Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fruit That Lasts


“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (John 15:16, NIV

Let us praise God for the successful “Money Talks!” we held last June 18. Out of the 160 people who joined the seminar, more than 70 were visitors! I would like to thank all of you who worked so hard to ensure the success of the bridging event. Some of you may be a little discouraged because no one responded to your invitation. But I believe God knows your heart. God will reward all of us for our efforts. Only eternity will reveal the full impact of “Money Talks!”

But the Lord wants us to bear fruit that lasts. He is looking for fruit that remains. Pastor Bill Kennedy of the Metro Manila Franklin Graham Festival said, “Preparation for the event is 45%. The event itself is only 10%. The preservation of the fruit is 45%.”

Thus, we need to press on! Please help us follow-up our visitors. We have prepared “thank you” cards for them. It would be more meaningful if you personally give it to them. (You may get it from Sis. Joyce or Sis. Jasmin.) Ask them about the event. Do they have any suggestions to improve it? Any topic which may be of great interest to them for future “Money Talks!” seminars? Tell them their opinion matters to us. Take this opportunity to share the Gospel to them. Together let us bear the fruit that the Lord appointed us to bear—fruit that lasts!

Again, thank you for all your efforts. May God richly bless you!

Yours in Christ,

Bro. Eyriche Cortez
Associate Pastor, English Worship Service


Sunday, June 19, 2005

How's Your "CQ?"

There’s a story about a yuppie who met an accident. The 911 rescuers found him hysterical. “Oh, no! My Jaguar! My Jaguar!” he cried out. “Why worry about your car?” the rescuers said. “Look! Your arm got fractured because of the accident!” He looked at his arm and cried out, “Oh no! My Rolex! My Rolex!”

Jesus spoke a lot about money. 16 out of the 38 parables or stories of Christ were about finances. That means in 1 out of every 3 stories, Christ spoke on money.

In 1 out of every 10 verses in the Gospels, Jesus taught about financial management. Just imagine! There would be more verses about money that heaven and hell combined. Jesus talked more about money than heaven and hell.

Of course, money will not bring us to our final destination. That does not mean that if you are poor you will go to heaven or if you are rich you would go to hell. That’s not the point. The point is, how we spend shows what we value in life.

There are around 2,350 verses on wealth in the entire Bible. That’s twice as many as the verses on faith and prayer. It’s not that if you are poor you have less or no faith at all. That does not mean the rich say a lot of prayers than the poor. But our wallet reveals a lot about what we believe about God.


In other words, what we do with the things God gave us is important to Him. In short, our money matters to God.

Now, we will not go through all the 2,350 verses tonight! We will just sample a few from 1 Timothy 6. One portion of the chapter goes like this:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6, NIV)

Godliness with contentment is great gain. Great gain means great profit. Do you agree with me that a person with great profit is a rich person? The Bible says a truly rich person is a content person. How do I know if I am content?


How’s your CQ or “contentment quotient”?

Let’s read our passage in full. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8, NIV)

It’s translated this way in a Bible for kids: “It is true that serving God makes a person very rich, if he is satisfied with what he has.” (Int’l Children’s Bible) So we are truly rich if we are satisfied with what we have.


So, let’s ask ourselves, “Am I satisfied with what I have?”

In another translation, it says, “But true faith, with peace of mind, is of great profit”.


Let’s ask ourselves, “Do I have peace of mind?”

Now, how do we know if we are really satisfied with what we have? How do we know if we really have peace of mind?

WE KNOW WE ARE CONTENT WITH THE WAY WE REGARD MONEY.

The Bible says, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (v. 7) Being content means I recognize the rightful place of wealth in my heart. My worth as a person does not depend on how much I have. My money serves me. I don’t serve money.

It also says, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (v. 8) Someone wrote, “We are not saying this is the limit that we should have. What we are saying is that we should be satisfied even if we only have food and clothing.”

The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12-13, “I am not complaining about having too little. I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have. I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything.” (Contemporary English Version)

We should not grumble when we have too little and we should be humble when we have too much.

I believe you may have heard this: “Money is the root of all evil.” That’s one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible! It really goes like this: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10, NIV)

Note that the root or source of all evil is not money but the love of money. The Bible is not saying “Don’t get rich.” What the Bible says is “Don’t be so eager for money that you want to get rich at all costs.” Some people pursue money to the point that they gave up on their faith on God. They neglect their families. They neglect their health. In so doing they end up with a lot of pain. Always remember that success in business will never compensate for failure in the home.

People who love money don’t know when enough is enough. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10, NIV)

The Bible calls people who love money greedy. “Don’t be greedy, which is the same as worshiping idols.” (Colossians 3:5, Contemporary English Version) God hates greed. A greedy person worships money.

How do we know if we are greedy or we love money? “Then [Jesus] said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. … And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.” (Luke 12:15, 29-30, NIV) Worry leads to greed. Remember that you are truly satisfied if you have peace. When you worry, you don’t have peace of mind. Do you tend to worry a lot?

That’s why the Bible says, “Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, Good News Bible) Instead of worrying, trust God and He will give you peace.

So, first we know we are content with the way we regard money.

SECOND, WE KNOW WE ARE CONTENT WITH THE WAY WE RESPECT PEOPLE.

The Bible says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17, NIV)

Note that being “arrogant” is related to putting one’s “hope in wealth.” When we love money, our relationships suffer. Instead of loving people and using money, we end up using people and loving money. Remember that those who love money “pierced themselves with many griefs.” Arrogant people will in the end find themselves alone.

One can’t put his hope in wealth and at the same time put his hope in God. When we put our hope in wealth, we will never be satisfied. Wealth is so uncertain. But when we put our hope in God, we can be certain that He “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” We will be satisfied.

Let us read the next verses. “Instruct them to do as many good deeds as they can and to help everyone. Remind the rich to be generous and share what they have. This will lay a solid foundation for the future, so that they will know what true life is like.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19, Contemporary English Version)


Being content means I enjoy what God gave me and share it with others. That is a life that is truly life!

So, first we know we are content with the way we regard money. Second, we know we are content with the way we respect people.

THIRD, WE KNOW WE ARE CONTENT WITH THE WAY WE RESPOND TO WORK.

The Bible says, “Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.” (1 Timothy 6:2, NIV)

God values work. Being content means I uphold the highest work ethic. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men”. (Colossians 3:23, NIV) If I am content with what I have, I will give my job my best shot. For being satisfied does not mean being lazy. One can be satisfied and at the same time work hard on the way up to the corporate ladder.
So, how’s your CQ or “contentment quotient”?

Are you satisfied with what you have? Or do you worry a lot?

Are you nice to be with? Or people find you a pain in the neck?

Are you earning your keep? Or are you just coasting along?

Someone wrote, “No person can ever be happy until he has learned to enjoy what he has and not to worry over what he does not have.”

Note: Pastor Eyriche delivered this message in the "Money Talks! (How to Experience Financial Freedom)" seminar held in Makati Gospel Church last June 18.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Spending So Much On Father's Day

Every third Sunday of June we celebrate Father’s Day. I laughed when I read how a boy defined Father’s Day: “Well, it’s just like Mother's Day… only you don’t spend so much.”

Believe it or not, this special day for fathers was only a recent one. But you can trace its origin 95 years ago.

William Smart, a Civil War Veteran, was a single parent. His wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. He did not remarry. Instead he lovingly and selflessly raised all his children by himself on a rural farm in Spokane, Washington. One of his kids, Sonora, wanted to honor the sacrifices of William after hearing a Mother’s Day sermon. Thus, she held the first Father's Day celebration on June 19, 1910. William was born in June.

Since then, there were efforts to set apart the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. But it was only in 1972 that President Richard Nixon signed a law making it an official celebration.

But, with or without a law, honoring our parents is something we have to do. The Bible says, “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:2-3, NIV)

To honor your parents is to honor God. For how can you say you honor God whom you can’t see if you dishonor your parents whom you can see? You may not spend so much financially to honor them. But you really have to spend time and effort in doing so. How? You honor them by praying for them, leading them to the Lord and obeying them. 


Your parents may not be ideal ones. But God gave them to you. The Bible did not say, “Honor your parents if they are good parents.” You honor them unconditionally and sacrificially.


And… it wouldn’t hurt if you spend so much for your parents. :-)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Salt of the Earth

Blessing!

Jesus called us “the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13, NIV).

Perry Bowers in the book “Each One Reach One” wrote that as “salt” we are to “1) Add the flavor of a Christlike life so others could get a taste of what it is like to know the Lord; 2) Make people thirsty to know God in order to quench the gnawing hole in their soul; 3) Become a preserving influence to curb the rotting effect of sin in our world; 4) Be a healing agent of His reconciling love.”


Now, on June 18, at 5:30PM, Makati Gospel Church will host a special seeker event titled “Money Talks!” Pastor Joby Soriano of Christ Commission Fellowship Alabang (who was a Harvard honor graduate) and I will speak on what the Bible says about our finances. We want people to “taste” the relevance of the Word of God, create a “thirst” in them to know more about God, become a “preserving influence” in the workplace that Satan is trying to corrupt, and “heal” people from the love of money. That’s why we are encouraging you to invite your colleagues, supervisors, managers or CEOs

But, to make this event successful, we need to work as a team. Don’t just leave the gospel sharing to Pastor Joby and me. Throughout the event, remember the acronym S.A.L.T.

Seek opportunities to share our faith to your invited guests.


Ask questions during the dinner what they think of the messages.

Listen intently so you can respond with God’s truth.

Talk openly about the Lord Jesus and the need to accept Him as Savior.

Remember, we need to work as team! Please give us the names of people you want to invite and we will give you invitation cards for them. (You may call Joyce at 816-0634).

May God work in and through us in this seeker event! God richly bless you!

Yours in Christ,

Bro. Eyriche Cortez
Associate Pastor, English Worship Service

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Gift or Reward?

Last Sunday, June 5, we discussed the assurance of eternal rewards in our Sunday Bible Study. I shared to the group an e-mail which i sent to a friend. I pray that, like the group, you would be blessed also.
__________________________________
Dear Bro. *****,

Grace in the Lord! Just the other day, you sent me this query through text messaging: “Is eternal life a gift or a reward?” I just hope that my answers would not lead to more questions but rather would satisfy your quest for truth.

1. A gift is different from a reward.
You don’t work for a gift. It is freely given. It is due to the graciousness of the giver and not due to the merits of the recipient. In other words, it does not matter whether you deserved the gift or not. You just receive it. “The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” (Rev. 22:17) [1]


Dr. John MacArthur himself wrote in his commentary to Romans, “By definition, all gifts are free, but charisma (free gift) refers to something given with special graciousness and favor, and therefore could also be appropriately rendered “grace gift.” … when used of that which is given by God …it refers to that which is given completely apart from human merit.”

But you work for a reward. You have to earn it. “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.” (Romans 4:4) In the Greek, the word wages is misthos, which means “dues paid for work or hire or reward.” Thayer said it is “used of the fruit naturally resulting from toils and of the rewards which God bestows, or will bestow, upon good deeds and endeavours.” In the Young’s Literal Translation, it goes like this: “and to him who is working, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt”. Thayer adds that “[misthos] in both senses, [refers to] rewards and punishments.” Rewards, like punishments, are meted to those who deserve it. That is why “to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. (NASB [2])

2. In the Bible, eternal life or salvation is called a gift, not a reward.
It’s very clear in Romans 6:23,
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

MacArthur wrote regarding this passage: “By definition, a gift is free, but lest anyone underestimate the magnitude of God’s grace, Paul speaks of God’s free gift. Salvation cannot be earned by works, by human goodness, by religious ritual, or by any other thing that man can do. …If a person wants what he deserves—eternal death—God will give that to him as his just wages. And if person wants what he does not deserve—eternal life—God offers that to him as well, but as a free gift, the only source of which is Christ Jesus our Lord.”


3. Salvation is through faith only. Rewards are based on works.
You don’t receive eternal life or salvation through works. You just receive it by trusting Christ alone. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Works won’t save us. Faith in Christ will save us. But the faith that saves is the faith that works. Thus, works will follow. “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Now, in the judgment seat of Christ, a believer’s works will go through the test of fire. And if his works pass the test, he will receive a reward. “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward [misthos].” (1 Corinthians 3:11-14)

And in 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul clearly states: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” In the NASB it states: “that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done”. Note that we get the reward due to us. In short, what we deserve. The Good News Bible goes like this:
“We will each receive what we deserve, according to everything we have done”.

Note that one’s salvation is not at stake here if his works do not pass the test. “If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Corinthians 3:15) This brings me to my next point…

4. We are secure in our salvation. But we have to safeguard our rewards.
We are “kept [preserved, NKJV [3]]
by Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1. See also 1:24-25; John 10:27-30; Romans 8:31-39). Our salvation is secure.

But we can lose our rewards. “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Corinthians 3:1415). The Apostle John warned us: “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.” (2 John 1:8)

Randy Alcorn wrote in his book, In Light of Eternity, “Salvation is about God’s work for us. Rewards are about our work for God. Salvation is dependent on God’s faithfulness to His promises and on His mercy. Rewards are conditional, dependent on our faithfulness. Works do not affect our redemption. Works do affect our reward. Just as there are eternal consequences to our faith, so there are eternal consequences to our works.”


Well, I hope this is worth the wait. Feel free to respond through e-mail or text. Thanks for this opportunity that I can clarify my stance.

God richly bless you!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Eyriche Cortez

__________________________________
[1]
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture references are from the New International Version. For emphasis, some words or phrases are in bold letters.
[2] New American Standard Bible.
[3] New King James Version.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Such A Time As This


Blessings!

“And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NIV)

In 473 B.C. a power-hungry man wanted to annihilate the Jews. He deceived King Xerxes to issue an edict ordering their extermination. Now, it’s up to Queen Esther to intercede for them before the king. But she’s afraid for even if she’s the queen she needed an appointment to see the king. To show up without permission could mean death. Yet her uncle Mordecai reminded her that it was not an accident she became the queen. It was God’s providence. She’s their only hope.

If you were Esther, what would you do?

Now, let us fast forward to our time, the 21st century. Satan wants to control and corrupt the workplace. But the workplace belongs to God. Our work matters to the Lord. He wants to redeem it from Satan’s clutches. And the Lord wants to move in and through you. Billy Graham declared, “One of the next great moves of God is through the Christians in the workplace.” It is not an accident that you are where you are right now in your work. God providentially positioned you. What if you’re the only hope for your employer (or employees) to hear the Gospel?

That’s why this coming June 18, at 5:30PM, Makati Gospel Church will host a special seeker event titled “Money Talks!” 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).


Who know but that you have come to your company for such a time as this?

Yours in Christ,

Bro. Eyriche C. Cortez