang tao. In effect ang sinabi Niya kay Michal, “Oo… sa totoo lang nakakahiya… pero mas mahalaga sa akin na akapiling ang Diyos kaysa sa mapahiya. Oo, hari ako… pero hindi ako nakarating dito dahil matino ako… nilagay ako dito ng Diyos. ” Si David, mababa din ang tingin sa kanyang sarili dahil mataas ang tingin niya sa Diyos. Baliktad sila ni Michal….

Kung mag papaka totoo ka, kapatid, madalas pareho ka ni Michal. Hindi ba naranasan mo din na mag despise someone in your heart? Yun bagang magkaron ng mababang tingin sa ibang tao? Minsan nga, kasama mo pa sa church yung dinedespise mo. Sa totoo lang,kahit hindi mo aminin, kaya ganun ka tumingin sa kanya ay dahil mataas ang tingin mo sa sarili mo.

Pano tayo maliligtas  mula sa Michal Syndrome?

We must look at Jesus, the greater David, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2)

Si Kristo na pinaka mataas sa lahat, bumaba dito, niyakap ang krus, at tiniis yung kahihiyan. Para saan? Para makuha ako. Ako na marumi, ako na rebelde, ako na sinungaling, ako na madalas maliit ang tingin sa Kanya.

Sa totoo lang, tuwing naalala ko yan, nanliliit ako. Bumababa ang tingin ko sa sarili ko, at tumataas lalo ang tingin ko sa Diyos. Pag lasing nako sa ganung pananaw, hindi ko kayang mang-despise ng ibang tao. Kelangan si Kristo ang maging bida, para mawalan ng pwesto si Michal.

I’m praying for all of you today that you all become as mesmerized with God as David. 🙂 ❤

 

 

 

Executive Order No. 1

Cornerstone! God is alive! I’m still following Youversion’s Reading God’s Story: One-year chronological Plan. Today’s readings are on 2 Samuel 5-6 and 1 Chronicles 14-16, wherein we find the story of David who had just ascended the throne of Israel… and what was David’s first command as soon as he became King? We find it here at 1 Chronicles 13:1-3:

“David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul.” 

Executive order no. 1 under King David’s new government was to seek out the ark of the covenant and bring it to Jerusalem, the center of David’s administration. King David’s most important need above and beyond all other needs was to bring the presence of the Lord back to the center of his government.

What was so special about the ark? The Lord Himself has said that “there, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.” (Exodus 25:22)

David understood all the difficulties that was inherent with his new job. He understood the gravity of his situation, the presence of his enemies, the needs of his people, and the corruption that comes with absolute power. Instead of seeking ways to solve all these, he sought God’s face. David knew that the only way that he would survive as Israel’s king was to continuously seek the One true King.

If we would be honest, this is very far from our daily experience. Our nature drives us to solve all of our problems through all of our ways and means, and if we were to seek God it is merely to ask Him to help us achieve our own goals. Most of the time, we identify more with Saul, who “did not seek the Lord” during his reign. David, on the other hand,  decided early on that the success of his kingship did not rest upon his shoulders, but upon every word that comes from the Lord.

While meditating on all these this morning, God reminded me about something. Why was this event in David’s life very striking? What was so special about going out of his way to seek out to be with his God?

Years ago, Someone greater than David also went out of His way to seek us out; He had one goal in mine: to pay the penalty of sin that was keeping us from dwelling in Him. I remember Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12:

“…I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me…” (The Message)

He reached out for me!!! He sought me out!!! Other so-called gods require men to do their bidding with uncertain promises of rewards; but this Jesus… MY JESUS…. HE came down and rescued me!

I’m praying for all of you today to let seeking Jesus be your executive order no. 1, above all else that is going on in your life today. No one else can do for you what Jesus has already done for you on that cross. 🙂 ❤

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Who’s side are you on?

Cornerstone! God is alive! I’m still following Youversion’s Reading God’s Story: One-year chronological Plan. Today’s readings are on Joshua 3-5, and what struck my heart today is Joshua 5:13-15:

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “Neither; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Tama ang sabi ni Lord sa Luke 6:45: “…the mouth speaks what the heart is full of…”

Here’s Joshua, the newly appointed leader of Israel, face to face with a man holding a drawn sword. In those days, that is the stance of a man who is ready to fight, parang lalaki na nakataas ang mga kamao, or parang lalaki na nakatutok ang baril kay Joshua.

And the first thing that comes out of Joshua’s mouth was a very Joshua-centered question: “Are you for us or for our enemies?” Here’s a few other ways of asking this same question:

  1. Kakampi ba kita or kakampi ka ng kaaway?
  2. Are you here to help me with my plans, or are you here to stand in my way?
  3. Tutulungan mo ba ako or hindi?
  4. Ibibigay mo ba yung gusto ko or hindi?
  5. Kaaway ba kita at nandito ka ba para sirain ako?

Parang ikaw lang diba? Madalas ganyan ang tingin natin sa Panginoon, lalo na pag hindi natin nakuha yung gusto natin, or kapag nasa sitwasyon tayo na hindi natin maintindihan. Minsan pa nga, sinisingil natin si Lord, “Bakit mo ako ginaganito? Di ba mahal mo ako? Di ba ginagawa ko naman lahat ng gusto mo? Bakit mo pinayagan na magkaganito?”

Yet I love the answer of the mysterious man: “Neither; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.”

Here’s a few ways of saying the same thing:

  1.  I’m not here to serve your purpose; I’m here to serve God’s purpose.
  2. Walang kinalaman yung mga gusto mo o yung mga ayaw mo; ang mahalaga ay kung ano ang gusto ng Diyos.
  3. Your agenda is irrelevant; I’m here for God’s agenda.
  4. Your plans and desires are noted, but that’s not why I am here.
  5. You’re asking the wrong question, Joshua. The correct question is, “Joshua, are YOU on God’s side?

At iyan ang nararapat na tanungin mo sa sarili mo, kapatid. Bakit ka sumasamba kay Kristo? Bakit mo ginagawa ang ginagawa mo? Para ba makilala si Hesus at Siya ang maitaas, or para may makuha ka mula sa Kanya at ma “bless” Niya?

Talaga? Eh bakit nagagalit ka pag hindi mo nakuha yung gusto mo? Bakit nadedepress ka pag hindi tumugma yung nangyayari sa mga pinapangarap mo? Bakit ka nag tatampo kung naka rinig ka ng masasakit? Bakit parang yumayabang ka pag may nag puri sayo? Si Lord nga ba ang iniikutan ng mundo mo, or gusto mo na Siya ang iikot sa iyo?

Let’s make one thing clear: the center of God’s universe is Himself and not you. That’s what Joshua realized at that moment. That’s why he fell down in worship; he realized that God is much bigger than him; that God knows better than him; that this whole thing is God’s show and not Joshua’s. All the events that have transpired in Joshua’s lifetime is for God to be known by humankind; si Lord ang bida, Siya ang superstar.

I pray that the Lord will open our eyes today and see what He showed Joshua; to see that His plans for our lives are infinitely better than anything we could ever imagine; and just like Joshua, we will surrender all our agendas to the Lord so that He will become the Superstar and not us.

I love you all Cornerstone! 🙂 ❤

 

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Unravelled

Cornerstone! Our God is big! I’m still following Youversion’s Reading God’s Story: One-year chronological Plan. Today’s readings are on Deuteronomy 31-34, and what struck my heart today is the song of Moses in Deut 32:1-43

Moses starts the song with an introduction of how God is perfect and how all His ways are just (v.1-4); Then he states Israel’s treacherous response to God’s kindness (v.5-6); Moses then recounts how God had been extravagant toward His children, excessive love to say the least (v.7-14); and yet despite God’s outpouring of care, Israel rejected Him and chased after other gods (v.15-18); this aroused God’s anger and jealousy, and like a scorned husband He poured out His heart in words heavy with emotion (v.19-38); and yet, after a tirade of Godly anger, the Lord softens His tone, declaring that no other gods could ever love His people like He does(v.39-43); and the song ends with a picture of a husband destroying everything in His path just to rescue His broken wife despite of her adultery.

I must be honest; I know that those words were originally for Israel, but each word describes me perfectly. It was as if Moses was speaking about me; how God is extravagant toward me, and yet I continue to run after other fleeting sources of joy. I was convicted to the core as I read how I arouse God’s jealous anger; I felt the weight of His words over the frailty of my fleshly desires.

As I sat there and meditated on His words, I winced as I prepared myself to have His hammer fall on me; I imagined a huge clenched fist ready to crush me because of my betrayal; I was expected to receive the slash of His flashing sword; I was awaiting to be pierced by His arrows, to see them soaked in my blood, to have my flesh devoured by His sword. There is no mistake; I deserve all that is written.

Yet, instead of violence, I heard a tender whisper, “My son, there is no violence to come, there is no wrath in store for you; it is finished! Yes, you have gone astray, but I was pierced for your transgressions, I was crushed for your iniquities; all of your iniquity was laid upon Me. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

I sat unravelled before Jesus; shamefully convicted because of my sin, yet incredibly loved because of His grace.

How can I not serve this King? I pray that you all meditate with me today, and let’s all remember what Jesus has done. 🙂 ❤

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Pierced

Cornerstone! Our God is big! I’m still following Youversion’s Reading God’s Story: One-year chronological Plan. Today’s readings are on Numbers 25-29.

What caught my attention are these verses:

While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them…. Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them–through the Israelite and into the woman’s body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000. The Lord said to Moses, “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. (Numbers 25:1-11)

The Israelites once again had yielded to their fleshly desires and fallen into sin, causing the wrath of the Lord to burn against them. Paano nangyari toh? Ayon sa Revelation 2:14, si Balaam ang may pakana ng lahat. Siya ang nag turo kay Balak na gamitin ang alindog ng mga babae ng Moab para akitin ang Israel na magkasala. Akala ko pa naman eh matino si Balaam kasi hindi niya nagawang isumpa ang pinagpala ng Diyos. Pero yun pala, may iba siyang paraan para matalo ang Israel.

The main thing I noticed about this whole thing is that if the enemy cannot destroy Israel by war or by pain, he will use pleasure. Remember, church, the devil has one goal: to separate us from God; and if he cannot use pain or suffering to draw you away from God, he will use pleasure.

Worst of all, we follow him like obedient cattle. Every wink, every whisper, every seductive thought of earthly pleasure is at his disposal and the devil uses this against us daily. Madalas nag de-daydream tayo ng mga bagay na ayaw ni Lord; madalas nag dedesisyon tayo ayon sa sariling gusto kaysa sa gusto ni Lord; madalas nagbababad tayo sa mga masasarap nang hindi natin namamalayan na inaanod na pala tayo papalayo sa Panginoon. At pinaka masaklap sa lahat, pinagtatanggol natin ang mga ito dahil masarap. Naiimagine ko yung isang Israelite: habang nagluluksa sina Moses dahil may plague nanaman na dumapo at nagsisimatayan yung mga tao eh nag uwi pa ng babae sa kanila. Hindi na baleng mamatay ang iba, basta makuha lang niya yung gusto niya.

Siguro sa isip niya justified siya; siguro sa isip niya maiintindihan siya ng Diyos; siguro nangangatwiran siya, “matagal ko nang pinapangarap magka asawa… pwede na toh!”

Kung magpapaka totoo ka, kapatid, ganun ka din. Kung magpapaka totoo din ako, ganun din ako. Damay damay na toh. Madalas mas pumapangibabaw yung pleasures ng ating sarili kaysa yung pleasure kay Lord.

So paano tayo makaka tawid?

Naligtas ang Israel kasi may isang lalaki na dumampot ng sibat at tinuhog yung makasalanang walang pakundangan. Why? Because he was zealous of God’s honor. In the original translation, God said Phinehas was “jealous with My jealousy among them.” Tulad ng isang husband na inagawan ng asawa, nagselos si Phinehas para sa Diyos dahil nakita niya kung paano sila  humabol sa laman imbes na sa Diyos. Dahil sa ginawa ni Phinehas, God turned His anger away from Israel.

Since God loves us so, he sent us a greater Phinehas; Someone who instead of condemning mankind who was marinated in sin, He condemned sin by offering Himself as the ransom (Rom8:3); Someone who is as zealous for God as He is passionate towards me; Someone who instead of spearing me, was Himself pierced by the spear so that I might live with Him in eternity (John 19:34, Is 53:5). His name is Jesus; because of Him, God’s wrath was turned away from me.

 

Do you struggle against pleasurable temptations? Then you must repent to God, and confess your weakness. Surrender to Him and plead that He Himself replace your taste for sin with a taste for Him. That is my prayer for all of you today. 🙂 ❤

phinneas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gospel by donkey…

Cornerstone! Buhay ang Diyos! I’m still following Youversion’s Reading God’s Story: One-year chronological Plan. Today’s readings are on Numbers 21-24 wherein we find the infamous story of Balaam. Here’s what caught my eye:

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.” (Numbers 22:31-33)

Balaam was a prophet who was invited by the King of Moab to curse Israel as they were travelling across the country of Moab. Although God commanded Balaam not to curse Israel, he was persistent in doing so because he was attracted by the promise of riches and reward. In his persistent disobedience, he aroused God’s wrath, and God sent an angel to destroy him as he travelled to see the Moabite king.

When his donkey saw the angel on the road, she saved Balaam’s life three times: by turning into a field, by crushing Balaam’s foot against a wall, and by laying down underneath him. Each time, the prophet became frustrated and ruthlessly beat the animal, because he was unaware of his own destruction until God opened his eyes.

A few things we can learn from this narrative:

First, we are all Balaams. On one hand, we desire to please God by seeking and obeying Him, dressed as a “prophet”, a wonderfully saved “child of God”; but most of the time, we go our own way. Worse, we do so even if we clearly know that what we have chosen to do is against what God wants for us. Like Balaam, we do this because we choose the pleasures that this sinful world and flesh offer. We choose to think a certain way, to do certain things, to live a certain way, regardless of whether God is pleased or not. We sing our love and praises and allegiance to God once a week, then seek the other king the rest of the time.

Second, God sends us His mercy through our own donkeys. In Balaam’s eyes, his donkey was standing in his way, preventing him from getting his hearts’ desire; so he beat her, ruthlessly, blindly, foolishly, not realizing the donkey was an agent of God’s MERCY. You see, the donkey intently frustrated Balaam but only to SAVE him. This rebellious, unworthy, selfish and foolish prophet was saved by a lowly animal, one who willingly took all his hurtful blows, just so he could be saved. Have you ever planned on doing something wholeheartedly, only to have your plans fail or fall through? To desire something or someone so intensely that we pray to God to grant these to us, only to be disappointed and frustrated? You may not realize it, but that might be your donkey, an agent of God’s mercy to save you from destroying yourself.

So, my dear Balaams, how can we be delivered?

We need to look at God’s ultimate Agent of mercy. The One He sent to stand in the way of His wrath; the One who in spite of being perfect in every way, came so lowly, lower than any beast of burden; the One who took all the blows and laid down His life for me despite my rejection of Him. I despised Him… me, the worst of Balaams, yet He loves me so. One day He will return as the conquering King, He will come for me. His name is Jesus.

Church, whatever we lose today is nothing compared to what we have in Him. Sa Kanya ka tumingin. 🙂 ❤

donkey

 

 

 

Between the living and the dead

Cornerstone! It’s a new day!  I’m still following Youversion’s Reading God’s Story: One-year chronological Plan. Today is catch up day for me, so my readings are on Numbers 14-20, and this is what caught my eye:

“…Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped…” (Numbers 16:46-48)

Eto ang background: the Israelites began to grumble and complain against Moses and Aaron. Since it was them who were visible to the people, they received the brunt of the complaints, but essentially the people were complaining against God. Tapos nung hinarap nila si Moses at Aaron (malamang para upakan sila), nagalit si Lord kaya nagpadala Siya ng plague (salot) sa Israel at nagsimatayan sila.

Naiimagine ko kung paano siguro sumaklob yung death sa mga tao, parang kumot na inilalatag sa lamesa, tapos isa isa namamatay yung mga nadadaanan. Ayon sa Bible, 14700 ang namatay dahil sa nangyari.

Pero naiimagine ko din yung ginawa ni Aaron: tumakbo siya sa gitna ng mga tao at sinalubong si kamatayan. Hinarap niya yung salot at malamang itinutok niya yung incense offering na dala niya. Dahil dun, hindi na nakagapang si kamatayan.

Two things I want us to look at today:

First, God’s wrath is real. Totoo ang galit ni Lord. Galit Siya sa kasalanan, galit Siya sa kamatayan. Tulad ng galit ng isang ama sa sinuman ang aagaw sa mga anak niya, galit si Lord sa sin. At sinuman ang nakayakap sa sin ay madadamay sa hatol ni Lord against sin. Sa totoo lang, dapat lang mamatay lahat yung mga nagrebelde kina Moses kasi nireject nila ang lahat ng ginawa ni Lord para sa kanila. Sa totoo lang, ganun din tayo. Kahit ang dami nang ginawa ng Diyos para sa atin, mas pinipili pa din natin yung sariling gusto natin. Imbes na yumuko at magpasakop sa gusto Niya, madalas nagrereklamo tayo because we refuse to believe His words and His ways. We prefer to believe what we see, what we feel, what we know.

Second, God’s mercy is greater than His wrath. Nung nagharap si mercy at si wrath, talo si wrath. Ganun tayo kamahal ni Lord. Mas pumapangibabaw ang Kanyang awa kaysa sa Kanyang galit. Kung paano Niya pinadala si Aaron, pinadala din Niya si Hesus para salubungin ang kasalanan. Tinutukan ni Jesus si sin ng cross, at niyakap Niya ang death para sa atin.

In Jesus, we have a greater Aaron. He ultimately stood in between the living and the dead. Pag si Jesus na ang kaharap, hindi na makaporma si death. Imagine, if you’re standing behind Jesus, hindi ka maabot ni death! This is the picture! If your life is surrendered to Jesus, He will continue to stand in between death and you for all eternity.

You see, this is the secret of Christian living today. Death and its fruits has no hold on you if what Jesus did for you is fresh in your heart everyday. Pag naiisip mo yung ginawa ni Kristo, bakit ka matatakot? Pag alam mo na hindi ka maaabot ni death, bakit ka mag aalala? Kung handang tumakbo si Hesus papunta sayo para sagipin ka, bakit ka malulumbay?

Let’s look at Jesus today, for He stands in between the dead and the living. 🙂 ❤

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