Saturday, December 02, 2006

God’s Testimony

"If we accept the testimony of human witnesses, God's testimony is greater." (1 John 5:9)

  • We accept the testimony of human witnesses every day.

  • We accept what our doctors tell us about our health.

  • We accept what the government tells us about the state of the economy.

  • We accept weather reports.

  • We accept what advertisers tell us about their products.

From the above, it appears as if man is naturally a trusting being.

"If we accept the testimony of human witnesses, God's testimony is greater." (1 John 5:9)

God's word is worthy of greater trust because it is more certain.

"The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.

The decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple." (Psalm 19: 8)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Jesus is Ever-Present Help

"Who can overcome the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5: 5)

To overcome the world means:

  • To overcome sin in one's life
  • To overcome materialism
  • To overcome the sense of hopelessness and despair
  • To overcome all kinds of addiction
  • To live a victorious and free life
  • To be in harmony with God's will

The Holy Spirit is telling us in 1 John 5:5 that we can overcome the world if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe this of course and so do many. But what does it mean to believe in this context? To believe here means to experience Jesus as a personal Savior. To believe equals to know experientially. Let me paraphrase 1 John 5: 5:

You can live a victorious life aligned to God's will if only you have experienced Jesus in a personal way in your life. Psalm 111:4 says that God won renown for his wondrous deeds. In other words, no knowledge of God's wondrous deeds means no loyalty to him. What wondrous deeds have Jesus performed in your life? Without this personal testimony, your belief is only intellectual. The Holy Spirit gives us a remembrance of God's marvelous deeds in our lives.

Some examples of God's great deeds in our lives that are foundation of belief are:

  • Has Jesus ever healed you?
  • Has he saved you from any trouble?
  • Has he ever blessed you financially?
  • Has he blessed you with peace?
  • Has he blessed you with a good job?

All these are experiences of salvation. Whatever experience of salvation we had is repeatable. We gradually come to the realization that Jesus is "our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress." (Psalm 46: 2) With him by our side, "we do not fear, though earth be shaken and mountains quake to the depths of the sea."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Spirit of the Lord

"The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord." (Luke 4: 18 – 19)

This is the mission of Jesus Christ. He found it in the text of Isaiah. Like Jesus, my identity and destiny are also defined in the Bible. I am drawn to this scripture. I find myself visiting it again and again and asking myself: 'how do I apply this text to myself here and now?' The Spirit of the Lord is also upon me. What has he anointed me for? How do I know that he has anointed me to learn about Jesus and communicate this truth to the many who are afflicted today?

Today, we see the afflicted everywhere: home, church, street and workplace and also in the media. Everywhere people are crying for relief and hope, totally unaware that the answer is in Jesus Christ. The message of Jesus Christ will set free the captives, prisoners of fear and materialism, those bound by depression and hopelessness.

Jesus opened the eyes of the blind. His message continues today to open eyes blinded by ignorance, lust and selfishness. The true oppressed of today are not merely the materially poor but even more so the spiritually poor. The materially rich but spiritually poor cannot overcome the world because they lack the faith to do so. Those who poor libations to the gods of this world multiply their sorrows. The gods of this world "only take advantage of all who love them." (Psalm 16: 2)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Amazing Promise!

"This is what the love of God is: keeping his commandments. Nor are his commandments burdensome, because every child of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith." (1 John 5: 3 – 4)

Every child of God overcomes the world! Amazing promise! God promises that every one of his children can live a victorious life, right here and right now till the end. Yes indeed, we have the power within us to overcome whatever adverse situation we may face. We have this power because we trust in the wisdom and power of the all-loving and merciful God. We are also aware of the numerous witnesses to the power and faithfulness of God.

The child of God stays the course and endures to the very end fully aware that whatever God has permitted to happen to him is good for him. Our faith provides us the means to overcome the world in every situation.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Acceptable time

"In an acceptable time I heard you, on the day of salvation I helped you.' Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2)

When is God's acceptable time for me? When is God's day of salvation for me?

The Church believes that Lent is the acceptable time of 2 Corinthians 6:2. Lent is indeed the acceptable time of God's favor for me. I have been blessed and spiritually enriched during many Lenten seasons. Once upon a time, I was a smoker. I did everything to quit but in vain. Then just before the beginning of Lent in 1988, I decided to forego smoking on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. My intention was to fast from smoking only for that day. But God healed me from smoking from that day. The desire dried up immediately. It is a miracle I cannot forget. After this event, it took some years for me to realize that Lent is a very acceptable time for God's favors.

If we seek God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent, we can be sure that our prayers will be answered.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Do not be afraid

"He was going to pass them by, but when they saw him walking on the water they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke to them and said, "Courage! It is me! Don't be afraid." Then he got into the boat with them and the wind dropped." (Mark 6: 48 – 51)

Jesus calmed the fears of his disciples by saying to them: 'Be courageous. Do not be afraid. It is me.' In order to fight fear in our lives, we need faith and courage. We need also to be intensely aware of the presence of Jesus with us. We are not alone in that place, in those circumstances. St. Paul when he found himself abandoned by his friends in court, picked up courage when he became aware of the presence of Jesus at his side.

What am I afraid of today? Money, shelter, security, job or ill health? O Holy Spirit, please reveal to me that of which I am afraid of now so that I can pray about it. Whatever I may be afraid of here and now, I am consoled by the thought that Jesus Christ has the absolute power to help me. He is in me and near me with his perfect love and perfect solution. So I will not fear.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Perfect love drives out fear

Perfect love drives out fear

“No one has ever seen God, but as long as we love one another God remains in us and his love comes to its perfection in us. This is the proof that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us a share in his Spirit.” (1 John 4: 12 – 13)

What is the proof that I love God and my neighbor? The presence of the Holy Spirit in me is the proof.

“Love comes to perfection in us when we can face the Day of Judgment fearlessly, because even in this world we have become as he is. In love there is no room for fear, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear implies punishment and no one who is afraid has come to perfection in love.” (1 John 4: 17 – 18)

Christ is the fearless One. He was not afraid of the antagonisms of his enemies. He was not afraid in his “Day of Judgment”, that is his passion and death. He was completely fearless because he is the very perfection of love.

Just as faith drives out fear, we learn that perfect love also drives out fear.