Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The US Army sent a young soldier for a yearlong tour of duty in Ireland . Before he boarded the plane, his fiancĂ© gave him a harmonica. She said, “I want you to learn to play this. It will help to keep your mind off those Irish girls.”[1]

Every time he writes, the soldier would assure her that he was practicing and playing his harmonica every night. After a year, she met him at the airport. He immediately grabbed her to kiss her. But she pushed him back.

When the man asked why, she looked at him straight in the eyes and said, “Before you kiss me, I want to hear you play the harmonica.”[1]

The Bible made it clear: “God wants you to be holy… God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3a, 7, NLT) In fact, “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14b, NIV) That’s how important holiness is. Thus, God will take it personally if we fail to live up to His standards. “Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 4:8).

To be holy means to be set apart for someone or something. Your toothbrush belongs to you and only you for obvious hygienic reasons. In a sense, it is “holy” for you. That’s what we mean when we say we are holy unto the Lord.

On our own we can’t be holy. But, God called us to be holy and He made us holy.
We “have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did all Christians everywhere—whoever calls upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and theirs.” (1 Corinthians 1:2, NLT) We can live a holy life because God made us holy when we accepted our Lord Jesus as our Savior.

Brethren, if God gives us a harmonica, would we be able to play it?

[1] Adapted from the illustration database of Sermon Central.

Blessed are the meek

“I’m sorry but you have rabies,” a physician told a dog-bite victim.

The patient immediately got a pad and pencil and started writing. Worried, the doctor asked,
“Are you writing a will already? I know that rabies is usually fatal. But I heard there were a few who survived it. We can still try to cure you.”

The patient barked, “No, I’m not writing a will. I’m making a list of all the people I’m going to bite!” [1]

“Don’t get mad. Get even.” That seems to be the world’s motto. But that’s weak. Our Lord Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5, NIV) Merriam and Webster Online Dictionary defined “meek” as “enduring injury with patience and without resentment”. In short, a meek person does not hold grudges or take revenge. It is just sad that the dictionary also defined “meek” as “deficient in spirit and courage”. I beg to disagree.
Meekness is not weakness. A meek person is a strong person.

It takes a strong person to turn the other cheek or to walk the extra mile.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil… Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17a, 19-21) To heap burning coals on a person’s head is “a metaphor for keen anguish. The Arabs have a proverb ‘coals in the heart’… Such kindness may lead to repentance also.” (Robertson’s Word Pictures)
In short, you don’t retaliate but you reach out in love to the person. It takes strength not to take matters in one’s hand but to put it in God’s hand.

Brethren, we are called to be meek, not weak.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Meek, Not Weak

People tend to equate “meekness” with “weakness.” We see a meek person as more of a gaunt man rather than a muscleman. In fact, in MS Word, when I right-clicked the word “meek” and searched for its synonyms, one of them is “timid.” When Jesus declared, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,”[1] we tend to think that what He was actually saying was, “Blessed are the weak for they shall become doormats.”[2] I was not at all surprised when I saw that the Merriam and Webster online dictionary[3] defined “meek” as “deficient in spirit and courage” and “not violent or strong.”

Keep in mind, that in the Bible, meek is not weak. The word “meek” has a very colorful background in Biblical times. Back then, it refers to a wild stallion that trainers brought under control. Can you imagine the raw power that horses possess? Well, just watch a rodeo to get an idea of how much power a horse has. In fact, we use the term “horsepower” to measure a unit of power.

But, we can tame a horse to become such a gentle animal. I even read about hippotherapy or a therapy that uses horses to help children with special needs or patients who suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury to improve their functional skills.

When you think of meekness, think of a horse. Power under control. That’s why we say meek is not weak. So, instead of accepting the world’s definition, let us find out how the Bible described “meekness.” How does a meek person look like? I came up with the M-E-E-K acronym to make it easy to remember.

First, MEEKNESS IS BEING LIKE CHRIST. Twice in the book of Matthew our Lord Jesus was described as “meek.” In his triumphal entry in Jerusalem, Matthew wrote, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King comes to you, meek…”[4] In fact, Jesus described Himself this way: “Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.”[5] Thus, to be meek is to be like Christ. And Christ was and is and will never be weak. The Lamb of God is also the Lion of Judah. Tough but gentle.

The Lord Jesus made it clear that He willingly came to die: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”[6] In the Garden of Gethsemane, though He was filled with deep anguish, he prayed: “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”[7] He is equal to the Father. He has the right not to go to the cross. But He chose to obey. He submitted Himself to God’s will. He exalted God’s will over all.

In fact, when Peter tried to stop His arrest, the Lord told him, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”[8] A legion was equal to 6,000 foot soldiers and 600 horsemen. That’s almost 80,000 angels! The Message goes like this: “Don’t you realize that I am able right now to call to my Father, and twelve companies—more, if I want them—of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready?” At that very moment, Jesus can summon even more than that! But He did not. When you have the power and you chose not to use that power, that is meekness. When you don’t insist on your rights, that is meekness.

Thus, to submit to God’s will is not an act of weakness. Instead, it is an act of meekness. James Packer wrote, “Meekness, for a child of God, means accepting uncomplainingly what comes, knowing that it comes from the hand of God who orders all things. What he sends, we accept in faith even if it hurts, knowing that it’s for our and others’ good.”[9] Also, when we obey God, when we submit to the church leadership or to the government, when wives submit to their husbands or when children submit to their parents, that is meekness. And meek is not weak.

Now, note the context of “Blessed are the meek...” in the Sermon on the Mount. First, Jesus started with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit...”[10] We see our need for God. We admit that we are spiritually poor or bankrupt. That we have nothing to be proud of before God. That’s why the next thing our Lord said is: “Blessed are those who mourn…”[11] Accepting that we are “poor in spirit” leads us to repent or “mourn.”

Then, it results to meekness. After we deal with our relationship with God, we now deal with our relationship with people. To love God is to love people. According to 1 John 4:20-21, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” You cannot love God without loving people.

Thus, a meek or humble person ESTEEMS OTHERS BETTER THAN HIMSELF. In the Greek, the word “meek” means “humble.” I like how The Message translated this verse: “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less.” Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” To consider others better than you means you know where you stand. It doesn’t mean you consider yourself bad. Someone wrote, “Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts.”[12] You know you are good. But you judge others as better than you. Romans 12:10 says “Honor one another above yourselves.”

The Bible also does not say that we meet the needs of others at the expense of our own needs. It teaches us to think of others not only of ourselves. One way of doing that is to sacrificially serve others. Jesus Himself declared: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”[13] Now, if you consider yourself a member of Makati Gospel Church, you are not here to be served but to serve. You are here not just to be blessed but to be a blessing to others.

In the Greek, the word “meek” also means “gentle.” We are gentle enough to confront. Jesus is meek. But He also drove away the money-changers from the temple. Meekness does not mean we condone sin. Therefore, a meek or gentle person ENCOURAGES WITH HIS WORDS.

Galatians 6:2 says, “Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness.”[14] In the Greek, the word “restore” was “a surgical term of setting a bone or joint”.[15] We must be careful in handling a person with broken bones. It may hurt as we cast the bone but we don’t hurt the person unnecessarily. So also, we are to correct others “in a spirit of gentleness” because, spiritually speaking, they are broken. Back then, the word “gentle” refers to an “ointment that takes the fever and sting out of a wound”.[16] In fact, in one of Plato’s writings, he described how “a child asks the physician to be tender as he treats him. The child uses this term ‘gentle.’”[17] If we combine those word pictures, we must be gentle in dealing with people. Parents, that goes double for us.

One way of doing that is to be gentle with your words in correcting a person. The Message goes like this: “If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself.” We must be careful not only with what we say but how we say it. “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.”[18] We must also be careful with our timing. “The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, and a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.”[19]

When we share the Bible with others, we must also be gentle. We tend to shove our beliefs down people’s throats. We come across as arrogant. 1 Peter 3:15-16 commands us: “And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way.”[20] People do not care how much we know unless they know how much we care. They will listen to us if we listen to them also. They will be gentle to us if we are gentle to them.

Lastly, a meek person KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS. In the Greek, the word “meek” also means “The humble and gentle attitude which expresses itself in a patient submissiveness to offense, free from malice and desire for revenge”.[21] A meek person is a forgiving person. Colossians 3:12-13 commands us, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” The New Living Translation goes like this: “You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” You don’t keep track of the bad things that people say or do against you. You only record the good words and works they did to you. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us: “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.”[22] You don’t harbor anger or bitterness against a person for that would be tantamount to murder.

A meek person does not also retaliate. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”[23] During those times, a Roman soldier can actually compel anyone to carry his load up to a mile. Jesus commanded us to walk the extra mile. Dr. John MacArthur Jr., wrote, “The meek person is not concerned about defending himself because he knows he doesn’t deserve anything. He doesn’t run around trying to get his due.”[24] A meek person does not fight back. Titus 3:2 commands us: “They must not speak evil of anyone, and they must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.”[25] He reaches out in love. He is not overcome by evil but he overcomes evil with good.

So, how does a meek person look like?

MEEKNESS is being like Christ.

ESTEEMS others better than himself.

ENCOURAGES with his words.

KEEPS no record of wrongs.

Do you look like one? Look at the person besides you. Does he or she look like a meek person? Think of something that you can do to serve others. Is there a person that you need to encourage or to forgive? Wives, do you see yourselves as submissive wives? Kids, have you been obedient to your parents? Fathers, have you been gentle or harsh with your words? Maybe you need to apologize to somebody for what you have said or done. Be a blessed person. Be meek.

James Packer wrote, “Those who are meek, that is, prepared to forego their rights in this world, if that’s what God requires of them—will inherit the earth”.[26] To inherit means to possess. The meek will rule the earth. Yes, meek is not weak. In fact, he who humbles himself will be exalted. Psalm 37:9 and 11 gave this promise: “For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land… the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”

Let us pray…


[1]Matthew 5:5. All Bible verses are from the New International Version, unless otherwise noted.
[2]Charles Swindoll, Improving Your Serve.
[4]Matthew 21:5, Modern King James Version
[5]11:29, MKJV.
[6]John 10:18.
[7]Matthew 26:39, New Living Translation.
[13]Mark 10:45.
[14]The NET Bible.
[15]Rogers, Jr., Cleon and Cleon Rogers III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament.
[18]Proverbs 12:18, NLT.
[19]Proverbs 25:11-12, The Message.
[22]Matthew 5:21-22, The Message.
[23]Matthew 5:38-41.
[24]Happy are the Meek, Tape GC 2200

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Memories of Fatherhood

Image source: Write to Mean
That's the title of Bill Cosby's book which he wrote some time ago. Here's an excerpt: 

Image source: Mail Online
"Now that my father is a grandfather, he just can't wait to give money to my kids. But when I was his kid and I asked him for fifty cents, he would tell me the story of his life. How he got up at 4 A.M. when he was seven years old and walked twenty-three miles to milk ninety cows. And the farmer for whom he worked had no bucket, so he had to squirt the milk into his little hand and then walk eight miles to the nearest can. All for 5 cents a month. The result was that I never got my 50 cents. 

But now he tells my children every time he comes into the house, 'Well, let's see how much money old Granddad has got for his wonderful kids.' And the minute they take money out of his hands, I call them over to me and I snatch it away from them. Because that is MY money!"

That made me laugh... and think. We all have fond (and not so fond) memories of our fathers. There were even times that we vowed that we will never be like our fathers. But, in the end when they're gone, we end up raising our kids the way we were raised. Now it's our kids' turn to have those memories.

Image source: YouWall
If there's one thing that we have to make sure our kids would remember is how we love God and how they ought to love Him, too. "Hear, O Israel : The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deut. 6:4-7, NIV) Let us take the time to reflect on those words and see how we could impart that love to our children.

My take? Fathers, what memories are we leaving behind?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Poisonous levels of lead in leading lipsticks… Generous philanthropists willing to share their rich bank accounts to you… Virus to wipe away your hard disk… Yahoo! (or Google, MSN, or whatever) about to shutdown unless… Name it. I think I received it in my inbox.

Since e-mail caught our fancy, we all got our share of junk mails or spam. Some of it you can delete immediately. Then, you saw the picture and read the story of a child dying of a rare disease. You learn that Microsoft will donate an x amount of money for every forwarded e-mail. Thus, you are tempted to click on “forward” to send it to all your contacts. Don’t.

Let me tell you a secret. Before I forward something, I usually check a website dedicated on busting what they call “urban legends” or simply hoaxes sent through e-mail.

What’s the harm there? Well, other than clogging people’s inbox, you are making yourself and your friends vulnerable to identity theft. You might one day find your inbox clogged with more junk mails. Some unscrupulous people called “spammers” might just be collecting e-mail addresses so they can add it to their list of targets for spam. Worse, if you gave more personal information, you will receive a billing for expensive items you did not buy.

It’s the same with whatever we hear that has the label “truth.” We have to double-check it with the Bible. Luke in Acts called the Bereans noble for “they gladly accepted the message. Day after day they studied the Scriptures to see if these things were true.” (17:11, Contemporary English Version) Only the truth sets us free. So we better make sure what we got is the real thing. Lies will always harm us. Thus, Paul commanded us: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, NIV)
We have to be discerning so that whatever we believe and live, whatever we say and do, would be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Brethren, let us only forward the truth that sets people free!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Gaining From Your Loss

Ludwig Van Beethoven noticed that he was losing his sense of hearing. As a composer, he worried that he could no longer create music if he becomes deaf. He tried every cure available to him but to no avail. One day, his greatest fear came true. He became totally deaf.

According to the Daily Walk devotional, “Beethoven finally found the strength he needed to go on despite his great loss. To everyone’s amazement, he wrote some of his grandest music after he became totally deaf. With all distractions shut out, melodies flooded in on him as fast as his pen could write them down. His deafness became a great asset.”[1] In other words his loss became his gain. Now, in His sermon on the mount, our Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”[2] I like how The Message translated it: “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” This morning let us talk about “Gaining from Your Loss.” Let us pray first…

I read that out of the nine different verbs in the New Testament to express grief or mourning, the word ‘mourn’ in Matthew 5:4 “is the strongest of all the Greek words used in the New Testament to express grief. It often refers to mourning for the dead—the passionate lament expressed for a lost loved one.”
[3] In fact, this word is so strong that it means “To grieve with a grief which so takes possession of the whole being that it cannot be hid”.[4]

Now, what loss was Jesus talking about here? I believe Jesus was not talking here about the loss of a loved one or someone special. But the grief equals that in intensity. In verse 3 Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Then in the next breath He declared, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” So, “mourn” here has something to do with “poor in spirit.” We can say that a person really knows that he is spiritually poor when he truly mourns his spiritual state, when he is not proud but humbled. Actually, we can only be truly happy when we are sad with our sinful condition. So, first, we gain from our loss when we RECOGNIZE what sin does to our lives.

The Bible defines “sin” for us. 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” The Good News Bible goes like this: “sin is a breaking of the law.” Thus, sin is anything we think, say and do that goes against the Word of God. When we do what God prohibited us from doing or when we fail to do what He commanded us to do, that is sin.

Now when we harbor sin in our lives, sin weakens us physically. Psalm 32:3-4 says, “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.”
[5] The Message translated verse 4 this way: “The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.” We could barely sleep. We could hardly eat. And, the sad thing is we’re not even in love. Guilt can actually cause ulcers and other health problems.

When we continue in it instead of confessing it, sin wreaks havoc in our relationship with each other. James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” There are times we lose our temper against another not because the person was a pain in the neck but because of our inner struggles.

Sin puts a wedge between us and God. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”. It alienates us from God. It blocks even our prayers. Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “The LORD hasn’t lost his powerful strength; he can still hear and answer prayers. Your sins are the roadblock between you and your God. That’s why he doesn’t answer your prayers or let you see his face.”
[6] Thus we can see that sin is not worth it.

So, we gain from our loss when we recognize what sin does in our lives. Second, we gain from our loss when we RESPOND with repentance. We really mourn our sins when we repent or we decide to give it up.

Yes, 2 Corinthians 7:10 says that “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret”. But the true measure of repentance is not whether we cried but whether we commit to change our ways. We may or may not shed tears. Yet if we truly repent, we gain from our loss.

1 John 1:9 promised that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” What does it mean to confess? “To ‘confess’ means to acknowledge or to say the same thing as. The believer is instructed that he is to say the same thing as God says about his sin, ‘It is sin.’”
[7] You don’t excuse or give an alibi. You call sin as sin. I read that if we say we are defeated by this or that sin, we are putting the blame on God. But when we say we are disobedient, we put the responsibility squarely on our shoulders.

This morning, we will participate in the Lord’s communion. Paul reprimanded the believers in Corinth for being divided rather than united. Thus he warned them that “If, then, anyone takes the bread or the cup of the Lord in the wrong spirit, he will be responsible for the body and blood of the Lord.”
[8] And God punished them for that: “That’s why many of you are sick and weak and why a lot of others have died.”[9] Note that sin can actually kill us. 1 John 5:16 warns us that “There is a sin that leads to death.” What is this sin unto death? The Bible did not specify. That means that if there’s a sin that the Lord has been convicting us yet we refuse to confess, it can lead to our death. This is the reason why we should first examine ourselves before we join in the breaking of the bread.

So, we gain from our loss when we recognize what sin does to our lives and when we respond with repentance. Third, we gain from our loss when we RECEIVE God’s forgiveness.

Let’s go back to the promise of forgiveness in 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We can trust God to forgive us. We can count on His faithfulness. Note how the Bible describes forgiveness. Psalm 103:12 assures us: “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” God throws away our sins as far away as possible. That’s why we should not allow guilt to haunt us anymore when we have confessed our sins to God. So, if God has forgiven you, learn to forgive yourself.

Micah 7:18-19 extols God for His mercy: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Someone said that God casts our sins in the deepest part of the sea and then puts a “no fishing” sign there.

In fact, He will wipe away our sins from our records. God gives us a clean slate. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
[10] This is different from what people call “forgive and forget.” Yes, God forgives. But I don’t think He forgets. Just like we can forgive but not really forget. However, God promises that He “will remember their sins no more.” In other words, He will not hold it against us anymore.

After describing how unconfessed sin weakens our vitality, King David wrote, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
[11] I like how The Message translated it: “Then I let it all out; I said, ‘I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to GOD.’ Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.”

Forgiveness is the comfort that mourning brings. Thus David can declare, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.”[12] That’s why blessed are they that mourn. That’s how we gain from our loss.

Let us pray…

[1]Daily Walk, August 9, 1993
[2]Matthew 5:4. All Bible verses are from the New International Version, unless otherwise noted.
[3]Dr. John MacArthur, Jr., “Happy are the Sad” (GC2199)
[4]Cleon Rogers Jr. and Cleon Rogers III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the New Testament
[5]New Living Translation (NLT).
[7]The Open Bible Expanded Edition
[8]1 Corinthians 11:27, Basic Bible English.
[9]1 Corinthians 11:30, Contemporary English Version (CEV)
[10]Hebrews 8:12
[11]Psalm 32:5
[12]Psalm 32:1-2