- Religion and Philosophy
I. Being Obedient
But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel:15:22)
Many people get agitated with the word sacrifice, because the experience itself is never easy. To sacrifice is to go beyond your comfort, it is to do something that is rough and even painful.
But, what about Obedience? Why does God delight more in Obedience?
If you are asked to do something, and you will do it by force or obligation, or by law that is considered as a sacrifice. However, if you are asked by the Father to do or follow a very hard thing, yet you will do it together with your full heart and will, that is Obedience.
The greatest sacrifice in the history is Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross, yet it happened because Jesus Christ obeyed the will of the father.
To persevere is to obey, to obey is to persevere.
Perseverance produces character, to be obedient is a kind of attribute or characteristic that one should possess. There are many instances of our lives, where God has placed some burden in our hearts, all we need to do is to be led by the Holy Spirit to do the tasks of God.
To obey the Spiritual instructions, you should have spiritual responses. If we are not careful, we can be emotional or intellectual in our responses.
Things to Ponder:
1. What are the areas in your life that require you to have full surrender to God, and to obey His will?
Remember the things that you once committed to God, yet you have not fully obeyed. Make a plan or steps on how to realize those commitments.
Psalm 26:2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
The word ‘test’ is a crucial word that can be defined as a way to measure or assess one’s learning, skills and ability. Most students are not comfortable during their exams, especially if they are major ones.
The same thing with our spiritual faith, we knew in the first place the time we accepted Jesus, that these tests will definitely come. Like the logic in any mental exam, for you to pass you have to be fully prepared. But, how can we prepare for those unexpected tests or trials that will just suddenly occur in our walk with God?
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
How can the mentioned verse helps us to pass the test of following Jesus and desiring to be his disciple?
1. Not conforming to this world
2. Renewing your mind
3. Discerning God’s will
We should keep these three things every time we faced various tests, since testing may lead us to follow the pattern of the world. If we are not guarding our mind, we have unhelpful and unhealthy thoughts and we cannot distinguish what are from God and from the flesh.
Therefore, a test is not bad at all. It is a way that can assess our maturity in what we claim and in our integrity as a genuine believer of Christ. You just have to know the right tactics to do when a trial is on your way.
Things to Ponder:
1. Have I rightly responded when my faith is tested?
2. What are the things that I should learn and apply in handling trials and testing.
Write all the test(s) that you have encountered last 1-2 weeks, write also how have you responded on (them). Rate yourself from 1-10, at ten is the highest, if you have had the right responses. Were they pleasing to God?
III. Seeking God’s Presence Diligently
Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
If God is omnipresent (everywhere), why do his people have to seek Him?
Seeking God is not literally looking for Him, for God is invisible yet can be experienced. Our God is attracted not to our skills and abilities, because these can be developed or obtained over time. Yet, our God is looking for one thing, it is our ‘heart’. Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. It is important to keep a pure heart, for God is holy, and only the holy ones can see God.
Why we have to seek God wholeheartedly?
1. To sustain our needs – Psalms 34:10, Matthew 6:33
2. To receive God’s favor – Lamentations 3:25
3. To get answers- Jeremiah 33:2-3, Matthew 7:7
4. To be delivered –Jonah 2:2
5. To find favor in Him- Proverbs 11:27
6. To increase your faith- Hebrews 11:6
Anyone can seek God, but only those who persevere to seek Him diligently can truly find Him. Seeking God requires full focus and attention. You should never let anything or anyone disturb your commitment to seek God everyday. Let the truth be your light in seeking God, be sensitive to signals of the Holy Spirit.
As human as we are, we are like a glass with a leak. If you think you are very full of God’s presence today, you cannot expect that the same fullness with stay the next day, weeks, and so on.
Seeking God should be a day to day commitment, not only when we are in trouble, when we are looking for answers and in times of needs. God is God, and He knows if we are serious about knowing Him even better. So, let it be our life and breath to seek God’s approval, advice, favor and blessing all the days of our lives. The Bible, is being created for us to have a guide especially in knowing more the main supreme being of that sacred book.
Things to Ponder:
1. Have I sought God diligently?
2. What are the things I should change or apply in order to linger in God’s presence all the days of my life?
3. How is my prayer life? What is/are my motivation(s) in approaching God’s presence?
IV. Keeping the Fire Burning
The fire is an element than can be too useful and can be too dangerous at the same time. This can be something you can consider as a blessing (like cooking through the fire, or easing some coldness through campfire). Yet, this can be something as a curse, like having a house or property on fire, as it leads to destruction both things and life.
This fire is also a representation of our commitment to Jesus Christ. The time you are so full with the Holy Spirit and the presence of God, one will describe you as on fire for the Lord. This kind of fire is spiritual, yet not unlimited. Because, it is not an assurance that you have that fire last month, last week or even yesterday, and you still have it today.
Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart
How to keep our hearts on fire? This question is never new to us, who is claiming to be Jesus’ believers. Majority of what we do, and who we are now is a product of our decisions in the past. Either a big or a small decision, it will absolutely affect your present or future. If we set our whole being, heart, mind, soul and mostly spirit in the things that will delight our Father in heaven, surely He will grant the things that our hearts’ desires.
Therefore, to keep our heart burning for God, is to find joy, pleasure and delight in our redeemer, maker, provider, lover, Lord and our God. Unless you do not like to do something, your heart will be far from it, your mind will not think about it, your lips will not talk about it. But, if we really love God wholeheartedly, then we should make it a point to put some extra effort on how to express such love, more than what words can say.
To persevere in something that is contrary is a great burden for you, but to persevere in something your heart, mind, soul and spirit are into, then it should be a joyful journey.
If it is really our desire to keep the heavenly fire stay in our lives, let it be also our desire to keep ourselves near to the fountain or the main resources. The Holy Spirit is more than willing to help us, guide us and fill us. All we have to do is to keep on humbling ourselves that we need to be totally dependent to the spirit of God, so that we will keep on fire for God.
“Keep the Fire Burning by Keeping the Love Growing”
Things to Ponder:
1. When was the last time you were so on fire for God? What have you done before and after such event of your life?
2. What do you think are the things that will snatch the fire within you? List them, and commit to pray that God will help you in this area.
V. Persevere in Reading, Meditating, and Applying the Word of God
Reading can be a very passive action, however, it needs comprehension to be digested. Not all people even students, do get used in reading. While others are very passionate at it, as it is one way to earn knowledge from the different perspectives, period and even cultures.
Yet reading the word of God is a different thing. You need to have a pure intention before doing so. Why do we need to study the word of God?
2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
With the word of God in our lives, we will have the confidence that we have God’s love letter being kept in our hearts. Yet, reading God’s word without the intention to understand it deeply is still not enough. In a literary criticism, you will look at a work through two things; the denotation (literal meaning), or the connotation (deeper meaning). The new testament mentions about the parables, these stories have a connotative or deeper meaning and are explained by Jesus later.
The greatest challenge is to demonstrate the word of God, without any modification, but it should be observed and followed rightly. As a teacher by profession, many students are afraid when called to speak in front. Since, in a demonstration, the majority of the crowd’s eyes is on you.
In a natural setting, whatever you apply to something will have a result, either unnoticeable or a drastic change. The same thing in applying the word of God, you can always expect its result and impact upon your life.
Yet it needs perseverance to keep on reading, meditating and applying the word of God. But, nothing is too hard for a person that is in love, so our commitment to the word of God depict our commitment towards God.
Questions to Ponder:
1. What are the things in my life that hinder me to get to know God through His word?
2. When was the last time I get serious in reading the word of God? What had I done before that time, that seemed to trigger me?
VI. Persevere in Soul Winning (Sharing the Gospel)
The Greatest Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
To share something with someone does not only requires you to speak. For a testimony to be powerful, it has to be directly experienced by the speaker. That is why in a speech competition, one should put an emotion to a certain piece, in order for the audience to relate to it.
Yet, every testimony (story how you get to know Christ) is indeed unique, of people have different experiences in life. Yet, one thing is certain, it is a real experience of a person, the life of an individual that has been transformed through Jesus. Why the testimony is being emphasized here, because before one get to know Jesus, there is also that someone who shared a life story of salvation.
Jesus has commanded his disciples to go to the world and tell them the truth, share to the world about the gospel. It is very important that our lives will reflect on what we preach. Many Christians are afraid to share the gospel because of the fear of being rejected, while others are not that confident enough to do so. Whatever our reasons are, it should never overwhelm our heads, hearts and souls, tell the world that it is only through Jesus where we can achieve eternal life.
We can start by writing our testimony, then list the key verses that support the truth of one’s need of salvation, and the rest is the tasks of the Holy Spirit. We just have to be available and ready.
You do not need to travel around the globe to evangelize, you can start with the small unit such as your family, then friends, neighbors and so on. You should always bring the good news wherever you go, and be prepared for the possible persecutions that you may encounter. We should never quit in soul winning, because someone in our life never quitted, that is why we were saved.
Things to Ponder:
1. When was the last time I evangelized? Where is that person, whom you’ve last shared God’s word?
2. What are the things that are hindering me to do the greatest commission?
Challenge: Together with your testimony, share the good news to at least one (1) soul a week.