“v7 Just be determined, be confident; and make sure that you obey the whole Law that my servant Moses gave you. Do not neglect any part of it and you will succeed wherever you go. v8 Be sure that the book of the Law is always read in your worship. Study it day and night, and make sure that you obey everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. v9 Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I, the LORD your God, am with you wherever you go.”
Crossing Over: From Bondage To Freedom Exodus 14:19-31 Matthew 18:21-35
Let me share with you a story which some of you may have already heard, it’s about the famous artist Leonardo Da Vinci.
When he started painting the Last Supper, he had a heated argument with a fellow painter. In his bitterness, Da Vinci determined to paint the face of his enemy into the face of Judas as his way of expressing his revenge and anger. When he finished it, almost everybody recognized the face of his enemy whom he quarreled with. But when the time came to paint the face of Jesus, he could make no progress, it became so hard for him to concentrate on what he was doing. Something seemed to baffle him, held him back and frustrated his best efforts. Then he realized that what made him experience that kind of frustration was because of what he did to his enemy. Da Vinci, then decided to forgive. He re-painted the face of Judas. It was only then that he was able to paint the face of Jesus with such a realization that it stands acclaimed even today. What lesson does the story give us? It tells us that we cannot live out the life of Jesus if we have an unforgiving heart, or, if we keep grudges against others.
Brothers and sisters, human forgiveness is possible because we have already been freed by God’s forgiveness. Then, when we forgive, the more we will feel and experience that we are even more free. We are free to make a new beginning. And we know in our hearts that life will be all right again even when someone has done something indescribably wrong against us. Let us forgive and ask forgiveness. And we will find that truth that doing so has made us free. Only then will we experience peace, joy and the fullness of life.
Our sorrows will produce joy, kahit na tayo ay nasa mabigat na pagsubok ng buhay ay mas pinipili parin nating gawin kung ano ang tama sa paningin ng Diyos at mas maging masigasig tayo sa ating paglilingkod. At kung patuloy na naghahari sa puso ng bawat isa ang malasakit, surely, your sorrows will turn into joy.
Sabi nga sa awit 30:5c “sa buong magdamag, luha ma’y pumatak, pagsapit ng umaga, kapalit ay galak.” Tears my flow in the night, but joy comes in the morning.
Holy Rituals: Equipping Us For Worship And Service Exodus 12:1-14 Matthew 18:15-20
One night in May 1970, at a hidden waterfall in the middle of the mountain ranges of Sierra Madre where three tribes of Aetas get their water supply, suddenly and mysteriously stopped flowing. The cause of this unusual event began along the shores up in Zambales near Mount Pinatubo. For several days, the wind had been blowing hard to the east over the lake separating two mountain ranges, driving much of its mountain soil and big rocks to flow down the river. Then the winds suddenly shifted to the west, driving the lake water west and causing the big boulder of rocks to flow to the lake’s water and block the big passage of water to the waterfalls. The waterfalls ceased to flow for almost 30 hours until the Aetas discovered why the falls had dried up. It was clogged by the big boulder of rocks.
When big boulders of sin block us from each other, the love of Christ eventually will not flow freely to us, and will not allow the Holy Spirit to flow through our lives, and the result can become disastrous, and we will dry up.
Has the love for Christ been blocked by sin and unforgiving spirit? Remember the Love of God!
Thanksgiving develops a positive attitude that can always find something for which to be grateful and learn to be content in whatever state of life we have. We can always start with a sincere thank you through our prayers, nurture lifestyle of grateful worship, praising God and acknowledging all He has done, Prayer of thanks help us to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in all circumstances. Christians life is to be lived in an atmosphere of continual joy, prayer and thanksgiving.
An Invitation To Service Exodus 3:1–15 Matthew 16:21-28
RSVP in the context of our faith means Responding to the Savior’s (call) with Vision and Passion and this is the appropriate response to the invitation of God in Jesus Christ which will be to our big regret if we turn our head away from it and ignore the call. Why would it be regretful? Because will miss out on the overflowing grace and the abundant mercy God has in store for us – the grace of being changed into Jesus’ likeness after tasting the mercy of God’s forgiveness and restoration. Mission is a means towards personal transformation, a change of heart in each of us that spreads like wildfire to others resulting to a one community of faith being changed from glory unto glory in the course of serving the Savior, the King of kings.
Real Christianity when practiced as Christ taught will lead people to respect each others and eliminates injustice, indifference and discrimination. It will replace hate, envy, jealousy, greed, lust and the like with love and concern for all people, and it is the only way that the world can permanently be remade. Modern social engineers, political leaders, doctors, educators, psychologists, scientists and other professionals are powerless to produce a better social order-apart from making better, more responsible people. We do not mean that they cannot contribute to have a better world, but it is to say that their contributions apart from their Christian hearts will never achieve peace and happiness for humanity. With that truth, Christ and his teachings are necessary as we do our daily task or mission in life.
We live in a very digitalized world. In this digital world, everyone longs to be known. Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone needs to be unique. Everyone wants to establish their own identity.
There are people, whose lives depend on how many friends they have in Facebook and how many contacts they have in WhatsApp.
Often, we end up checking out ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ for our posts: photos and materials that we share in Facebook or IG, Instagram, that is. We ponder over who liked and who didn’t like. We judge the persons based on it. And based on it, we decide our own identity.
We live in a virtual community rather than a real people-oriented community.
During the lockdown we have realized how many are real friends, how many are fake friends, how many have called us often enquiring about our families, health, jobs, and how many were really cared for and supported in their difficulties and pains during this pandemic, COVID-19.
Sometimes, we give importance to what others think, say, and express on their opinion about us.
More often, our identity is decided by others. Can others really decide what we are?
Almost 2,000 years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ delivered his one and only version of the SONA, which is fondly called State of the Mission Address (SOMA) where he laid out his missionary agenda. Recorded in Luke 4:16-21, this is also considered his inaugural addressed as he began his earthly mission in his hometown of Nazareth.
The unique feature of his SOMA is that it was a very short, direct-to-the-point speech based on the text from Prophet Isaiah 61:1-3 and a one-sentence annotation of what the re-reading of the prophecy meant during his time. Another unique feature is his term of office as an earthly missionary-teacher-prophet is only three years—relatively short but long enough to create a meaningful transformation of the Jewish society and the world.
The Abundant Mercy of God Genesis 45:1-15 Romans 11: 1-2, 29-32
As church people, we have grown up hearing about the mercy of God. His mercy is a very delightful and superb theme that is woven in the entire Bible. From the Old Testament pages, even up to our life stories and experiences today, we have so often witnessed how God’s abundant and inexhaustible mercies have given us a glimpse of the very nature of God… that He is the fountain and source of all mercy.