SALVATION IN CHRIST ALONE

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
Friends Magazine Hong Kong
April 2011 edition
Even before the appointed time for God to realize His grand plan of salvation for mankind came, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16,17, NLT), Jesus already knew that the road to Calvary would not be easy.
“Jesus was in great pain and prayed so sincerely that his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood” (Luke 22:44, CEV).

 
Christ who knew no sin became the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5).

He silently went through the mockery of a trial in mere human court, and though was found innocent (Luke 23:15), the very same people for whom He did miracle after miracle demanded His death … even death on the Cross.  The mocking continued until …

“One of the criminals hanging there also insulted Jesus by saying, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and save us!” (Luke 23:39, CEV).

“But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this” (Luke 23:40-41, MSG).

“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43, NCV).

In the hour of men’s worst wretchedness, God’s greatest grace was displayed.  Discover the beauty of these four truths:

I tell you the truth. The promise given by Jesus to the repentant criminal was not an empty consolation to a dying man, but the truth as surely as He who promised is the Truth (John 14:6).  And the same promise is available to us now. “We believe with our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we declare with our mouths that we believe, and so we are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disappointed.” That Scripture says “anyone” because there is no difference between those who are Jews and those who are not. The same Lord is the Lord of all and gives many blessings to all who trust in him, as the Scripture says, “Anyone who calls on the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:10-13, NCV).

 
Today. Salvation is available today to anyone who will confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior.  Jesus Himself guaranteed this to a condemned man who was “criminal” by all worldly standards; He asked of him no requirements, no laws, and no good works before He promised him the joy of being with Him in paradise.  Because salvation is God’s grace at work in us, it is something we can never work on.

 
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NLT).

 
“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6, NLT).

 
“Jesus is the only One who can save people. No one else in the world is able to save us” (Acts 4:12, NCV).


You will be with Me.
God offers us a relationship that is intimate and personal. Imagine how, amid the frenzied shouting and cheering of a crowd that was celebrating His slow death, He turned His ear to the soft pleading of one repentant man. And while this man merely asked to be remembered, Jesus promised him companionship.

Since the fall of man, God hasn’t changed in His desire to fellowship with men. This is the very reason why He sent Jesus to reconcile us with Him, through Christ (John 3:16).

Jesus promised His disciples, “There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you” (John 14:2, CEV).  The same promise is true to everyone who believes in Him.

In paradise. These two words tell us that life doesn’t end in death.  Paradise is waiting for everyone who has put his faith in Christ.

“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man.  Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment” (John 5:24-29, NLT).

Because of God’s amazing grace, salvation is available to all because Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the chief of them (1 Timothy 1:15).

Let us not render powerless the work of Christ on the Cross.  He’s our only way to salvation (Acts 4:12).

Start Anew

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Friends Magazine Hong Kong
By Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
January 2013 Edition

 

When the clock strikes twelve on the midnight of a brand new year, to some of us, there seems to be an invisible lock inside of us that automatically snaps then sets into motion an internal “rebooting” of our senses.  Wittingly or unwittingly, we begin to open ourselves to the promise of every first day of January – the promise to start anew.

There is a world of difference, however, between the prospect of starting anew – and practically starting anew.  Because stuffed in between where we are and where we hope to be are old fears and past failures that keep us from taking the first step toward our desired destination.  In some cases, we are also delimited by the uncertainty of the future.

This 2013, how do we begin again then?

* * * * *

Life likened to a race, the Apostle Paul compared himself to a runner and gave his life as an example for the people in Philippi to imitate.  His words of old still ring true today.

“It’s not that I’ve already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me. Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14, God’s Word Translation, emphasis mine).

* * * * *

Certainly, beginningis hard enough for someone with a clean slate. Imagine how difficult beginning againcan get for battle-scarred, old-time “runners” in this race we call life.

In the Apostle Paul’s own words, the number one key to start anew is to don’t look back. In the words of French Philosopher Voltaire, “Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them.  The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.

The past has its power over our future only if we allow it to control our present. Hence an old proverb counsels, “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.”

One biblical account tells the story of Jesus who called out a man to come and follow after Him.  The fellow, however, excused himself and requested that he first bury his father. “But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62, NASB).

According to Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, “To put one’s hand to a plow is a proverbial expression to signify undertaking any business. In order that a plowman may accomplish his work, it is necessary to look onward – to be intent on his employment – not to be looking back with regret that he undertook it.”

This 2013, let us be purposeful in our intent to forget all things that are behind us and to press onward regardless of what’s ahead of us.

* * * * *

Again, in the words of Apostle Paul, the second key to start anew is to lengthen our stride.  In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Take the first step in faith.”  Such a very simple yet spot-on counsel for all of us, for there is indeed no other way for us to get anywhere in life but to do exactly that.

What does it mean to walk by faith?  Second Corinthians 5:7 says, “… we walk by faith, not by sight.”

“Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step” (Joni Erickson Tada). “Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see” (William Newton Clarke).

How does one develop faith? “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, NASB). Or as Smith Wigglesworth put it: “I can’t understand God by feelings. I can’t understand the Lord Jesus Christ by feelings. I can only understand God the Father and Jesus Christ by what the Word says about them. God is everything the Word says He is. We need to get acquainted with Him through the Word.”

In other words, “The hearing of faith is the sound of the Word of God coming alive in your heart” (Rex Rouis).  So, “If you wish to know God, you must know His Word. If you wish to perceive His power, you must see how He works by His Word. If you wish to know His purpose before it comes to pass, you can only discover it by His Word” (C.H. Spurgeon).

* * * * *

Finally, to start anew is to run straight toward the goal to win the prize.  Geared up with God’s purpose and guided by unwavering faith in Christ, all we have to do is run straight toward our goal.  Like horses with eye-blinders on, we have to keep our focus fixed on Jesus and on His Word.  As long as we keep the eyes of our faith looking unto Him alone, we keep our feet from aimlessly running around in circles.

This 2013, let us intentionally choose to take God at His Word.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End – and the Sovereign God at work in-between!  He promised, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

If you want to have a growing relationship with Jesus or you have questions or prayer requests, email us at [email protected].

Blessings of peace, joy, abundance, and breakthroughs in Christ Jesus our Lord this 2013 and always! Shalom! Shalom!

{loadposition sftw-archive}

The Giver. The Gift. The Grace.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Friends Magazine Hong Kong
By Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
December 2012 Edition

 

It’s Christmas time!  And by now, the items on your long shopping list are probably all crossed out as your gifts find their way under your fancy Christmas tree.  But while everything is perhaps just about ready for the most celebrated annual occasion, how well have you made preparations for a personal encounter with the Star of the season?

Whenever Christmas time comes, there are three key words that we must never forget: the Giver, the gift, and the grace that goes with it.

The very essence of Christmas is revealed by God unto us in John 3:16, “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life” (GW).

The Giver: God loved the world. As we join the entire Christendom in celebrating Christmas, let us remember the loving God and the love of God that made the first Christmas possible.  Let us not forget that Christmas is not what we make it.  No. It’s not about us; it’s not about the fun, or the flare, or the flavor that we attach to the occasion.  It’s all about God and His love for us.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him” (1 John 4:9, NLT).

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10, NIV).

“Jesus has always been as God is. But He did not hold to His rights as God. He put aside everything that belonged to Him and made Himself the same as a servant who is owned by someone. He became human by being born as a man. After He became a man, He gave up His important place and obeyed by dying on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8, NLV).

“God the Father was pleased to have everything made perfect by Christ, His Son. Everything in heaven and on earth can come to God because of Christ’s death on the cross. Christ’s blood has made peace. At one time you were strangers to God and your minds were at war with Him. Your thoughts and actions were wrong. But Christ has brought you back to God by His death on the cross. In this way, Christ can bring you to God, holy and pure and without blame (Colossians 1:19-22, NLV).

The Gift: He gave His Only Son. I have four children and I am not ashamed to admit that I am not willing to give any one of them as a ransom for another, never as a substitute for an enemy.  Yet God, out of His pure love for us, gave His one and only Son, “… God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8, HCSB) And “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

“This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us…” (1 John 3:16, HCSB)

Salvation in the CHRIST of Christmas – this is the gift that is available to all of us, Christmas time or not!

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12, KJB).

“No one else can save us. Indeed, we can be saved only by the power of the one named Jesus and not by any other person” (Acts 4:12, GW).

“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity — the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5, NLT).

“This is true because Christ suffered for our sins once. He was an innocent person, but he suffered for guilty people so that he could bring you to God. His body was put to death, but he was brought to life through his spirit” (1 Peter 3:18, GW).

“Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence” (Ephesians 3:12, NLT).

The Grace: Everyone who believes in Him. This is the grace of God at work:  His salvation is available to everyone who believes in Him.  The word everyone guarantees ALL of us a place at the foot of the Cross of Christ.  There are neither exemptions nor exclusions.  And the only cited requirement is also accessible to everyone – faith in Christ.  As surely as faith has no price tag attached to it, nobody can point an accusing finger on God when the day of reckoning comes and accuse Him that He has been unfair or unjust.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are” (Romans 3:22, NLT, emphasis mine).

* * * * *

Dearly beloved, do not pass up the chance to receive today the greatest gift you could ever have in your lifetime, which is life eternal with God!

Believe that God loves you so much that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to become a ransom, a substitute for you. Believe in Jesus Christ, receive Him as your Lord and Savior, and He will give you the right to become a child of God. He promised, “… as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NASB). “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life,and this life is in his Son.Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12, TNIV).

If you want to have a growing relationship with Jesus or you have questions or prayer requests, email us at [email protected].

Shalom! Shalom!

Tradeoffs of Grace

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Friends Magazine Hong Kong
By Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
April 2012 Edition

When someone messes up, we all know the drill. We tell them things are going to be fine because God can turn around their messes into miracles. And this is not unfounded.  Joseph, the second most powerful man in Egypt next only to Pharoah, after he was reunited with his brothers who had sold him to slavery in Egypt, testified: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20).

God, in His divine wisdom and sovereignty, causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them (Romans 8:28).

Does this mean, therefore, that it is okay to live lousy lives since God can still turn our losses into gains?

Let us probe deeper.

We are totally amiss when we take the LORD’s acts of grace, compassion, and forgiveness lightly. We cannot go on sinning, compromising shamelessly and living our lives carelessly, just because we can always ask God for forgiveness. Galatians 6:7 warns, “Don’t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.”

While God may forgive us, sin has its own power to set in motion a chain of consequences that we have to face inevitably.  The previous passage underscores, “You will always harvest what you plant.” This is exactly what happened to David.
When David hurt the heart of God by committing adultery and murder, God meted out His judgment: David’s child out of an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba would die.  Second Samuel 12 records this account: “He has forgiven you, and you won’t die. But your newborn son will.”

This should be enough warning to us: David, the very man called by the LORD as the man after His own heart (Acts 13:22), was not spared by the LORD from His corrective dealing.  Forgiven, yes. Off the hook, no.  What we sow, we will reap.

In the same manner, we are mistaken when we think that we can shortchange God and get away with it. We cannot go on promising Him our total surrender and absolute obedience, only to bail out from our commitments to Him just because we know He’d understand. God’s all-sufficient grace isn’t a license for us to lead double-standard lives. On the contrary, His grace compels us to remain solidly committed to the Lord, to remain true to the Lord with all our hearts (Acts 11:23).

In the simplest of terms, we cannot go on continuously messing up just because, somehow, we find the grace of God readily available to cushion our guilty conscience. God has never intended His grace to work this way. On the contrary, His grace is meant to lead us to repentance. Romans 2:4 asks us, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”
There’s no truly repentant man who isn’t broken by his own transgressions.  This is the very reason why he needs the grace of God – to make him whole once more. And a man who grasps the work of God’s grace understands that there are tradeoffs between heaven and earth when God chooses to forgive.

Pastor John Piper put it simply, “Everything bad that God turns for the good was purchased by the sufferings of Christ.”

Alas!  May we never forget this beautiful work of grace!

Let us always meditate on the LORD’s amazing love for us that is manifested in His sacrifice on the Cross.  Let us remember that everything is made easy for us by the hardships that Christ, our Advocate, has endured.  To quote the familiar lines of an old hymn:  “He paid the debt He did not owe.  I owe the debt I could not pay. I needed Someone to wash my sins away.  And now I sing a brand new song, amazing grace! Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.”

Let us live intentional lives for God.  We may fumble and stumble and mess up once in a while, but we must continue to aspire to do His will. His grace is more than sufficient to keep us going.

When God Conceals A Matter

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Friends Magazine Hong Kong
By Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
April 2013 Edition

 

Sixteenth Century English Bible commentator Matthew Henry was quoted as saying, “God has wisely kept us in the dark concerning future events and reserved for Himself the knowledge of them, that He may train us up in a dependence upon Himself and a continued readiness for every event.”

Five centuries later, we still second guess God concerning the future, question His wisdom, depend not upon Him, and hesitate during life’s shifting moments.  Clearly, we are yet to learn the lessons Henry thought we ought to learn.

* * * * *

There was a man who perfectly fit Henry’s bill when it came to trusting God, particularly at a time when he was kept in the dark concerning his future and that of his entire household.

From the onset of Abraham’s calling by God, he walked in total obedience to Him. With nothing but the weight of His instruction, Abraham went out, “even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).  Without the benefit of a map or a compass at the very least, tangible tokens he could hold onto when the going got tough so to speak, he uprooted himself and his family from their familiar surroundings and moved to a new land (Genesis 12).  He didn’t ask God for the rationale of His command, or the strategies he ought to use to negotiate foreign terrains and navigate strange territories; he simply went out to accomplish his mission. He merely did as he was told.

Abraham’s act of obedience is undoubtedly astounding, but it is not quite unique. Before and after him, people who also heard and believed the voice of God were likewise enabled to do as they were told.

Noah built an arc at a time when flood was still unknown to men. “Faith led Noah to listen when God warned him about the things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a ship to save his family. Through faith Noah condemned the world and received God’s approval that comes through faith” (Hebrews 11:7, GWT).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose to obey God’s command to have no other gods besides Him (Deuteronomy 5:7) and opted to be hurled instead into the blazing furnace, heated seven times, despite not knowing whether God will rescue them or not. “If our God, whom we honor, can save us from a blazing furnace and from your power, he will, Your Majesty. But if he doesn’t, you should know, Your Majesty, we’ll never honor your gods or worship the gold statue that you set up” (Daniel 3:17-18, GWT).

Betrothed Mary, at the risk of being shamed and stoned to death for becoming the mother of a prophesied Son through the Holy Spirit, responded to the angel of the LORD, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38, ESV).

* * * * *

Albeit their stories crossed over various generations, a singular truth tied them all together into the beautiful narrative from where we continue to draw inspiration to this date – that of absolutely taking God at His word.

When God calls us and commands us to do something, there is no fitting response other than obedience. After all, it is our obedience that merits His approval.  It’s not the result of obedience, because even that is exclusively up to Him.

Singer Joni Erickson Tada once said, “It is a glorious thing to know that your Father God makes no mistakes in directing or permitting that which crosses the path of your life. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter. It is our glory to trust Him, no matter what.”

Just as we simply sit still and trust the engineer when our train goes through a dark tunnel, let us also learn absolute dependence on God when He chooses to conceal a matter to us. Our Father God makes no mistakes; even His obscure acts can be trusted.

SHALOM! SHALOM!

 

WHEN LIFE HITS YOU HARD

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Friends Magazine Hong Kong
By Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
August 2011 Edition

 

 

Unpaid bills. Failed relationship. Unsuccessful project. Impossible employer. Deteriorating health. Rebellious child. Cheating spouse.

 

When life hits you hard, don’t let it knock you down.

 

John Piper worded it for us clearly, “Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.”

 

Life, in other words, is essentially good lumped with the bad – with the bad intended only to bring out the good in us. Hence, when the bad turns up and comes along, we should remember that everything happens for a reason. It is in our dire times that we must purposefully choose to trust steadily in the faithfulness of the God who promised that He knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

In the midst of life’s difficulties, we are not left alone and helpless. God has a standing invitation to us: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:27-30, MSG).

 

It is most comforting that at our most trying times, the preceding Bible verses point us to the fact that (1) God cares, (2) God is available to us, and (3) God is in control.

 

 

God cares. We all know this in good times, of course. It is when we hit rock bottom that we question if He really does.

 

This is why we have the likes of Joseph, Daniel, his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the Bible. Because these giants of faith trusted in God and in His goodness even in the midst of their lives’ worst possible situation.

 

Joseph, though he kept his integrity and feared the Living God, was imprisoned for a charge he did not commit. Yet he went with it, his faith unfazed by the unjustness of his situation. God saw him through the process, granted him favor in the eyes of men, and made him the second most powerful person in the kingdom.

 

Daniel, for keeping his loyalty to God, was thrown in the hungry lions’ den. Yet nothing was said about him questioning God and His reasons for allowing him to go through what he went through. It was only when God revealed the mystery of His wisdom that He made known: His higher purpose was for the king himself to acknowledge no other God, but the God of Daniel alone.

 

Shadrach,Meshach, and Abednego, in the same fashion, went through the furnace heated seven times over for not bowing down to idols. Yet they did not go through it just by themselves, because God went with them.

 

Let me underscore, these people were not spared from prison, dungeon, and furnace; they went through every possible hardship and fear and pain, but it didn’t mean God abandoned them or didn’t care for them. On the contrary, when all the pieces of the puzzle ultimately fell into place, it was revealed how God went with them each and every single step of their difficult process.

 

This brings me to my next point: God is available to us.

 

We can always turn to God for help; He has given us the invitation to come (Matthew 11:27). He has also called on us to call unto Him. “Let your cry come to me, and I will give you an answer, and let you see great things and secret things of which you had no knowledge” (Jeremiah 33:3, Bible in Basic English). The problem, really, is that we take our independence too seriously that we think we can live separately from God.

 

Clearly, we go through life alone because we choose to, not because we have to. The thing is, we can’t tackle life even with our best and greatest strength, wisdom, money, power, influence, and fame all built into one tall “Tower of Babel.” Apart from the LORD, even our best efforts will come tumbling down – sooner than later.

 

Ultimately, therefore, God is in control.

 

To the believer whose life fully depends on God, this is a fountain of joy and assurance. But to him who wrestles against the LORD, this is a fair warning.

 

God has sworn in His Word, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:10).

 

Only a fool will work against the will of this God who “… stretches out His heavens over empty space. He hangs the earth on nothing whatsoever” (Job 26:7).

 

When life hits you hard, draw near to God, call unto Him, and trust His plans and purposes. Remember that He cares for you, He is available to you, and He is in control of your situation.

Write Your Best Life Story in 2012

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Friends Magazine Hong Kong
By Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
January 2012 Edition

 

To a writer, nothing is more intimidating than a blank sheet of paper … or a flickering cursor on the screen of a new blank document. It’s daunting to start right.
In a way, we are all writers with new stories to tell at the beginning of a new year. We are given a clean slate, a fresh start, a new beginning – and it all depends on what we write on the blank sheet of paper that we’ve been given that spells the difference for most of us.
What do we do with this gift of a new year? The Bible teaches us three practical steps to take in order to get ourselves aligned with God’s desires for us.
First, replace fear with faith. It’s a given: Anything new is daunting and anything uncertain is scary. It’s human nature to doubt.  Take the disciple Thomas for example. Yet when we let go of fear and begin to live a life of faith, walking by it and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), we are empowered to do things that are even beyond our capability. Jesus Himself has said, “Anything is possible if a person believes” (Mark 9:23).
We must remember that whichever controls us of the two, masters us. It’s just impossible for faith and fear to go together. Hence we cannot live in faith, trusting God for every detail of our lives, while we live in fear of what’s to come. It’s just out of sync.
When God told Abram to leave his native land (relatives and family included) to go to a “land that I will show you” (instruction can’t go vaguer than that), it was faith that made Abram obey (Genesis 12).
As a reward, Genesis 24:1 tells us that, “Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.”  And fast-forward to generations after him, Galatians 3:9 commends him still: “So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”
Second, replace worry with worship. The person who said that, “worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere” is wise.  And Luke 12:25 probes: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” The answer to this, of course, is none.
Simple math will tell us that if we give an hour of our lives to worry, anxious about “what ifs” in the future, we waste sixty minutes of our earth time. And for us to appreciate the importance of an hour, let’s imagine ourselves missing our train because of a five-minute delay at the ticket counter.
Just as fear and faith can’t go together, so are worry and worship. Worry is a response to fear; worship is the response of faith. It is impossible to worship the LORD for His goodness, while our thoughts are wrapped around the worries that come with new things. If we truly trust God, we will worship Him unconditionally. [Philippians 4:6-7]
Third, replace hopelessness with happiness. Hopelessness is not in the vocabulary of someone who has complete faith in God and worships Him for who He is. Because a person who truly trusts in the LORD and rests in the guarantee of His sovereignty, naturally remains in the attitude of faith and worship.
Bible scholars believe that the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in a cold and dark dungeon, nothing better than a sewer, when he wrote the words: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).  What kept him rejoicing even in the midst of an impossible situation?  Paul knew his God.
At this early, deal with the fact that 2012 will be full of new challenges, even trials and tests. There is no other way for our lives to be enriched and our faith to be strengthened. Our crowns are determined by the battles we won.
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
So don’t be cowed by fear. If you truly trust in the LORD and fully believe in Him, nothing in this world will move you. Respond in worship to Him, rejoicing at all times. Write your life’s best story this 2012!
God bless you more marvelously!

Bro. Eddie seeks full investigation of JIL leaders’ double murder

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

                      Official Statement

                                                                   Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva

                                                                            14 August 2013

Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Movement founder Bro. Eddie Villanueva condemned the killing of two lady cell group leaders of JIL Batangas allegedly perpetrated by two police officers even as he called on the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police not to leave any stone unturned in investigating the twin murders.

“The leadership of JIL condemns in the strongest terms this dastardly act against two humble servants of God. We appeal to our authorities especially Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and PNP Chief Alan Purisima to please let justice prevail and order the immediate prosecution of the perpetrators,” Villanueva said in a statement.

Adelaida Fabricante, 46, and Leonila Cafe, 48, both active church leaders of JIL in Balete, Batangas were found dead in the middle of a road in Barangay Makina last Aug. 6.

Witnesses said they were last seen hitching a police car with Police Officer (PO) 3 Jose Rico Benitez and PO2 Mhelven Pagkaliwangan, both members of the Balete police.

Fabricante and Cape were laid to rest last Sunday which was attended by thousands of Balete residents.

Villanueva, who founded what is now one of the largest Christian movements in the world, expressed deep sadness over the attacks on the two women.

Fabricante and Cape came from a Bible study and decided to hitch-ride in the police patrol car on their way back to their respective barangays.

Earlier police reports indicated that the two were victims of “hit-and-run” but Balete Mayor Jovencio Hidalgo ordered a reinvestigation after thousands of residents trooped to the municipal hall condemning their deaths.

Hidalgo said several witnesses volunteered to give their statements linking the two cops to the deaths of the two female preachers.

“Maraming mga miyembro ng JIL na nagpapatunay na nakisabay ang dalawang biktima sa mobile ng dalawang pulis bago sila natagpuang patay,” the Mayor said.

Last Saturday, Hidalgo sought the assistance of Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, who in turn, made a separate investigation on the case along with her team of lawyers and medico-legal doctors.

Based on medico-legal reports, the two were brutally beaten by hard objects and had bruises all over their bodies.

Hidalgo said another witness surfaced and narrated how he personally saw the police car as the bodies of the two victims were being dumped on the middle of the road.

The JIL Movement had also sent a legal team to work together with PAO lawyers in assisting the families of the victims.

Villanueva said JIL is grateful to Hidalgo and Acosta for their quick response but issued an appeal to the DOJ and PNP “to use the full force of the law for our brutally murdered lady pastors to get justice.”

http://www.philstar.com/probinsiya/2013/08/13/1083741/2-jil-preachers-pinatay-ng-2-pulis