The photo was taken at the Mariveles Bay when our boat ran aground.after gliding on the water for almost two hours. Instead of moving westward to Manila Bay, our boat was pushed eastward by strong huge waves.
The Thanksgiving tradition that has been handed down to us teaches us to be thankful for those things we have received. That is great. But the Bible redirects our focus of thanks not primarily on the gifts but on the Giver Himself. The first verse says it all clearly: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Instead of thanking God for what He does give, the Psalmist thanks God, first and foremost, for who He IS. Thanks is given to Him for He is good and that his faithful love is true and loyal forever (see also Psalms 100, 103, 104, 106)
One obvious advantage of thanking God based on his nature is that it nurtures and steadies our faith in Him even when we don’t see new, exciting and great gifts. We often associate gifts with something that give us pleasure. What if in God’s wisdom, He chooses to do with us what He did to toughen and refine Job? If we mistake blessings to be void of pain and loss, it might not be possible to say with Job“ I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it. Praise the name of the Lord (Job 1:21), Or, “should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (Job 2:10) It is this philosophy of thanksgiving that Job was able to ward off anything that attempts to destroy his faith on the loyalty of God.
Secondly, it will be easier to find things to praise God about when we are convinced that He is good and loving. That means that even HIs silence, or His seeming absence, or His painful disciplines, are for our own good. If we see Him this way, we can be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18)
Lastly, if we are focused on his character, our thanking Him for what he DOES is focused on his real and most important gift to us. The writer of Psalm 107 gives us a hint on the crowning gift God has given. Until we have received this gift, we can’t be truly thankful to Him. The most precious gift God has given is His work of redemption. This is the core of our speech when we thank Him. The Psalmist strongly encouraged his readers: “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies” (Psalm 107:2).
There are two sides to his redeeming work. One points to that which expresses his love that endures forever (v. 1). As his love is forever, his work of redemption is also eternal. He has taken us away from the bondage of our fiercest unconquerable foe: death. Only the Lord can conquer death. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus “broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality” (2 Tim. 1:10). Someday “he will wipe every tear from their eyes, there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Rev. 21:4). Someday we who sojourn on earth, will join the elders in His new kingdom in singing, “You were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation ( Revelation 5:9-10; Read Revelation 19:11-15; 21:1-8, 22:3-7, 12-14). This gift eternal (Romans 6:23). It takes a strong faith in God's character of faithfulness and trustworthiness to look forward for a gift that is beyond the grave.
The other side of this redeeming work is what He does recurrently on earth. The Bible gives four examples of the recurring saving acts of God on earth. One, the lost ones who wander and get hungry and thirsty find satisfaction in God (vv. 4-9). The word of God tells of the many instances when the Israelites found food and water in the wilderness. Two, some rebel against God and become chained, addicted or imprisoned in misery (vv. 10-16). God unchains them. Too, some become undisciplined in life and get critically ill. God heals them (vv. 17-21). Moreover, some
ambitiously “ply the trade routes of the world” but experience shipwreck. The Lord gets them safety. (vv. 23-32). All of them upon experiencing God's redeeming love are instructed to thank God (v. 8, 15, 21, 31).s
We have something to tell the our friends, family and neighbors. THANK GOD FORHE HAS BEEN GOOD TO US. HE HAS REDEEMED US FOREVER.
Among other descriptions, the Bible characterizes the love among church people as “not envious, or boastful, or arrogant” (1 Corinthians 13:4). At first glance, we may surmise that the three words are translators’ style of explaining the same word in the original language of the Bible. But they are individual renderings of three different words. Arrogance means swelled-headedness, boastful expresses self-importance, and envious implies being jealous of others’ advantages. We can lump their meanings together to show a gradation of negative quality. Envy makes one boasts about his importance. When self-importance is left unchecked, it gives way to arrogance, the blazing tip of pride. Looking at the harmfulness of the triumvirate, we now understand why the Bible describes love between Christ’s disciples as being void of them.
Jesus shows us love without arrogance
Our Lord Jesus does two things to make us able to love others. He shows us how. Then, he empowers us to do it. HIs command for us to love each other as he loves us is doable (1 John 4:21, John 13:34)
The Apostle John writes, “God showed us how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:9-10 NLT). Our Lord Jesus’ love is free of any stain of envy, self-importance and arrogance. He put us first over himself. Pastor Max Lucado beautifully penned it this way: “He swapped spotless castle for a grimy stable. He exchanged the worship of angels for the company of killers. He could hold the universe in his palm but gave it up to float in the womb of a maiden. . . He went from commanding angels to sleeping in the straw. From holding stars to clutching Mary’s finger. The palm that held the universe took the nail of a soldier. . .Content to be known as a carpenter. Happy to be mistaken for the gardener. He served his followers by washing their feet.” He loves us that he puts us above everything. We are of prime importance to Him.
The Bible encourages us to clothe ourselves with the same attitude that Christ showed. “Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality. Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans, by having a human appearance. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8, GW). No doubt, the Apostle John had this in mind when he wrote, “And he (Jesus Christ) has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers” (1 John 4:19).
God has changed us so we can love without envy
By nature, we don’t have this ability to love. But He empowers us. He changed our nature. The Bible exclaims, But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, . . .He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:4-6, NLT). With this work, He has enabled us to love God and others (Romans 5:5).
This love that does not envy or boast or arrogate may be expressed in putting others before one’s self (Phil. 2:3). It also expresses itself by not having an exaggerated self-importance (Romans 12:3). And, it can be shown in applauding the success of others (Romans 12:10, 15).
If everybody in our church or our homes loves others this way, we will continue to be a loving community where unbelievers and wayward brethren will experience Christ’s love for them. And, we will be a victorious and happy church.
“When we are kind to others, we look for ways to be kind, and when others are kind to us, we are motivated to pass that kindness on” (Gary Chapman, Love as a Way of Life). Yes, indeed, we pay kindness forward.
Kindness is good for the body and soul
In the same book, Pastor Chapman, enumerates a few benefits of being kind to the body and soul. We can make mention of two. One, “acts of kindness release the body’s natural painkillers, the endorphins.” There is called a “helper’s high” that can even minimize the effects of disease, physical disorder, and reverse the feelings of depression. Two, “acting kindly toward other people increases one’s self-worth, optimism, and overall satisfaction in life.” So, while we pay it forward, it pays to be kind for our well-being.
Kindness glues people together
In addition to the personal benefits, one unmistakable observation points to why the Word of God is replete with the encouragement to the community of believers to be kind one to another (e.g. Ephesians 4:32). Of course, we cannot be kind one to another without the power behind it, which is love (1 Cor. 13:4). Kindness grows out of love and it can be the most potent expression of that love. God loves us and expresses that in compassion, mercy, sympathy, and help—all are words for kindness. Acts of kindness creates a sense of unity in a group. Foundations and non-profit organizations ordinarily outgrowth of the generous acts of individuals. The Sparrow Clubs USA for instance started when Michael Leeland could not afford $200,000 for a bone marrow transplant, and somebody provided the seed money. An unknown self-defacing picked-on kid in the same High School Michael attended gave twelve $5-dollar bills, his entire bank account. Daemon’s effort inspired his school, and countless other schools and individuals to give $227,000. The club was born and has helped four hundred seriously ill or disabled children. All because of one act of kindness.
One other social impact of kindness is that it perpetuates the life a society or community in general. Unkindness creates conflicts and fosters division. That is why leaders of nations bank on acts of kindness as a matter of survival of the community.
Kindness expresses our love towards each other
Kindness as an expression of an authentic love (agape) makes the church a community. By that we mean that through it there will be true caring. If we express love through benevolent acts among each other, the church becomes a loving and caring group of people. It also perpetuates the continuance of churches. Its uniting effect is essential to our survival and growth as a church. But it must start with each of us. We said at the beginning, that when we have the attitude of kindness, we look for means to express it. And when others receive it from us, they are motivated to pass it around. It changes one’s attitude that is essential to the growth of a group.
If being kind makes us all more motivated to work together as a unit for God, how then can we express it among us? Jesus gives a lot of examples. He provides help to the helpless. He feeds the hungry. He heals the diseased and ill. He treated everybody with worth. He gave his life on our behalf.
I think I agree with principle of kindness in this statement: “Kindness says “Good Morning” and then serves coffee.” Just practice being the church that Jesus loves and shows kindness with.
Patience, the ability to keep our cool in times of severe tension. It is that ability that makes us able to put up with others. Just like God does to us (Rom. 2:4). When we are slow to boil, we can forgive. Patience is a fruit of love given by the Spirit of God (Romans 5:5, Gal. 5:22) . Love, like that shown by God, enables us to absorb the shock of pain at the imperfections, shortcomings and weaknesses of others.
1 John 4:19 (NIV)
We love because he first loved us.
Simon is furious. He feels throwing up. In his very home, he has invited the most popular and influential person in the city. But he is wondering why and how this woman from the street got in. Has she been invited by the servants? Did she just sneak in with the disciples? Simon does not remember an RSVP from an unknown woman. This is his home, he has every right to be indignant.
The woman has now taken the attention of everybody. She kneels down right at Jesus' feet. She is sobbing. Simon can't stand to see her hot tears dripping like rain into his main guest's feet (The Message). Now she is unlocking her hair. Before Simon can say anything, the woman is now wiping his feet with her hair—now even kissing his feet. She has crashed the party! She is a joy stealer.
Simon the Pharisee has invited Jesus to his house. But Simon has not shown any of the common courtesy for invited guests. There is not a handshake or a kiss. No offer of taking his coat. Simon knows etiquette. He has the education. He is highly regarded by the community. He is a prominent member of the church. The woman is not known by her name. No training like Simon has. Not moneyed. Not a religious meeting attendee. But this day, she comes to Jesus, overcomes her fear and shame. She takes out an expensive perfume and anoints Jesus' head—the honor he deserves. It was a stark contrast from Simon’s snobbish treatment of Jesus.
Simon actually recovered from a horrible disease (Matthew 26:6). His leprosy isolated him from the society for a time. Every time people saw him, they would yell “Unclean! Unclean” (Leviticus 13) But he got fully healed. We should expect him to show compassion to this woman. But, he has nothing but scorn. Pastor Max Lucado observes, "Simon's ‘love' is calibrated and stingy. Her passion is extravagant and risky."
Jesus uses the incident to make a point. He tells the story of two borrowers. One has much greater debt than the other. Both of them cannot pay their debts. Fortunately, their lender forgives them both. Jesus asked Simon, "Who do you suppose loved him (the loaner) more after that?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt." Jesus points, "A person who is forgiven little shows only a little love."
Is this the reason why many of us fail in loving others? Simon does not think that he needs forgiveness. He knows the commandment: Love God and love others. But he is not seeking it, not with Jesus. We wonder how Simon can show love when he has not experienced. There is nothing to give. He may not understand when he hears these words: "We love because he first loved us' (1 John 4:19, NIV). Don't we make efforts to love others? How many times have we tried loving those who ruin our joy? How many times have we tried to show kindness to those who defame us in public? How often have we failed? The first step is essential. We can love only if we have accepted God’s mercies.
Or if we have experienced his love, perhaps like Simon, we tend to forget it. Simon apparently has forgotten that he was healed from leprosy. Leprosy was a dreaded disease back then. It could represent sin that infected the whole of our being. But like Simon, we have been made clean. In Jesus, we have experienced this love. Not only that God has canceled our debt from him. He has given us a gift when we asked for forgiveness. He has given us eternal life. "God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him," John says. Then he also says, "This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." (1 John 4:9). If you continue reading, another gift is given with the eternal life. "And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us" (I John 4:13). He has poured him into our heart. So, not only that we can love God back, we can also love others as He loves us (Romans 6:5). He is our power to love. This might be the missing link in our struggle to be patient and kind. We find it hard to forgive others of their shortcoming or to be understanding of those who are helplessly weak and failing.
Pastor Lucado says, "The secret of loving is living loved." How many times do we fail Jesus even after He has restored us and given us eternal hope and life? He forgives our failings—our temper tantrum, our insincerity, our self-centered love (of self, family only). If Jesus is patient with us, can we not be patient with others? If Jesus is kind to us every day, we certainly can be kind to each other.
(Idea lifted out from Max Lucado, A Life Worth-giving, 2012)
We want to be a loving community as our Lord Jesus wants us to be. Here is a prayer that I found helpful in my prayer this morning.
1. John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.
Jesus, you are the author and originator of love. We only know love because you are love and you loved us first. You love us specifically and sacrificially. You love us in our sin and rebellion against you. You love us despite the pain we inflict on others. You love us in our mess. It is that love - that selfless, self-sacrificing love, which allows us to love others. It is an overflow of your love for us that allows us to love other people. Jesus, we ask you to make us better lovers of one another. Would you give us the heart and love to proclaim your love to those who need to hear it?
(Taken from: http://rachbaxter.com/12prayers/2016/10/30/12-prayers-for-loving-one-another)
A king detests wrongdoing,
for his rule is built on justice.
The king is pleased with words from righteous lips;
he loves those who speak honestly (Pr 16:12–13).
A godly boss delights in righteousness but dislikes wrongdoing. He cannot tolerate the negligence of duty in his sphere of responsibility. He leads with blamelessness and fairness, with integrity and honesty.
He understands that it is God who places a person in positions of authority (Romans 13:1). He recognizes that He is placed there by God to perpetuate godliness.
Our Lord Jesus is the King that rules in righteousness (Isaiah 9:6-7). He hates evil and wants to eliminate it (Psalms 45:7; Hebrews 1:9)--and he will ultimately do it in the future.
As Christians, we aspire to inspire our bosses with our performance. May that be a reflection of our deep desire to make our King and Lord delight in us. He instructs us in His word: whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus--and do it for his glory (1 Corinthians. 10:13; Colossians. 3:16-17)
Happy Wednesday everyone
Proverbs 16:8: Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest.
First, this is what God wants and has shown has through the Lord Jesus from his birth (on a stable) to his temptations (not turning stone into bread), to his ministry (not soft pillow for his head, no extra purse), to his death (did not use his power to save himself from harm), to his burial (a borrowed tomb), and to his resurrection (did not bring anything to heaven). He has reserved a day though, when he will sit on His throne and give the kingdom back to God (after defeating all enemies including death).
Second, godliness has both a temporal and eternal rewards. This verse remind me of my wife's uncle (I have shared with you when we had Prov. 15:16) who, from our standard of belief, was not a disciple of Christ. But he never used his position and opportunity to bring stolen wealth to his home so his children could feast around their table. He might have thought of "karma." For us who follow Christ, we look at godliness as having both earthly and heavenly rewards. Elsewhere in the Word of God says this “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-9 (NLT2). The bottom line for godliness as much better is that it provides deep contentment because of the work and presence in the life of an eternal source of wealth that doesn't spoil--Jesus Christ.
Imelda my wife frequently concludes our morning devotions on the book of Proverbs with this word: "Just be righteous."
Happy Friday everyone.
Oh, you are free to give comments to these little devotions that we post here.
Proverbs 16:7 (GW)
When a person's ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
The years of separation did not heal the wedge between them. He deceived his brother. He stole his brother’s inheritance—his social and economic future. He had to leave home to spare himself from his brother’s violent anger. But now, he wanted nothing but being reconciled with him
Some twenty years prior, while escaping from Esau, Jacob met God. He committed himself to him and God blessed him. Now, he is coming to his brother in obedience to God’s command. Frightened, he sought God’s protection the night before he would meet His brother for the first time since he left. He did not let God go until He blessed him. The next morning, God surprised Jacob with what happened: “Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept” (Genesis 33:4).
While his may not happen all the time, we know that the way to make our enemies potentially live at peace with us is to please God. It happened with Jacob with Laban, Jehoshaphat with the kings surrounding him, and the Church with Saul.
Proverbs 16:5 The LORD detests the proud; they will surely be punished.
The Bible gives us many examples where God shows His wrath against pride. We can’t miss the punishment of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:14-24). What about Pharaoh, Goliath, David, Naaman, Hezekiah, the king of Assyria, Lucifer, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod Agrippa 1 and many more? Pride in these instances was seen as not just disregarding God, but also lifting up one’s heart against god.
In our work places, we are tempted to self-aggrandize. Our co-workers do it, and it works on their promotion. They also are like magnet attracting people to themselves. There might be a better way of getting that promotion or getting liked in the jo. It can be one without allowing pride a foothold in our heart. Be friendly, consider others as valuable as you are. Honor their reputation. Provide a listening ear to others—everyone struggles. Do some random acts of kindness. Through these and many more ways we practice our loyalty in Christ . They too are indication of strength of personality and character. And as promised, He will reward us (Proverbs 22:4, Proverbs 29:3, ! Peter 5:6)
But importantly, pray that your real goal is achieved in wherever God has stationed you, either at home or work. By being humble, we can save some. I think we read that partly last Sunday. “I obey the law of Christ . . . When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessing" (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (NLT2).
And if we ever boast, let our Lord be elevated always. God commands us, “those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken! (Jeremiah 9:24 ,1 Corinthians 1:31).
Happy Tuesday everyone.