Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
For the Sake of God's People (part 6 of 6: "God's Power Manifested Through Weak Servants"-- Insights from 2 Cor. 4:7-12)-- with CONCLUSION
2 Cor.4:12 (NIV)
While God exposes the vulnerability of his servants forcing them to be dependent upon him, he does it for the salvation of souls. In Paul's thought, his sufferings are not just God-given; they are also purpose-driven. And its purpose is for the welfare of God's people..
“I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake” (Col. 1:24).
“For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen” (2 Tim. 2:10).
The difficult circumstances of a servant’s life are not coincidental; they are not accidents. They are part of the divine plan to accomplish things for those whom they minister to. As God comforts his weak servants, he equips them to comfort others also.
2 Cor. 1:3-4 says: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
Why do you think God should use you?
Is it because you have graduated from a prestigious school?
Is it because you excelled academically?
Is it because you are so talented?
You may not think of your self as a super apostle,
but perhaps you think you are a super musician
or a super exhorter
or a super Cell leader
a super missionary
or a super administrator
or a super teacher
or a super giver
or a super pastor
Do you think God ought to use you because you are a vessel made of gold?
No, his servants are nothing but clay pots—
cheap and fragile.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Weaklings Sustained; Christ Displayed (part 5 of 6: "God's Power Manifested Through Weak Servants"-- Insights from 2 Cor. 4:7-12)
so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body" (NIV)
2 Corinthians 4:11
As God exposes the fragility of his servants, he does not leave them on their own. Rather he sustains them that Christ may me displayed. For this post, I will just reproduce Linda Belleville's Commentary on 2 Cor.4:8-9 (2 Corinthians, IVP New Testament Commentary):
hard pressed on every side, but not crushed- "The verb hard pressed means "to press in hard against" someone, or, as we say today, to squeeze the life out of a person, while the term not crushed indicates that the pressure never got to the point where there was no escape or way out."
perplexed but not in despair- "There is a play on words here that the NIV misses. To be aporoumenoi is to be at a loss how to act, while to be exaporoumenoi is to be utterly at a loss (i.e., in extreme despair). Although Paul may have been at a loss about how to proceed, he never--as we say--went off the deep end."
persecuted but not abandoned- "The Greek verb means "to pursue" and is commonly used of tracking a prey or enemy. Paul was pursued from city to city by hostile Jews. But through it all, God never abandoned him. The idea here is that God did not leave Paul behind or in the lurch for the enemy to pick up."
struck down by the enemy but not destroyed- "Paul was not only pursued by hostile Jews, but when they caught up with him, they stirred up trouble whenever they could. He may also be thinking of the time he was stoned at Lystra and left outside the city for dead. Yet he lived."
Belleville further comments on verse 11:
"Paul's approach is to make clear that it is God's power (v. 7)
and the life of Jesus (v. 10) that empower and sustain him,
and not his own fortitude."
IVP New Testament Commentary are available at Bible Gateway. Click here.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The Power of God and the Fragility of His Servants (part 4 of 6: "God's Power Manifested Through Weak Servants"-- Insights from 2 Cor. 4:7-12)
Aside from the contrast between the great treasure and its cheap containers, we also see the contrast between the power of God and the fragility of these clay vessels. God shows his power when we are weak.
We have an Old Testament precedent for this. In Gideon’s time, Israel was getting ready for battle against the Midianites. They initially assembled an army of 32,000. The Midianite forces outnumber them with 135,000 warriors.
But what did God say?
"You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, `Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.' (Judges 7:2-3 )
Immediately, 22,000 left. But God was not satisfied. He further trimmed it down to 300. The ratio is now 450 to 1. One soldier against a batallion! The message will be clear that Israel’s victory will not be because of their might, but because of God.
If you want credit for yourself, then God will not be pleased to use you. He wants to engrave in your heart that power belongs to him, not you.
That is why God actively exposes the vulnerability of his servants. He arranges the circumstances of his servants in a way that exposes their weakness forcing them to rely solely in him. The passive voice in verse 11 (“always being given over to death” NIV)shows that someone else is actively arranging our circumstances, and it is God.
Perhaps, the super-apostles, like some today, taught that adversity has no place for those who are anointed. So in 12:12, Paul reminded them that the signs of an apostle: miracles signs and wonders were manifested in his ministry. So he is not inferior when it comes to anointing. But when it comes to listing his credentials, he shows them his sufferings (2 cor. 11:25ff.) He was not boasting about his exploits, he was telling them about how weak he is (11:30). And if you will move to chapter 12, he boasts about a prayer denied!!! Three times he asked for a thing, and three times God said "No". Why? Because his grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:7-9)
Friday, August 21, 2009
Great Treasure in Cheap Jars of Clay (part 3 of 6: "God's Power Manifested Through Weak Servants"-- Insights from 2 Cor. 4:7-12)
There were vessels of greater value then: ivory, glass, marble, brass, costly wood (Linda Belleville, IVP New Testament Commentary), but Paul used the most common—jars of clay. Elsewhere, Paul uses this imagery:
“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Tim.2:20-21)
It will be natural for us to use gold and silver for noble purposes and cheaper things for the less noble. But in this text, we see that God’s requirement for us to be used for noble purposes is not to be transformed into a costlier instrument but to cleanse ourselves.
The treasure is not Paul. It is not Apollos. It is not Peter. The treasure is the gospel inside God’s servants.
Joshua Harris, in I Kissed Dating Goodbye tells a story about his younger brother who was given a bicycle as a gift. But the kid was too young to appreciate the bicycle. For a time, he was playing with the box! It took a while for the Harris family to convince the child that the gift is the bicycle taken out of the box.
Sometimes we are like that. We are more impressed with ourselves and our religious leaders than the message of salvation entrusted to us.
John Macarthur says: “The New Testament was not written by the elite of Egypt. It was not written by the elite of Greece, or Rome, or even Israel. The greatest scholars in the world at that time were down in Egypt. They were in the greatest Library of Antiquity at Alexandria. And the most distinguished philosophers were at Athens and the most powerful leaders and movers of men were in Rome and the religious geniuses were in Israel's Temple. And God never used any of them, none of them. He just used clay pots. He passed by Herodotus, the historian. He passed by Socrates, the philosopher. He passed by Hippocrates, the father of medicine; Plato, the philosopher; Aristotle. He passed by Euclid, the mathematician; Archimedes, the father of mechanics; Hipparchus the astronomer; Cicero, the orator; Virgil the poet. He passed them all. Why? Well He was looking for clay pots.”
So when the time came for Jesus to formed his team, he chose peasants:
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13)
Do you want to be used by God? Recognize that the treasure is not you; it is the gospel.
We have so little worth. What counts is God’s glory in the gospel.
Monday, August 17, 2009
We Need Some Background (part 2 of 6: "God's Power Manifested Through Weak Servants"-- Insights from 2 Cor. 4:7-12)
Disputes about personality figures was a persistent problem at the Corinthian church.
1 Cor. 1:12-13 : What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
Their loyalty belongs to different church leaders. Kanya-kanya sila ng fans’ Club. Paul addressed that already by explaining that Christian workers are fellow laborers. Paul planted the seed; Apollos watered it. But he who plants is nothing; he who waters it is nothing. But only God who makes it grow.
Great teaching! But the personality cults in Corinth did not die. It is now worse due to the advent of “SUPER-APOSTLES” (2 Cor. 11:5; 12:11)-- Yun ang tingin nila sa sarili nila…Just as Superman is not an ordinary man so these super apostles claim superiority over the apostles).
They were persuasive; 2 Cor. 11:5 indicates that they are trained speakers. The worst thing is that, unlike Apollos they are not fellow workers; 11:4 is explicit that these Super-apostles are actually false teachers. They were preaching a different Jesus.
They are so influential and they have begun to discredit Paul. 2 Cor. 10:10: “For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing." When I was a kid, I saw video clips of Ninoy Aquino speaking. I was fascinated!!! He was both impressive in appearance and in speech. Those qualities are absent in Paul.
Because of the presence of these false super-apostles, Corinth’s reception of Paul is poor. In 2 Cor. 2:1, he mentioned about a painful visit. We don’t know the specifics, but surely it has wounded him deeply.
In this letter, Paul has to defend himself against these false super-apostles. He has to defend his credentials as an apostle of the Lord, yet he did so not by exalting himself but by laying bare his weakness. 2 Cor 12:9: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”
With that background, we are now ready to tackle the first principle drawn from our text. See next post.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
The Church's Obsession With Celebrities (Intro to the series "God's Power Manifested Through Weak Servants"-- Insights from 2 Cor. 4:7-12)
Paminsan-minsan ay may mga celebrity na napapasyal sa lungsod ng San Carlos upang magtanghal o makisaya sa aming pista o mangampanya para sa isang pulitiko. Pero ako talagang walang hilig tumingin sa mga ganun kaya sa buong buhay ko ay kakaunti pa lamang ang aking nakikitang celebrities. Ang mga celebrity na aking namasdan ay noon-noon pa nang ako ay batang paslit pa lamang. Baka nga hindi pa ninyo kilala yung mga nakita ko eh. Kilala ba ninyo ang mag-asawang Rodolfo “Boy” Garcia at Lucita Soriano ? Malamang hindi. Ang isa pang nakita ko nang personal ay si Yoyoy Villame.
Alam ba niyo kung saan ko sila nakita? Subukan ninyong hulaan.
Nakita ko sila… sa church!
It was a time when celebrities, upon profession of faith, were immediately brought to stage. They were immediately asked to testify; they were immediately asked to teach.
You could hear them in churches…
You could hear them on Christian radio…
You could watch them on Christian TV…
Some were basketball players…
Some were recording artists…
Some were celebrity fashion designers…
Some were beauticians…
Some were politicians…
I thought it was an ‘80’s thing , but I soon realized that the old mindset is still alive and kicking. When the song Pagdating ng Panahon were ruling the airwaves, I heard on Christian radio a church advertising a concert featuring Aiza Seguerra. I hope they have seen their faults now because after that concert, Aiza would soon reveal that she is a lesbian.
In a seminar that I attended a few months ago, one of the speakers said that they are persistently convincing Miss Connie Reyes to join their organization for that would surely achieve great things considering her wide sphere of influence.
I have nothing against celebrity Christians. Some of them are truly converted. Some of them are a true blessings to the church. My concern is this mindset that in order to win the world for Christ, you have to use the popular ones-- the stars.
Isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit laganap pa rin ang pananaw na ito ay bunga ng pag-usbong ng Church growth movement. Sinusukat kasi natin ang tagumpay ng isang iglesya o ng isang pastor sa paramihan ng mga dumadalo sa kanilang worship service. Ang mga tinitingalang pastor ngayon ay yung mga celebrity-type. Ang hanap ng karamihan ay hindi katapatan sa Panginoon kundi mga pastor na pang-showbiz ang dating. Yung bang kapag ngumiti ay puwedeng gawing endorser ng toothpaste (tipong Joel Osteen). Ang hanap ng mga tao ay yun bang mga pastor na iimbitahan ng mga pulitiko sa kanilang inaugural (tipong Rick Warren).
Ang iba naman hindi kuntento na yung pastor nila ang manguna ng panalangin sa presidential inaugural. Ang nais nila, yung pastor nila mismo ang maupong pangulo. Again I would say that I have nothing against Christians running for public office; my problem is the mindset that God’s servants must have political power in order to be more effective in the kingdom of God.
The idea is this: we would achieve more if God’s workers are the world’s most famous, most popular, most talented, and most influential.
It sounds so logical isn’t it? If you are a businessman, and your rival hired a superstar as a product endorser, you would not hire a starlet to endorse your product. You will hire an equally popular superstar.
It seems logical that if you are planning to conquer the world, you will not build an army of weaklings; you would assemble an army of tested warriors.
It sounds logical that if you are planning to win the gold at the Olympics, you will not form a team of bench-warmers, but highly skilled players.
It sounds so logical that we want to apply the principle to the church and to our ministries. Therefore we have this mindset that in order to win men for Christ, we would have to use the most talented, the most educated, the most articulate, and the most popular.
If God has not spoken on this issue, I would follow what seems logical. But since God has spoken, we have to listen; we have to bow down and trust the wisdom of our Creator. We must fall on our knees and say “Lord, my logic amounts to nothing. I trust your Word Lord.”
This series of posts is for everyone who wants to be used by God. In my next posts, I will lay down some principles on this issue drawn from 2 Cor. 4:7-12.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.
Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
than great treasure and trouble with it.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
We usually think of feasting as an occasional thing.
‘Di naman tayo naglilitson araw-araw (maliban na lang kung ikaw ang may-ari ng Mila’s o Lydia’s , atbp.).
‘Di naman tayo kumakatay ng kambing (maliban na lamang kung may kambingan ka)
‘Di naman araw-araw ay gumagawa si nanay ng suman (maliban na lamang kung yan ang hanapbuhay niya).
Proverbs 15:15 says that feasting could be a continual thing, as long as you have a cheerful heart. The Macarthur Study Bible comments on this proverb: “The joyous inward condition of the wise man’s heart (14:21) is described as a perpetual feast. Real happiness is always determined by the state of the heart”.
What makes your heart cheerful? If we will not be careful, we may seek things that will only bring trouble to us (vv.15a). In order to maintain a feasting heart, we have to know two keys. One is a vertical key: our relationship with the Lord (vv.16); the other one is the horizontal key: our relationship with each other (vv.17)
The Vertical Key: Maintaining a feasting heart requires fearing the Lord
Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
than great treasure and trouble with it. (Prov.15:16)
A feasting heart finds its delight in God. We must oppose anything that deprives us of joy. And what deprives us of joy? It is sin. When David sinned, he pleaded before God:
“Restore in me the joy of your salvation” (Ps.51:12)
Do not buy the lie which says sin can make you happy. I won’t. It will deprive you of true happiness. If you want a continual feast in your heart, you have to fear God.
The Horizontal key: Maintaining a feasting heart requires that we love one another
than a fattened ox and hatred with it. (vv.17)
Tulad rin naman natin na kung walang makain, naghihintay yung mga saluyot sa tabi-tabi.
On the contrary, a fattened ox is reserved for special occassions—like the one slaughtered when the prodigal son came back home.
Again, the ideal is to have the best food on our tables and share it with the ones we love who in turn love us. But if we cannot have both at the same time, if we have to choose between great meals and love, we have to choose love. Sid Buzzell comments “Love makes one's difficult circumstances endurable, whereas hatred undoes all the enjoyments that good food might otherwise bring” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Friday, August 7, 2009
Ang mga ganitong balita ay hindi na bago. Maraming tao na ang nagsabing sila ay nagsisisi sa pagpapasailalim sa operasyon upang mabago ang sa tingin nila ay hindi magandang parte ng kanilang katawan. Ito ang tinatawag nating cosmetic surgery o minsan ay cosmetic plastic surgery.
Tunay ngang malayo na ang naisulong ng ating teknolohiya na ang pango mong ilong ay maisasaayos na sa tangos na nais mo. Ang mga patuloy na pagbalita kaugnay sa cosmetic surgery ay nagdulot sa akin ng dalawang emosyon: Una, pagkamangha hindi sa teknolohiya kundi sa pagdami ng nagnanais na baguhin ang kanilang likas na kaanyuan (na kung saan dumami rin ang nananamantala sa pagdami ng mga pekeng doktor). Pangalawa ay ang pangamba sa kung ano kaya ang epekto nito sa aking mga kapatid kay Kristo lalo na ang mga kababaihan na higit na pressure ang dala ng "kagandahang" depinisyon ng sanlibutan. Ang artikulong ito ay naisulat dahil sa pangalawang emosyong aking nabanggit.
Paano ba dapat harapin ang pressure na kung saan ang sanlibutan ay nagsasabi ng "kagandahang" katanggap-tanggap?
Sabi sa Psalm 139:13-15 na "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth." Malinaw ang pagpupuri ni David hindi dahil sa kanyang taglay na kagandahan (na malamang ay meron) kundi dahil batid ng kanyang puso na siya ay hinubog ng Diyos - na mula sa union ng egg cell at sperm cell ng kanyang mga magulang hanggang sa ito'y maging fetus na unti-unting nahuhubugan ng mga parte ng kanyang katawan. Ang paglagi niya sa loob ng tiyan ng kanyang ina ay kanya pa ring ipinagpupuri sapagkat "my frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret." Batid niyang ang Sovereign, ang Omniscient, at ang Almighty God ang humubog sa kanya. Hindi ba't kay inam na isiping ang Diyos ang nakakaalam at may kagustuhan kung bakit ganito ang bawat isa sa atin.
Ang pagkakalikha sa tao ay kamangha-mangha na subalit higit rin nating mas ipagpuri at ipagpasalamat sa Diyos na ang taong nilalang Niya, sumuway at nagkasala sa Kanya ay Kanyang pinagkalooban ng kagandahang-loob. Lahat ay nagkasala (Rom.3:23) subalit ang kabanalan ng Diyos ay ipinagkaloob dahil sa kagandahang-loob ng Diyos sa mga taong nananampalataya kay Hesu-Kristo na Siyang tumubos sa atin (Rom.3:21-25). Tayong mga nananampalataya kay Hesus ay binigyan ng karapatang maging anak ng Diyos (Jn.1:12). Ang papuri at pasasalamat ay sa Diyos sa ating pagkakalalang at pag-ari sa atin bilang Kanyang mga anak dahil kay Hesu-Kristo!
Sapagkat lahat ng nakipagkaisa kay Kristo ay mga bagong nilalang na (II Cor.5:17), isang tagubilin rin ang marapat nating isapuso: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:1-2). Inaamin ko na bilang isang babae ay marami ang tukso at panlilinlang na dulot ng mga materyal na bagay at higit lalo sa paghahanap ng appreciation at affection. Ang mga discontentment sa pisikal na anyo ng isang babae ay dahil sa maling akala na ito ang magbibigay ng pagtanggap mula sa iba at ang self-satisfaction at self-esteem ay makakamtan (hindi ito pagtaliwas sa katotohanang ang lahat ng kasalanan ay nag-ugat sa pagiging likas na makasalan ng tao). Ang discontentment sa isang Kristiyano ay bunga ng maling mindset, bunga ng maling standard na bunga rin ng pagkakalinlang. Isinulat ni Pablo sa mga taga-Colosas na ilagak o italaga nila ang kanilang pag-iisip sa mga bagay na nasa taas o mga makaispirituwal na bagay. Ang lahat ng standards o basehan ng mundo ay pansamantala lamang. Hindi nga ba't nabanggit ni King Lemuel na "charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised" (Prov. 31:30). Ito ay isang katuruan na itinagubilin sa kanya ng kanyang ina - na ang kapuri-puring babae ay ang may takot sa Diyos. Takot na hindi ang alam nating takot kundi ito ay reverence sa Diyos na kung saan ang may ganitong takot sa Diyos ay ang mga nakakakilala sa tunay at banal na Diyos dahil sa kanilang malalim sa relasyon sa Kanya. Marami ang nagsasabing may takot sila sa Diyos subalit wala ang reverence sa Diyos bilang isang Diyos na Banal.
Sa mga kababaihan ay ilang beses itinagubilin ni Pablo ang kahalagahan ng tinatawag nating inner beauty:
...likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works. (I Timothy 2:9-10)
Monday, August 3, 2009
Hospitality to God’s servants will be richly rewarded by the Lord. If we shall generously give a cup of water to a minister of Christ, there is reward awaiting us (Matt. 10:42). Our Lord Jesus lays down this principle: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me” (Matt. 10:40). Be hospitable to Christ’s ambassadors and you receive Christ himself.
But there is one form of hospitality that the Lord hates. In this type of hospitality, you will not be entertaining Christ or his angels but Satan and his demons.
The Hospitality that God Hates
Seriously, this requires vigilance on our part. It is not always easy to identify them for Satan masquerades as an angel of light and so his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14-15). Satan has mastered the art of deception, for he has been deceiving men from the beginning of history (Gen. 3), and he will do so until the end (Rev. 20:3, 10).
The Bible’s instruction is to deny any form of help or support to teachers who are spreading destructive doctrines (2 John 10). Anyone who practices hospitality to them becomes a partner to their spiritual crime (2 John 11).
To protect our family from thieves and murderers, we see to it that before going to bed, the gates are closed; doors and windows locked. Satan is the most heinous of all criminals. Do not let him step into your backyard. His only intention is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10)