Measured by Motive

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

Author of the classic book, Imitation Of Christ, Thomas à Kempis worded it rightly, “Man sees your actions, but God your motives.”

If there is a measurement against which our actions ought to be judged, it has to be the touchstone of our motive. Because motive, by definition, is “a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.”

This validates why, even in criminal investigations, authorities often primarily seek to establish the motive for the commission of a crime.  On a lighter note, yet by the same token, we tend to become circumspect too toward people who suddenly do out-of-the-ordinary things for us.  Ask a mom whose teenage son, totally uncharacteristic of him, suddenly offers to do the laundry just because!

* * * * *

In the Old Testament, there are two occasions in Prophet Samuel’s life wherein God exposed the power of human motive.  And in these two occasions, God showed how, like a two-faced coin, motive has the power to ruin or restore – not only individuals, but also even nations.

When the time came for the LORD to avenge the Israelites against the Amalekites who blocked Israel’s way after the Israelites came from their Egypt exodus, He sent Samuel to King Saul with the following order: Attack Amalek. Claim everything they have for God by destroying it. Spare no one and nothing – even the cows and sheep, camels and donkeys (1 Samuel 15:3).

King Saul did as instructed.  Well, almost.

“Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality” (1 Samuel 15:7-9, NLT).

Confronted by Prophet Samuel on why he didn’t carry out fully the command of the LORD, King Saul reasoned with Prophet Samuel that he spared Agag and the best of the spoil because they will be sacrificed to the LORD.

To King Saul’s army, his outward action may seem justified, even commendable, but to the LORD who weighs the motives of the heart (Proverbs 21:2), it was a detestable act of disobedience, even rebellion (1 Samuel 15:22).

“Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So BECAUSE YOU HAVE REJECTED THE COMMAND OF THE LORD, HE HAS REJECTED YOU AS KING” (1 Samuel 15:23, NLT, emphasis mine).

This should serve as a serious warning to us.  “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit” (Proverbs 16:2, ESV).

Meanwhile, when it was time for Prophet Samuel to anoint the successor of King Saul, he went to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem to pour oil on the head of God’s chosen one.

When Jesse’s muscular firstborn stood before Prophet Samuel, he immediately thought: “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!”(1 Samuel 16:6, NLT)

Yet just as soon as the thought came to his mind, God’s Word came to his heart: “Don’t look at his appearance or how tall he is, because I have rejected him. God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks into the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT).

One by one, Jesse’s sons were called out to stand before Prophet Samuel until the verdict was made: “The Lord has not chosen any of these. Are these all the sons you have?” (1 Samuel 16:10-11, GWT, emphasis mine).

Alas! The forgetful father was put in remembrance! “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats” (1 Samuel 16:11-12, NLT).

By our standards, it can be said that it was not the best beginning for a would-be-king!  But God does not see as humans see. He is not impressed by what usually catches our fancy. He weighs the motives of the heart.

* * * * *

It is not for us to say whether an endeavor is a success or a failure, based on our limited and warped definition of success and failure. The story of King Saul and the Israelites tells us that success is not simply winning a war; it is winning the LORD’s approval by doing everything He commands. On the same note, King David’s election story tells us that being disqualified by one’s own father as a potential future king is not an outright failure or rejection. David was blessed that, while others saw him as a mere shepherd boy, God found him a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22) and worthy of the throne.

We should never be afraid to “walk on water” if the LORD tells us so. We should never be afraid to “let down our nets for a catch” even though we have only been through a night of unproductive fishing.  We should never be afraid to wholeheartedly obey God in all things, and at all times, even when the results of our obedience do not match our expectations.

After all, “God will certainly judge everything that is done. This includes every secret thing, whether it is good or bad” (Ecclesiastes 12:14, GWT).

Agenda of a Godly Leader Towards a New Season of Service

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Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
Executive Bishop and International President
Jesus is Lord Church Worldwide

Serving God is an unending vocation to those who have truly given their lives over to Him. Those who have decided to surrender their entire existence to God normally desire to serve in His kingdom until the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. But not everyone who serves God finishes the given race. Many of them stumble along the way and haply return to the lane of Christian service.

What could be the secrets to serve God steadily? There are certain principles that will guide us in establishing a lasting kind of service. Given here are the 6-point agenda that will help us become able, effective and godly servants of God. Let me recite them one by one and ponder how they shall take us to the finish line.


1. Covet to honor the Lord.

1 Samuel 2:30 says, “For those who honor Me I will honor and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.”

No honor can be so great than the honor that comes from the Lord of lords and King of kings. But God honors only those who give him the honor. Imagine a friend, who does nothing to you but disgrace, do you think you will honor such a man? In the same way, God shall esteem lightly those who despise Him and His cause in the Ministry.

The first step for us to honor the Lord is to have that passionate love for Christ. This kind of love for Christ is being reflected in the manner we live our lives as well as in the manner we take care of God’s ministry. We should develop the habit of giving honor to God by properly handling and managing the ministry. Be reminded that “curse is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully,” (Jeremiah 48:10). Every form of deceit in the ministry of the Lord is a cause for a curse.

We cannot also say that we truly love God with all our heart, mind, and strength and soul if we struggle in doing even the littlest task in the ministry. If we have the passionate love for Christ, we will be cheerful in everything that we do to serve our Master – the Lord Jesus.

To have this kind of love for the Lord, we have to ask Him to fill our hearts with a passion to love Him. If we have this, there will be no hindrance that we cannot overcome. God can use us in a mighty way.

Let us develop a passionate love for God. We should love God more than anybody else and even more than our own reputation. If we remain faithful to God, He is obligated to help, support and equip us with all the necessary “ammunitions” as we finish our assignments from Him. We can be assured of His assistance if we continue to depend on Him for anointing and grace in ministering to the people. No one has the right to boast of anything. We must never be tempted to share or touch even an iota of the glory that exclusively belongs to God.

Personal, family, business and political decisions must be motivated by our passionate love for God with an obsession to please His heart and to glorify His Holy Name. Therefore, let us covet to honor the Lord as long as we live.

2. Work with God.

Stop working for God. We as His servants should not struggle in serving Him. We should not be tempted to have Messianic spirit and insult the Owner of the kingdom. What we ought to do is to do our best and leave to Him what we cannot do.

God is not a Master who watches us from a distance but an active participant in the building of His kingdom. First Corinthians 3:9 says, “For we are God’s fellow workers…” Philippians 2:13 also says, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”

There are times we become weary with delay in the delivery of God’s promises, which will help in the advancement of His kingdom on earth. But we must remember that He always has a million plus ways to deliver the things we have expected Him to deliver for the benefit of the ministry He has entrusted to us. What is important is that we are living and serving Him within His will. And God, in His perfect time, will manifest to us the fulfillment of His promises for His glory.

3. Never lose guard

No one is immune from any temptation. Everyone, even those who look strong and mature can lose a single moment of test of character. Such was the test Gideon’s army undertook, from which only 300 passed out of 32,000 (Judges 7). Gideon’s valiant three hundred were not afraid to face the battle against the Midianites and did not drink like dogs when they were brought down to the river. Their courage and subtlety shined as they were tested, proving their preparedness for the battle.

We must always stay on guard since what will disqualify a Christian from service is the lack of discretion or discernment whenever temptation gets in the way. Saint Peter was right when he said, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

And when we say stay on guard, it means to watch our heart and its motives. It means not to allow the spirit of envy, jealousy, division, strife, greed and the likes to enter our hearts while serving God. All the more, we must heed His warning in Jeremiah 48:10a that says, “Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully.”

4. Follow “doormat” principle

“If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). God’s philosophy in His kingdom has always been focused on humility and servanthood. Not only did He speak about it. He demonstrated it. The Lord Jesus washed the disciples’ dirty feet in one celebration of the Passover Feast, few hours before they betrayed Him. It was so humbling to see the Lord serving His disciples when He in heaven commands His hosts of angels.

And surely, nothing can equal His supreme servanthood shown through His death. As He affirmed, “…whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:27-28).

We must be willing to be the least of all the servants of God. We should serve like doormats, not lording over God’s flock and our fellow believer (1 Peter 5:3). As St. Paul puts it, “…through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

In order for God to live in us, we should be dead to ourselves. In order for us to obey His perfect will for our lives, we should make Jesus our Lord. There is a big difference in calling and making Him our Lord. The first may just be a lip service while the latter requires a higher cost. We should learn to step down from the personal throne of our ambition and selfish desires for the Lord Jesus to take complete control of our lives. As writer Oswald Chambers puts it, “Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.”

The Apostle Paul distinctly described self-denial in Galatians 2:20. It says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Death to ourselves simply means giving over to God the right to ourselves insomuch that God’s absolute will may prevail over our lives.

5. Remember the Judgment Seat of Christ

The quality of our service to God will be revealed in the day of reckoning. Second Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

We should remember that the day will come when all of our works will be drawn to the fire of testing and their quality will be revealed. Whether they are made of gold and silver, or of wood and hay, symbolically saying that our works may have been done in honesty, sincerity and integrity, or done in deceit, that we will know on the judgment day (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Taking to heart that certain day will come, we should be cautious and conscious enough of the manner we serve God.

6. Daily desire refilling of the Holy Spirit

No one can truly serve God in a mighty way except when he is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. It is His power or anointing that makes a difference in our service, whether it is menial or spectacular.

Acts 1:8 still stands today. Its intensity in the missionary, evangelical or pastoral work is not diminished at all. It is the promise of God that we ought to covet not just always but daily. We cannot survive serving God in the midst of a crooked world without God’s power through the Holy Spirit.

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Such a bigger task given to the Church indeed requires that all servants of God be filled with the Holy Spirit. Our daily communion with Him through prayer, worship and study of the Word should be kept intact so that we shall always be anchored on God’s power, making us prepared at all times in serving Him – in carrying out the Great Commission, in reaching the needy, in ministering to the believers, in making disciples of all nations (Mark 16:15-18; Matthew 28:19-20).

Conclusion

Serving the Lord is the noblest task a man can ever do. It is a good thing that God did not only save us but also gave us the privilege to serve Him. With all the given principles in Christian service, God only requires that we serve Him faithfully.

May He all find us faithful servants in His kingdom till the coming of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, so that He would say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord!” (Matthew 25:23)

Asia, Arise! Your Time Has Come!

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

 

With the ongoing shifts in the socio-political and economic situation of nations around the world today, pundits and analysts are taking a curious second look at Asia. In August this year, a study by property giant Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank predicted that Asian economies will top the list of the world’s richest economies on a per capita basis by 2050. It also foretold that “multimillionaires in Asia will continue to outnumber those in North America and Western Europe by 2050.”

The good news is that the Philippines is riding on top of this new wave of seeming wealth transfer. According to renowned Deutsche Bank AG chief economist for Asia Michael Spencer, the Philippines has become the strongest economy in Asia, outclassing so-called tiger economies like Malaysia and Singapore. He also cited the country’s resiliency despite the global economic crisis that shook countries in Europe and the United States.

Alas!  Why Asia?  Why the Philippines?  Why now?

 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, AKJV).

 

The LORD of Armies has taken an oath: “It will happen exactly as I’ve intended. It will turn out exactly as I’ve planned” (Isaiah 14:24, God’s WORD Translation).

In all things, we have to understand that the LORD has a timetable for every purpose and everything will be carried out exactly as He has intended.

* * * * *

New Living Translation Bible worded Matthew 24:14 this way: “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”

The promised “end” that will certainly come is the return of the LORD Jesus Christ as the King who will eternally rule and reign. But His coming again is dependent on an explicit condition: that the Good News about His Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it.

Here’s a reality check, however, from the late missionary Oswald J. Smith: “We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.”

Alas!  Why Asia?  Why the Philippines?  Why now?

* * * * *

Researches on world evangelization particularly reveal the unsettling situation of missionary work in Asia.  Among the seven continents in the world, Asia is home to 50 countries that are all within the 10-40 Window.

The 10-40 Window, also known as The Resistant Belt, is the world’s most critical missionary field.  Nearly 4 billion people live here, including 90 percent of the world’s poorest of the poor. An estimated 1.6 billion of these people have never had the chance to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ – not even once!  Moreover, of the four billion people who live in the 10/40 Window, 95% are unevangelized.

Witnessing the Christian Gospel in some of the countries in the 10/40 Window is also illegal and often results in imprisonment or death. Forty-five of the 50 worst countries in the world for persecution of Christians are likewise in this region.  And the most disturbing of all, majority of the world’s terrorist organizations are based here. (Data are lifted from www.joshuaproject.net and www.win1040.com.)

Alas!  Why Asia?  Why the Philippines?  Why now?

* * * * *

Hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches in Asia, the Asia for Christ Movement is heeding the voice of the LORD: “ASIA, ARISE! YOUR TIME HAS COME!”

Asia For Christ Movement (AFCM) is a global movement of covenanted servant-leaders who are committed to establish God’s Kingdom by fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission in Asia. It advocates the empowering and reforming of churches and the transforming of nations.

On 13-14 November 2012, 1PM- 9PM, the AFCM will hold its Asia For Christ MISSION Congress at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center, Manila, Philippines where delegates from all over Asia are expected to come.  Sponsored by the Philippines for Jesus Movement, the event aims to equip missionaries who will be commissioned and sent out to unreached Asian nations.  You may visit www.asiaforchrist.com for more information on the mission congress.

* * * * *

The LORD Jesus Himself testified: “The size of the harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers” (Matthew 9:37).

You have a part in the missionary work of the LORD. Please pray for this gathering of end-time missionaries and harvesters of the LORD. Promote it to everyone you know, especially to those who have a heart for missions. And support, in any way you can, the missionary work of God in your churches.

We have to do it now.  We have to do it where we are.  We have to arise for Jesus. Our time has come. èas

BELIEVE IN THE GOD WHO KNOWS

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Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
February 2012

“Oh, Lord GOD! You Yourself made the heavens and earth by Your great power and with Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You!”(Jeremiah 32:17, HCSB)

Has anything overtaken you in life lately that has made your head swell, your heart faint, and your faith stagger?  Regardless of the seeming impossibility of your situation, I want you to do something so simple, yet so significant – go outside on a cloudless night, look up at the sky, and meditate on the LORD’s awesome power it displays!

One author shared that there are an estimated mind-boggling 50,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe. Our own Milky Way galaxy is so gigantic that it would take 1,000 lifetimes traveling at the speed of light to cross it one time.  That’s 186,282 miles per second for 70,000 years (that’s 70,000 light years). Even a mathematician will probably find it hard to “do the math” in order to grasp the awesome power behind our universe! And then there remains, at least, an estimated 49,999,999,999 galaxies more!

Psalm 33:6 tells us that “The heavens were made by the word of the LORD, and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth.”

And as astounding as the astonishing numbers may be, the LORD “counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them” (Psalm 147:4).

Wait. Pause. Read that again. One more time. Let it sink into your mind and heart and soul.  The LORD knows not only how many stars there are, He knows WHO they are.

Dear one, what is it that torments your mind with worry?  What is it that troubles your heart with sorrow?  What is it that tempts your faith with fear?  Don’t you know that the LORD knows not only your situation, but also knows you all too well?  Indeed, even the hairs on your head have all been counted! (Matthew 10:30, also read Psalm 139)

Jeremiah 33:3 is the LORD’s open invitation to you: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Today, turn on to God.  Call upon Jesus (Acts 4:12). He has the Word of Life (John 6:68).  He is the Word of Life (John 1:1-4). And when you allow God to move in your life, you will know that there is nothing impossible for you to face and handle, because there is nothing impossible with God (Luke 1:37) who is greatly at work within you. Yes, you can do everything through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).

The Lord Jesus Christ who was one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in creating all things, seen and unseen, is exhorting you: “Have faith in God! If you have faith in God and don’t doubt, you can tell this mountain to get up and jump into the sea, and it will. Everything you ask for in prayer will be yours, if you only have faith” (Mark 11:22-24).

Do what the LORD wants, and He will give you your heart’s desire (Psalm 37:4).  He will renew your life and lead you along the right path, for His name’s sake.  And even when you go through the darkest valley, you will fear no danger for the LORD will be with you to protect and comfort you (Psalm 23:3-4).

Believe in the God who knows you. “Don’t be troubled. Believe in God, and believe in Me” (John 14:1).

BLESSINGS OF A FATHER

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

 

 

 

The greeting cards are out – so are the shirts, the mugs, the posters, the caps, the key chains that honor the “World’s Greatest Dad!” Yes. It’s that time of the year again when a father feels great to be one.

 

This year’s Father’s Day celebration is an especially poignant occasion for me because this year also marks my 40 blessed and blissful wedded years to my better half, Dory.  It is because of my loving wife that I share with the rest of the world the joy of being a father.  Surely, I know of no greater joy than receiving from our gracious Abba, our wondrous Lord the blessing of my four beloved children, my heritage and great reward (Psalms 127:3-5 ESV).

 

 

My 39 years of fatherhood has taught me that it is one serious business. Unlike an ordinary day job that runs from 8am-5pm, fatherhood is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week commitment – with guaranteed NO sick leaves.  And now that I am a delightfully happy grandpa too, I have never stopped being a father to my grandchildren’s parents.  Essentially, therefore, a father is into it for life.

 

While fatherhood may be a daunting task, fathers are not without help and an example to follow.  Our Lord Jesus Himself pointed us to “Our Father in heaven” in Whom we may always call.

 

Matthew 6 does not only point us to the “how” of praying, it also introduces us to the loving Father who is always available to come to our aid.

 

Give us today our daily bread.  Our Heavenly Father provides.  The Maker of heaven and earth is mindful of His children. “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

 

 

 

On the flipside, this is a good reminder to earthly fathers too. With the gift of children comes the responsibility to provide for them also.  And the very impetus that should propel us to work is our very love for our family. As we work to provide for them, we must not neglect to look after them. One without the other is not enough.

 

 

 

Forgive us our debts.  Our Heavenly Father loves unconditionally. He forgives us of our sins that we may have the grace to forgive those who sin against us. His love that is abounding in us makes us do the right things, even the difficult ones.

 

 

 

As hard as fathers try to keep our children on safe ground however, there will inevitably be forks and bumps on the road that may keep our children off their track.  What do we do when they get astray, stumble and fall?  We do not cast them off. Like the loving Father of the prodigal son, we patiently wait for their return and gladly welcome them back home (Luke 15:11-31).

 

 

 

We should not take it against ourselves when our children do things their way. They have their own freewill, hence they act on their own volition. The best that we can do for them is to lead them and guide them in the way they should go, and pray that they won’t depart from it when they grow up (Proverbs 22:6).  When they get their hearts broken because of their wrong choices and decisions, we must be there to pick up the pieces and help them stand on solid ground once more.

 

 

 

Lead us not into temptation. Our Heavenly Father guides. He is a Shepherd who guides His people as His flock and leads them to safe and rich pastures (Psalm 23). His plans and purposes for His children are all for good (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

 

 

As earthly fathers, we must take it upon ourselves to make sure that the example we leave our children is worth imitating.  Out of the good comes the good.  When we keep this as a standard for our daily living, we can rest assured that we are raising up generations of godly children after us.

 

 

 

Deliver us from the evil one.  Our Heavenly Father protects. He is “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation”(Psalm 68:5). “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble. The LORD protects and preserves them — they are counted among the blessed in the land — he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness” (Psalm 41:1-3).

 

 

As surely as we have a Heavenly Father who is protective of His children, earthly fathers must always be the family’s chief protector too. Our authority in the family is delegated to us to guarantee that our family is safe at all times. It must run counter to our nature to use our authority to do anything that will hurt our wife and children. We keep them from evil. We do them no harm.

 

Fatherhood is a gift. While it is vested with many blessings, it is also coupled with many responsibilities.  I pray for all the earthly fathers, may we be found faithful stewards of this God-given opportunity to become to our family as He is to us.

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day, Abba!  Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads all over the world!

CHRISTMAS: THE FATHER’S LOVE REVEALED

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

 

It is that time of the year again when the whole world joyfully celebrates the birth of the Messiah, the Son born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23) on Whose shoulders government rests (Isaiah 9:6) and in Whose Name alone salvation is found (Acts 4:12).

Revealed in John 3:16 is the Author of this beautiful story of love, sacrifice, and redemption. He is the Heavenly Father who “… 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.”

To show just how much the Father loves us, here is an inspiring Father’s Love Letter by Bryan Adams that has been touching lives since 1999.

 

My Child…
You may not know Me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1).
I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm 139:2).
I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:3).
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:29-31).
For you were made in My image (Genesis 1:27).
In Me, you live and move and have your being (Acts 17:28).
For you are My offspring (Acts 17:28).
I knew you even before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5).
I chose you when I planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12).
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in My Book (Psalm 139:15-16).
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26).
You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).
And brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6).
I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know Me (John 8:41-44).
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love (1 John 4:16).
And it is My desire to lavish My love on you (1 John 3:1).
Simply because you are My child and I am your Father (1 John 3:1).
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:11).
For I am the perfect Father (Matthew 5:48).
Every good gift that you receive comes from My hand (James 1:17).
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs (Matthew 6:31-33).
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalms 139:17-18).
And I rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
I will never stop doing good to you (Jeremiah 32:40).
For you are My treasured possession (Exodus 19:5).
I desire to establish you with all My heart and all My soul (Jeremiah 32:41).
And I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3).
If you seek Me with all your heart, you will find Me (Deuteronomy 4:29).
Delight in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
For it is I who gave you those desires (Philippians 2:13).
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
For I am your greatest encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18).
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to My heart (Isaiah 40:11).
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes (Revelation 21:3-4).
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth (Revelation 21:3-4).
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love My Son, Jesus (John 17:23).
For in Jesus, My love for you is revealed (John 17:26).
He is the exact representation of My being (Hebrews 1:3).
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Romans 8:31).
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
His death was the ultimate expression of My love for you (1 John 4:10).
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (Romans 8:31-32).
If you receive the gift of My Son Jesus, you receive Me (1 John 2:23).
And nothing will ever separate you from My love again (Romans 8:38-39).
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7).
I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15).
My question is, Will you be My child? (John 1:12-13)
I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32)

Love,
Your Dad
The Almighty Go
d

 

More than the gifts, the carols, and the trimmings, let’s make sure we have the greatest gift for which the Father sent His only Son in the flesh – that is eternal life for everyone who will believe in the Father’s Son (John 3:36).

The greatest and noblest achievement of a man is to personally know his Creator truthfully, to love Him passionately and wholeheartedly, and to serve Him faithfully with integrity and excellence until he stands before Him on judgment day.

I wish you CHRIST this Christmas!

Curse Not Your Cross

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

A story is told about a man who felt like he was at the end of his rope.  He couldn’t understand why life could still be hard on him when he had decided to fully obey God. He had picked up his cross and followed Him. Yet he wasn’t spared still from life’s difficulties.

Feeling utterly hopeless and miserable, he called unto God in prayer.  And as if in a dream, he saw himself suddenly standing before God in heaven. Emboldened by the opportunity to talk to God face to face, he bared his heart to Him and told Him exactly how hard he felt life was for him.

“Lord, I am presenting to You this cross that I took up as I followed You. It’s just too much for me to bear.  I don’t think I can carry it anymore,” he cried out to God.
God looked at him tenderly, knowingly, compassionately. Then the man heard His invitation for him to enter into a special room that was full of crosses.

“Leave here the cross you’re carrying now and search the entire room for the cross which you feel would be easiest for you to carry,” God told him lovingly.
The man scanned the room. He methodically searched for that easy-to-carry-cross. Now that he had the freedom to choose his cross, he’d make sure he’d get the lightest one.

Cross after cross, he searched. The sheer number and various kinds of crosses that he saw amazed him. Some crosses were too big and daunting, their top couldn’t be seen from where he was standing.

Finally, he saw a small and thin cross that was leaning on a wall. His eyes glistened. At last, after the long search, he found the cross that, for him, was undoubtedly the easiest one to bear.  So he went back to God to point to Him the cross that he felt best suited him.

“Are you sure this is the cross you want?” he heard God ask him. Comparing to the other huge and massive crosses, he knew he couldn’t go wrong with his choice. So he nodded his head in agreement.

Then God told him, “This is the very same cross you were carrying earlier.  This is the very same cross you were trying to trade for another.”

The Word of the LORD tells us that, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, The Message).

This beautiful Bible verse presents to us four powerful promises from the LORD that are sufficient to sustain us through life’s changing seasons.

First promise: No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. Life’s difficulties are not unique to us. We are mistaken when we think that we singlehandedly carry the weight of the world upon our shoulders. Even the Apostle Paul had his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7).  Yet, according to the grace of God that is at work in us, we are enabled to endure and overcome.

Second promise: God will never let you down. We will never get disappointed when we put our trust in God, because He is ever true to us.

Third promise: He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit. Our Maker knows precisely our limitations. And only up to such brink will He allow trials to test us. Forget not Job, the man whom God allowed to be tested and tempted by Satan. Job lost everything he had, except his life. Yet with what was left of him, God made him doubly blessed.

Fourth promise: He’ll always be there to help you come through it. The single best word of assurance here is always. When He promised that He’d be with us always, He meant it.  Hence, come hell or high waters, we’ll never be alone in this life of obedience to God (Psalm 91:15, Hebrews 13:5). We maybe at a point when we are about to lose our minds and lives, but we must never lose heart. Recall how even a rotting Lazarus, from his tomb, was brought back to life by Christ (John 11:42-44).

Let us not curse our crosses, but carry them in complete obedience to Christ. Once upon a time, He also carried a cross, got crucified on it, and bore its curse for our redemption. He knows the pain too much, He won’t allow us to go through anything beyond what we can bear. This is our greatest assurance.

Experiencing God’s Miracles

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

In October 2011, the world was shocked by the death of the genius inventor and charismatic pioneer behind personal computer revolution. Considered as one of the world’s most influential leaders and wealthiest businessmen, the “early” death of Apple Inc.’s chairman and chief executive officer came as a chilling surprise. People questioned why medical science failed to save him, considering that he had at his disposal all the money needed for his treatment.

Then illumination hit the hearts of men: money, genius, fame, and power are no match to life’s impossibilities. Ultimately, God alone decides the fate of men. “For the life of every living thing is in His hand, and the breath of every human being” (Job 12:10, NLT).

The fact that life is fleeting can be the reason why theoretical physicist Albert Einstein opined, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

What is miracle? An online search defined miracle as an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God. How does one experience it? Let me share the following thoughts for us to ponder.

Miracle is conceived in the womb of impossibility. Until we have reached that point when nothing but God can help us, we haven’t reached our point of miracle yet. Most assuredly, anything that can be explained by nature, answered by human wisdom, and cured by science is not ripe for miracle. Why? Because the working of miracle is a divine opportunity that is reserved exclusively for God, that He may display His sovereignty over all. It is the one realm that man cannot usurp God’s power.

This miracle-working power of God brings to mind the parting of the Red Sea during Moses’ time, the giving of birth of Sarah to Isaac when her body was as good as dead, the crushing down of the walls of Jericho by the mere shouts of the Israelites, the feeding of five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fish by Jesus, and His raising back to life of His dead friend, Lazarus.

All these great miracles have a common denominator: an impossible situation.  It is during these times when God’s word rings the truest: “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27, NIV).

And those who have experienced God’s mighty acts are right in declaring, “O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by Your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for You!” (Jeremiah 32:17, NLT). “I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You” (job 42:2, NLT).

An impossible situation is not a dead end. Rather, it is the highway to experience the LORD’s miraculous work, if only man can believe that all things are indeed possible with God. This brings me to my next point.

Miracle is birthed by faith. Miracles only happen when a person believes in miracles. Jesus Himself declares, “As far as possibilities go, everything is possible for the person who believes” (Mark 9:23, GOD’s WORD Translation).

Matthew 9:27-30 records the story of two blind men who followed after Jesus and cried out to Him for their healing:

Jesus went into a house, and the blind men followed him. He said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?”

Yes, Lord,” they answered.

He touched their eyes and said, “What you have believed will be done for you!” Then they could see.”

Like these once blind men, the only way for us to see the miraculous is to look at the impossibilities of our lives through the eyes of faith. Because “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see” (Hebrews 11:1, Common English Bible Translation).

Dear reader, if you are in an impossible situation right now, draw near to God in prayer (James 4:8). Seek Him through His Word (Jeremiah 29:13). Believe that He can make all things work together for you (Romans 8:28). Trust Him and He will direct your path (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Remember, with your right response to life’s impossibilities, you are rightly positioned to experience your greatest miracle!

Face the future victoriously

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Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
January 2011

With the dawning of a new year comes the promise of a fresh start.  This is probably one of the reasons why, at this particular time of the year, there is a generally renewed sense of optimism for people who wish to leave behind their past failures and march toward future opportunities.

While embarking into an unknown future can be interesting, it can be intimidating too.  Thus to get anywhere, it is important that we turn to the Creator of Time (Genesis 1:14) for instruction and direction.

The Message Bible’s translation of Lamentations 3:19-33, when prayerfully studied and considered, is a well of information for us. It teaches us three truths that can help us confidently put our unknown future to the Eternal God as well us empower us to face the future victoriously.


First, let us put our vision in correct perspective. Lamentations 3:19-24 tells us, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all —oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great is your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”

When Jeremiah wrote these words, his hopes were hanging by a thread. He was in utter pain and misery as he lived a seemingly beaten life of futile intercession for his corrupt people before the Holy God. He acknowledged his past troubles, his hitting the bottom. Yet he never forgot to remember the steadfast source of his hope: God, His loyal love, His merciful love, and His great faithfulness.  Therefore he was able to make a definite decision to stick with God, no matter what.

We do not have to delude ourselves into believing that 2011 automatically wipes out the troubles of 2010.  Our unresolved problems remain matters to be dealt with, yet they do not have to wear us down. If we hope in God, in His loyalty, mercy, and faithfulness to us, we can also make a firm choice to stick with God regardless of what the future may hold for us.  We can also say that He’s all we’ve got left, and He is more than enough.

Second, let us put our expectation in the right and Righteous Object of hope.
Lamentations 3:25-27 tells us, “God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.”

When we passionately wait on God and diligently seek God, He proves Himself good to us; He does not disappoint us. Because He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Any pursuit and desire that is not God and of God will surely leave us lost, frustrated, and disillusioned. James 4:4 reminds us that friendship with the world means enmity against God and anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

It is God’s will for us to have abundant life (John 10:10) and to prosper and be in good health, both physically and emotionally (3 John 2). But it is not His will for us to be enslaved by love of money, lure of power, and lust of the flesh.  “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16).

Third, let us keep a disciplined life of prayer and faith. In order to rightly deal with the heavy and hard burdens of life, whether real or imagined, Lamentations 3:28-30 exhorts us to enter into a period of meditation and prayer: “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.”

The succeeding verses explain why the troubles we often dodge and fear as the worst that can happen to us, in fact, are not.  Lamentations 3:31-33 assures us that “… the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way.” In effect, Prophet Jeremiah was reminding us that God’s loyal love could not be faulted.  It is against His very nature to just whimsically make life hard for us.  It is not His kind to senselessly throw obstacles along our path.  Rather, He makes all things work together, including the bad, for our good.

With the uncertainties that come with 2011, let us make sure that our perspective is correct, the Object of our hope is right, and our lives are lived in prayer and faith.  If we do this, we can be assured of God’s fresh hope each and every new morning, and guaranteed that everything that comes along our way are within the bounds of God’s loyal love for us.

“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). ###

God stands against the proud

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

 

“Pride comes before a disaster, but humility comes before respect.” (Proverbs 18:12, CEB).

One Bible commentary posits that all the sins in the world may be classified under these three: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.

“Everything that is in the world—the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:16, CEB).

And in this triad of sin, it is said that pride is the chief. It is so sinister that it made a “father of lies”(John 8:44) out of an “anointed cherub” (Ezekiel 28:14). It is so insidious that it mainly delights in the preoccupation with self, which makes it a dangerous enemy of God.

In the same way that pride separated Lucifer from God, it also continues to sever relationships – that of man against God, and man against man. It is this deadly sin that leads man to build walls and burn bridges, all the while trapping himself in the seething anger of his soul. Because pride insists on its rights and, at the same time, keeps its records of wrongs.

The Word of the LORD brings into light this evil sin of pride:

1 What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes? Don’t they come from your cravings that are at war in your own lives?2 You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight. You don’t have because you don’t ask.3 You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings.

 

4 You unfaithful people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?5 Or do you suppose that scripture is meaningless? Doesn’t God long for our faithfulness inthe life He has given to us?6 But He gives us more grace. This is why it says, God stands against the proud, but favors the humble. 7 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you.8 Come near to God, and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded.9 Cry out in sorrow, mourn, and weep! Let your laughter become mourning and your joy become sadness.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4, CEB).

God stands against the proud, but favors the humble. The LORD’s message can’t get clearer than that.  And it comes bundled with the most fitting instruction: Humble yourselves before the LORD, and He will lift you up.

Philippians 2:3-4, Good News Translation counsels us:Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.”

Evangelist F.B. Meyer, a famous crusader against immorality and contemporary of D.L. Moody, beautifully illustrated a paradox in a Christian’s life.  He shared, “I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other; and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we could reach them. I now find that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other; and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower; and that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts.”

Beloved of the LORD, never lose sight of the fact that everything we have and everything we are is all because of Jesus.  Everything came into existence through Him. Not one thing that exists was made without Him (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-20). And so we have this treasure in clay jars to show that its extraordinary power comes from God and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

The “I” sits enthroned in the middle of pride.  The very word proves it.  And the only antidote to pride is to take the “I” out of the picture and intentionally humble and submit our selves unto the LORD.  This can only be done when we daily die to self (1 Corinthians 15:31) by living according to the principle of Galatians 2:20:

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

12 You are the people of God; He loved you and chose you for His own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.13Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you.14 And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14).

Shalom! Shalom!