Today was such a great day and I just had to thank God for everything.
Thank Your for letting me go to church without bringing any laptop, which meant that I left all worries and thoughts about work at home. Thank You for letting me hear Your amazing Words which made me stop, listen and look. Thank You for letting me attend dgroup which is a good start to build relationships with other people through You. And above everything else, thank You for forgiving my sins in the past, in the present and even in the future.
This afternoon, in our dgroup session, we had Hebrews 12:1-17. Among the 17 verses stated, one struck me the most.
“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
Every kind of discipline is hard. We probably got a handful of spanks from our parents, a handful of irrelevant speeches, a handful of this and that, and a thousand numbers of consequences. But discipline doesn’t only come from our parents – when we also choose to discipline ourselves, we have to sacrifice a couple of things. If we want to lose weight, we have to discipline ourselves by not eating carbs and going to the gym everyday and do some workouts for an hour or so. We have to give up on eating sweets and drinking sodas because we are training ourselves to eat healthy foods so we’d lose weight. It would be hard not to eat and drink these stuffs for a month or so. But we get a better us – a healthier and more fit us.
It’s the same with God. He is our Father and He disciplines us in a way that we’ll become stronger and with that discipline, we’ll discover peace and righteousness. He disciplines for our good – to be holy so we can join Him in His holiness; to be stronger so whatever persecution that comes our way, we’ll be able to stand firm; to be mindful of His laws; and to gain peace and righteousness in the long run.
And this discipline usually disguises themselves in the trials and challenges we have. These hardships mold us into better people, into stronger ones, the kind where we don’t get easily shaken because we are trained in a way that only God can – and that reminds us that our faith and hope in Him is greater than no other. We have a big God, a big big God. He has plans for us. We are in good hands.
Tonight, while I was having my quiet time, I came across the book of James. I have never read the book of James before and I was really happy that I did tonight. It revealed so much and I felt the book is God’s answer for my prayers, worries and even fears. To sum the book, it’s actually about the infamous quote “Actions speak louder than words”.
1. Faith and endurance
Remember how our forefathers had a hard time finding the promised land? How they were persecuted? How they were mistreated? And yet they continued, even in the darkest hour of their lives, they sang praises and confessed that they were safe and their soul will rest without any worries. What they had was faith and endurance. In times like these, instead of swallowing ourselves in grief, we should consider this an opportunity for great joy. For when we are tested, our faith increases, and our endurance grows. And in the many years to come, we get stronger, and the only thing we’ll be needing is Him.
I remembered one time in high school, I dropped out of the honor roll and everyone was insulting me, telling me how stupid and lazy I got. I was crying every night. I kept on praying to Him that He’ll give me wisdom and knowledge that I might redeem myself, but He didn’t. UPCAT came and I didn’t review as much as my classmates did. I answered some few questions from the reviewer and read on the Internet. I prayed to pass UPCAT, but I didn’t have enough faith that I’d do. All those time, I kept on thinking that I wasn’t as good as my classmates, so why bother take the exam seriously? But before the exam, I kept on whispering to myself Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” I was unconsciously giving it all to Him. It was a funny exam. There were questions I didn’t know, especially the Math section – there was a time when my “solution” paper flew and the person at my back picked it up and checked it out and chuckled. I was really embarrassed since those solutions were so irrelevant and nonesense. Then in February 2008, I received my UP admission letter. Only two of us passed (the valedictorian and the non-honor roll student). I really thanked God that even though He didn’t answer my prayer right away, He still did answer it. I guess passing UP is still the best thing that ever happened to me. And that alone was granted by faith.
2. Listening and doing
Everyday in college, Mom has to repeat every little thing about my room – how clothes were everywhere, how papers piled up on my desk, how wires tangled on everything, how my windows were not being cleaned, how I should clean my room and when. It was just annoying. And it’s funny how I always sneeze in the morning and get a sinusitis or a flu because of the dust circling my room. And that’s the only time I’d clean it. But if I have just listened to Mom and cleaned it, I would have avoided all the sneezing and runny nose and drinking medicine.
You see, it’s the same as listening to God’s word. It’s like going to church, sitting there, and listening to the preacher. After that, we go home and do nothing about it. We then forget it. Then we sin, and we get the consequences. But if we listen and we follow and we practice it, everything would be easy and free. No sin, no consequences. We will be blessed.
3. Warning against prejudice
Never ever put someone above someone. We are all equal. We don’t befriend a rich person and hate the poor person. That is just simply discrimination and we don’t like it. God doesn’t like it. There’s no favoritism here. The Lord is just and equal. He doesn’t favor a person over the other. He doesn’t love the rich and hate the poor. He doesn’t love the fat and hate the skinny. He doesn’t love the white and hate the black. He looks upon everyone as equal – not on the status, not on the race and especially not on the weighing scale. Remember that story about Matthew the tax collector? Matthew was hated by many because he was a tax collector and people didn’t like tax collectors at that time. But God came to his house and ate lunch and Matthew was saved because he followed Christ and gave up everything for Him. And also, Mary the prostitute. She was saved because she believed in Him and confessed her sins and Christ forgave her. See? He doesn’t care where you came from, what you did, He loves you.
4. Faith without good deed is dead
Faith is not enough. So what if you believe in Him? The demons believe in Him too and they tremble at His presence. I remembered back in high school, one Bible teacher we had got this whole faith equation that goes something like this: faith – good works = dead. What use is your faith if your actions are empty? Think of Abraham. When God asked him to offer his son, he did so without any questions, without any hesitation, without any fear. He believed that God will fulfill His promise, that He will give Abraham descendants as much as that of the grain of sands. His action of offering Isaac was astonishing that God considered him righteous and a friend of His. And if we have faith and action like that, we are complete.
5. Controlling the tongue
This is probably my greatest struggle, especially when I’m with friends. I tend to talk and talk and talk without minding others’ feelings and I tend to be frank that sometimes it jumps off the borderline. But I keep on praying to God that I need to have discipline, that He must discipline me, that the words that will come out from my mouth will bring joy and confidence and motivation to others. I do believe that this is a process, until then I shall wait for the day that the only thing that comes from my mouth will be blessings.
6. True wisdom comes from God
This inclines with Proverbs 3:5 as stated above. The wisdom from the Lord is pure. It is full of mercy and good deeds. Jealousy and selfish ambition are not part of this wisdom. Such things are earthly. When Solomon asked God for wisdom and knowledge instead of richness, all the kings and queens of his time was at awe and praised God because Solomon practiced an honorable life, except for some parts though, but nevertheless, the other kingdoms bowed down to his God because King Solomon was great and they believed that his God was greater.
7. Drawing close to God
Being with God means being an enemy of the world. We should wash our hands, purify our hearts, because that’s the only way we’ll be able to talk to Him. Sin keeps us away from Him. Sin keeps us from asking what we want from God. And even if we ask, we don’t get it because we have wrong motives, because what is in our heart is not pure and not something that will lift Him up in glory. Having a relationship with Him is doing everything for His glory.
8. Warning against judging others
God alone has the power to save or destroy. What right do you have to judge someone? We are not perfect, we are sinners. We make mistakes day by day, because we are humans and we are supposed to make mistakes so we’d learn from them. Who are you to judge someone? Do you have the cleanest life? Do you have the purest heart? Are you perfect? Because if you are, you are not a human being, but definitely you are not God.
9. Warning about self confidence
Back when I was a kid, whenever Mom talks about the future, she would always say, “If God permits, we’ll go to this and have this and that..” and I would always wonder why she’d say the “If God permits” phrase before talking about the future. When I attended a retreat back in high school, the pastor explained why they use the phrase as such. We don’t hold the future. We have no idea about the future. We don’t control it. Saying that phrase reminds us that it’s still God who has the final say. It’s like asking permission from our folks. When someone asks you to come to a party, we sometimes say, “I’ll ask mom first. But if she allows me, I’ll buy you a gift.” Mom has a final say whether I go or not. The Lord has the final say whether we achieve it or not, so we humble ourselves by saying such phrase. Because if we don’t, we are displaying such confidence, the kind of confidence that shows we are in control, boasting such own plans.
10. Warning to the rich
I have nothing against the rich people. I believe some of them are actually blessed by the Lord. But if you are rich and you are never helping anyone, then I guess there is indeed something wrong. You are blessed, so you should share it to others who are not blessed as much as you are. What are you supposed to do with it anyway? The world will vanish and all there is within. As what the Scriptures say, we don’t invest here, we should invest up there.
11. Patience and endurance
As we wait for the coming of the Lord, we must be patient for everything. In line with patience is suffering. Like the prophets before us, they too waited for the Lord’s return, and as they wait, they patiently worked for the glory of God, and as they worked for His glory, they suffered. The suffered from persecution, from insults, from deaths, and from many others. And just like Job, along with our patience, we must have faith, a great faith to endure the challenges that we will be facing in the days to come.
12. The power of prayer
I don’t know, but I’m really a fan of prayer and its power. Maybe because most of my prayers were answered, and some that were not answered, were still answered as to why He couldn’t give me a yes. God has been faithful to me, even in days when I wasn’t. He was always there to listen and answer my prayers. In high school, He showed me how awesome He is, and in college, He showed me how faithful He is. There were times when I would pray for my grades, that even if I have a really messy sem, I would still emerge as victorious with no failing grades and everything. That even when I prayed to Him about my work, He was there sitting beside me guiding me with my exam answers. Prayer can move mountains. Prayer can make miracles. Elijah proved that. When he prayed not to rain for 3 years, God answered his prayer. And when he prayed to rain, God also did answer his prayers. When we pray with all our heart, everything becomes possible. It produces a wonderful result. So instead of turning to alcohol or what, kneel down and pray. Pour out everything to Him, and have faith that He will answer whatever you ask for in His name. Because that is God. He is our Father, and a Father provides for His sons and daughters.
13. Restore wandering believers
Because God said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. When we have a friend who have backslided, struggled and lost her way, we should always take responsibility and bring her back. I have been there, and I’ve done. And nobody pulled me in and brought me back. And it was hard, really hard. But I will always thank God for bringing people in my life that shed light and hope to me. I will forever be grateful.
Long entry, huh? I hope you realized a thing or two. I did, not just one or two, but a lot. The book of James hit me its best shot. I feel so guilty of a lot of things, and I’d like to think this is God’s way of disciplining me – by letting me see and understand what my mistakes are and how I could correct them. This will be a process and this will be painful, but I look forward to the day that I can stand on my ground and bring glory to His name through what I say, how I act, and to everything I do. I hope same goes for you. *smiles*