A Tender Heart and Humility

Ephesians_4-32Fourth, to love the brethren is to have a “tender heart,” from eusplagchnos, which means, “good bowels or intestines” (Strong). The bowels include the intestines, liver, and kidney. It refers to your deepest human emotion. If sympathy is having the same feeling, tender heartedness means entering into a deeper feeling for somebody. To be tender hearted is to be “affectionate and compassionate” (Louw-Nida) towards somebody. To be compassionate is to feel concern and care for somebody. That is our theme for 2015-2016—“Care for the needy.”

Isn’t that the kind of God we serve? Remember when Jesus arrived in Bethany, knowing that his friend Lazarus was dead for four days already? He said, “Where have you laid him?” They answered, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw his friend lying there, what did Jesus do? It’s the shortest verse in the Bible. John wrote, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). That’s the nature of God we worship. He is not just sympathetic, entering into our feelings. He is also tender-hearted, compassionate, entering into our deepest feelings. He feels your hurt. He knows your pain. He enters into your deepest emotions. Jesus came down from heaven to earth, to sit where you sit, to know how you feel. That is why we can come to the Father in Jesus’ Name. He knows the pain that we are feeling.

Fifth, to love a brother is to have a “humble mind.” The word is from tapeinophron, having a lowly spirit. How can we show a humble mind to each other? Phil. 2:3: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind [tapeinophron]let each esteem others better than himself” (NKJV). To be humble is to give your pride, and in lowliness of mind consider others better than yourself.

Last Friday, we held a training class at Mandaue Christian School. The Senior Pastor of the church did something wonderful. He served us. He served us like a waiter. He asked us what we wanted for lunch. He served us coffee. I cannot forget how he gathered our coffee cups, put it on the tray, and carried the tray downstairs. Where can you find a big church where the Senior Pastor serves you? In most big churches, you cannot even shake the hand of the Senior Pastor.

Can I ask you to do something today? Look around for somebody whom you could show sympathy, somebody whom you could share her joy and sorrow. Look for somebody whom you could show love unselfishly. Look for somebody around you whom you could show compassion, caring, and concern. Look for somebody whom you could show lowliness of mind. Then I can tell you with all certainty that you will love life and live good days till Jesus comes again!

Love the Brotherhood

Peter teaches us five ways to love the brotherhood of believers. I call these the five love unitylanguages of Peter. First, have “unity of mind” (v. 8), from homophron, from the word, homos, which means, “together,” and phren, “mind” (Strong). Literally, it means, “one mind together,” “likeminded,” “harmonious,” or “having the same attitudes” (Louw-Nida) Peter is not saying here that we all think the same way. Peter is telling us to have the same attitude toward something.

When I got married, I expected my wife to fit into my way of thinking. But I was wrong. I carry a handkerchief always. She doesn’t. I carry an umbrella when it’s raining. She doesn’t. I list things to do and things to buy in my cell phone. She doesn’t.

We all cannot think the same things the same way. What Peter is saying here is that we relate with each other harmoniously, having the same attitude, without quarreling.

Do you want to love life and live good days in your home? Stop fighting each other. Stop repeating the hateful words you said to each other. Forgive each other and talk to each other. With a forgiving attitude, love each other. Then you will love life and live good days.

Second, practice “sympathy” (v. 8). It translates the word, sumpascho, which means, “to experience pain jointly” (Strong) or to suffer together with someone.

Who is more likely to give more “tip” to the waiter? The one who understands the hardship of the waiter is more likely to give more to the waiter.

It was only last year that we bought a dog, a beagle. Mylene has come to love our beagle very much. She would pat him and stroke him and do things to him that she wouldn’t do to me. Sometimes I wish that I were a dog. One day Mylene saw stray dogs walking on the street. She told me that she now feels pity for street dogs that she didn’t feel before.

Every time I see those street kids begging for money under the heat of the sun, I feel sad deep inside. My first ministry was teaching Sunday school to poor kids in poor barangays. I feel their hardship, hunger, and pain. That’s what sympathy means—feeling the pain, experiencing the same thing together, and suffering together.

We should sympathize with each other’s situations. Sympathize with each other’s struggles. Be ready to enter into the situation of somebody today. Then you will love life and live good days.

Third, Peter wrote that we are to practice “brotherly love” (v. 8). The word is from philadelphos, which means “loving one another as brothers.” (Louw-Nida) Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35,  NKJV). Love is the mark of true followers of Christ. Love for God, love for the Word of God, and love for one another.

How do we show love as in GGCF? Can you count the ways? We visit the sick. We visit the disabled and shut in. We give a love gift for the needy. Somebody lost his clothes and needed money. We gave him a love gift. Somebody lost a loved one. We gave a love gift. Somebody is in the hospital. Hospital bills are expensive. We give a love gift. We don’t just say, “We’ll pray for you.” We give money to the needy. This year, our theme is “Dare, Care, Share.” Dare to do something for God that you haven’t done before. Care for the needy. Share the Gospel.

I’d like our church, GGCF, to be known in Cebu City, as the church that loves God. I’d like GGCF to be known as the church that loves each other!

How to Love Life and Live Good Days

c0939426ed5760e3938ca144f6235d08What does the world tell you about the good life? The world tells you that the good life is having many possessions—having a nice house, nice car, nice clothes, and money in the bank. The world tells you that the good life is enjoying life—drinking, partying, and doing anything you want in life.

But Peter says the good life is never material or physical, but relational. In 1 Peter 3:8-9, Peter tells the suffering Christians to love and bless one another. Then in vv. 10-11, he writes, “For Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.’” The conjunction “for” links v. 9 with v. 10. It can mean, “because” or “the reason being.” In effect, Peter is saying that we need to love and bless each other, because it is the key to loving life and living good days. The key to living the good life is personal (a matter of the heart) and relational (a matter of relating with others).

The Christians of Peter’s day were harassed for their faith. They were abused by slave owners. They had a hard time with their unbelieving husbands or wives. Still, Peter said you can love life and live good days. It means that despite your bad situation in life, whatever you are facing today, you can still love life and live good days in Christ!

In 1 Peter 3:8-11, to love life and live good days, we must do three things. We must love the brotherhood, live the blessing, and look forward to God’s blessing.

To Disobey God’s Will is to Build Your Life on Sand

Jesus said, “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will article-2302018-18FAEEAA000005DC-686_964x632be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matt. 7:26). Jesus talks about everyone who disobeys His words. To disobey the words of Jesus is to disobey the will of God. Jesus is talking about everyone who disobeys God’s will.

Jesus switches from the wise builder to the foolish builder. The wise builder builds his house on the rock. But the foolish builder builds his house on the sand.
Three things will apply to you if you disobey the will of God. First, you are “foolish.” The word, “foolish” is from the Greek, moros, where we get our English word, “moron.” It means “stupid.” (Gingrich)

But Matthew is not talking about mental stupidity. In Matt. 23:17, Matthew writes, “You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?” Here Matthew links the word “blind” with “fools.” He describes the fool as blind. The adjective “blind” (tuphlos) means, “metaphorically, of mental and spiritual blindness, often the result of self-deception, unable to understand (MT 15.14).” (Friberg) Hence, in Matthew, the fool is blind. The fool is stupid, in the sense that he is blind. He is unable to understand. He deceives himself. He thinks he understands the things of God. But actually, he does not.

Thus, if you hear God’s Word today, but you disregard it or you disobey it, you are a foolish person. You are spiritually stupid. You cannot see spiritually. You cannot understand the things of God. To your mind, you think that you are doing the right thing. But you do not really understand the eternal value of obeying God in your life. You fail to see the earth-shaking importance of building your life on the will of God.

The Blessing of Obeying God’s Will

9d760a692222d00c147e1f96d01e50e6Three things will apply to you if you obey God’s will. First, you “will be like a wise man” (Matt. 7:24). Luke has the present tense, “he is like a man” (Lk. 6:48). But Matthew uses the future tense “will be” (homoiothesetai). The reason is that Matthew emphasizes the last judgment. In v. 2, you will be judged as you judge others. In vv. 21-23, false prophets will be judged on the last day. On the final day of judgment, the wise builders and the foolish builders will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ. (Davies/Allison)

Jesus said if you obey His words, you will be like a wise man. The wise man is wise because he obeys God’s will.

Do you want to be a wise person? Then obey the words of Jesus. Obey God’s will. You will be a wise person.

Second, you build your life on a solid foundation. If you obey Jesus’ words, you build your house on the “rock.” The “rock” is the words of Jesus—God’s will. The rock is the will of God in the kingdom of God. To build your house on the rock is to obey God’s will. It is to build your life on God’s will. If you obey God’s will, your life stands on solid ground.

Third, you will stand in the storm of judgment. Jesus said, “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock (Matt. 7:25). In the Near East, storms come in a hot climate. Heavy rains and strong winds produce rivers. The rivers flood formerly dry lands.

In the OT, storms symbolize the judgment of God (Ezek. 13:10-15). Jesus also uses the storm and flood to signify divine judgment. Matthew 24:37-39 reads,

37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

When Typhoon Yolanda came to Tacloban, it sustained winds of 235 kph. It was the most powerful typhoon in history. It caused a “storm surge” of water as high as 10 feet. It broke coconut trees and knocked down electric poles. It brought in a large boat in downtown Tacloban that is still sitting there.

It completely destroyed many houses except for one building—the Tacloban City Convention Center. The Center suffered some damage to its roof. But it stood its ground. Local media hailed it as “the one building that survived the storm.”[1]

We will all stand before the Lord on the last day. We will give an account of how we lived our lives in this earth. On the last day, the rain of judgment shall fall on everyone. The floods of judgment shall come on everyone. The winds of judgment shall blow on everyone. But if you built your life on the rock of God’s Word, then you will stand in the storm of divine judgment.

[1] Pia Ranada, “Time to make the PH stadium typhoon-proof,” Nov. 16, 2013. Cited October 10, 2015. Online: http://www.rappler.com/nation/43831-typhoon-proof-homes-tacloban-stadium.

To Obey God’s Will is to Build Your Life on the Rock

Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a build-on-the-rockwise man who built his house on the rock (Matt. 7:24). Jesus is calling on everyone who hears “these words of mine.” Jesus refers to “these words” in His Sermon on the Mount. To review, it is His interpretation of the Law of Moses (Matt. 5:17). It is reconciling with your brother (Matt. 5:21-26). It is cutting off your right hand that causes you to sin and throwing it away (Matt. 5:27-30). It means not committing adultery in your heart (Matt. 5:31-32). It means being truthful in your words (Matt. 5:33-37). It is turning the other cheek and going the extra mile (Matt. 5:38-42). It is loving your enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). It is practicing your righteousness in secret (Matt. 6:1-18). It is laying up money in heaven and not on earth (Matt. 6:19-24). It means not worrying about your needs. It means seeking first the rule of God in your life (Matt. 6:25-34). It means to judge yourself first, before you judge others (Matt. 7:1-6). It is to do to others what you want others to do to you (Matt. 7:12).

These are the words of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus. He who hears Jesus’ words and does them will be like a wise man. Note the words, “does them” in v. 24 and “does not do them in v. 26.” Jesus’ emphasis is not on the hearing but on the doing of His words.

A true story is told about a poor Haitian named Miltador. He owned a cow. He got this cow after working for many years for a local farmer without pay. When the cow was just a calf, he fed it until it grew and bred. The farmer paid Miltador a calf after years of work without pay. One day Miltador attended a Bible study in 1 John 3:16-18. John talks about showing your love to a brother in need.

The next week, the Bible study leader asked Miltador about his cow. Miltador said, “I don’t have the cow anymore.”

The man replied, “What happened to the cow?”

Miltador answered, “My brother has been sick and needed to see a doctor. He had no money to pay a doctor. Last week you told us that if we have material possession, and see our brother in need, but don’t help–how could the love of God be in us? So I sold the cow and gave the money to my brother so he could see the doctor.”[1]

You may hear God’s Word and say “Amen” to it. You may clap your hands in approval. You may even cry afterward. Yet Jesus is not looking for hearers, but doers of His word.

In Matthew, doing Jesus’ words is doing the will of God. Jesus said in Matt. 12:50, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” The word of Jesus is the will of God. Thus, he who obeys the words of Jesus obeys the will of God.

[1] Davon Huss, “Selling Your Cow,” Sermoncentral. Cited October 10, 2015. Online: http://www.sermoncentral.com/ illustrations/sermon-illustration-davon-huss-stories-helptheneedy-christiangiving-sharinggodsbounty-83790.asp.

Live on the Rock

main-qimg-57c61d336d880b28a884e1cee6869503Jesus closes His Sermon on the Mount with a last warning. He has already finished teaching about God’s rule in His sermon. He calls on His hearers to choose whether to obey His words or disobey them.

Jesus the carpenter uses a building parable to drive home His point. It is a parable of the wise house builder and the foolish house builder. He who obeys Jesus is like the wise builder who builds his house on the rock. He who ignores Jesus is like the foolish builder who builds his house on the sand.

The main point of Jesus is the prime importance of obeying His words. Jesus is not talking about any other house. He is talking about the house of your life. Specifically, Jesus is talking about the foundation of the house of your life.

What kind of foundation are you building your life today? Are you building your life on the rock of obedience to Jesus’ words? Or are you building your life on the sand of disobedience?

Jesus teaches us two things about obeying and ignoring His words.