An Open Letter to all those who helped and attended PUSH

Pray until something happens (PUSH) is a quarterly activity that we have in our ministry. This is a time where we join in corporate prayer to pray for different concerns within the ministry, church and even personal matters. This is an open letter to all those who helped and attend PUSH last Saturday.

Pray Until Something Happens

It is always a joy for me to see people serving the Lord. When I saw everyone together and united in preparing for PUSH last Thursday, I was already overjoyed. You guys showed your dedication and love for the ministry God had trusted to you. Despite your busy schedule in work, you all came to serve Him on a weekday. All your efforts and hard work paid off last Saturday. Everyone was blessed and had a wonderful time praying and worshiping God – I know God was glorified that day.

PUSH John17:21

To the Production team:

I know it is not easy preparing the backdrop. Ever since you’ve started to design the stage it has always looked wonderful. The backdrop in our Love, Sex and Dating series was amazing! Moreover, the backdrop that you have created for PUSH was amazing as well. Cutting the tree was no easy task but the output was a sight to see. I pray that you guys will never get tired of creating wonderful designs and backdrops for His glory alone.

 

PUSH-prayer-team

To the Prayer team:

You guys did a heck of a job thinking about the program and helping out in the preparations of the event. I see the bond that you guys have for each other, and you treat one another as a family – Praise the Lord for that. I know it was nerve-racking for those who went up stage just to facilitate the prayer, but I thank you for challenging yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone. I know everyone in the prayer team contributed to this. You were all united, and your unity made a big impact in this event. Pray is a vital part of the ministry. I want to say thank you for always covering us with prayers and reminding us to continue to pray and push on. May you never get tired of praying and seeking the Lord in prayer.

 

Push

To the Worship Team:

I was expecting only four songs, but you guys stretched yourselves to play for more. Thank you for pushing yourselves and serving us through the talents that Lord has given you. How I still long to play and make music with everyone, that desire for me to play for the Lord is still there but I know I need to give this up for something greater. However, I know as well that I am letting this go because all of you are already well capable enough. Practice hard and continue developing the talents you have.

 

To others who have helped out in the event:

I may not be able to thank everyone, but the Lord sees the work that you have done – great is your reward in heaven. The audience is only one. He sees your heart and your service.

 

People Praying

To all those who attended:

A lot will be happening in the ministry for the next couple of months. Can I just continue to encourage everyone to pray for this ministry? Pray for the Retreat this coming August. May the Lord bring in a harvest that will be discipled and grow in their love and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Pray for the leaders of this ministry. May they be sensitive to the leading of the Lord and be protected from attacks physically and emotionally. Pray for the different clusters within the ministry that they will be faithful to the responsibility that they have and always serve the Lord with gladness of heart. And lastly, let’s pray for one another. Let’s pray that we will always be united in our love because of Jesus Christ. Let’s not neglect fellowship every Saturday. Let’s follow the model of the early church before.

In Christ,
Marc

Marc Sorongon Speaking

Note from the author: The B1G South ministry is the singles ministry of CCF Alabang. We have service every Saturday at 6pm at the 3rd floor of CCF Alabang. Everyone is invited! I would love to meet you if you have time to visit. Thank you to Noel Costes for the pictures.

Finding Strength Through Prayer

I want to be strong. I want to be tough. I want to be unafraid.

Trying to be strong has a correlation with a particular fear that you may have. For example, you want to be physically strong. You try to build muscle through working out because there is a particular fear that you don’t want to be bullied by anyone. Another example, you want to be emotional strong. Your whole family is down due to financial problems, but you don’t want to be affected by it, so you try to encourage everyone and carry the burden of showing everyone there is still hope. Because if you won’t do this, you fear everything might crumble down, and your whole family might end up losing their faith.

There is a particular fear that is wrong, but I believe there is a fear that is right as well most especially if it’s  fear for the well-being of someone else. Fear is an emotion and I believe the best way, to counter this feeling is through prayer. Through prayer, we can find the strength that we need to battle fear or other emotions related to it.

Let’s look at the Prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-38.

32 They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” 33 And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. 34 And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” 35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” 37 And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

Garden of GethsemaneGethsemane means “oil press” and currently, ancient olive trees are still found in this garden. We have to understand that this is a place where He and his disciples commonly pray. In John 18:2, Judas knew where to find Jesus because he knows where he would usually go with his disciples.
In verse 32 when they arrive in Gethsemane, Jesus ask his disciples to sit here while He prays but it’s surprising to note that from His group he specifically asked Peter, James and John (verse 33) to accompany him.

Jesus is 100% God and 100% human, it was perfectly normal for him to desire companionship during this time. Jesus was under heavy emotions that he felt very distressed and troubled. It was a very heavy feeling. A feeling of terrified amazement; gripped with terror. And Peter, James and John was the ones who was with him in the Home of Jarius (Mark 5:37) and Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2).

I believe Jesus wanted to teach Peter, James and John a lesson also. The three are leaders who will be able to teach the other not to rely on their self-confidence during this time. They need to learn to be alert, not to give in the temptation and most especially pray. Jesus addresses that in verse 38.

Only in the book Mark will see how Jesus address the Father in his prayer.

35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father!…

 

Abba means “papa” or “daddy” and it showed his relationship and intimacy with His father. Upon starting this prayer, He understood whom He was talking. Because in times of weakness:

  • Strength is gained through knowing who you have beside you
  • Strength is gained through knowing who you have supporting you
  • Strength is gained through knowing who you have taking care of you

Jesus prayed in and said “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

We mustn’t think that the Lord feared death or that the physical suffering ahead was overwhelming for Him. It was the thought of being separated from His Father that was so intense that it was to the point of death because of sheer agony. In Luke 22:44, Jesus had such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. He knew would be made sin for us – 2 Corinthians 5:2. He would bear the sins of the whole (1 Peter 2:24) and the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). And because of this, he would experience being forsaken by His Father (Matthew 27:46). The cause of His overwhelming anguish and distress, but he said “Yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Jesus did not wrestle with the Father’s will. He willing submitted to it. That’s why in verse 35 you would see He “fell to the ground” as a sign of surrender. Three times He prayed this and three times He acknowledge His father’s will.

He saw his disciples sleeping, and this is what He said.

38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

He wanted to teach his disciples a lesson. They needed to be alert and sharp because a lot will happen in the next couple of minutes – Jesus will be arrested, disciples will be scattered (mentioned in the same chapter in Mark); Peter will deny Jesus, Jesus will be in Trial and then crucified. From Wiersbe Bible commentary – “Be alert as you pray! Keep your spiritual eyes open, for the enemy is near!” Judas is already coming with soldiers to hand over Jesus.

In times of weakness, the enemy will always target the flesh. How easy is it at times when we’re tired and emotionally down to get easily irritated. If we put our guard down, worldly pleasure or desire can easily lure us. Busyness resulting in physical deterioration can result in worrying and stress.

In this example, in the few moments the disciples will be scattered because their master will be arrested and crucified. They will abandon him and feel weak without a leader. But they are to be strong, alert and not give in to the temptation. They should remember the things Jesus taught them and remain spiritually connected through prayer.

That is our defence whenever we feel weak and vulnerable. Jesus modelled it. You may be going through a lot of problems and trials. Follow what Jesus did during this time of distress. He shared to His Father what he felt. He was Honest. He was connected with the Lord in prayer. He was Intimate. And He submitted to the will of the Lord. He Surrendered.

In the end, we find our strength in God alone. Remember you are HIS, and He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7 – Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

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Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message in B1G South TOP (Time of Prayer) entitled “Finding Strength Through Prayer”. The B1G South ministry is the singles ministry of CCF Alabang. We have service every Saturday at 6pm at the 3rd floor of CCF Alabang. Everyone is invited! I would love to meet you if you have time to visit.

Parable of the Prodigal Son – The Oldest Son

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 has three characters: The youngest son, The oldest son and The Father. The prodigal son represents a sinner who repent while the Father represents God, who is joyful when one comes into repentance. Here we would see the Father’s love to his Son. But what about the oldest son? What lesson what we learn about him?

As we go through Luke 5 we would also see the Father’s love in how we responded to the oldest son.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

This cause the older brother to be and refused to celebrate the return of his Father. But the Father wanted the oldest son to celebrate with them so he pleaded with him. The Father wanted the older son to see the situation as he sees it – His lost brother now found.

The older brother said to him:

‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

Look at how the older brother reacted. We can learn two things from the attitude of the older brother. First, his focus was always on his performance when he said “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.”

Look at how angry the oldest brother is. He used the word or term slavery, and in confidence even mentioned that “NEVER” has he disobeyed his Father. Which is very unlikely for the following reasons: contempt for his Father’s actions and his refusal to celebrate with his Father – he refused to go in. This is truly in comparison to the disobedience of his younger brother who disobeyed his Father but his emotions is just too blown up to exaggerate and say he has never disobeyed his Father.

Next is that we can see he was somehow expecting something in return for his work when he said “yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.” All those years of labour seems that it was motivated by what He can get from his Father.

And again, he was comparing himself with his young brother with scorn when he said “but when this son of yours.” He didn’t mention the youngest brother as “my brother” but “when this son of yours.”
This shows three things that the oldest son were really focused on:

  1. His work and possible rewards
  2. His performance compared to his younger brother
  3. His own business and never took the time to understand his Father

The oldest son represented the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus also talking to. When we look at Luke 15:1-2

15 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. 2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

The Pharisees in the time of our Lord were the popular group. They were extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining to the Law of Moses. When Jesus in his story introduced the elder brother, it is a clear illustration of the scribes and Pharisees. Just like the oldest son, the Pharisees and scribes were guilty that their outward actions was only important since their inward attitudes were abominable.

They had no sense of sin and no interest in repenting sinners – it was all about them. Just like the character of the oldest son: hard working and obedient but was lacking heart in how he responded.

But look at how the Father reacted to all of these things.

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

We first have to realize that, technically everything that the Father owns was already for the Oldest Son. The share was already divided.

  1. Was he never disobeying the Father in hopes of getting his Favor and to get more from his inheritance?
  2. Wasn’t all that he was working for was for his benefit as well?
  3. Did he realized he (as a son) has the freedom to ask for the young goat?
  4. Did he not know that his Father can willing give what he requested?

That’s why the Father said “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”

Friends, if you would try to think about how the oldest son acted – have you not the same?

  • Are you still moved when someone comes in repentance and gets to know the Lord?
  • Have you been too caught up with performing?
  • Focus is on doing the daily Quiet Times and not the reason why you are doing it
  • Too much focus on the performance on ministry and no longer about God or his people
  • Working for eternal rewards when that is just an additional prize when the prize has always been getting God alone.
  • Are you quick to compare yourself with other people?
  • Do you not take the time to actually know how your Father feels about you and his people?

Again, the main focus of the lesson is in the response of the Father and his love for his son. The Father representing God who is eager to forgive, and joyful when one comes into repentance. Even with the oldest brother, he responded in a loving and patient way.
He is just waiting for you. Waiting for you to open your heart to him. Listen to what He wants you to know – know that he loves you no matter what! Whatever you have done. Whatever mistake. Whatever you have, he loves you and he just choose to.

He is just has love for you. He is not disappointed, but only has compassion for you. Psalm 103:8 – The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message during the B1G South True Life Retreat entitled “True Love”. If you want to read my experiences during the retreat you can read it here: Day 1Day 2, and Day 3.

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