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Monthly Archives: February 2015

A quality that will help us in this race called LIFE

Life can be likened to a race. There’s a starting line. There’s a finish line. There can be many obstacles. And so on and so forth. Wouldn’t you agree with that? Yes! In fact the authors of the Bible often compared our life to that of a race. One of my favorite verses below says:

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

The author of Hebrews says here that there’s a race marked out for us. Every time I encounter this verse, I always get excited about life because I’m reminded that God’s made this life for us to be an adventure. What lies in the adventure he prepared for us though, no one knows. However, we can be sure of two things: 1) It’s going to be the best adventure of our lives and 2) There’ll be many challenges and obstacles that will lie ahead.

The second point tells us that getting to the finish line of that race will not be that easy. I believe that this is one of the reasons why the writer explicitly said to run with “PERSEVERANCE” the race marked out for us. The writer didn’t say: “Go and take your time with this race, it’s going to be easy… Chill… Relax and Enjoy”. No, the writer emphasized the word: “PERSEVERANCE”.

Last week, I was reminded of that word: PERSEVERANCE because I happened to stumble upon another one of my favorite passages of scripture:

James 1:2-3
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

perseverance-poster

This verse reminded me about the importance of developing perseverance in us. If there’s one attitude in life that will help us face all the challenges and difficulties we’ll face in the future, I think that attitude would be an attitude of perseverance. I like how vocabulary.com defines us the term perseverance for us:

Perseverance is not giving up. It is persistence and tenacity, the effort required to do something and keep doing it till the end, even if it’s hard.

The key phrases there are: “not giving up” and “even if it’s hard”. Perseverance is an attitude of not giving up even when hard things come our way in life. That’s it plain and simple.

Perseverance

This kind of attitude will help us finish what the writer of Hebrews said as the “race marked out for us”. Perseverance is an enduring spirit that keeps on pushing forward even when life gets tougher and tougher and tougher and tougher. Perseverance is an attitude or a characteristic that sets apart the people who’ll finish the race from the people who won’t. I believe that this is one quality that we should have if we have any hopes of wanting to reach the finish line of the race marked out for us.

The question now is, how do I get that characteristic? How do I develop perseverance? Is it just something that people are naturally born with or is it something that can be developed? The good news is perseverance can be developed in us. If you go back to James it says there:

“…the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

It’s clear from that passage of scripture that perseverance can be produced in us. How is it developed? The answer is: whenever our faith gets tested through the trials and challenges we face.

In summary:

God has already marked out a race for us. The race is exciting however, it’s full of challenges and obstacles. The writer of Hebrews emphasized that if we’re going to run this race, we should run it with perseverance. Perseverance can be developed, it’s not something that we’re just innately born with or without. Perseverance is developed whenever our faith gets tested through the trials and challenges we face.

Whatever situation you’re in right now, I hope you would see that as an opportunity to develop a persevering spirit. The key is to not quit, not give up in the challenges you face right now. Don’t quit on the little things. If you’re a student, maybe that’s the drive to study for an exam or maybe it’s deciding today to honor your parents. For most people, it’s about not giving in to a temptation. While for others, it maybe something really serious that tests their faith in Christ. All of those things, all of those trials in our lives summed up are opportunities for us to develop perseverance. Always remember this:

Perseverance does not get developed in a day’s time… Perseverance gets developed daily.

God bless and happy Monday! 🙂

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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Life Lessons

 

Famous Amos

Famous Amos is a brand of chocolate chip cookie which I really enjoyed eating when I was a kid. These cookies were always available in the supermarket here in the Philippines. Lately, however, I haven’t seen one at any grocery store. Maybe they stopped importing this brand of cookies here in Manila. I hope this comes back in our country because it tastes really good. 🙂

Pic-FAChocChips425g__59413_zoom

You may be asking why I’m blogging about a certain brand of chocolate chip cookie. Well, the reason there is because there’s a book in the Bible that I’ve read lately with the namesake: Amos. Thus the title 😀

However, unlike the name of the brand of cookie “Famous Amos”, the book that I read from the Bible isn’t as FAMOUS.

Were you surprised that there was such a book? I bet that a lot of us didn’t even know that such a book existed in God’s word. 🙂

Usually, I tend to not have that much of an interest from books like Amos in the Bible (others would be Joel, Nahum, Haggai etc.). Sometimes I get the feeling that I think I’d have more insights and revelations from the more popular ones out there. What a mindset right?! :))

Last week, however, while I was reading the book of Amos, God broke this kind of thinking in me. A few verses from Amos struck me hard and even inspired me with the prophet’s life. Last week I encountered this passage of scripture:

Amos 7:12-16
And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” 14 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was[a] no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now therefore hear the word of the Lord.

In this passage of scripture God called Amos to speak and prophesy against king Jeroboam of Israel as clearly seen in verse 11:

Amos 7:11
For thus Amos has said, “‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’”

Amos’ job isn’t a very popular one. I’d compare his job to a modern day journalist whose job is to expose corruption in the government. It’s a very dangerous job and risk your life with a kind of job as his. Amos was famous here, but it’s not the good kind of famous. He was infamous to the king and his officials because they didn’t like him for speaking God’s word of truth to them. Amaziah, one of the king’s officials, didn’t like what he saw and heard from Amos. That’s why in verse 12, Amaziah told Amos:

Amos 7:12-13
And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”

Amaziah didn’t like what he heard from Amos, that’s why he told him to leave them and not prophesy again. He told Amos that it’s the king’s sanctuary! It’s as if he’s telling Amos NOT TO DO those things because he was just an ordinary person. Who was he anyway to say those things in the king’s sanctuary? I think for Amaziah, if the king doesn’t know you, if you’re not popular or famous, if you’re just an ordinary human being then it’s better not to speak up at all. He discourages that kind of a behavior from people like Amos. Sounds familiar?

Though we may not have really experienced this kind of treatment from anyone. I believe that some of us feels like Amos a lot of times. Sometimes we feel like we’re just a nobody in this world. We think we don’t have the background, the experience or the pedigree to have any say in the important matters of this world. Why waste our time in having a say in the important and essential matters of this world when nobody will even listen to us? Is this true for you? Have you felt the same way before?

Well if those things are true for you, I’d just like to encourage you how Amos responded to Amaziah’s comments about him. Reading his reply to Amaziah inspired me to emulate what he did. In verses 14-16, this is what Amos said:

Amos 7:14-16
Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was[a] no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now therefore hear the word of the Lord.

After reading Amos’ response to Amaziah, I got encouraged. These are one of the few verses in this book that really struck me. It changed my mindset about how I see certain things. At first, like what I mentioned above, I felt that I won’t get too much insight or revelations from this book because Amos isn’t famous in the Bible. I was no different from Amaziah, I was treating Amos the same way! But God rebuked me as I read this passage of scripture. Amos’ reply to Amaziah was very commendable and I think so should be our response everytime people would look down on us. He had two responses:

First, he had a proper estimation of who he really was. He knew that he was no prophet nor a prophet’s son. He wasn’t really as famous as Isaiah or Jeremiah in the Bible. He said that he was just an ordinary herdsman and dresser of sycamore figs. I believe that we should have the same response. We shouldn’t try to pretend who we are NOT.  Let’s not try to pretend we’re someone else, or pretend as if we’re really something when in fact we aren’t! At the end of the day our true and real identities will be revealed so it’s better to just accept who we really are.

Second thing that I liked with Amos’ response is what he said in verse 15. That verse started with the word: “BUT”…”BUT!” Amos didn’t let his background or who he was define what God can do in and through him. He wasn’t limited and boxed with his pedigree or occupation. Amos said that it’s God who took him from where he was and commanded him to speak the truth of His word to his people. What great confidence and what a great reminder! Amos said that it was God who told him to prophesy to the people of Israel:

Amos 7:15
“…But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’”

What a great and amazing yet humbling sight. Amos wasn’t FAMOUS. Yet, even though he wasn’t famous at all. Even though he didn’t have the pedigree or background, he didn’t let that stop him from letting God do great and amazing things in his life. I believe that the same is true for a lot of us today. We shouldn’t let our skills, experience, or reputation define what God can do through us in the future. Especially for us Christians, we know already that we’ve been set apart by God to do great and amazing things for him. We shouldn’t let our insecurities get in the way of our great destinies. After all, if it’s God who calls us, he’ll also be the one who’ll accomplish his work through us. Let’s just go and Let God. 🙂 If God tells us to do something, let’s have the same response as Amos which is obedience:

Amos 7:16
Now therefore hear the word of the Lord.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Personal

 

The First 40 Days

Today marks the 40th day of 2015! Surprise surprise! Almost 40 days have already passed! The first month is already over and that means only one thing:

Either we’ve stayed true to our resolutions during the start of the year OR just like any other year, we’ve lost focus of them already.

40days

One of my goals when I started the year was to aim for a cumulative run of 600-700K kilometres. In order to do that, I have to run at least 15 kilometres a week to attain that goal. Here’s how I’ve done so far:

Week 1: 14KM
Week 2: 2KM (Fasting Week)
Week 3: 15KM
Week 4: 12KM
Week 5: 12.5KM
Week 6: 8KM

During the first three weeks, I was so inspired to reach my year end goal by meeting my weekly goal of 15KM a week. That means I have to set aside at least two days a week, one 10KM run and another 5KM run which adds up to 15KM. However, as you may notice, during the 4th, 5th and 6th week I’ve been slipping a little bit. My 15KM a week was reduced to 12KM, and last week I only manage to finish a mediocre 8KM.

Maybe you’re reading this post and you feel the same thing. You said that you will study X hours a week so that you can get the most out of your education, ace your exams and make your parents proud. Maybe you said that you’ll read the Bible everyday for the whole 365 days of  2015, but now you have already missed several days. Or maybe it’s a diet plan that you know your friends, family members and God has been telling you to do; the first week of January went great but shortly after the 2nd week, you’ve lost control again.

GOAL OF THIS BLOG: To encourage us to stay back on track and regain focus on our goals during the start of the year.

The start of the year always seem to be the time when we’re most inspired to achieve our goals. Everything seems to be going right during the first few weeks of the year! Why is it that as the weeks pass us by and as we head on to the next few months, we tend to lose sight of our goals once again? Will this year, once again, be the same cycle of losing sight what needs to be done and just hit the RESTART button come 2016? I hope not!

Red Reset button

As I noticed this cyclical pattern, I observed a few things we do differently during the start of the year. I hope to share to you in this blog a few insights that can help get us out of this rut. My prayer is that we can all get back on track and get us one step closer to the goals we’ve set last 2015. Here goes:

1) Take time to reflect

We have to take time to reflect. I believe that this is one of the few things we do differently during the start of the year compared to any other time of the year. During the Christmas Break, we’ve got a lot of time in our hands to write down our faith goals or resolutions. It gives us the time to reflect on the things that we did wrong during the past year and things that we want to do differently for the coming year. We have 1 – 1 1/2 weeks during the Christmas break and have a lot of time to spend time with God. I believe this is one of the keys why we start the year so motivated!

Now, the thing is, for the rest of the year, we don’t have the luxury of time to do this but we do have our SABBATHS or DAY OFFS. We should take this time to reflect on our goals and the specific things God called us to act upon for 2015. God did command us to “Remember the Sabbath”. I wrote a blog on this which can hopefully help you maximize your Sabbath:(https://andrewwee05.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/remember-the-sabbath/).

Also, another thing that can help us is to set aside A DAY OF SOLITUDE once a month. This can either be towards the end of the month or the beginning (whichever you’re most comfortable with). I wrote about this during a blog I did last December so I won’t write it here anymore: (https://andrewwee05.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/make-the-most-of-your-christmas-break/).

Check out number 2 from that blog. It’s good to have those times with God every once in a while. Jesus did say in Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 small_9a6d882650b843b7899070fd

Let seeking God’s kingdom always be a priority in our lives. Jesus did say that as we do this, then all of the other things in life will be added unto us as well. 🙂

2) Just do it

This very popular nike slogan has been very helpful with me in terms of accomplishing the things that I need to get done. If we’re really honest, the only reason we’re not doing the things that needs to get done is because we’re lazy. That’s one of our fallen human conditions. We have to fight of laziness. We have to NOT make excuses and just DO the things that we know are important. Stephen Covey, in his book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said this:

—“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do.” “They don’t like doing them either necessarily, but their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”

I like the phrase “their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose“. This is why the previous point “Take time to reflect” is important. However, after we’ve been refreshed by seeking God’s kingdom first, now we have to act on it. JUST DO IT.

just-do-it-6888

Looking back at last week’s run. I realized that the only reason why I settled for 8KM is because I got lazy getting up in the morning to meet my target. This morning, by God’s grace I was able to get back on track.

Week 7: 12KM and counting

Everytime we feel lazy, we have to subordinate those feelings and do what Nike tells us to do: “JUST DO IT”. Let’s work hard in achieving our goals. Did you know that the Bible says a lot of things about working hard?

Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

Proverbs 12:24
The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.

WORK HARD! JUST DO IT!

Again, two things that will help us accomplish the resolutions and goals we set for 2015:

1) Take time to reflect – this will help you be reminded of the reason or the “MOTIVE” why you set your goals last 2015. As you get refreshed with your MOTIVE, then that’s where you’ll get your MOTIVATION. Then after doing number 1,

2) JUST DO IT. NO MORE EXCUSES. DO IT. WORK HARD ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Life Lessons

 

What is God’s will for my life?

What is God’s will for my life? Have you ever asked yourself that question? I sure did, and still continuously do so even today. Constantly seeking for God’s will for our lives is one of the most important things that we can ever do. I often find myself faced with this question in my walk with God and when I talk with other people. Last Thursday, I spent time with a student and one of our conversations zeroed in on the subject of God’s will.

The question of “What is God’s will for my life?” is one of the biggest question for a person who have recently made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. That question is a $64,000 dollar question for a lot of Christians today. Most Christians feel that if that question just gets answered… then everything will go smooth sailing for their lives. We think that if we can just unlock the secrets and the mystery of God’s will then life is going to be easy. We think that we no longer have to be surprised by uncertainties in our lives.

know-gods-willWhat’s God’s will for my life?! What’s God’s will for my life?! What’s God’s will for my life?!

Now if you’re here and you’re reading this blog and you constantly find yourself asking this question. I have great news for you! God’s will in your life is knowable! In fact, I’m going to tell you below, the primary way that we can know God’s will! Are you ready? Here it goes, here’s the answer:

We can primarily know God’s will for our lives by reading His word

Reading-Bible-pd

TADAAA! There it is, you can know God’s will for your life by reading the Bible. Surprise surprise!

But WAITTTT!! Did the answer somehow fail your expectations? Have you heard this answer so many times already and was expecting a different one? Did you expect an answer that will give you the key in unlocking where God wants to lead you in this season? Well if that’s you, then hopefully you’ll continue to read along to see where I’m getting at. 🙂

I believe that, for a lot of us, whenever we ask the question: What is God’s will for my life? We’re primarily thinking about his SPECIFIC WILL for our lives. This concerns more of the “WHAT WILL WE BECOME”. God’s specific will zeroes in more on these questions:

“Lord, am I going to be an engineer one day?”
“God, what college should I go to?”
“What course should I take?”
For the singles: “Lord, what’s the name of the person whom I’m going to marry one day?”
And so on and so forth.

God has a specific will for our lives! That’s true and I believe that that is the beauty of this Christian walk. Our walk with God is an adventure! It’s the most exciting thing we can ever journey through in this walk called life. However, as much as this is true, sometimes our tendency is to give too much focus and emphasis on God’s SPECIFIC WILL rather than the other part of God’s will which is his GENERAL WILL.

Yup! That’s right, I believe that this is one way that we can look at the topic of God’s will. There’s his GENERAL WILL (sometimes we call this as his MORAL WILL) and his SPECIFIC WILL (sometimes referred to as his WILL OF EVENTS or PROVIDENTIAL WILL).

Our hearts, our questions, our desires focuses more on the SPECIFIC than the GENERAL. Too many times, we tend to lose sight and focus on his GENERAL WILL. I think that this is funny especially when it comes to the question: “WHAT IS GOD’S WILL FOR MY LIFE?” because 95% of God’s will is already found in scripture. I forgot where I learned that quote, but it’s an idiomatic expression saying that MOST of GOD’S WILL is already found in scripture. We just have to read and apply it in our lives.

If we’re really truly concerned about God’s will we will CONSTANTLY read his word and apply it in our lives.

If there’s anything that I want to achieve in this blog, it’s this: that you will focus more on God’s GENERAL WILL than his SPECIFIC WILL. Again, God’s specific will is amazing. Knowing and seeing how he moves directly in our lives shows us that our God is real and directly concerned in our lives. However, if you think about it, focusing too much on the SPECIFIC WILL without concerning on the GENERAL WILL may leave you most of the time frustrated. It will lead you frustrated, because you’re always asking those questions:

“Lord, am I going to be an engineer one day?”
“God, what college should I go to?”
“What course should I take?”
For the singles: “Lord, what’s the name of the person whom I’m going to marry one day?”

If you just observe closely all these questions that concerns God’s specific will in our lives, these are questions that only occasionally happens in our lives. They occur once in a blue moon. The answer to “God, what college should I go to?” only happens when we enter high school or college, after that you never had to worry about the question ever again in your life.  Whereas in our everyday lives, God’s GENERAL WILL occurs more frequently. Imagine if we just took the time to focus on his GENERAL WILL then we would know what to do in these situations:

Whenever feel lazy
When we get tempted
When someone offends us
When we see a first-timer in church
Should we honor our parents or not?
Any many many many other situations.

These are moments that we will encounter more, more than the questions I posted above relating to God’s SPECIFIC WILL. If we have just been busy in concerning ourselves in knowing and following God’s GENERAL WILL, then we would know how to act and respond properly in those situations. I believe that one of the reason why they say that 95% of God’s will is already in the Bible is because God has already given us instruction how to face most of the challenges we face in life. I believe that 95% of the events that will happen in our lives are part of God’s GENERAL WILL, while the 5% is part of God’s SPECIFIC WILL. We can choose today and decide what will we focus on and put our energies in.

Lastly, again this is not to say that I’m against the SPECIFIC WILL. What I just want to say is that hopefully we’ll focus more on his GENERAL WILL, because at the end of the day:

God’s more concerned in WHO you are becoming than WHAT you are becoming

The good news is, if we constantly live a life that obeys and honors God’s GENERAL WILL, then our character gets built. The WHO in us becomes refined and mature so that when God reveals to us his SPECIFIC WILL, we will be ready. Pastor Steve said in his book WikiChurch:

“My experience tells me that if we are ever to find that special grace and calling, we will most likely find it while in pursuit of doing what God has already called us to do. For me, that meant embracing the Great Commission as my own. Following the Lord’s command generally led me to a more specific understanding of what God wanted from my life.

There you have it, from Victory’s founding pastor himself. Constantly living a life that obeys God’s GENERAL WILL, will ultimately lead us towards God’s SPECIFIC CALLING in our lives.

May God give you the grace to obey his general will for your life as he slowly but surely reveals his specific calling for you.

God bless and Happy Monday everyone!

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Discipleship