The “Mary” In Our Midst

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Mary of Bethany Annoints Jesus’ Feet

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” –John 12:1-8

 

John 12:1-8 is the biblical account about Mary of Bethany. Here we see how much love this woman has expressed to our Lord. She does not care about how much she is spending and who are looking. Her eyes are set upon her Lord and God, unwavering, full of devotion and truthfulness. She exudes genuine worship.

We can see about Mary three things:

  1. Being Selfless- She does not mind spending a valuable personal possession- a pure nard perfume. She does not care about losing it. All she wants is to offer to the Lord the best she can give. That is being selfless. It is pure and true.

Application:

Being Selfless is a mother’s virtue. Often, a mother would rather absorb the pain of her child if only to keep him or her from suffering. A mother would save the best portion of food for her children and would take the least craved. Selflessness is being sacrificial, thinking less of oneself and more of another especially the one he or she cares for. Any person can exude selflessness like Mary if that person knows how to give more of him or her self with no strings attached.

  1. Being Courageous- She washes the Lord’s feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair. It must have been controversial during those times but she does not care about what people would think about her. She is courageous to defy what people would say.

Application:

How can we be courageous in our everyday relationships? Do the right thing even if it is not the popular choice among your circle of friends; saying the right words even if it hurts. Being assertive is being courageous. Being assertive is having the courage to tell what other people need to hear in a nice way. Sometimes, we need to assert what is right without being too aggressive because aggressiveness would offend them more than correcting them.

  1. Being Loving- She does not care about the cost of her offering. Even if it costs a year’s wage, she does not mind. For God, she can be extravagant.

Application:

We lavish things for the ones we love. How much more for God and to those God loves! How can we show love to others?

  1. with words of affirmation
  2. giving quality time
  3. doing acts or service
  4. giving gifts
  5. through physical touch

This is the challenge to all:

Give God your best effort.

Most precious hour is everyday of your life.

Use your most valued possession for His glory.

Such devotion not only pleases God but tells the world how great He is!

 Condensed from the sermon of Mrs Thelma Japzon, Vice Chairperson of the Church Council  on March 24, 2013, WSCS Sunday at the Lagro UMC

Image credit: http://www.bible-people.info/Martha_and_Mary.htm

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Transforming Society through God’s Faithfulness

Zaccheus

Zaccheus

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10 NIV)

There is a famous cartoon before, which has become a top grossing Hollywood movie- the Transformers. Two groups of robots fight each other in a robot planet- the Autobots headed by Optimus Prime and the Decepticons headed by Megatron. These robots have the capacity to transform themselves from innocent trucks or vehicles into monstrous and powerful robots equipped with high caliber guns and then back. However, while they have the power to change their appearance, they do not have the power to change their nature. An autobat will remain an Autobot and a Decepticon will remain a Decepticon from start to finish.

That brings us to focus the man in the text, Zaccheus. He was a rich man, a tax collector but many perceived him as a corrupt official. He was a very short man so he had to climb up a tree so he could see Jesus. All he wanted was to see who Jesus was but to his surprise, Jesus said that He would have to stay in his house.

Any person who wants to see Jesus must be ready for a miracle. Seeing Jesus is seeing His glory and in that instance, His glorious presence will dawn on that person, and He will never be same person again.

In the narrative, Zaccheus upon welcoming the Lord into his house felt a sudden change. He gave half of his wealth to the poor and promised that if he had cheated anyone, he would pay those four times. For a wealthy person to give up a big part of his possessions there must have been something very strong that had urged him- the power of Christ to transform life.

The greatest miracle of all has dawned on Zaccheus that precise moment. Jesus has saved him and has transformed him into a new being. This is the very reason why the Lord has come on earth- to seek and save the lost.

Are you curious to see Jesus and know who He really is? Come and see like Zaccheus and He will meet you right where you are and mend the wounds you might be hiding. He will meet your deepest need and will transform your life for good.

This miracle can transform society through those who have experienced in their lives the power of Christ and His unwavering faithfulness.

I have condensed this post from the message of Rev Daniel Miranda, District Superintendent of Northwest District QCPACE of the United Methodist Church, Philippines at our Worship Service on February 24, 2013 as part of the month-long celebration of our church’s (Lagro UMC) anniversary.

Image Credit: livingdusty.com

Changing From the Inside Out

According to the famous Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “Nothing is permanent but change”. Change is inevitable. Yet, many do not want to change. Many are so content in their comfort zones that they cannot afford moving out. The world hates change yet nothing else brings progress.

What makes people change?

  1. Personal Experience- We all learn from our experiences. Once we realize that we have made a mistake, we always try to correct it. Sometimes, we do not watch our steps until we stumble and fall. Only when we get hurt do we begin to examine our ways.
  2. Other Peoples’ Experiences- Sometimes, we learn from other peoples’ experience. We see their mistakes and the resulting circumstance, which are often unpleasant and that prompt us to stay away from similar errors.
  3. Pressure- Sometimes, people around us push us to do some changes in our life.
  4. Tired of Old Ways- There are instances when people do change because they get bored or tired of their own lifestyle. They want to have a new look, or do something new.
  5. Just for the Sake of Changing- While, some people change just for the hype of it.
  6. Conviction of the Holy Spirit- The deeper cause of inward change is the prompting of God by the power of the Holy Spirit to change your life for the better.

Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a NEW creation….

How can we describe being N-E-W?

N – E – W

Newness of Life.

Newness of life in biblical standard is being “in Christ”. The Lord Jesus is the only source of genuine change. This newness of life is a matter of the heart. We hear about “being born again”, “regeneration” and “sanctification.” All these terms refer to a change of heart: “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” –Mark 7:21-22. Sin tries to build its seat in the heart of man and unless a man be “in Christ”, he is far from the newness of life.

Eternal Change.

Change in Christ is permanent and eternal. It does not revert to the old ways. This is transformation: a 360-degree turn from sin. Does it mean that we are no longer sinners if we receive Christ in our life? No. We are still sinners but there is a big difference. Before, we are sinners running after sin. Now, we are sinners running away from sin.

Witnessing.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Praise be to God! By God’s grace, we have new life in Christ. Life that is eternal, fruitful and fulfilling. However, it does not end there. In the succeeding verses in 2 Corinthians 5, we can see why God has given us new life: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” -2 Cor 5:18-20.

God has made us living testimonies of His miracle to change lives. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors of peace unto the world. God has chosen us to tell the world about His goodness and His power to mend lives. It is not a repair job or some excellent refurbishing. God has given us a brand new life; a brand new creation by His mercy and grace.

I have condensed this post from the message of Rev Allan Asuncion, Administrative Pastor of Tatay United Methodist Church, Rizal Philippines at our Worship Service on February 3, 2013 in celebration of our church’s (Lagro UMC) anniversary.

Principles for Effective Prayer

Praying Hands (Image credit: firstchurchhighland.com)

Prayer is the oldest but the most powerful weapon a Christian has. It is the key to a victorious life like a key to open the morning and a lock to close the night. Yet among the Christian tools, it is the most neglected and abused. It seems like the most boring subject matter to discuss.

According to a famous Filipino evangelist, Mike Lacanilao, prayer is the simplest cry. It is talking to God with a deeper meaning. Prayer is an outpouring of spirit and emotion, which is beyond the words that we can say. It is moving the God of the universe to act on our behalf.

An effective prayer is one that touches the heart of God to move.

 

Why do we need to pray?

  1. The Word of God commands us to pray.

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up”. –Luke 18:1

“pray continually…” -1Thessalonians 5:17

  1. We have a contest to win.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”-Matthew 26:41

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people”. –Ephesians 6:18

  1. We have a position to occupy.

“…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” -James 5:16b

 

The Principles for Effective Prayer

P-ersonal relationship with Christ. John 15:1; John 1:12; Romans 8

We need to have a personal relationship with Christ for Him to hear our prayers. Not all people are children of God, only those who have received Him as Lord and personal Savior.

R-epentance and Righteousness. Psalm 66:18

The Lord will not hear our prayer if we have hidden sins in our hearts.

A-doration, Respect and Awe. Psalm 27:4

When we come to the Lord in prayer, we must come with an attitude of adoration, respect and awe.

Y-ielding to the Will of God. John 15:7

When we come to the Lord, we must be ready to submit to the will of God. We must be ready and willing to obey.

E-xpectant Heart. Mark 11:24; 1 Peter 5:7

When we come to God in prayer, we must come expecting to receive the answer.

R-ejoice in the Lord. Philippians 4:4

We must come with a joyful heart in the presence of God.

 

What does Intercessory Prayer do?

  1. Unity in the church
  1. Healing in the church
  1. Causes revival, growth and maturity
  1. Empowers the workers and lay leaders of the church

 

Pastor Allan Asuncion

I have condensed this post from the message of Rev Allan Asuncion, Administrative Pastor of Tatay United Methodist Church, Rizal Philippines at our Seminar on the Principles for Effective Prayer and Praying for One Another, which has been held in our church, the Lagro United Methodist Church last July 15, 2012 at 2:00PM.

I hope by sharing this priceless knowledge, those who would be able to read this may find a new encouragement or inspiration to pray. Prayer is the strength of a Christian just as the poster in our church bulletin board says, “Seven days without prayer makes one Weak”. Indeed, we can draw strength from talking with God and immersing into His glorious presence. There is no other way of nurturing our personal relationship with our Lord Jesus than by soaking ourselves in His presence where we can express our love and devotion for Him.

Life on earth is full of complexities that at times, we begin to hate the world. There is hope in Christ and we can experience the fullness of life that He has promised if we continue without exhaustion to abide in Him: in His word and in His presence. Then we can triumph over each day’s temptations and pass each test that comes our way, which would bring us to the fullness of Christ-likeness even while we are still here on this earth.

Since Jesus Came Into My Heart

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.” –2 Corinthians 5:17 (21st Century King James Version)

What is the difference between someone who has faith and someone who has not?

This is a very interesting question to consider. What is the difference between someone who says he is a Christian and someone who is not? Is there nothing? What separates the two?

Someone confesses, “I used to be a chain smoker, but when I have received the Lord in my heart, I have overcome my desire to smoke”. Another testifies, “I used to be hooked on porn but when I have received the Lord in my heart, I have learned to quit viewing porn materials”. Another says, “My life had no direction and headed to disaster. I committed criminal acts thinking that life was all about power and money. I ended up in jail. Through a jail ministry, I met the Lord and I received Him as my Lord and Savior, now I am free. Maybe not physically, but I found new life free from misery”.

The greatest miracle in life is a change of heart. A person living with hate, anger and misery turns to God in humble repentance is the sweetest miracle and it is all because Jesus has come into his heart.

If you receive the Lord into your heart, there will be an indescribable change: a change that will make you a new being with new focus and direction, and with a new way of life.

We as Christians have experienced this change, since Jesus came into our hearts.

Fairest Lord Jesus

“Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, Thou my soul’s glory, joy and crown”…

These are my favorite lines from the hymn “Fairest Lord Jesus”. They are the last two lines from the first stanza. The words describe a Christian’s passion for God within his heart; that he longs to love and honor God and seeks his personal glory, joy and reward from Him.

We can meditate upon the glory of God in creation. How in His power he has created all things beautiful. If he has created the universe, what else can He not do for His children?

The Lord is fairest! I have looked for the meaning of fairest: it means best, brightest, finest, pleasantest, clearest or cloudless. Indeed, the Lord Jesus is the best friend we can all have. While He is God, yet He reaches out to us not just as a powerful Deity to mere creatures but also as a wonderful and loving Friend that satisfies all our longings and fills all our emptiness.

God has created us and has given us the breath of life but we have fallen and have lost that life. Yet Christ has come, has ransomed us from death, and has given us new life in Him that is everlasting and free from all evil.

It is only but fitting to cherish and adore the One who has given Himself for us to live in the newness of life that exalts the power of God that works relentlessly in and through us. It is only but fitting to sing and praise our fairest Lord Jesus!

 

People Need The Lord


Only God can give the peace and security that we try to look often at the wrong places. Only He can give us the grace to survive the struggles that we face in each day that passes and we ought to share that peace that we have received by His grace and love through Christ.

May the message of this song encourage us to share the love of Christ that we have received when we have received Him as our Lord and personal Savior because people need the Lord.

Mary Did You Know?


This is one great pianist I have seen in You Tube. Great musicians help worshipers have prayerful meditations at home, in church and anywhere we can get a chance to listen.

Just like how David’s music with his lyre soothes the spirit of King Saul whenever an evil spirit torments him. The power of God moves through such instrumentalists who have given themselves in the service of the Almighty King! The power of God manifests in them not because they are good perse, but because the God they serve is good all the time!

God Is Great

This is another great praise song unto the Lord of hosts. We have been singing this song in church for our praise and worship for several weeks already although we are still perfecting our rendition.

The song speaks so much of God’s glory and of how the whole world shall bow before Him in worship and in praise. It seems to speak of the future when all the nations shall rise to worship the Almighty God before His heavenly throne.

May we all be blessed as we listen and sing along with the song, God Is Great! Shall we all say, Amen!