Sunday, May 29, 2005

Your Work... Enjoy or Endure?


Would you believe that most Filipinos are satisfied with their work?

That is, if we believe the survey released last April by the SWS or the Social Weather Stations. A sampling of 1,200 persons nationwide revealed that our “job satisfaction is quite high, with 88% of all working adults saying they are satisfied with their main job.” Only 7% of the respondents said they are not satisfied with their jobs.

That is, if we accept that 1,200 people can speak for the entire nation.

Do you agree with this SWS survey? Would you really rate yourself as satisfied with your work?

Personally, I can’t reconcile that with the report that about 2,500 Filipinos leave the country everyday to work abroad. If Filipinos are satisfied, why do they leave the country to work overseas?

But, it is a fact that we spend majority of our lives working. We actually spend up to 70% of our waking hours at work. That’s why it’s important that we enjoy our work rather than endure it.

The Bible gives us the answer. Let’s read Colossians 3:22-4:1 together…
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. (New International Version)

How do these verses relate to work? Don’t think of slaves as people performing menial jobs only like building the pyramid. The slaves during those times were doctors, bankers, engineers and other professionals.

That’s why we believe there are principles from these verses that apply to us in the 21st century. The masters represent the employers and the slaves represent the employees.

Note that it says in verse 23: “work at it with all your heart”. In another translation it says: “let your hearts be in your work”.


First, WE ARE CALLED TO ENJOY WORK.

Is there anything to work other than the pay? Are we doomed to be frustrated at work? Or is it possible to find fulfillment at all? We are called to enjoy work.

When we enjoy work, we will work at it with all our heart. Our heart will be in our work. And how do we know if we enjoy our work? We excel at work.

Jack Nicklaus, one of the best golfers in the world, said: “I firmly believe that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don’t enjoy.”

One of the reasons why we don’t enjoy work is we look at it from a wrong point of view. We look at it as a curse. For some of us it is a burden instead of a blessing. Was work a curse from God?

It is written in Genesis 1:28—“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

We usually think that the only command here was “Go and multiply!” But God also commanded the first man and woman to subdue the earth and rule over everything on earth. That to me was a job description. Even before the curse, there was work. Work was and still is God’s blessing to man. It was not part of the curse.

God even tasked Adam to “work [the Garden of Eden] and take care of it.” God intended for us to work. That was our original design.

When man sinned, the curse was the struggle to earn a living. In Genesis 3:17-19 it says: “And so, the ground will be under a curse because of what you did. As long as you live, you will have to struggle to grow enough food. Your food will be plants, but the ground will produce thorns and thistles. You will have to sweat to earn a living”. (The Message)

Work was supposed to be for our satisfaction. Now it is for survival. Before, work was fulfilling. Now, it became frustrating.

But the original design was not changed. Ecclesiastes 3:22 says: “We were meant to enjoy our work, and that’s the best thing we can do.” (Contemporary English Version) Your work situation may not be ideal. But we are to enjoy work. It is our calling.

In the book “Your Job—Survival or Satisfaction”, Jerry and Mary White wrote: “Work was satisfying. Man was not made to dread labor, but to be fulfilled by the creation of his hands or mind.”

In fact, God was so supportive of our work that in Deuteronomy 8:17-18 it is written: “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…”

When you become successful, don’t say, “I’m rich, and I've earned it all myself.” Don’t forget that it is the LORD who gave you the strength to make a living or the “ability to produce wealth”.
Work is very important to God. The Bible mentioned “work” more than 800 times in the Bible, more than all the words for worship, music, praise, and singing. Your work matters to God.

Let’s go back to our passage: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men… It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Second, WE HAVE THE CAUSE TO ENJOY WORK. Jesus is the reason why we enjoy work. People think that only pastors are in full-time Christian service. Wrong! All of us are full-time in the ministry. We serve the Lord through our work. Our work is our ministry.

In fact, 1 Timothy 6:1 says: “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” We allow people to slander or dishonor God when we fail to work well.

In the Ten Commandments, we usually say the fourth commandment is only about the Sabbath. But note what Exodus 20:9-10 says: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work”. Six days you shall labor and do all your work.

Again in the book “Your Job—Survival or Satisfaction” we read these words: “Emphasis is usually placed on resting one day a week. But note that it says, “You shall work six days.” That is a command, not a choice.” That means that we disobey God when we don’t work.

That’s why in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 we are commanded: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.”

It is also written: “Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, The Message)

Thus, since we are serving the Lord through our work, “we are [to] obey [our] earthly masters [or our employers] in everything”. (Colossians 3:22a) What do you mean “in everything”? Let me qualify it. Obedience does not include the illegal. Don’t break the law of the land. So, when your boss tells you to make two books, one for the BIR and the other for the company, don’t. It’s illegal.

Obedience does not include the immoral also. Don’t break the law of the Lord. Before, my wife Ellen worked in a government financing corporation. In their office, they usually have extended lunch breaks. When God convicted Ellen about this issue, she asked forgiveness from her boss. Her boss was so surprised. She said, “Why are you telling me that? It’s OK. Everybody’s doing it.” But even if everybody’s doing it, that doesn’t make it right. As a result, her boss got convicted too. She stopped having extended lunch breaks also. And, seeing the boss changed, the entire department also changed. Its amazing how one step of obedience could change an entire workplace.

So if your company asks you to do that which is right not only in the eyes of the law but much more in the eyes of the Lord, do it.

It also says here that we are to “do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” The Int’l Children’s Bible translated it this way: “Do not obey just when they are watching you, to gain their favor. …serve them honestly, because you respect the Lord.”

Work in such a way that at the end of the day you can say, “I earned my keep.” And you can sleep soundly because you knew you put in a hard day’s work.

First, we are called to enjoy work. Second, we have the cause to enjoy work. Now, let’s look at the passage. “…you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Third, WE WILL BE COMPENSATED WHEN WE ENJOY WORK. The Lord will reward us for serving Him through our work. In Colossians 3:25 we see this warning: “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.” In the Greek, the word “repaid” also means “reward.”

Yes, God will make us pay for doing what is wrong. But God will also reward us for doing what is right. When we serve Jesus through our work, we “will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.”

Employers, make sure that you pay your workers right and you pay them well. Colossians 4:1 says: “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” So if you are an employer and you are not paying your people right, the Lord will hold you accountable.

But, I’m speaking to the employees, even if you are not paid right, even if you are not paid well, if you serve the Lord through your work, He will reward you. Just imagine. We are already paid salaries here on earth. But the Lord will also compensate you with rewards in heaven.

Let me close with a quote from Martin Luther: “The maid who sweeps kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays, not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”

Let’s pray…

Note: Pastor Cortez preached this sermon in the English Worship Service last May 29, 2005.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Money Talks!

Do you know that our Lord Jesus spoke so much about money?

In fact, 16 out of the 38 parables of Christ spoke on handling earthly treasure. In 1 out of every 10 verses in the Gospels, the Lord Jesus taught on being faithful to God about your finances. That’s more than verses about heaven and hell combined! Throughout the Old and New Testament, there are 2350 verses on wealth! That’s twice as many as the references to faith and prayer.

In short, what we do with the money God gave us matters to Him. God is concerned not only with our tithe or the 10% of our income we give in the offering, but also with how we handle the remaining 90% in our wallet.

Money is not the root of all evil. The love of money is (1 Timothy 6:10). Tell me how you handle your money and I will tell you who you really are. It is written, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21. The NET Bible)

We declare in our baptism that we surrendered our lives to God. It seems we should baptize our wallets also. Have we surrendered to God even the financial side of our lives?

Thus, Makati Gospel Church will host a special seeker event titled “Money Talks!” on June 18, 5:30PM, at the MGC Sanctuary. Pastor Joby Soriano of Christ Commission Fellowship Alabang and I will speak on what the Bible says about our finances. Start praying for your supervisor, manager or CEO. Please give us their names and we will send invitations to them. You may call 816-0634 (Look for Joyce).

With God’s help, together let us make this event successful!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Becoming A Woman of Impact


Happy Mothers’ Day!

How did it all start? This special day for mothers go all the way back to the 19th century.

Meet Anne Marie Reeves Jarvis. She was a daughter of a Methodist Minister in Virginia.

Tragedy brought out the best in her. Four out of her six children died of various diseases. All but one of the dead children had been born healthy. In those days, illness in children was swift and fatal. She blamed it to the unsanitary conditions of the slaughter house nearby.

But she did not sit down and watch the rest of her kids die also. She took matters in her own hands. She organized a women’s group called “Mother’s Work” to promote community health. Their motto was “Mother’s Work — For Better Mothers, Better Homes, Better Children, Better Men and Women.” And, through patient, hard work, they succeeded in their campaign. And, when the Civil war broke out in America, her group worked for peace in their town throughout the war.

When she died on May 10, 1908, her daughter Anna wanted to honor her mom. At a memorial service for her mother, Miss Jarvis gave a carnation to each person who attended. It was her mother’s favorite flower. She also suggested the national observance of an annual day honoring all mothers because she had loved her own mother so dearly.

Soon, her idea of a day to honor mothers gained popularity in major cities in the USA. Six years later, in honor of Anne Marie Reeves Jarvis, by an act of the US congress, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the 2nd Sunday in May as Mothers’ Day.

Now the question is… Would you be honored with a special day because of your life?

Well, the Bible teaches us how you could become a woman of impact. And we find it in Titus 2:3-5…

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

To fully enjoy the richness of this passage, let us look into its context.

Note the word “Likewise”. This word gives us a clue that the verses are connected to each other.

Paul wrote to Titus who was pastoring the believers in Crete so “that [he] should set in order the things that are lacking” in that church.

Paul also instructed Titus in 2:1 and 15 that he “must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. … These, then, are the things [he] should teach.” Note the phrase “sound doctrine”. It means that these teachings are not bad but good for us.

When your son is sick, he may not like the taste of the medicine. But, if it is what the doctor prescribed, he has to take it. It’s the same with the Word of God.

There are times that a pastor is afraid to tell the truth. He fears that he might step on someone else’s toes. But Paul commanded us to “encourage and rebuke with all authority” and that we should “not let anyone despise [us].”

If we would read the rest of chapter 1, we find that false teachers were attacking the early church. That’s why Paul gave instructions on what to teach to various groups in church. In verse 2, he talked about the men in the church. In verses 3-5, the women. In verses 6-8, the young people. In verses 9-10, the slaves. I encourage you to read the whole book. It’s very short.

Note that Paul focused on relationships, particularly the family. Always remember that, “As the family goes, so goes the church.” No amount of success in business or ministry will ever compensate for failure in the home.

Then Paul links our conduct in our families with the grace of God. In Titus 2:11-12 it says,
“God has shown us how kind he is by coming to save all people. He taught us to give up our wicked ways and our worldly desires and to live decent and honest lives in this world.”

God’s kindness teaches us to live decent and honest lives in this world. What makes us good Christians ought to make us good fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. That’s why the strength of the entire church depends upon the strength of the families in the church.

If we live the way God wants us to live, it says in verse 5, “no one will malign the word of God.”

If we live the way God wants us to live, it also says in verse 8 that
“those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

And if we live the way God want us to live, it also says in verse 10
“that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”

People will ask what made you different. And then you can share to them that Jesus changed your life and your family. And the Lord can change their lives and families also.

With that in mind, let us focus now on our passage. How then can you become a woman of impact?

First, to become a woman of impact, you must set an example in the way you live.

Older women must set an example to younger women what a godly woman ought to be. They must
“be reverent in the way they live”.

And a godly woman does not engage in slander or gossip. You don’t meddle with other people’s lives. Let us spend more time praying for people than talking about them.

She is also not addicted to much wine. This may refer to other vices in which women are also addicted. Like wasting so much time watching soap operas or telenovelas. Or it may also include shopping. You buy things you don’t need with the money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like.

Instead of doing these things, a godly woman “teach[es] what is good.” Women, you are commanded to involve yourselves in a ministry of women ministering to women. Who can better minister to women but women?

That leads us to our second point.
To become a woman of impact, you must encourage other women.

It says in verse 4 that, when you live the way you should live, “then [you] can train younger women.” All of us—men and women—are commanded by the Lord Jesus to “make disciples”. To “teach what is good” is to “train” others.

In one translation it says,
“Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to…”

You have to walk the talk. Then you can talk the walk. You model it. Then you mold others to become models also.

What are you going to teach them? First, train them “to love their husbands”.

Women of impact are devoted to their husbands. Ladies, the best way to show this devotion is by being “subject to [your] husbands.” And to submit to your husband is to put your husband first.

It does not say, submit if your husband is worthy of submission. It says submit. Period. Of course, that does not mean you can’t disagree. But you do it in such a way that you don’t rebel against your husband. You can disagree and still submit.

This flows naturally to the next:
“train the younger women to love their… children”

Someone wrote, “A right relationship between a husband and wife is the first responsibility and priority in the home for this relationship is foundational to the parents’ ability to properly love and care for their children. The home is where life makes up its mind for it is in the home that children develop a proper view of men and women, of love, marriage, respect for others, and even of God’s love as they see it modeled in their parents.”

You also “train the younger women… to be self-controlled and pure”. Self-control is a quality all Christians need in all areas of life. But in our text the focus is more a self-control that promotes sexual purity. And we are not just talking of avoiding adultery. We must also avoid mental and emotional adultery. That is, we must keep away from lustful thoughts.

You should also be careful in the way you relate to men other than your husbands. Women, you should be closer to your husbands than any other men. Your husband should be your best friend.

It also says that we should “train younger women… to be busy at home”. Ladies, you are not a prisoner in your own homes. You are the manager. Don’t ever say you are just a plain housewife. Say, “I am a creative housewife.”

This text does not prohibit married women from working or being employed outside the home. It talks about making your home your top priority, not your work.

Lastly, it says that we should “train younger women… to be kind”. That means you should be gentle and considerate even with those who do not deserve your kindness.

How do you become a woman of impact? First, you must set an example in the way you live. Second, you must encourage other women.

Would you be honored with a special day because of your life?

You may not be a mother physically. As in, you may not have given birth to a child. But you can be a mother spiritually. As in, you can lead a person to Christ and take care of that person so that she can grow in her faith in the Lord.

And when you do that, you can also become a woman of impact. You may not be honored with a special day but God will surely honor you.

Again I say to all the mothers here, “Happy Mothers’ Day!”


Note: This sermon was preached by Pastor Cortez at the Chinese Service of Makati Gospel Church last May 8, 2005.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Bearing Much Fruit That Will Last


No doubt we are praying that Makati Gospel Church would grow both in quality (spiritually) and quantity (numerically). This is exactly what the Lord Jesus wants: “This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit [quantity], showing yourselves to be my disciples…You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. [quality]” (John 15:8, 16a, NIV. Emphasis added)

At the turn of the century, the Natural Church Development Institute headed by Dr. Christian Schwarz studied more than 1,000 churches in 32 countries on all six continents. Church leaders hailed it as “the most comprehensive study ever conducted on church growth.” According to that study, big churches are not necessarily healthy. Hmmm. It sounds like “A fat person is not necessarily healthy.” Ouch! That hurts! :-) Likewise, small churches are not necessarily unhealthy. But, healthy churches grow. Quality leads to quantity.

One of the essential qualities of a healthy church that they discovered in this study is growing small groups in the church. In fact, Dr. Schwarz wrote, “If we were to identify any one quality as the ‘most important,’ then without a doubt it would be the multiplication of small groups.”

But this idea is not something new. In fact, it is a Biblical pattern. In the Old Testament, Jethro advised Moses to divide the people into groups that he may effectively and efficiently minister to the nation Israel (Exodus 18:13-26). In the New Testament, Jesus Himself had His small group—the 12 disciples. Other than their large group gathering in the temple, the early church had their fellowship “from house to house” (Acts 2:46, The NET Bible). Even the Apostle Paul did that. “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20, NIV)

Thus, we would like to invite you to join the Discovering My Cell Group Ministry seminar this coming Saturday, May 28, 9:30-11:30AM at Room 109. We welcome all of you who want to serve God in this ministry. It’s a 9-session workshop. It’s also free. You may register by calling the MGC office at 816-0634 (Look for Sis. Joyce). Sign-up forms are also available at the Usher’s table.

See you this Saturday!

Yours in Christ,

Bro. Eyriche Cortez

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Let's Go For It, Team MGC!


There are three kinds of people in the world. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who ask, “What happened?”

Now, what about you? I hope you become one of those who make things happen. How? I encourage each one of us to ask God what He wants us to be and to do for His glory. We are now laying down the foundation of a strategy for MGC. And when we launch that strategy, I pray you won’t just comment. I pray you would commit. Join us. Team MGC needs you.

“With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort.”
(1 Corinthians 15:58, The Message)

Yours in Christ,

Bro. Eyriche Cortez
Associate Pastor, English Worship Service

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Pursuing A Life That Matters


As we join Makati Gospel Church, I confess my family and I are both excited and nervous. More excited than nervous. We are nervous because we left the comfort zone of our former church. We are excited because of the potentials of what we can do together here in Makati Gospel Church.

That’s why this morning, I am challenging you to join us in a journey.
A pursuit actually. Pursuing a Life that Matters. A life of consequence. A life of impact.

Life is full of decisions. Do you agree? But, do you know that the decisions that matter in life are not always earth-shaking? It’s our day to day decisions that either make us closer or farther from God. We call it steps of obedience.

Now, there are three decisions we need to make in our pursuit of a life of consequence. And we find it in Hebrews 12:1-2.

“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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

You may ask, what’s the “great cloud of witnesses”? We need not guess. Note the word “Therefore”. We have to ask, “Why is that “therefore” there for?”

Let’s check out the chapter before our verses. It says in Hebrews 11:1, “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see. It was by their faith that people of ancient times won God’s approval.” The entire chapter 11 talks about people who won God’s approval because they lived a life of faith. They are the “great cloud of witnesses.” Hebrews 12:1 is translated this way in the International Children’s Bible: “So we have many people of faith around us. Their lives tell us what faith means.”

“Their lives tell us what faith means.” They lived trusting God in every step they made. And we should imitate their faith. They went before us in this pursuit. And they are telling us, “The pursuit is worth it!” Note the word “race”. That’s the reason why I called this a pursuit.

In the Purpose Driven Life, Dr. Rick Warren wrote, “If I asked you how you picture life, what image would come to your mind? That image is your life metaphor. It’s your description of how life works and what you expect from it. It determines your expectations, your values, your relationships, your goals, and your priorities.”

Here we picture life as a race. But this is not a 100-meter dash. Life is a marathon.

2 Timothy 2:5 says: “Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.”

Do you want to win this race? Compete according to the rules.

What are the rules? We find it in the three “Let us” in Hebrews 12:1-2.

“let us throw off everything…” “let us run with perseverance the race…” “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…”


The first rule is assessment. We should have the right preparation.

In the ancient Olympics, an athlete must prove that he is a Greek citizen before he can compete. Otherwise he would be automatically disqualified. Therefore, if we haven’t accepted Jesus as our Savior, then we are not even in the race.

You also need to compete according to the rules not only during the race but even before the race. In those times, athletes have to prepare at least ten months for the games before the actual event. Then they swear to that before a statue of their god. To fail in preparation meant disqualification.

You know, we are tempted to take short-cuts. But we should not take short-cuts. For we end up short-circuiting the process.

Verse 1 says “let us throw off…” That means to remove things that would prevent us from winning the race. Preparation involves sacrifice. We need to “throw off… the sin that so easily entangles”. The New King James Version translated it this way: “the sin which so easily ensnares us”.

I’m not just talking about “big” sins like immorality or theft. I’m also talking about “little” sins like envy, bitterness and gossip. Life is not meant to be a cycle of “repent and repeat”. God wants us to have victory over our sins.

We also need to “throw off everything that hinders”. In one translation, it says: “everything that slows us down”. In another, it says: “everything that gets in the way”.

Prepration requires discipline. There are things that are not sins. Yet it can keep us from becoming what God intended us to become. It hinders us. It slows us down. It gets in the way. In other words, as a Bible scholar said, it refers to that “which hinders the believer from being a winner.”

For example, our success can be our failure. Our strength can be our weakness. We praise God for what He accomplished through us in our english worship service. Today we are celebrating our first anniversary. We can be tempted to sit back and relax. Once we start patting our backs, that’s the end of it.

We should be like Paul who declared in Philippians 3:3:12-13: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect,… Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.”

When he wrote this, Paul already saw the Lord face to face. Anyone here who had a vision of the Lord? Please raise your hand.

He already finished three missionary journeys. Most of us may have never even joined a short-term mission trip. In his first trip, Paul went to Galatia where he spent 2 years. After that, he wrote the book of Galatians. That book was the key that led Martin Luther in 1517 to stand up for the true teaching of the Bible that faith in Christ brings eternal life and not good works.

In his second trip, he went to Macedonia, Achaia and Greece. That took him three years. After that, he wrote two letters to the Thessalonians.In his third trip, he went to Asia and spent four years there. He wrote two letters to the Corinthians.

Then Paul wrote his masterpiece. The letter to the Romans. There are pastors who would spend years just preaching through Romans chapter by chapter, verse by verse, word for word. Paul wrote that. Most of us may have never even written a letter to the editor of a tabloid.

Paul shared some of his experiences in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.

“Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. [That’s a total of 195 lashes!] Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”

Yet, despite that, Paul admitted in Philippians 3:12: “I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect.” Most of us have never even started when it comes to serving God. And yet we live as if we already succeeded. Look at what Paul did: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize…”

I’m not saying we dismiss our past. I’m not saying we forget what God did in and through us in the first year of the english worship service. That’s not what I meant.
What I am saying is that let us not live in the past. Let us not be so attached with the past that we just daydream about the good old days. We must press on. Let us not become so proud of what we achieved that we no longer attempt to do anything anymore.

The first step is assessment. We should have the right preparation. The second step in pursuing a life of consequence is attitude. We should have the right determination. Hebrews 12:1 says: “and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

“Let us run” is a command to “keep on running.” And we are to “run with perseverance.” That means we “run the race that is before us and never give up.”

We are to run “the race marked out for us.” In Ephesians 2:10, it says: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Even before we were born, God marked out a race for us. In one translation, it goes like this: “God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.” And the race marked out by God for us is the pursuit of a life that matters.

The first step is assessment. We should have the right preparation. The second step in pursuing a life of consequence is attitude. The third step is aspiration. We should have the right motivation.

Hebrews 12:2 says: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,…” Fix our eyes on Jesus. Not on our reputation. Not on ourselves.

In one of the games in a classic Rose Bowl football contest in 1929, Roy Riegels desperately wanted his team to win. The scores were tied. Now, in a crucial moment of that game, Roy Riegels scooped up a loose ball. He cut in and out of traffic, eluding tacklers with breath-taking athleticism. He sprinted the distance of the field. He ran 70 yards. But he was tackled one yard shy of the goal line… by his own teammate.

Roy Riegels lost his bearings and run the wrong way. For the rest of his life he was not known for his remarkable athletic abilities… he never escaped a reputation as Roy “Wrong Way” Riegels.

That’s why Dr. Bruce Wilkinson in The Vision of the Leader wrote: “Run with speed. Run with power. But ultimately, all that matters is the right destination.”

That’s why “We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith.” He should be the one and only reason why we pursue this life of impact.

We are encouraged to “run with endurance… [to] fix our eyes on Jesus… [who] endured the cross, scorning its shame,…” Since Jesus endured, we must endure also.

Someone wrote this which I say to you: “I have nothing to offer but blood, tears and sweat.” We will only succeed if we endure together.

We are also commanded to “fix our eyes on Jesus… who for the joy set before him endured the cross… and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” If we work hard together, this is God’s promise for us. Since Jesus was rewarded, we shall be rewarded also.

Last April 17, more than 30,000 members of the Saddleback church celebrated their 25th anniversary in Angel Stadium. As a finale for the event, they read the Purpose Driven Covenant. Now I will not wait until we are 30,000 or we are in our 25th anniversary. This morning we will commit ourselves to the same covenant.

Let us read this together…

“Today I am stepping across the line. I'm tired of waffling, and I'm finished with wavering. I've made my choice; the verdict is in; and my decision is irrevocable. I'm going God's way. There's no turning back now!

I will live the rest of my life serving God's purposes with God's people on God's planet for God's glory. I will use my life to celebrate his presence, cultivate his character, participate in his family, demonstrate his love, and communicate his Word.

Since my past has been forgiven, and I have a purpose for living and a home awaiting in heaven, I refuse to waste any more time or energy on shallow living, petty thinking, trivial talking, thoughtless doing, useless regretting, hurtful resenting, or faithless worrying. Instead I will magnify God, grow to maturity, serve in ministry, and fulfill my mission in the membership of his family.

Because this life is preparation for the next, I will value worship over wealth, "we" over "me," character over comfort, service over status, and people over possessions, position, and pleasures. I know what matters most, and I'll give it all I've got. I'll do the best I can with what I have for Jesus Christ today.

I won't be captivated by culture, manipulated by critics, motivated by praise, frustrated by problems, debilitated by temptation, or intimidated by the devil. I'll keep running my race with my eyes on the goal, not the sidelines or those running by me.

When times get tough, and I get tired, I won't back up, back off, back down, back out, or backslide. I'll just keep moving forward by God's grace. I'm Spirit-led, purpose-driven and mission-focused, so I cannot be bought, I will not be compromised, and I shall not quit until I finish the race.

I'm a trophy of God's amazing grace, so I will be gracious to everyone, grateful for everyday, and generous with everything that God entrusts to me.

To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I say: However, whenever, wherever, and whatever you ask me to do, my answer in advance is yes! Wherever you lead and whatever the cost, I'm ready. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyway. Whatever it takes Lord; whatever it takes! I want to be used by you in such a way, that on that final day I'll hear you say, "Well done, thou good and faithful one. Come on in, and let the eternal party begin!”

Let us pray…


Note: This sermon was the first one Pastor Cortez preached at the English Worship Service on his first day as Associate Pastor in Makati Gospel Church last May 1, 2005. It was also the first anniversary of the englsih Worship Service of MGC.