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“Selective Memory”

Psalm 89: 39, 49: “You have spurned the covenant of Your servant; You have profaned his crown in the dust …Where are Your lovingkindnesses, O Lord, which You swore to David in Your faithfulness?” This psalm is so like us. For thirty-seven verses it brags about how great God is and how He keeps His promises, then suddenly it complains about Him for the last fourteen, even accusing Him of spurning His covenant. No way! He was actually fulfilling it, as this very psalm admits in verses 30-32. It’s funny how we forget that God’s covenant has two sets of responsibilities: His and ours.

Walking in the Father’s Care

Dry as a desert. No water coming out of our faucets for seven days. No one residing in the cities of Mandaluyong and Pasig will ever forget March 7 to 14. To have a sudden water crisis, something was definitely super-crazy wrong! I was out one night, having chanced upon our “suki” water filling station open to dispense drinking water. A police car whizzed by followed by a fire truck with its siren on. A minute later three water trucks accompanied by two police car escorts passed by in a rather ominous way. The experience was so surreal! For a moment there, I remembered the early months of Martial Law under Marcos when police and army surveillance units roamed the streets at night to implemen

Fourth Sunday in Lent: “Walking in the Father’s Care”

Joshua 5:2-12 Psalm 32:1-11 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 Luke 15:11-32 This is the Fourth Sunday in Lent and we are still in the subject of repentance. The parable today is entitled “The Prodigal Son” in most Bibles, if not all. The more appropriate title for this would be the “Prodigal Father”. Prodigal means excessive; lavish; abundant; recklessly extravagant; wasteful. Prodigal can be in a positive or negative manner. In the story, the son was a prodigal in a negative way but the father’s love is prodigal in that it is excessive, extravagant in positive way. If I may say, “The father’s love “out-prodigals” the son’s flaws. The father’s grace is more extravagant than the son’s weakness. W

“Clingy?”

Jeremiah 13: 11: “’For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they did not listen.’” This is a wonderful metaphor. The belt (or waistband) is made to cling around the waist, just as we were created to cling to God. When we do so, all is well. But when we, in pride (v. 9), cling to other gods, ignoring the summary of the covenant, “I will be your God, and you will be My people,” do not be surprised if the belt is found to be “totally worthless” (v. 10). Contrary to popular belief, being ‘clingy’ to

“Death Is Dead!”

Romans 6: 11: “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Today’s perverted culture depicts death as preferable to life. Reminiscent of Barnabas Collins, the 1960’s ‘good guy vampire’ character, the walking dead have somehow become cool. But please listen: The Bible never says a single good thing about literal physical death. Not one. It robs, it enslaves, it destroys. So once we have entered into life, we do not need to carry death along with us as a souvenir. Chuck it like the extra flashlight. Be alive to God!

“Foolish Follies”

Psalm 85: 8: “He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; but let them not turn back to folly.” Folly is a state where nothing is taken seriously, where life is just a game. As Freddie Mercury said, nothing really matters. Sounds light and carefree, doesn’t it? But practitioners of too much folly end up with no peace, crying out in the night, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!”(Ecclesiastes 1: 2) If we have faith in the purposes of God we will not make folly the foundation of our lives; as the psalmist says here, it is just like the dog returning to its vomit (2 Peter 2: 22).

“True Light”

John 8: 12: “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” If Jesus is the light of the world and never leads us into darkness, we don’t need the help of any other ‘enlightened sources’ to show us the way. Plato, Descartes, Nietzsche, and the like have no light to compare with Christ’s, so why follow them? The same faith that causes us to bring an umbrella after praying for rain also teaches us: When you’re following Christ, you don’t need to bring an extra flashlight.

“From One Miraculous Conception to Another …”

Romans 4: 19-20: “Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.” How did Abraham and Sarah conceive? The same way Mary did: through faith. Mary believed against all odds (no man) and took immediate action; she visited Elizabeth. Abraham and Sarah believed against all odds (dead reproductive organs) and took immediate action; they visited each other. Belief always leads to action. In other words, if you pray for rain, you should carry an umbrella.

FRUITLESS TREE WILL FALL

Every tragedy reminds us that we live in a world in which we are not in control. So when tragedy strikes we look for some way to make sense of the event. If we can just find some reason for another’s suffering we can feel a bit safer and more in control by knowing that we are not like that. We are different. We reassure ourselves with the knowledge, whether it is true or not, that we have not made the same mistakes. Perhaps we do this not because we are mean, but because we are scared and know ourselves to be vulnerable to the changes and chances of life. We are not in control. So we blame the victims. That is exactly what those who come to Jesus in today’s gospel are doing. They tell him ab

“Notable Announcement”

Isaiah 52: 7: “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” What kind of announcement? It was an announcement of peace (Hail, highly favored … fear not!), happiness (blessed are you among women), salvation (you will bear a Son and call His Name Jesus), and God’s reign (the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David … and His Kingdom will have no end). On this Feast of the Annunciation we celebrate the most glorious 156 words ever spoken, the announcement of Gabriel to Mary; for on this day, the Son of God came among us!

Third Sunday in Lent: “Walking in Repentance with Productivity”

Isaiah 55:1-9 Psalm 103:8-18 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Luke 13:1-9 One day, Jesus was walking with His disciples and they found a man blind from birth, and His disciples asked Him, “Who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus responded saying, “Neither did this man sinned nor his parents, but this is so that the works of God may be displayed in him.” The Jews, specially the Pharisees, believed that health is an indication of blessing, and sickness is an indication that there might be something wrong with the person who is sick. This is also the way they interpreted wealth. If you have money, it means that you are good persons; if you have nothing, it means God may be puni

“Cool Your Jets, Boys!”

Psalm 75: 4, 5: “I said to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn; do not lift up your horn on high, do not speak with insolent pride.’” One of the purposes of Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday, is to remind us of our mortality. We aren’t superchristians, not everything centers on us, and we aren’t omniscient in our thoughts. God brings these things to us in various ways; gently at first, then louder if necessary. But if we are to share in His righteousness, we must learn them!

“Scripture Search”

John 5: 29: “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me.” Like the Pharisees, many of we Christians are constantly scanning for that golden verse, that magic proof text, that will reinforce our ideas and save our souls. It isn’t there. If it were, the rest of the Book could be discarded. The Scriptures are a book, not a verse, which, working together, reveal God’s righteous salvation to every believer. And you heard it here in the Gospel!

“What Does He Judge?”

Romans 2: 16: “On that day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” Again, according to the Gospel which reveals God’s righteousness, God judges every man “according to his deeds.” (Matthew 16: 27) But these are not the deeds we do for show, which hide the secrets of a self-seeking heart, but the unseen deeds motivated by compassion for men and love for God. In His righteousness God judges our secrets, not our publicity.

“Unfinished Business”

John 5: 5: “And a certain man was there, who had been thirty-eight years in his sickness.” Jesus had been visiting Jerusalem for almost two decades, and every year He had seen this paralytic suffering as He vainly struggled to be free of his sickness. All that time He dared do nothing, for “His hour had not yet come.” (John 2: 24) But this year nothing could stop Him! His righteousness showed in His desire and ability to heal even this seemingly helpless individual. As faith rises, do you believe it could be you, too?

“Righteousness Revealed”

Romans 1: 17: For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith ...” Do you want your soul’s health to improve this Lent? Do you want it to grow from one level of faith to the next? That will happen when God’s righteousness (not weakness, not pettiness, not arbitrary anger or hatred) is revealed to us. And this happens “in it” (v. 16), i.e., the Gospel. This Lent spend time knowing the Gospel, see God’s righteousness, and have your soul restored!

“What Other Gods?”

Jeremiah 1: 16b: “Whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.” Who sacrifices to hand-made gods in 2019? Few, but many worship the work of their own hands: This building I made with my own hands, this business I made with my own hands, this family I made with my own hands, this theology or philosophy I made with my own hands, even this Church that I made with my own hands … When we forget that it is the Lord Who builds (Psalm 127: 1) we make gods of the works of our hands, and they become idols to us. Lent reminds us to beware of such gods!

Walking through the Narrow Door

Believing in the Sovereignty of God in our lives every day gives an assurance that God is our shield and great reward. This is a promise of our God to Abraham and to us His children. In the book of Genesis chapter 15, we see Abraham acknowledge the Sovereignty of God in his life, entrust to God his personal need, believe and obey God with all his heart, and then God makes a covenant with him and gives him good old age. Every day we face challenges, inconveniences and discomforts from traffic, our relationships with people around us, juggling too many tasks at home, ministry, work, and school, and personal issues in life. All this seems to become routine. Sometimes we just become passive, ac

Second Sunday In Lent: “Walking Through the Narrow Door”

Genesis 15:1-18 Psalm 27:1-4, 7-9, 11, 13-14 Philippians 3:17-4:1 Luke 13:22-30 In the gospel, Jesus was asked, “Are there just a few who are being saved?” Jesus, instead of answering the question, did not give a number, but emphasized the importance of making sure that we are walking in the right way, the narrow path that leads to life. What does it mean to be saved? To be saved does not mean that we secure our eternal fire insurance or ensure that we will go to a place called heaven. To be saved means our life is preserved, and we are saved from anything that destroys this life particularly sin. Sin is what destroys the life that God gave us until it eventually leads to death. In Matthe

“Perfection Personified”

Hebrews 5: 9: “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.” There’s a lot of Jesus-trashing going on in our time. They doubt His ‘legend’ (although no one with an ounce of brains would doubt His existence), they question the truth and wisdom of His words, they challenge the practicality of the lifestyle He lived and espoused. In short, they weigh Him in the balances and find Him lacking. Mali! Read this verse; what part of ‘perfect’ don’t you understand? If you see Jesus Christ as anything other than the perfect God-man, you need to go back to the Gospel.

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