Our God who allows the good and the bad

If you think God is just a God who allows good you are wrong. God is a God who allows calamity as well.

Isaiah 45:7

The One forming light and creating darkness,

Causing well-being and creating calamity;

I am the Lord who does all these.

 

I know people always question, how can a good God allow calamity or evil. Numerous answers have been given. I for one particularly like what Ravi Zacharias said in one video.

Yes, this is a hard question to answer and who are we to really question God’s ways. But there is one thing that I know, even though God permits calamity, distress or evil in this world, He can always turn it for our good. So even with the bad that we think is happening in our lives, in God’s eyes, it is actually good because He can turn it for our good.

Singles Retreat 2018 Group PicI remember the past retreat that has just passed. I have been organizing retreats for years and by far, Singles’ Escapade has been the biggest one yet. When we started planning for this retreat we were only expecting 250-300 participants. A month before the retreat, a surge of registrants entered. For the first time, we had to close the registration two weeks prior to the event. We closed our registration at 397 and some people were still asking if they can join the retreat. Some problems are bad, and some are good, and this is definitely one good problem to have.

Then we started to think, how will we be able to accommodate all of these participants. We checked the venue, added an additional bus and even bought more materials. In the end, God delivered us, and we were able to serve 393 participants during the retreat.

Even during the retreat, I encountered so many setbacks and concerns:

  • We encountered a brownout during the second session
  • Only one shuttle was provided during checkout when it should have been four
  • There were so many concerns with the participants’ room
  • Food portioning was so small
  • The volume of our own speakers was not enough
  • The temperature of aircon in the hall cannot be adjusted

When all of these things happened the only thing that I can do is pray. Plus, I remembered what God showed me in Isaiah 45:7, “The Lord causes the good and the bad – well-being and calamity.”

It was then that I just started to really trust God. Yes, it is God who allows the good and the bad because he wants us to know that nothing is beyond His control. Even if it looks like everything is already bleak and hopeless, God is still in control and can do the impossible.

122 BaptizedIndeed, that is what I saw. Despite the many issues that we encountered during the retreat. God still worked mightily, and His word did not return to Him empty. The brownout did not stop the word of God from convicting people of their sin. The issues with the participants’ room cannot hinder God’s plan. And even if the volume of the speakers was not loud enough, God’s love through Jesus spoke so much volume that 121 people declared their faith in Him and were baptized.

Who can really thwart God’s plan? Man is just an instrument used by God for His glory. The bad that we encountered during the retreat was used for good. Truly God is good no matter the circumstance.

I know sometimes we view God based on our circumstances but remember, who God is according to His word and not according to our own circumstances. Not matter if we are experiencing something bad, God is always good and he can turn our situation around for our good.

I hope this gives you encouragement to just trust God and see Him work in your life. If there’s anything that encouraged you in this post, leave a comment below and I would love to hear from you. May the Lord strengthen and establish you. God bless!

1 Peter 5:10-11

10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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Blessed are the Pure in Heart

More than a month ago we went to Baguio. It was fun as we enjoyed the weather and buying vegetables. For those who haven’t been to Baguio vegetables, coffee beans, honey, ube jam, honey, etc. are very cheap there. And when we were looking for honey we wanted to ensure we buy pure honey since there are those who sell honey with a mixture of sugar. This is fake and not beneficial to the body.

I know as consumers we want to buy the purest of foods. We want to eat what is unadulterated and free of any contaminants. But did you know, just like how we desire purity in the food that we eat, God also desires purity – He desires a pure heart.

Matthew 5:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Matthew 5:8 is part of the Jesus’ sermon on the mount called The Beatitudes. From verse 3 to 11 in that chapter, each verse starts with “Blessed.” These are promises from God with a condition. The word “Blessed” simply means happiness – true happiness in its purest form. Not the type of happiness that the world offers, a happiness based on happenings and temporary. And verse 8 tells us that if you want to be happy you need to be pure in heart to be able to see God.

Now let’s look at the condition first. The condition is you need to be pure in heart. What does it mean to be pure in heart? A pure heart is a heart that is free from corrupt desires. Now that’s really not easy to have, right? Some of you may even be thinking that is totally impossible. We know we are sinners. We know we have a heart that is deceitful and wicked. So how can we have a pure heart?

Firstly, a pure heart is possible only through Jesus. Truly on our own, we cannot create a pure heart in us. It is Jesus who takes our heart of stone and turns it to a heart of flesh. Psalmist understood this that’s why he said in Psalms

 Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

It is only through Jesus that we can have a pure heart. A heart that is cleansed of our sin, through our faith in Him, because of His death on the cross. It is his blood that washes away our sins and guilt. That’s why when we place our faith in Jesus, to confess our sin and believe on his death on the cross, positionally we now have the pure heart and since we now have the pure heart we should show that in our actions. We should now aim to progressively live with a pure heart.

To live with a pure heart is to daily desire to please God in everything that you do. It means having the purest of motives to glorify him in your work, ministry and daily encounter with people. It means a life that constantly battles sin and says no to sin. It does not mean perfection but progression. The beauty of having a pure heart because of our faith in Jesus, is that if even there is a moment that we have sinned and somehow tainted our heart, there is always forgiveness (1 John 1:9) and we can stand up and try walking in purity once more. Progressive purity is simply purifying your heart of evil desires that will displease God because you want your heart to be solely for him alone – pure.

And then, what is the promise once we have a pure heart? We will be blessed because we will see God. Does that mean that literally we will see God? No, it does not literally mean that we will see God. It means to see God in your mind and heart that you get a glimpse of who He is. To see God is to somehow to be so close to him that you now know Him and understand his heart. Truly there is no greater joy than to know God and be close to Him.

The beauty of being pure in heart is not only seeing God and knowing Him but it is to know that when people look at us they will also see God in us because we act according to how He wants us to act. That in itself is already a big reason to say truly I am blessed and happy because I am able to bless others through my life.

 Just some questions that you may want to think about:

  • When you check your heart, is it pure? Or it is divided and not single-minded for Christ?
  • What are things that keep you from giving your whole devotion and heart to God?
  • Do you find your happiness in other things other than God?
  • Is not seeing and knowing God a good enough reason for you to live with a pure heart?

I pray that we will all live with a pure heart – to obey, fix our eyes on Jesus alone and live the purest of motive to only please Him. May you apply this in your heart that together, we will be blessed as we see and experience God in our life. God bless you!

 

 

 

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Learning to lead with Permission

Leadership is hard. It’s not easy to be a leader. People can sometimes expect so many things from you. When you fail, you are judged. When you succeed, not everyone will celebrate with you. But as a leader, when you are able to develop others to be the leader that God has called them to be, there is that great fulfillment that outweighs the downside of leadership.

osition, permission, production, people development and personhoodI am just started to read John Maxwell’s book, developing the leader within you and I have learned so many things already. According to John Maxwell, there are five stages in leadership – position, permission, production, people development, and personhood. I started to think what stage I am in. I wanted to convince myself that I am already in the 4th level (people development), but as I assess the characteristics per level, I realized that I have so much to learn. I might still be in the permission stage.

The permission stage is the stage where from being given a title or position you don’t lead through authority but authenticity. In short, you lead by building a relationship with your people. I must admit I need to develop that. I am the type of leader that wants action and results. I want to immediately develop leaders. The downside of this personality is the lack of relationship with your leaders – all work.

I prayed and asked God to show me where in his word tells us to love first rather than focusing on the tasks and results. By God’s grace, I remembered 1 Corinthians 13.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance

It’s amazing how God speaks through his word. How I pray that I’ll be able to really apply this passage in my life. How I really pray that I’ll be an authentic and loving leader first to everyone. How I pray that I’ll learn to love through:

  • Being patient with the growth curve of people that I lead (Love is patient)
  • Rejoicing in the success of our cluster teams (Love is not jealous)
  • Not being demanding and forcing what I want (Love does not demand)
  • Forgiving others (Love does not keep a wrong record)
  • Always believing the best in people (Love is always hopeful)

It’s not easy to be a leader, but through God’s love and grace, you can lead well.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Leadership begins with the heart, not the head. – John Maxwell

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