Resurrection and Life
“Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” And the dead man came out…”
– John 11:43-44, NLT
You would not believe these statistics:
“Annually, in the United States alone, 6000 people
die from texting while driving, 450 from falling out of bed,
34 from dogs, 30 from ants, and 13 from toppled vending machines.“
Such shocking and senseless deaths!
As shocking as these deaths may be, what should shake us even more is the way certain lives have been lived. Reflect on a few of them:
A disease-stricken man whose every day is misery within the confines of the four corners of his hospital room…
A juvenile whose whole energy is spent on booze and drugs…
A multimillionaire whose day-to-day existence revolves around deals and profits and meetings.
How much more shocking are useless lives! They are like dead souls, kept upright and moving by a blood-pumping heart; existing without having really lived at all.
How about you…
Have you really lived? Or are you–
Standing in line, on a long queue for free medicine at the health center for your ailing child, even as every step closer to the front of the line has you more and more worried about where and how and when to get the next prescriptions that would extend that beloved life;
Wandering from street-to-company to street-to-company, resumé in hand, hoping that, after so many heartaches, in the next establishment is that elusive chance to be hired and to prove your worth;
Marching to the sari-sari store, hand on heart, hoping that the store owner, who already holds a long list of your debts, would be willing to let you have another loan of tuyo for your starving kids;
Stuck to your office desk that’s crowded with tall piles of paper work with ominous deadlines, pressured by the ticking of the clock, with the cloud of failure ever over you and living in constant fear of getting fired;
Enjoying the delightful ambience and scrumptious food of a posh restaurant… but lonely and alone… always ever alone….
Do you feel that every ray of hope has dimmed? Hear that soft yet firm voice that says, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Has the purpose of your life been crushed? Listen as He says, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Do you feel as if your very soul has been sucked out of your body? Comfort your heart with His promise, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
It is that same voice that cried out on that hideous cross, in that cursed ground: “IT IS FINISHED!” What good news! He died that we may have life! With His last breath, He finished paying the penalty of the sin of humanity. He gave His life for ours.
But wait! There’s more! Because here’s where it gets even better: He rose again from the dead! He did not stop at dying on the cross, He rose again and with that, conquered even the grave. And with that, made us all, if only we choose to, conquerors of not only this life but even the life beyond this life. Through Him, if only we accept, we now have eternal life. Why waste His offer of RESURRECTION AND LIFE?
Listen. He is calling your name, rousing your dead soul to life. Will you heed the call?
You will? Then take off your grave clothes and allow Him to breathe His life into you.
Jesus is Lord
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Where am I going? A question that repeatedly haunts every single person on earth. If it were merely an inquiry that involves simple geography, it would have been very easy. But what if it were more than that? When it becomes a question of life’s direction, we are suddenly caught off guard, feeling lost in the jungle of options and possibilities. Where am I going?
Yet, an apparent reality seems to address this challenge of ours. We just need to look around and the world spoon-feeds us with fads and trends we can follow. Why not? All we have to do is to choose what’s in for most people and immediately the problem of a direction-less life is solved.
However, months or even weeks later, reality sets in – the fad fades, the trend trampled by a new one. So here comes another invitation to walk on a new direction, to follow the crowd. And the cycle goes on and on. And we let ourselves be swayed by this, solely because we want to prove to the world that everything in our life is in control.
Is this how we must really live? With all the ideas that try to dominate our perspective in life, how do we reach the right decision? In such moments of searching for direction, the Word of God speaks to our hearts: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD.
The real Lord who leads us in the right path towards experiencing life in its fullness. He is the One who gives meaning to our existence and carries us as we march through our hills and valleys. And this makes following Him as our Lord the best decision we can ever make. For He is neither a fad nor a trend that eventually vanishes into thin air.
Every knee should bow… In total surrender, we see no reason to doubt His sovereign knowledge and loving plans for every aspect of our life.
Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord… Publicly, we declare that we fully entrust our entire being to Him and Him alone.
Hence, in the midst of all options that the world offers, may we wholeheartedly choose to let Him reign over our life and bravely affirm that Jesus Christ is our Lord!
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13, New International Version
It’s the month of graduation days – when students revel in victory after finishing yet another stage of their lives.
These are the precious moments when they can finally say with confidence, “I have proven myself right! I can do it!” Truth be told, we all have our share of experience with this feeling. Experiences such as this, in a way, was our initiation to that encouraging belief that nothing can stop us from reaching the proverbial top of the world.
Yet, it also pointed us to certain harsh realities in this highly competitive world. We need to win – in every way possible. A life of victory means succeeding in every endeavor and receiving the most prestigious titles. The most celebrated athlete. The most famous artist. The youngest manager. The first owner of a newly-released gadget. In a nutshell, victory simply means getting ahead of everyone else.
Sadly, at the top where all these superlatives are, we find that something is missing. And it seems that what we are looking for is the most important one – significance. After all the battles waged and won, we suddenly realize that life is more than just winning and getting ahead of others. In reality, what is truly important is for us to understand and to attain significant victory.
The Apostle Paul leads us to the right direction in his oft-quoted words, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” His statement is more than just a declaration of triumph over competitors. It is a profession of faith that empowers us to accept the reality that life is fraught with hardships and trials.
And at one point or another, we will fail and suffer defeat, yet that same faith will carry us through. Our hearts will still be staunch believers of the truth that God’s miraculous Hand is at work in our lives. This is significant victory – to anchor our life deeply on this faith in the God of victory!
And so as we continue to journey in this life, may this same faith lead us to leave the life of indifference and apathy to the plight of the suffering humanity. It compels us to share in the sufferings of our fellow human beings – to be their loving companions in facing the cruel realities of life.
We pray that we may see this powerful declaration founded on Apostle Paul’s poignant words, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little” (Philippians 4:12).
The Apostle Paul expressed it crystal clear: significant victory goes beyond all kinds of experiences in life. It is living for God and God alone…fighting a good fight of faith day by day until we finally kneel before Him on Judgment Day – the incomparable moment of ultimate victory.
Fellow victors in Christ, let us join hands in living a life of significant victory, as we confess our faith, “…we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
…having loved His own who were in the world,
He loved them to the end.
This is that special month when all the world seems to focus all its energies on one thing alone: LOVE.
There are many definitions of love that have been unearthed and circulated, especially in the social media. This world has even come as far as to interview so-called experts in the hope of “new” explanations. But for others, this endless search for the perfect definition of love is, simply put, an exercise in futility. For them, love can never be defined. “Love is a mystery that can never be deciphered by the finite human mind” – that is what love is, they say.
Now we wonder, is there really a way for us to be enlightened on this timeless concept?
There surely is. And it is none other than learning from the Author of Love – God Himself.
He neither gives us long abstract definitions nor eloquent words. He invites us to witness love in its perfect expression. He brings us at the foot of the cross of Calvary.
There we see the crucified Lord – that is, love in its purest sense. And when love is pure, it is nothing but radical. At the cross, we receive the astounding revelation of the self-giving nature of divine love. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself completely for the salvation of the perishing humanity. Totally and without reservation. He faced the most atrocious ordeal in mankind’s history and triumphed over it. And because He endured all these things, He conquered all things for all of us. He endured the most horrible pain and sorrow so that we may experience healing and comfort. He endured incomparable punishment and suffering so that we may be forever freed. He endured all things for us – and that is what love is.
The Scriptures tells us, “…having loved his own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1b). His love is a love that never gave up until we are saved from separation. His love is a love that never stops to embrace us even right at this moment.
Once again, let us gratefully accept this divine love.
Yet, it must not stop there. We must desire to be transformed by God’s amazing love – our perspective, our ideals, our entire being. For only His love can lead us to live beyond what pleases ourselves – to devote our life to a cause greater than our personal pursuits and seek the welfare of our brothers and sisters in need.
This month, with the search for the right definitions, we see that the world remains hungry for genuine love. There really isn’t any need to search for the “perfect” definition of love. What love needs is simply this: the opportunity to witness His Divine Love shining in our lives.
A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
It happens every year. The first day of the year marks the beginning of new things in our lives. On the eve of the coming year, we find ourselves with an inevitable prompting to prepare a long list of various kinds of new-year-plans as a preparation for the long journey ahead. And for many people, this prompting is a need to ensure the start of a good year.
Some focus on new goals accompanied by innovative strategic plans to attain targets. Others put into writing their newfound longings which they have discovered after the season of reflection. And a lot of us pledge to start a new level of relationships with the people we love and cherish. All these go to show that we all have a general mental picture of where we want to go and on which things we think we may have to leave behind, in the past.
Yet, in the midst of all these serious ponderings on what we plan to do next, let the first day of the year be a time for us to open ourselves to the guiding wisdom and power of the Almighty God. We are called to embrace the liberating truth in Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Remember that we are never prohibited from making new plans for this new chapter. However, we are lovingly urged to humbly submit ourselves to the One who has prepared the grand blueprint of our existence.
True. It would be a tragedy if the goals we have set, the longings we have set to satisfy and the relationships we seek to cherish never get to become realities. But what would be an even greater tragedy is this: the failure to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives. For there is no pleasure that can replace the joy of knowing that we are aligned with God’s perfect will for us.
Past catastrophes – both personal and national – may seem to have blurred our vision of the future and left us confused as to God’s plans for us and for our nation. But together, and with our eyes clearly fixed on the certainty of God’s love, we can always rise.
So let us start this year earnestly seeking His direction and humbly surrendering to all that He wants to do in, for and through us. To fresh starts, an unwavering faith and new beginnings!