Wednesday, November 19, 2014

3 Remarkable Attitudes Leading unto Complete Obedience



I think you would agree with me that for something that you love the most, you would spend most of your time for it, right?

You would think about it most of the time.
You would not let it slip away from your attention.
You would do things, sometimes weird things, to nurture it.
You would cherish every moment being with it.
You would wrap your arms around it as tight as possible, to ensure that it is safe.

But what if one day, God would ask you to give it up to Him, to surrender it unto His feet, would you obey?

Abraham encountered this same scenario. After 25 years of waiting for a son, finally he and Sarah had a son - Isaac! Abraham was already 100 years old by that time. Imagine how joyful his heart might have been! Imagine how Abraham did everything to nurture him, to make sure that he would grow up into a great man.

But one day, God asked Abraham to surrender up his son, Isaac, and that would mean losing his one and only son! Here is what we could learn from Abraham's reactions.

3 Remarkable Attitudes Leading unto Complete Obedience

1. Total Surrender: Does not withhold what he loves most
When asked by God to give up his long-awaited son, Abraham obeyed. Abraham surrendered unto God's will for his life by not holding too tightly on to who he loves the most - his son. He did not question God for His reasons. Abraham just obeyed.

"Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.' 
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac." - Genesis 22:2-3

What are you holding on so dearly, that has already taken up the place of God in your heart? Have you been in a situation already that it seems your life is already revolving around it?

A special someone?
Career?
Family?
Dreams and Aspirations?
Hunger for Success?
Devotions to friends?
Craving for acceptance from others?
Desire to be loved by someone?

Please don't get me wrong, most on the list are not bad at all. But, if it has already been your "god", then you will be utterly ruined if it has been taken away from you - either by natural death or taken by someone else!

Do you know why did God want you to make Him the center of your life? It is because He will not die at all, or He cannot be taken away from you by someone else, EXCEPT for SIN. It is the ONLY thing that could separate you from God. But if you have surrendered everything unto Him, including those SINFUL things that you do, and accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life, He will come into your life and be with you!

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39
2. Confident Trust: Trusts that God will provide
Abraham did have a confidence in God trusting that when He asked for something, He will provide for it!

"Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, 'Father?' 'Yes, my son?' Abraham replied. 'The fire and wood are here,' Isaac said, 'but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?' Abraham answered, 'God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.' - Genesis 22:6-8

Has worry eaten you up already? Have you been dragged down already by life's hardships and trials?

Abraham confidently trusted God for provisions, showing his desire to constantly run unto God for all and his every need. And you can confidently trust Jesus Christ too!

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

3. Expectant Hope: Believes that God keeps His promises
When Abraham was about to strike his son, Isaac, as the offering sacrifice, God stopped him.

"The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, 'I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.'” - Genesis 22:15-18

Abraham believed that, NO MATTER WHAT WOULD HAPPEN, God will keep His promise when He said that his descendants will be as many as the stars, even if it means that his son, Isaac, will be offered up.

And he was not forsaken after all! Abraham DID BECOME the FATHER OF ALL NATIONS through ISAAC!

Renew your hope on Jesus Christ and His promises, His love never fails!

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'' - Lamentations 3:22-24

© 2014 Erickson Ibana

Image found using Google Image Search: "cartoon Jesus girl with a teddy bear"


Thursday, November 13, 2014

3 Reasons Why Not to be Overwhelmed by Life's Storms



It is very relaxing to just look at the ocean from the shore. It brings back my memories when I would just sit back, with my feet dug down in the sand, watch as the waves go back and forth, and listen to the gentle noise of the sea.

It is quite interesting that these tiny waves could turn into monstrous ones when a storm comes, and it is not relaxing to see at all - it is overwhelmingly terrifying!

How ironic that we, most of the times, find it "amusing" to watch over those monstrous killer waves. How? We have been like Peter in the Bible. Matthew 14:25-30a narrates:

"And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink..."

What are these "gigantic waves" that could easily distract us, and eventually sink us into anxiety, depression, or fear?

Those are anything or anyone that we regard higher than God in our life's priority!

  • Career
  • Love Life
  • Family
  • Money
  • Success
  • Friends
It is very heart-breaking when the time comes that these things would fall right before your very eyes. It seems to you that you've completely lost it all.


But there is good news! Peter's story does not end there, Matthew 14:30-32 completes the story:

"But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, 'Lord, save me.' Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased."

These are something that we could learn from Peter.

3 Reasons Why Not to be Overwhelmed by Life's Storms

1. Recognize that God owns you.

When you've seen how sinful you are and have turned back from your sinful lifestyle, surrendered your life unto Jesus and accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, you have been "adopted" as a child of God! It is not based on your good works, or anything that you could give but it is based entirely on what Jesus has done on the cross. Jesus died, was buried, and lived again after three days, to prove that anyone who would put his trust on Jesus Christ will be saved - saved from his sins! From this point forward, you are His child!

May this truth sink deep in your heart - you are God's child, by His grace through your faith in Jesus Christ! If you have not made this decision yet, Jesus Christ is knocking at the door of your heart. Surrender unto Him, and let Him be the Lord and Savior of your life.

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

2. Acknowledge that God is in control.

Let's not forget that Peter is a fisherman. I think there is no fisherman who does not even know how to swim! But what did Peter do when he was starting to sink? He cried to Jesus for help!

When it seems everything is falling apart, be comforted in the truth that God is still in control.
Joseph, the Dreamer, said this unto his brothers (the ones who sold him to Egypt as a slave), even after experiencing so many evil and painful things. Joseph kept in his mind that despite every hurt and pain, God is in control!

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” - Genesis 50:20

3. Remind yourself that God knows best!

Instead of swimming away from Jesus and towards the boat, Peter cried out to Jesus to save him. Peter knew that Jesus knows best and only He can save him, especially at that moment.

It may seem unclear today, but always keep in mind that God knows the best! In the end, His great plan will prevail. So, do not lose heart!

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28
© 2014 Erickson Ibana

With special thanks to Pastor Willie Basilio, head pastor of Marikina Christian Fellowship, for the 3 points he shared with me. God bless you, Pastor!

Image found using Google Image Search: "overwhelmed by waves"



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Brightness Amidst the Darkness



Who didn't love the evening sky, the round shining Moon, and those bright little stars? But while you were gazing at those glitters across the sky, have you noticed one or two "unnaturally-bright stars"? You might have wondered what these super bright objects are, and these might be quasars!

Have you heard of the term "quasar"? It was first discovered in the early 1960's, and due to lack of modern technology at that time, a Chinese-born U. S. astrophysicist Hong-Yee Chiu just coined the name "quasar", and he described it as:

"So far, the clumsily long name 'quasi-stellar radio sources' is used to describe these objects. Because the nature of these objects is entirely unknown, it is hard to prepare a short, appropriate nomenclature for them so that their essential properties are obvious from their name. For convenience, the abbreviated form 'quasar' will be used throughout this paper."
Wikipedia described these as:

"Quasars (/ˈkweɪzɑr/) or quasi-stellar radio sources are the most energetic and distant members of a class of objects called active galactic nuclei (AGN). Quasars are extremely luminous... Their luminosity can be 100 times greater than that of the Milky Way."

However, there had been a controversial scientific discovery in the early 1980's. Didn't you know that this super radiant object is actually not bright all by itself? And what was so shocking is that what had been causing its brightness was, in fact, a super dark material (actually the darkest existing matter) - a blackhole!

It might be so hard to accept that at first, but didn't you know that in life, the darkest of moments could bring out the most radiant character in you? That is, once your life had been surrendered to Jesus Christ. All by ourselves, we only tend to make selfish, stubborn, and destructive decisions. We were inclined to make sinful decisions due to our sinful nature. As Romans 3:11-12 says:

"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside;  together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

But by God's great mercy and grace, Jesus Christ made a way for our reconciliation with God when He died on the cross, was buried, and was risen again after three days! And everyone who believes on Jesus, surrenders his life, and turns away from his sinful ways, is reconciled with God! God's light will shine upon him in such a way that others will be seeing the positive changes in his life. As 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 says:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation."

My friend, you might have been experiencing the darkest nights in your life: heartbreaking relationships, frustrating failures, discouraging disappointments, shattered dreams, or ruined plans. But please know that even during these times, God's light never dims out. His grace is still sufficient no matter how hurting and painful your situation might be. He knows you more than you know yourself, and He longs for you to seek Him with all of your heart.

Friend, remember, it's in the darkest of night that a little lamp shines the brightest! Look unto Jesus, the ultimate source of this light.

© 2014 Erickson Ibana

Image can be found at http://www.boomsbeat.com/articles/482/20140219/look-up-night-sky-enjoy-stars-photos.htm

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Give Me My Chocolates



"Sometimes God removes things from our lives for our own protection." - Unknown 

Do you still remember the time when you were young, and you really enjoyed munching on candies and chocolates? It was as if there was no tomorrow, and it would only take 2 minutes to consume one pack of M&Ms (hmm.. if you were well off), or Goya (if your budget was less than P10)!

And... what would mother usually say? "Hey! You stop that!"

During those times, I really could not understand why such a delightful thing be banned from my meals! But as I grew up, I realized that too much of this thing was not healthy at all, plus this might have caused the decay of most of my teeth!

As a young adult, I have lots of "chocolates" in my life that, little by little, God has been removing. Some of these, I might have understood already why were they being taken out; but some, at the moment I really could not comprehend yet.

But thinking about it, too much of anything really is not healthy at all. And even if we are taking it in moderation, some things really are not meant to be in our system.

How about in your life, is there any "unhealthy" thing that has already crept into your system? Is there a sin in your life that keeps on clinging onto your shoulders? Is there something that God wants you to surrender? My friend, if Jesus Christ has been your Savior and your Lord, the Bible says:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." - Galatians 5:1

You are already free by the grace of God! Through faith then, surrender everything unto Jesus' feet - including these "chocolates" that you love the most.

© 2014 Erickson Ibana

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

For the Love of my Life



Since we are in the month when predominantly the "love is in the air", let me share to you my poem for my sweet inspiration - the Love of my life!

Actually, I have written this way back 2011 in my past post about the 6 Types of Love. (And if you would like to know what type of love is dominant in you, please do check it out.)

For the Love of my Life
© 2011 Erickson Ibana

That when everything else around me seems to fail,
And when my faith seems to falter,

When all I hold on to seems to be gone,
And all my hopes and dreams  seem to vanish.

When things are not going as I first expected,
And frustrations seem to eat away my flickering faith…

Whenever I look at your love for me,

And focus on your unconditional love,

Everything around me starts to dim,

Giving me another reason to strive,
And run this race called “life”,

For You and only You, my God, my Friend.

I might consider myself a failure in this "area" (one reason might be my extreme introversion, most especially towards the person that I like, and other "valid" reasons), but there is one thing that I have proven to be true all along - Jesus Christ, with His unconditional love, did not leave me even at those times when my faith on Him was weak and rather chose to please myself.

I might not know the future yet (and that includes my future wife), but I am sure He will never leave me (because He promised it, and I believe He will keep His promise).

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Hebrews 13:5
You might have found your "better half" already or still in the progress of meeting that person, but still, know that it is Jesus Christ who is the only Person who can love you unconditionally - but you have to let Him love you first by surrendering your life and turning away from your sinful ways.

I hope and pray that God would open your heart and your eyes, by His grace, for you to see how you really need Jesus Christ in your life. And to fully experience a lasting satisfaction from this "Love Month" on!

© 2014 Erickson Ibana

Image can be found at http://www.saidaonline.com/en/news.php?go=fullnews&newsid=34982

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Leadership Level 2: Permission or Relationship



Most of the times, this level is being skipped out. After getting the "position" as the leader, most of the aspiring starters jump straight through Level 3. They start to give out orders and commands, not being aware that they are dealing with humans (and not robots).

As a recap, we learned that in the First Level, your title or your position is the only influence you have. Furthermore, climbing in this level, the "relationship" level, you are trying to get people to work for you even if they are not obliged. 

Does it sound as if this only exists on a "perfect" or "ideal" system? Isn't it? How can you make someone work for you beyond his work schedule, that is, it's like working for charity? This might sound weird, but yes, if you excel in this level people naturally allow themselves to follow you, even if it might cause "some inconveniences" on their part.

John C. Maxwell gave an illustration from the story of Henry Ford (in Amitai Etzioni's book "Modern Organizations"):

He made a perfect car, the Model T, that ended the need for any other car. He was totally product-oriented. He wanted to fill the world with Model T cars. But when people started coming to him and saying, "Mr. Ford, we'd like a different color car," he remarked, "You can have any color you want as long as it's black." And that's when the decline started.
The "permission" level is where you work out your inter-relationship skills. You need to build solid and lasting foundation of relationship with your followers in order to sustain a long and effective kind of leadership.

As John C. Maxwell puts it in words:

"You can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them."

To excel in the "relationship" level of leadership, most of the times, you would need to invest your time, your patience, and your finances - it is more of investing "yourself" for them. There would come a time when it seems you are not seeing the results yet, but still, be persistent on building up on this level. Remember, one of the most difficult tasks in constructing a skyscraper is laying out its foundations. But once the foundations are all set up, it is not impossible to erect a giant building, even if it is the mighty Burj Khalifa - the tallest man-made structure in the world!

If you aim to proceed to the next level, these are the qualities John Maxwell listed in his book "Developing the Leader Within You" that you must exhibit first, with excellence.

Leadership Level 2: PERMISSION or RELATIONSHIP
  • Possess a genuine love for people.
  • Make those who work with you more successful.
  • See through other people's eyes.
  • Love people more than procedures.
  • Do "win-win" or don't do it.
  • Include others in your journey.
  • Deal wisely with difficult people.

Now, if you see yourself excelling in this level, you need to climb to the next level of leadership.

And we will be talking about that on the next post about Leadership.



© 2014 Erickson Ibana

Image can be found http://greatleadersserve.org/servant-leadership-works/

Second image can be found in John Maxwell's book "Developing the Leader Within You"

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ignite 365: Do Not Be Anxious (20 of 365)



"Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." -Psalm 119:105

It is interesting that the Word of God is compared to a lamp. It is quite obvious that even a small flame shines the brightest in the darkest time of the night. It is living and active as well!

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." -Hebrews 4:12

Psalms and Wisdom Literature: Psalm 19

The Law of the Lord is Perfect
Once again, David was so graphic in his descriptions on the glory and greatness of God. I imagine myself in the same spot where David was while looking at the sun. He likened the rising of the sun to a groom who prepares to leave his chamber and runs its course with joy.

Then, David focused on God's Word. He described how valuable the Word of God is - perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true, to be desired more than gold, and sweeter than honey. He also mentioned the benefits of obeying God through His Word - he is warned, and a great reward is waiting for him.

Lastly, David uttered these words unto the Lord:

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."


Pentateuch and History of Israel: Genesis 19

God Rescues Lot | God Destroys Sodom
This described both the greatness of the goodness of God, and the severity of the wrath of God at the same time. We saw in the story how great is God's grace for the righteous (His child). Before God poured out His wrath on a very wicked nation, He waited for Lot to settle first and be safe. In the story, we could not compare the severity of His wrath to any other else. The whole region was destroyed by fire and brimstone, to the extent of pulverizing it so that nothing else was left from it - up to this date. This story also reminded us not to look back into our sinfulness when God has already given you the grace for freedom from sin, as to what had happened to Lot's wife who became a pillar of salt after looking back into Sodom with an unrepentant heart.

Lot and His Daughters
Lot had committed a sin of incest with his two daughters, that was when he was made drunk by them. Later, these two gave birth to Moab (which means "from father") who became the father of the Moabites, and Ben-ammi (which means "son of my people") who became the father of the Ammonites. It must be noticed that there were times that these nations, the Moabites and the Ammonites, were hostile against the Israelites later on.


Chronicles and Prophets: 1 Chronicles 21:18–22:19

David Builds an Altar | David Prepares for Temple Building | Solomon Charged to Build the Temple
Remember when 70,000 men died because of a pestilence that God sent to Israel? It was because of the sin of David when he made a census of the whole nation - a sin of pride in his heart. Yet, it is after he repented (and the calamity was stopped) that David said these words when ordered to build an altar in a field where Ornan the Jebusite owned:

"No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

It is also interesting that at this same site will the Temple of the Lord be built by Solomon. David instructed Solomon to be faithful to the Lord. At the same time, David prepared the materials needed for the Temple of the Lord.

“Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God, as he has spoken concerning you. Only, may the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed."


Gospels and Epistles: Luke 12:13–48

The Parable of the Rich Fool | Do Not Be Anxious | You Must Be Ready
Jesus was teaching us to focus on Him and His Kingdom more than the earthly pleasures and riches. From the Parable of the Rich Fool to the teachings about how God blessed the birds with food and the grass with "clothes" (and not even Solomon had worn such beauty), Jesus was teaching to look onto the life in eternity. Lastly, we were being instructed to be ready when that day comes when Jesus would come back again.

"Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

"Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more."


© 2014 Erickson Ibana

Image can be found at http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2010/07/do-not-be-anxious-matthew-625-34/