WHAT LOVE IS – PART 1

Painful life experiences have showed me what love is NOT. But God is faithful, He shows me what true love is.

Many times, we feel disappointed in relationships because we enter it with the wrong goals, wrong motives, wrong perspectives, lack of understanding about our sinful nature, inability to handle conflicts, and lack of faith in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. 

Happiness should not be the goal of relationships. Instead, happiness is the natural by-product of a healthy relationship — one that has been built on a solid foundation, and nurtured on a daily basis. Some would say that trust is the foundation of happy relationships. I believe that trust is an important component of a successful relationship, however, it is still not strong enough to be our foundation. Most people are untrustworthy. So, what would happen if our trust is broken? We must be grounded on something greater than happiness and trust.

Below is a list of the essential traits and attitudes we must have for a relationship to thrive. The Lord Jesus Christ plays a central role in each point I will mention. Indeed, He is our firm foundation. Without a close personal relationship with HIM, every relationship is doomed to fail or fizzle out. (I lose many friends and loved ones by saying that, but I must say it because it is true).

For our relationships to thrive, we must have the following:

  1. RIGHT GOALS / MOTIVES – to follow Christ together as a team; to know and truly see the other person; to give fully of ourselves, and to help one another reach our fullest potential in Christ.
  1. RIGHT PERSPECTIVE – We must have a biblical understanding of our sinful nature and our need for Jesus. The intensity of our interpersonal conflicts come from the self-life (or sinful nature) which is NOT surrendered, NOT yielded, NOT crucified by the cross of Christ. The intensity of our love for one another depends on how much we are possessed by the Life of Christ. He is Love. Apart from Him, we cannot truly love.
  1. RIGHT ATTITUDE – selflessness: wanting what’s best for the other person. When all of our relational needs are met by the Lord first, then we can be more giving and less demanding of the other person. Our biggest relationship mistake is expecting the other person to fill the emptiness inside our hearts which is meant to be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ. When we are filled by Christ, only then can we be selfless and self-sacrificing toward others.
  1. TRUST / VULNERABILITY – To know and to be known is one major reason we enter into relationships. However, for some people, to be vulnerable and to trust the other person is very difficult to do because they have unhealed trauma or pain. They may walk around with a lot of shame, guilt, self-hatred, and self-condemnation. They cannot bear the thought of revealing who they are to others, so they put up a facade — a false self. When we find our true identity in Christ, He forgives our sins. He takes away our feelings of shame, guilt, and condemnation. He heals us and gives us a sense of wholeness and dignity, and helps us to love ourselves as He loves us, and see ourselves through the eyes of our Savior. We are not superior than others, nor are we irreparably broken. When we are whole and healed by the Lord, only then can we be vulnerable. We can trust that when we show other people who we are, they will not be disgusted at what they see. Even if some people can not handle our vulnerability, God has already accepted us, and His acceptance is enough. When we open up our hearts in this way — when we accept ourselves and others even in our weaknesses — we can give love and receive love, from God and from others.
  1. RESPECT / ABILITY TO HANDLE CONFLICTS – Respecting each other’s boundaries. Being willing to back-off when the other person can not receive what we have to give. Compromise is important, and we can easily pursue peace if we are contented with Christ to begin with. However, when one person is following after selfish desires and the other person is following after God, compromise is impossible. The Bible is clear: do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship does light have with darkness? In our zeal to preserve relationships, we tend to promote compromise for the sake of avoiding fights, even at the expense of being wholly devoted to God. We must be more willing to offend people if that is the only way that we will not offend God.
  1. CONSISTENCY / FAITHFULNESS – doing all the things mentioned above on a consistent, day-to-day basis.
  1. PERSEVERANCE – being consistent for the long haul, enduring through the ups-and-downs of life.

Without Christ, and without seeking to be transformed by Him in the ways mentioned above, the relationship will never work. Without Christ, at best we can have fleeting, transactional, or shallow relationships. Even worse, we may also end up in abusive, one-sided relationships. We call them “relationships” but these are not the loving relationship that God designed for us to have. Contracts are not the same as a covenant. God wants our relationships to mirror the love that Christ has for His Church. Christ is our Bridegroom, and the Church is His Bride.

For those who are single, divorced, separated, etc., I pray that you do not let your relationship status define who you are. Respecting another person’s free will means that we allow others to walk away from us, if they choose to do so. Following Christ often incurs us hatred from the world, even hatred from our own family members, and our own spouse. Keep on following Christ anyway.

There is Life after a failed relationship — His name is Christ. Set your heart on Him. Find your value and identity in Him. Seek to know Him more. 

If we apply all the love principles on our relationship with Jesus, He will be our firm foundation. It is wise to invest on the most important relationship we can ever have – our relationship with the Lord.

Conclusion

The Lord Jesus Christ is our perfect Bridegroom. As we follow Him, He will fill us with His Spirit, and empower us to love with His love. He will transform our character and transform our relationships. As we walk this narrow path, sometimes we lose relationships because our loved ones can choose to reject Christ. We must keep following the Lord — knowing Him more, trusting Him more. He is worth it.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

P. S. As the Lord continues to give me insight about love, I will post more. “What Love Is – Part 2” explains 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in greater detail.

God bless us all.

The Ultimate Goal of Christianity

This year, I will have been a christian for 22 years. I have seen the best and the worst of what we would call “christianity”. If you had asked me 22 years ago, what does it mean to be a christian? I would have said, “I don’t have a complete picture, and I don’t have all the answers; but I know that Jesus Christ has touched my heart. He has changed me from the inside, so that now I cannot continue living my life ignoring Him any longer.”

There were times when my faith was strong, and there were times when it was weak. Sometimes I made great strides in my walk with the Lord, sometimes I slid back in doubt, unbelief, and carnality.

If there is one piece of advice I can give to a new christian, it would be this:

“Keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus. Set you mind and your heart on Him. Follow Him, and obey what He says. Everything else will flow out of that.”

John‬ ‭2:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“His mother (Mary) said to the servants, “Do whatever he (Jesus) tells you.”

2 Corinthians‬ ‭11:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

Oftentimes, we make christianity more complicated than it has to be. I believe this is because, we want to have the Lord Jesus in our lives, but we refuse to crucify our old sin nature. We want His Life, and we also want our own life. This cannot be the case. We cannot love two masters at the same time.

Matthew‬ ‭16:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my (Jesus’) sake will find it.”
‭‭
Matthew‬ ‭6:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Money is not the only “master” that steals our love away from our true Master. It is anything that we value more than the Lord Jesus Christ.

THE CRUCIFIED LIFE

The christian life is the crucified life. This means that we no longer regard our life as our own, to do as we please. We no longer put ourselves first. God must come first in everything we do, say, and think. We may not be doing it perfectly all the time, but it must be our goal. We must be making conscious efforts everyday to give Christ Lordship over our lives.

1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

THE GOAL OF CHRISTIANITY

Complete spiritual union with Christ is the goal of christianity. If we truly understand that, then we will know why we need to change, why we need transformation, why we need to crucify our flesh. Christ cannot be unequally yoked (joined) to a Church who is not conformed to His image and to His nature.

If we want to be saved from hell, but we do not want to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, something is wrong — we have not been truly transformed.

If we want to serve God, but we want to do it according to our own ideas and our own terms, something is wrong — Christ did not serve the Father in that way.

If we want the supernatural gifts of God, but there remains in us ambition and vainglory, we will be ensnared — Satan will use our gifts to trap us into pride.

This is why, we must be crucified with Christ. We must lay down our own will and our own desires every moment of each day. Only the Lord Jesus will be able to deliver us from the sinful nature that we were all born with.

THE REWARD

If we only know how much joy lies on the other side of surrender, we will run toward the cross of Christ, and not away from it.

If we only know how much the Lord Jesus wants to give us of Himself, we will gladly lay aside every weight that hinders our walk with Him.

If we only know how much glory awaits those who seek Him, we won’t have any hesitation nor double-mindedness — we will seek Him!

CHRIST is the reward for walking this narrow path. We forsake all other rewards — glory from men, approval of our friends, fame, influence, comforts, and wealth — we forsake it all, because the Lord Jesus bids us to come. If we find Him worthy, we will come gladly. But, if in our hearts, there remains other loves and other treasures, then we will make excuses, we will twist the Scriptures, we will make christianity complicated.

I exhort you, dear brothers and sisters, let Christ overcome all hindrances in your soul. Surrender all to Him. Let Him have the Lordship He deserves within you. You belong to Him. You have been purchased by His blood. You have been created in His image. You have been designed to carry His Spirit as His living temple.

Ultimately, the Lord will have complete authority and complete dominion over us — whether we yield to Him willingly or not. While we still can, let us humble ourselves before Him, or else He will humble us. Let us bow our knees willingly, or else He will bow our knees for us.

Let us cultivate humility and meekness toward the Lord Jesus, and pursue complete surrender and complete obedience to Him. If we do this, He will come to us in love — as a Bridegroom coming for His Bride. But if we don’t, He will come to us in His wrath — as a Judge and as an Avenger.

Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Prosperity Gospel versus the Message of the Cross

I have asked the Lord for insight concerning the essence of the prosperity gospel, and what makes it wrong. How do we know that the gospel we believe in is the true gospel or a false one? Many well-meaning and sincere christians can still fall into deception. I pray that the Lord open our eyes and give us true discernment in these confusing times.

Prosperity gospel has many similarities with the true gospel, that is why it is so hard to detect. It promises freedom, victory, breakthroughs. It takes verses from the Bible, preaches about Christ, love, peace, and joy. But there is one thing that the prosperity gospel does not preach, and this is what makes it wrong. It has a carnal perspective on suffering and persecution, and so it twists the Scriptures to make us believe that if we just become righteous enough, we can avoid all forms of suffering; and if we can just be “kind” and “loving” enough, we can avoid all forms of persecution.

These perspectives are not from God; they are not Biblical. Instead they come from worldly wisdom which is earthly, unspiritual, or even demonic. 

Christ gave us the ultimate example: He is God, and yet He obeyed the Father even if that meant being persecuted to the point of being brutally killed on a cross. But the prosperity gospel makes us believe that Christ took away all our suffering so that we can now expect to live at ease and at peace with this sinful world.

The message of the cross tells us that we must lay down our own will so that God can have His will. We must obey His will even if it costs us, and even when it doesn’t make sense. This is impossible to do for the unregenerate / carnal man. But it is possible for the born-again, Spirit-filled believer who daily crucifies his flesh with the help of God.

In prosperity circles, the message of the cross is dismissed and explained away. Instead of pointing people to Christ and His sanctifying work to crucify our flesh daily, they point people to earthly rewards. “Be righteous enough so that God will bless you” is their doctrine. What they mean by “blessings” is more money, more comfort, more happiness with their family and friends, better relationships, better career opportunities, greater influence in the church and in the world.

These are things that God can surely provide, but the problem is the hidden intents and motives of the heart. Prosperity preachers are afraid of suffering and persecution. Christ has not yet been revealed to their hearts, to the degree that He overcomes their fears. He has not yet become the ultimate treasure to them, to the degree that they will exalt Christ far above any wealth, relationship, or worldly success.

To the prosperity preacher, Christ is just a means to an end. Their true goal is not to have more of Christ, but to use Christ so that they can have more “prosperity”. To the prosperity preacher, Christ is not worth losing your life or comfort over. If it comes down to a choice between Christ and their own lives, they will choose their own lives, and that is what makes it wrong. It lacks the message of the cross — and the cross of Christ is what gives us the power to overcome anything that the devil can use against us. 

Daily application of the cross of Christ makes us unshakeable, because Christ is unshakeable. He said in John 16:33 — “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” This is only good news to us if we have allowed Him to have complete dominion over our flesh/carnal nature. 

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our world is rapidly changing. In many parts of the world, great shakings are happening — famines, food shortages, social unrest, wars, pandemic, natural calamities… just to name a few. Could God be using these things to get our attention? If there is still — in our hearts —  any unconfessed sin or lukewarmness; if we have unknowingly fallen for deceptive doctrines, is there a better time than now to humble ourselves before the Lord and allow him to strip us of all that hinders us?

The Lord Jesus Christ keeps on knocking on the doors of our hearts. We can either  harden our hearts, or we can be reconciled to Him. Please choose Christ today. Please let Him lead you to His cross.

Hebrews 12:26-29 “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

Luke 17:33 “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”

Christians do not merely imitate Jesus — we follow Him

Christians do not merely imitate Jesus — we follow Him. We do not preach a dead Savior who left behind a bunch of rules, that we must now figure out on our own or obey in our own strength. NO. We preach a LIVING Savior, who has called us to Himself, who has revealed Himself to us, who is deeply and personally concerned with all the details of our lives, who gives us His righteousness and empowers us to be good and do good according to His grace, His wisdom, and His guidance.

He is the Great Shepherd, and we are His sheep. The sheep (speaking of the animal) listen only to the voice of their shepherd. In the same way, we must be utterly dependent and wholly reliant on our Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

He is also our Lord and Master. In that sense He has the right to command, to expect obedience, to order and to direct our lives. He has the right to tell us what to do, and what not to do — based on the relationship He has with us — a relationship which is based on faith, trust, and mutual love.

Jesus is real. He is a Person. He is ready and willing to reveal Himself to us in ways that we can’t even imagine.

Most people have not yet known the Lord Jesus in this way.

If our only knowledge of christianity is that of —

— a list of do’s and don’ts,
— busyness at church,
— hypocrisy, preaching to others what we are unwilling to do ourselves,
— an intellectual pursuit of biblical facts,
— the observance of religious feasts, traditions, or customs; then…

… THAT christianity is NOT from Christ. It is a dead religion based on man’s wisdom, man’s will, man’s desires — and not God’s. This is NOT the true faith that Christ has died for.

I urge you, do not merely come to church. More importantly, come to Christ.

Do not merely listen to ministers, pastors, priests, or Bible teachers. You must also listen to the Lord in the secret place, which is your heart.

Do not simply follow your own heart and then assume that you are doing “God’s will”. Instead, ask the Lord to help you discern between your own will and His will. Ask Him to help you deny yourself, so you can take up your cross and follow Him.

Do not merely follow your favorite church leader, but follow them AS THEY FOLLOW CHRIST. And IF they stop following Christ, we must be mature enough to know the difference, and stop following them to destruction.

We must keep on following Christ!

1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬ “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (words of Apostle Paul)

1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬: “What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (words of Apostle Paul)

2 Corinthians‬ ‭11:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬: “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (words of Apostle Paul)

John‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬: “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Matthew‬ ‭16:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬: “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Luke‬ ‭10:40-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬: “But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Why many christians cannot hear God’s voice

Having been a christian for 22 years so far, I have seen many things that bring controversy and division into the Body of Christ. One of the most contested issues that I have seen is this: hearing God’s voice — should we hear or not hear?

As we grow and mature in our christian faith, our enemy — the devil — will try to hold us back in every way possible. If he cannot tempt us to sin, then he will try to deceive us into erroneous doctrine. If he cannot deceive us into error, then he will try to confuse us with a mixture of lies and truth. If he cannot trick us into accepting this mixture, then he will try to hold us back with fear of death or suffering. BUT, if all those things don’t work — if we know God’s truth in its purity, and if we love God more than we love our own lives — then the devil cannot really do anything to stop us, can he?

Hearing God’s voice is one of those things that bring so much growth and maturity to our faith. That is why it is one of the most contested truths in the Church. It’s importance is second only to knowing the written word of God — the Bible.

Think about this for a minute: how many people were martyred for translating the Bible into the language of ordinary people? How many people were killed because they wanted to publish the Bible or distribute it to the masses? The answer is, many. There were so many people who laid down their lives for the sake of bringing this powerful book into our hands.

Now, think about this: if the devil opposed the accessibility of the written Word of God in such a way, how ferociously do you think will he oppose the accessibility of the spoken Word of God?

Many people say that the Bible is God’s love letter to us. Reading it is indeed essential to our spiritual growth. However, the devil can also twist that fact and say that “you need ONLY the written Word, but NOT the spoken Word of God.”

Suppose you wrote a love letter to someone, and after that you wanted to call them on the phone or speak to them face-to-face. Would you want them to say: “I don’t need to hear your voice because I already have your letter.”? That belief comes from a religious mindset, and God doesn’t want us to become religious. He wants to have a relationship with you and me, where He can reveal Himself in greater depths of intimacy. How do you think will it change your life if you not only read His words to you, but also hear His voice speak to you?

I guarantee you that it will change your life, as it did mine.

This wonderful privilege of hearing God’s voice brought with it innumerable blessings too many for me to count. Through it, the Lord gave me necessary words of rebuke and correction that cut through many layers of defenses and excuses. Through it, He gave me invaluable words of guidance, comfort, encouragement, spiritual insight, and revelation. Through His voice, the Lord revealed Himself to me, and He became more important to me than even my own friends and family.

With all its blessings, hearing God’s voice also makes me the target of ridicule, name calling, and insults. Oftentimes, God gives me instructions that do not make sense. Obeying Him sometimes makes me look like a fool. But as I travel this narrow path of being led by just one person — the Lord Jesus Christ — he strips me of so many things that hold me back in my journey with Him. He removes from me the fear of man, the fear of suffering, the fear of being alone. As I deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him, He gives me His divine (supernatural) Life that strengthens me to continue. He gives me grace to do what seems to be beyond my natural capabilities. He also gives me more of His Spirit and His presence, which makes all the pain of His pruning worth it.

I don’t write this so I can look like a superior holy christian. The reality of it is that, the closer we go into God’s presence, the more that His Light will expose our darkness. I have learned to embrace that exposure, because after the tears of repentance are shed, the Lord is always ready to forgive, heal, transform, and give peace.

I am writing this to help you become the kind of person who can hear God’s voice — if you so desire. There are some preconditions that we must possess if we are to hear God’s voice.

PRECONDITIONS TO HEARING GOD’S VOICE:

  1. A childlike faith.
  2. Humility to admit that you need Him — not just for salvation, but for everything else.
  3. Meekness to submit your own will to His will.
  4. Perseverance to help you press forward even when you make mistakes (because you will definitely make mistakes).
  5. A teachable heart.
  6. A holy fear of God.
  7. A basic (yet growing) knowledge of the Bible and the true gospel message of Jesus Christ.
  8. A desire and a hunger to know God in a deeper way.
  9. The willingness and discipline to make time for God.

These are the things that will help you be on your way to hearing God’s voice.

WHY MANY CHRISTIANS DO NOT HEAR GOD:

Remember that we have a common enemy, that is, the devil, who will stop at nothing to hold us back from knowing the Lord.

The more that we can know God in a personal way, the more that He can reveal Himself to us in greater intimacy, and the more that He can reveal Himself through us as His witnesses.

The devil opposes this because he hates God and all of us who are made in God’s image.

Our own flesh (our fallen nature) opposes this because it loves its own life, and does not like denying itself in order to submit to God.

This dynamic — of us wanting to get close to God yet struggling against these forces — are working inside of us and inside all the other people around us (even people in the church).

Don’t feel condemned if you see this struggle in your own heart. We all struggle with sin and with self-love, so don’t feel discouraged. Instead, acknowledge that it is there, and use the only way that God provided for us to overcome — by embracing the cross of Christ. This is not something beyond your reach. It is simply surrendering your own will to the will of Christ — by grace through faith.

As often as you can — read and obey the Written Word of God (the Bible).
As diligently as you can — listen to Him and heed His Voice.

This is the message of the cross that has been lost for so long in the Body of Christ.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love the Church and I appreciate our church leaders. But, how many preachers do you know who are teaching people how to hear from God?

If you belong to a local church that equips you to rightly understand God’s Word and rightly discern God’s voice, you are very blessed.

Sadly, I did not learn how to hear God’s voice from a minister in my local church. I had to read books about it, and watch other preachers teach about it on the internet. God says in the Bible that “You will seek Me, and you will find Me, if you seek Me with all of your heart.” The Lord is faithful. He was found by me when I decided to seek Him with all my heart. Even this decision was not from my own righteousness, but by His grace working in me.

I started to hear God’s voice, and shortly after, I started hearing the usual arguments against hearing God. “Isn’t the Bible enough? What if I get deceived by evil spirits? Why would God speak to you? What makes you think that you’re so special? What if? What if? What if?”

These arguments sound so wise, but if we really press into the heart of God, we would perceive how much He longs to be heard. He knows how much we need Him, and how prone we are to error without the ability to hear from Him.

If you are one of those who say that we must not try to hear God, I hope you will read the following verse, and be open to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 81:11-12
“But my people did not listen to my voice;
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.”

It is possible that we do not want to hear God’s voice because we do not want to submit to Him. Instead of seeking from the Scriptures if it is really God’s will that we should hear Him, we make excuses, we argue, and we hate those who tell us that we should hear and obey God.

I beseech you dear brothers and sisters, the Lord may be coming sooner than we expect. Let us always be ready to meet Him. Let there be no reason for us to cower in fear and shame before His holy presence. Let us ask Him for a pure heart that seeks only His glory and nothing else.

Let us read His Word,
let us listen to His Voice,
let us love and obey Him,
let us deny ourselves and embrace His cross,
let us be faithful servants and follow Him,
until He comes to us in His glory.

John 10:27-28
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Do you know where your soul will go if God takes your life today?

There are 7.9 billion people in the world right now (2022). The Bible states in Luke 13:23-27, that a majority of people will NOT be able to enter into heaven, even though they might think that they are saved, because only a few are striving to enter through the narrow door of God’s salvation. If the Bible is true — and if majority of 7.9 billion is at least 4 billion — this means that more than 4 billion of the world population right now will end up in hell.

Here is that Bible story: (Luke 13:23-27) “And someone said to him (Jesus), “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’”

I invite you to think about where you will go after your life ends here on earth: in heaven, or in hell? Every life has a beginning and an end, but the more important part is the end, because that determines our eternal destination — whether we go to eternal fellowship with the Lord, or to eternal torment with the Devil and his demons. Do you have, not merely an intellectual knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, but a personal and transformative relationship with Him?

The gospel message has been preached to us many times and in many ways. You might think “I have heard this before.” May I ask, has that message changed your life? Has it led to your sincere repentance of your sins? Has the Lord given you a new heart — a heart that is tender and open to receive the convicting power of the Holy Spirit?

The Bible tells us in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23), that there are four kinds of people who hear the gospel. The first three kinds are those who are not changed by the gospel, because they have at least one of the following:

1) a hardened heart due to pride and self-righteousness.

2) a heart that easily receives the gospel message, but is easily offended at God when the trials and persecutions come.

3) a worldly heart that loves earthly things more than heavenly things.

God is looking for one kind of heart — a fertile heart. The person with a fertile heart receives the gospel in humility and allows it to grow in his/her heart — resulting to increasing righteousness. This person is not easily offended at God, even though God allows trials and persecutions to come. This person will not allow the cares of this life to crowd out his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the kind of person that the Bible says will enter into God’s salvation. Please take a moment to reflect: what kind of heart do you have for God at this moment? Do you love Him with all of your heart? Are you making every effort to please Him? Are you striving to enter into His narrow door (His holy standard)?

Are you ready to face God if that moment is right now? Do you have a deep conviction that He will welcome you, not because you have earned it, but because His grace helped you to place your faith in Him (and not in yourself)? Is He a friend to you, and do you make the effort to obey His commands? Or will you be included in those people to whom He will say: “I do not know where you come from… depart from Me….”?

If you have not yet given your whole heart (and life) to Jesus Christ, I pray that today will be that day. There is no more time to lose, for tomorrow is not guaranteed. We could be facing God at any time — it could be tomorrow, or it could be tonight.

The following is the gospel message that have changed millions of lives, including mine. I pray that you will open up your heart, so that you can truly hear what it says. With God’s grace, which enables you to believe and have faith, this message can also change your life.

THE GOSPEL

God has created everything in creation. He created it good, but the Devil tricked Adam and Eve to rebel against God by making something forbidden look desirable. Adam and Eve fell for that temptation. Since then, all of humanity were born with a rebellious nature (also called fallen or sinful nature). We all rebel against God whenever we do our own will and not His. Because of this fallen nature, all people are unable to truly love God, nor truly love their neighbor, in the way that God desires.

No matter how righteous we may think we are, our righteousness can never meet the standards of a holy God.

No matter how sinful we may think we are, our sins are never beyond the redeeming power of Jesus’ blood, which He shed for us on the cross.

Jesus Christ came as the perfect representation of God the Father. He is the Son of God — God came in human flesh through Jesus Christ His Son.

God’s holiness demands that sin must be paid for. Justice must be served for all the evils committed by man.

God’s love knows that we are unable to pay the price for all our sins.

For this reason, He has sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the price we cannot pay — to lift the burden of sin on our shoulders. Jesus is the Lamb of God who willingly received the punishment that we deserve.

JESUS DIED FOR YOU. You heard it many times before. I pray that it truly gets inside your heart like a seed falling in fertile ground — growing bigger and bigger each day. Christ is that Seed, and He wants to change your life. Will you let Him?

No matter who you are — what sins you have committed, what things you have accomplished — we all need Jesus Christ. Please come before Him in humility today. Repent of your sins, admit that you are a sinner (just like the rest of us), and He will forgive you. Surrender your life to Him. Honor Him as your Lord and your Master, and He will guide you, protect you, and provide for you. He will lead you in paths of righteousness. He will grant you a new nature, new desires, and newness of life.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES

Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Luke 5:31-32 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I (Jesus) have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Romans 10:9-13 “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 with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

IF YOU SINCERELY RECEIVE JESUS AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR, you may use this prayer as a guide, or you may simply pray from your heart. What is important is that you mean it, and you intend to allow the Lord to continue the work of salvation and transformation in your life, starting today.

Prayer:

Lord God, thank you for loving me, and for sending your Son as the ultimate sacrifice for all of my sins. I admit that I am a sinner, in my nature and in my actions, in my thoughts and in my words — I have sinned against You and against my fellow man. I cannot pay for all the guilt and all the consequences of my sin, they are too great for me.

Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God, who came to die for me on the cross, and after that You rose again. I believe you have overcome sin and death for my sake. I believe that you are the only Savior who can free me from my sin and from the punishment that awaits me in hell. You have taken my punishment upon Yourself.

Lord, I give you my heart and my life. Help me to know Your will and obey You to the best of my ability — by Your grace and by Your Spirit. Please change me. Remove anything in me that displeases You. Help me to have a renewed mind and a new heart, to love You above all, and to love my neighbor as myself.

I ask all these, in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.

Conclusion:

You may feel a deep conviction of sin, a sense that you have been forgiven, and a new hunger to know God and His Word. These are all the works of the Holy Spirit.

Please find a copy of the Holy Bible. Make it a discipline to read it everyday. There are several translations to choose from. I highly recommend the ASND version for Tagalog (Ang Salita ng Dyos), and the ESV or NIV version for English.

After this, find a community of believers in Jesus Christ who can also help you grow in your newfound faith.

May the Lord be with you. God bless you.

A testimony of how God healed my daughter from a rare disease

The past year (2021) had been a time of great testing for my faith. From April to December, my daughter suffered from a mysterious disease that made her neck bend involuntarily at an awkward angle. Her neck muscles suddenly became extremely tight and severely strained. The slightest movement gave her pain. She had constant headaches. She couldn’t jump nor run. She couldn’t move her neck left and right, nor up and down; it was stuck in one position. The pressure on her voice box would sometimes make her voice sound weird and robotic. It was difficult to see all that she was suffering.

I prayed many times for God to heal her. God has shown me His miraculous healing power many times before. The Bible says that God is our Healer. I believe it with all my heart.

But the healing did not come right away. Through past experiences, the Lord has taught me that I can ask Him for healing, but, He is still sovereign. He does not owe me anything. He is not obligated to accommodate my every request.

The answered prayers in my life taught me how powerful God is — anything is possible with Him. On the other hand, the prayers that are not answered teach me patience, meekness, and surrender — God is still God, and I am not.

Moreover, trials and suffering teach me that God is sufficient. I do not need anything else to feel whole. His mere presence in my life makes my life complete. This frees me from fear — fear of the future, fear of death, fear of grief and loss. If God is all I need, then I will always have what I need, because God will always be there.

The book of Job in the Bible gives us inspiration on how we can maintain our faith while facing trials and tribulations. After losing his wealth and his ten children, Job remained steadfast and said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21). Later on, he lost his health, and he said: “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).

THE MEDICAL DIAGNOSES

After dozens of visits to different doctors and several lab tests, we found that there was a congenital deformity in my daughter’s spine called agenesis of posterior arch of atlas. This means that the top vertebra in her spinal column (back portion) was not formed, hence the word “agenesis”. This condition affects less than 1% of the population. Another lab test revealed that there is another possible deformity to her spine, which is called atlanto-occipital assimilation. This means that the first vertebra (front portion) is possibly fused to the skull, which is not normal. This would explain why she couldn’t turn her neck up or down. This is another condition that also affects less than 1% of the population. So, whenever I would try explaining her condition to family members, I would jokingly say “It’s like she hit the jackpot twice.”

I researched her condition in scientific journals. What I read wasn’t encouraging. One of the possible outcomes for people who have this condition is sudden death.

I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t feel fear. I shed tears and imagined the worst — “What if I lose her? What if God takes her from me?” I asked God “Lord, what are You trying to teach me from this trial? Please teach me.” I was thinking, the earlier I can learn God’s lesson for me, the sooner I can get past this trial, and then God can turn this test into a testimony.

People in our neighborhood started noticing her awkward neck position as well, and would ask us about it. Her ear doctor seemed concerned and referred us to a spine specialist right away. Everyone who saw my daughter seemed concerned.

Her spine doctor discussed the possibility of surgery, and explained to us the risks. We were told to wait until she turns 12 years old.

She was finally cleared for physical therapy and we started her therapy sessions. Her therapist used a laser machine on her and I asked: “What does this machine do?” She explained to me that it stimulates circulation of the blood underneath her muscles. Instantly I remembered a Bible verse saying “The life is in the blood.” The machine was stimulating the flow of life into the diseased part of her body.

After 6 therapy sessions, my daughter’s condition has improved about 60 percent. We were given permission by her rehab doctor to continue the stretching exercises at home. She said, if her condition does not improve, she can continue her therapy sessions at the hospital.

We did the heat therapy and stretching exercises at home for about 3 months. Her condition had improved at around 80 percent, then it stopped. She did not show any more signs of improvement after that. My husband said that he was losing hope about her recovery.

THE MIRACLE

By this time, it was December and nearing Christmas. I planned to bring my daughter back to the doctor come January. But one day, I thought of praying this prayer: “Lord, baka po pwedeng ibigay Nyo na lang na Christmas gift sa amin na gumaling si Vannah.” (Lord, would it be possible for You to give us Vannah’s healing as Your Christmas gift to us?) It was not a demand, but a hopeful plea of a daughter to her Father. God could turn down my request and my love for Him would not change.

By December 23, suddenly Vannah’s neck became straight. I was not very optimistic at first because we’ve had episodes of her neck being straight then becoming bent again. But then, I noticed that this time, it lasted for longer and longer periods, then it became straight permanently. I remembered the prayer I uttered a few weeks before. God gave me what I have asked Him — just in time for Christmas.

Though we were losing hope about her condition, God showed me again that He can heal her in an instant — no surgery, no additional therapy, no more lab tests, no more hospital visits. God healed her purely by His power.

A NOTE ON THE MEDICAL FIELD

Please understand that I am not discounting the help that my daughter received from her doctors. She did improve during therapy, and for that I am thankful. However I also want to address a cultural norm that makes people believe that their lives are in the hands of their doctor. There is a thin line between appreciating our doctors and idolizing them. After about 6 months of my daughter’s medical treatment, I am convinced that doctors are normal people just like you and me — they have limitations, they do not know everything. They can treat people using medicine, therapy, or surgery; but as humans they cannot give life to another human being.

If that offends you, allow me to quote what my daughter’s spine doctor told us. He said: “Surgery is easy. It’s a technical process, and I can do it. What’s hard is the recovery. Can her body recover? Can her heart start again after we have induced her into a comatose state? She may never wake up from the surgery. That will be hard for you to accept.”

THE LESSONS

Life — it is what our body needs. Matthew 6:25 says “Is not life more than food?” Life from God is what keeps us alive. Life is not the same as food or medicine. Life is life, and it comes from God.

This Life
— medical professionals can stimulate life (or chemical reactions) in our bodies using drugs or machines;
— we can support the life of our bodies through good nutrition;
— scientists can try to imitate or manufacture life by making clones or harvesting stem cells, etc;

but… this Life can only come from God. Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6).

That is the lesson that I had to learn. God is the only One who can truly heal us to the uttermost.

Throughout this test, I have trusted in God’s power, His wisdom, and His higher purpose. Never did I ask “Why is this happening to us? Why my daughter? What did we do to deserve this?” I know that my daughter’s life belongs to Him, and we have this life as a loan from the Almighty. I praise Him for His grace that enables me to receive this truth.

There is another lesson that the Lord could be teaching me. People who had noticed my daughter’s neck condition last year, are now also noticing her recovery. It opens up for me opportunities to point them to the Lord.

OPPORTUNITIES TO GLORIFY THE LORD

Her ear doctor saw her for a routine appointment, and noticed that she is well. He asked me what cured her. He was so surprised that she did not require surgery, and that she was healed only through therapy. I wanted to tell him about how God healed her, but I was feeling tired due to some personal struggles I was going through. I was feeling tired of being reviled for my faith (this is another story for another day). I thought, “If I share my faith with this doctor, will he also smirk at me? Will he scoff at my faith because I believe that God healed my daughter, while he might believe that it was the therapy that healed her?” Frankly, I didn’t have the energy to engage another scoffer in a debate. I felt tired of constantly having to defend my faith.

After this, I had a nagging feeling in my spirit. I could have testified of God’s power to that doctor, but I didn’t. It felt like I failed God.

While buying from the store a few days ago, another opportunity to testify opened up, and this time I was resolved to boldly proclaim what God has done for my daughter. A lady was standing in line behind me and remarked when she saw my daughter: “Uy, magaling na sya.” (Wow, she is well now.”) She asked how she got well. I said “Therapy po at dasal. Pero kahit po may therapy, hindi pa rin po sya gumaling nang tuluyan. Sa dasal po talaga sya gumaling.” (Through therapy and prayers. But even with the therapy, she didn’t get completely healed. It was really the prayers that healed her.)

Please understand, I don’t think my prayers are anything special; but my Father in heaven is merciful, and one day He showed me mercy and favor. All the glory belongs to Him.

Psalm 50: 14-15

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Tribulation Warnings and Encouragement for the Saints

I believe that we are truly living in unprecedented times. This time period we are living in may be the birth pangs or the Great Tribulation as prophesied in the Bible. Whatever the case may be, we must always be spiritually ready to overcome any kind of trial. I pray that these Bible verses will help us to be mentally ready and spiritually bold, to face whatever tomorrow may bring.

WARNINGS

1. HATRED OF THE WORLD, THE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT

John 15:18-27 ESV “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

Matthew 5:10-12 ESV “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Luke 21:12-19 ESV “But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”

1 John 3:10 “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:13-16 “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

1 John 3:22-24 ESV and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”

1 Peter 4:12-19 ESV “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”

2. GOD ALLOWS THE ANTICHRIST TO MAKE WAR ON THE SAINTS, TO PROVE OUR LOVE AND OUR FAITH, TO REFINE US AND REMOVE ALL OUR BLEMISHES AND SPOTS (false idols), TO MAKE US A RADIANT BRIDE. POSSIBLE TRIALS: CAPTIVITY, BEING MURDERED/KILLED

Revelation 13:7-10 ESV “Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

Revelation 2:9-11 ESV ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty ( but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’”

3. THE CLIMATE OF THE WORLD DURING THIS TIME: GREAT DECEPTIONS RESULTING TO THE WHOLE WORLD WORSHIPPING THE DEVIL / ANTICHRIST

Revelation 13:13-15 “It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.”

4. THE ANTICHRIST’S MAIN WEAPON AGAINST US: FINANCIAL PERSECUTION

Revelation 13:16-17 “Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.”

ADMONITIONS

1. WE MUST FEAR GOD ABOVE ALL — MORE THAN WE FEAR DEATH, HUNGER, OR CAPTIVITY

Revelation 14:6-7 “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

2. ALL THE EVILDOERS OF THIS WORLD, ESPECIALLY THE WICKED BABYLONIAN WORLD SYSTEM WHICH HAS DECEIVED ALL THE NATIONS, WILL DEFINITELY FALL AND BE JUDGED BY GOD.

Revelation 14:8 “Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”

3. WITHOUT EXEMPTION, ALL WHO VOLUNTARILY RECEIVED THE MARK OF THE BEAST WILL RECEIVE GOD’S WRATH.

Revelation 14:9-11 “And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

ENCOURAGEMENT: FROM THIS POINT ON, THOSE WHO DIE WITH THEIR FAITH IN GOD INTACT WILL BE BLESSED.

There is no more hope in this world. All the evil in men’s hearts are being manifested. There is no more point to strive for success or worldly accomplishments, because God’s hand of protection has been lifted and the Antichrist spirit reigns in people’s hearts. The saints can no longer have any true fellowship with unbelievers, no hope for a future, our only hope is for the rescue of our God. The only reason that God is allowing us to live at this time is to be refined, and to show the testimony of His Son Jesus Christ to a dying world. Therefore, to die in the Lord at this period of time will be a great blessing. No more pain, no more persecution, no more hatred of the world, no more financial woes, no more worries about how we will survive, no more trials, no more testing. Death will usher us into the most glorious eternity with our God and the Lord Jesus, because we have remained faithful, and we have endured to the very end.

1. VICTORY IS AT HAND! REMAIN TRUE TO THE VERY END!

Revelation 14:12-13 “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!””

Luke 21:28 ESV “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.””

2. FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST – BE OBEDIENT EVEN TO THE POINT OF DEATH, SO THAT HE CAN ALSO EXALT US WHEN HE COMES IN HIS GLORY

Philippians 2:8-11 ESV “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Hebrews 12:2 “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, 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.

Hebrews 12: 6-7 “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

Hebrews 12:10 “For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.”

3. JESUS IS COMING SOON! IF WE REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THE END, WE WILL LOVE HIS COMING. IF WE GIVE IN TO FEAR AND COWARDICE, WE WILL DREAD HIS COMING.

Revelation 1:7 ESV “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”

4. JESUS WILL BE WORTH ALL OUR TRIBULATIONS!

Revelation 21:1-8 ESV “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Revelation 21:22-27 ESV “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

Revelation 22:3-5 ESV “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

Revelation 22:6-7 ESV “And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Revelation 22:10-15 ESV “And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

Revelation 22:20 ESV “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

Why Manny Pacquiao is my presidential candidate

There are some good things I can say about Ping Lacson, Leni Robredo, and Isko Moreno, however they all come up short when I ask this question: “Do they have faith in God? Do they fear God? Will they be motivated by Godly values, and do they have the desire to lead this country toward God’s purposes?”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10)

Manny Pacquaio may not be the most intelligent, most eloquent, nor most experienced of them all, but he fears God and he knows God. I have seen God’s transforming work in his life.

He is not simply a religious politician, but he had a deep, personal encounter with God which has changed and continues to change his character. The fruit of his relationship with God is evident in these areas:

1. the way his character and his values have changed

2. the way he carries himself — humbly, without arrogance nor self-righteousness

3. the way he talks about his political opponents — does not criticize nor backbite others. Even when he offered to expose corruption in the government, he emphasized that he is not trying to discredit the Duterte government, instead he is trying to help it.

4. his focus on leading our country — he does not merely promise to give people whatever they want, but he intends to go deep into our economic foundations by reducing our debt and budget deficit. Also, he intends to build up the moral foundations of our government by fighting corruption, and by appointing godly people in his cabinet.

Here are some interviews of Pacquiao which may help you get to know him more:

HIS ENCOUNTER WITH GOD THAT CHANGED HIM DRASTICALLY:

Excerpt from article written by Mark Ellis, (“Boxing Champ Manny Pacquiao Heard God’s Voice, Saw Angels, and was Born Again”,)

God has a purpose,” he told Fox News. “He brought me back into his kingdom to use me to glorify his name, to let people know there is God who can raise the people from nothing to something.”

Raised Roman Catholic, Manny strayed from the church as he rose to fame in his boxing career. “I went to church on Sunday, but from Monday through Saturday I was in the bar drinking,” he told CBN. “I was gambling. Careless words came out of my mouth. I committed adultery. I didn’t care.” But one day he read a letter that gripped his heart. “I received a letter from my mother saying my sister stopped going to school because I stopped sending them the money. I cried, blaming myself for spending all the money on alcohol.”

That same night in 2011, not long after his third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, God visited Manny in a powerful dream. “I heard the voice of God in my dream. His voice was ten times louder than thunder. He said to me, “My child, my child, why have you gone astray?” he recounted to CBN. In the dream, which unfolded in a beautiful forest amid flowers, he also saw two angels, according to an interview with The Blaze. “When I heard the voice of God I felt like I died. … I was in the middle of the forest and I was kneeling and praying with my face on the ground and then I saw a light, a very white light and I heard the voice.” He said the angels had “white, long, big wings” and said that God revealed to him “about the end of time.”

“I felt I was melting when I heard the voice of God. It was the turning point in my life. God spoke to me and he told me what He wanted me to do and I had to follow (Him).”

For a while, Manny tried to ignore the dream. But one day he felt compelled to pick up the Bible and begin reading it for himself. “I forgot about that dream, but when I started reading the Bible, the first verse I read said that God talked to a man through dreams. I realized, wow, my dream was real,” he told CBN.

As a result of the power of God’s Word, the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart and the compelling dream, Manny surrendered his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. “I’m happy because I found the right way, salvation, born again,” he told The Blaze. “We are required to be born again, all of us. Christ said unless we are born again we cannot enter the kingdom of God. So it’s very important to me. Jesus Christ said: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ There is no other way. The only way is through Jesus.”

“When you accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your Lord and Savior, you have eternal life.”

Many changes unfolded in his life as he began to follow Jesus, according to Manny’s trainer, Freddie Roach. “Manny has made a lot of changes in his life. He’s more disciplined in his life. He sold his nightclub. He doesn’t drink anymore. He doesn’t chase girls anymore. Him and his wife are getting along a lot better now, him and his family. He’s become a much better person,” Roach told the Wall Street Journal.

The most important thing to Manny has become his faith in Jesus. “When you have Jesus in your life, when you have God in your life, the things in this world are not important to your heart. What is important is God in your heart.”

Manny stays in God’s Word with daily Bible study. “Keep this book of the law always on your lips. Meditate on it and be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and satisfied,” he told CBN. “When you keep the words of God in your mouth and your lips and your heart and your mind you will be guided by the Holy Spirit.’

“The Lord has blessed me [with] everything I have … [my] political career and serving the Lord and being a boxer — and I believe God has a purpose,” he told The Blaze. “It is behind my expectation and imagination. I think it’s time to proclaim his name, not mine.”

“This is my life’s work, to spread the Word.”

HIS INTENTIONS TO APPOINT GODLY PEOPLE IN HIS GOVERNMENT:

Excerpt from article written by Jeline Malasig, Nov 18, 2021, (“Reactions to Pacquiao’s plan to appoint ‘godly’ people if he wins presidency”.)

Pacquiao said he wanted to make sure that his administration will be composed of “godly” people who will supposedly help him bring back good Filipino values.

“Hindi rin naman tayo basta-basta mag-appoint… as long as they are godly. Nararapat lamang sa posisyon niya… Halimbawa, boxing ang labanan, hindi mo pwedeng ilagay diyan ’yung swimmer,” he said.

“Kumbaga, kung ano ang fit sa trabaho niya at kaya niyang gampanan, du’n natin siya ilagay dahil diyan. Marami siyang magagawa,” the lawmaker added.

Pacquiao said religious leaders will also be part of his anti-corruption task force which he said would be immediately formed once he assumes office.

“Dito sa public service, gusto ko rin pong maging 8-different weight division (champion,” he said.

The senator stressed he is running for president to help impoverished Filipinos and not to enrich himself.

CONCLUSION:

There will be many critics who will scoff at his christian values, but we as christians should know when a truly godly man is being raised up by God to lead a nation into righteousness.

The unregenerate man will appraise a leader based on superficial standards, but the christian will know how to appraise a leader based on what God sees. God does not judge based on appearances, but God looks at the heart.

Remember the story of how King David was chosen as the next king of Israel:

When they (Jesse’s sons) came, he (Samuel) looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:6-7) ESV

David was the greatest king of Israel because he was a man after God’s own heart. I believe that Manny Pacquiao is the only presidential candidate that has that same quality — he loves God, and he wants what God wants. That is enough for me to support his candidacy.

When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan. (Proverbs 29:2) NLT

Loving the Cross of Christ

Recently the Lord has been showing me that the easiest way is not always the best way. Our human nature craves what is easy, quick, convenient, and comfortable. But if Jesus had that same motivation, He wouldn’t have been born in a manger to a poor family. He wouldn’t have chosen to work as a carpenter. He wouldn’t have gone to the cross for our sakes.

There is a beauty to the cross of Christ. When I speak of this cross, I do not mean the wooden structure where Jesus died. The “cross” spoken of in the Bible refers to being “yoked” (or joined) together with Christ in His humility and meekness to the Father’s will.

Sometimes, this meant that He went to a wedding party and drank wine with His disciples. Sometimes, it meant that He ate with the sinners, or debated with the pharisees. Sometimes, it meant speaking up publicly, and working miracles that amazed the crowds.

At other times, it meant fasting for 40 days, and not taking any food until the Father said so. Sometimes it meant praying the whole night before He chose His disciples. Sometimes it meant waiting for four days before resurrecting his dear friend Lazarus, and not resurrecting Joseph at all (His earthly father), nor John the Baptist (His cousin). It meant refusing to be made a king even though the people clamored for His kingship.

Accepting this cross means that we acknowledge that His ways are best. It means surrendering our own will to His will, because we have chosen to trust and depend on His wisdom. It is the complete opposite of the attitude of Eve, who, for the promise of knowledge and greatness, chose to eat the forbidden fruit, even though it was in direct disobedience to God’s will.

This cross of Christ is beautiful, because it keeps us on the narrow path where we refuse to have our own righteousness, and instead walk only according to the righteousness of Christ. We are, in effect, refusing to eat of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, and are choosing to live according to His Life dwelling in us. It keeps us hidden in Christ. It keeps us covered by His blood. It keeps us under His yoke. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

This cross helps us to learn how Christ depended on the Father. It teaches us His meekness, His humility, and His lowliness of heart. Is there anything more beautiful than to be one with Christ through His cross?

Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 ESV
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We may have good ideas; and we all have knowledge, talent, and abilities. But let us be careful to  intentionally live by the righteousness of Christ, and not try to offer our own righteousness that comes from our flesh.

You may wonder, how can one distinguish between the righteousness of Christ, and the righteousness from the flesh? Let me suggest to you this mental exercise: compare the righteousness of Jesus to that of the pharisees; of Cain to that of Abel; of Saul of Tarsus to that of the Apostle Paul. Both sides of this comparison show a kind of righteousness. Do you see any difference? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand.

The righteousness from Christ comes from Christ and glorifies Christ. The righteousness from man comes from man and glorifies man.

When we accomplish good works in the name of Jesus, let us make sure that it came from His heart, and that the glory and praise goes to Him. Those who accomplish good works from their own initiative — in their own name — have no problems receiving the glory for themselves.

John 7:18 ESV
“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. “

Let us not speak on our own authority, nor act according to our own ideas. Let us not seek the glory that comes from that.

We may reason that God gets the glory which arises from our own righteousness. But in truth, He does not. He gets the glory only when we submit to His wisdom, align with His purposes, and do His will through the empowerment of His grace.

John 17:4 ESV
“I (Jesus) glorified you (Father) on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. “

Dear brothers and sisters, the hour of His return draws near. Our own righteouness are like filthy rags before the holiness of God. Let us wash our robes. Let us be dressed with Christ’s righteousness. Let us refrain from building with wood and hay and straw which will not pass the test of fire; but let us build with gold and silver and precious stones, which represent humble obedience to the will of God.

If we submit to Him and do only His will, we will be builded together like living stones — united in a common faith by His Spirit. But if anyone continues trusting in his own wisdom, and living life his own way, he is refusing to abide as a branch in the True Vine which is Jesus Christ. That branch will soon realize that it cannot sustain itself. It will wither, die, and be cut off to be thrown into the fire.

May we never let it happen to us. But, if we find ourselves going in that direction, let us repent quickly. Let us trust Him again, submit to Him again, abide in Him again. Let us remain lowly, so that He may remain exalted — for our soul’s sake.