Heaven Bound

              Someone once said: “The moment you were born, you were getting ready to die.”

            Sad. Discouraging. Morbid. But it can be undeniably true.

            All life on earth ends in death, including yours and mine.

            So why work hard? Why serve? Why try to live a good life? Why struggle to make that marriage work? Why attempt to be faithful to that commitment?

            Because of Easter.

            Easter reminds us that death isn’t the end but simply the beginning of a better life. Easter assures us that our effort to live a good life is not in vain because a reward waits beyond the grave. Easter encourages us to keep on believing despite the gloom and the uncertainty because we shall surely be compensated.

            Easter is the foundation of everything that we do. Easter is the anchor of all that we are. Our faith stands and falls by it. We sink or swim depending on the reality of the resurrection. Easter gives meaning to our sacrifices, and justifies our follies. It validates our faith and confirms our hope.

            For every serious Christian, Easter is what makes life worth living.

            When Jesus walked out of his grave on that first Easter Sunday, Jesus knew what He was doing. He wasn’t just after staging a sensational event to impress His countrymen. He wasn’t just after making a strong statement against the Sanhedrin. Perhaps He wasn’t even trying to embarrass the Roman government. He did it for something more. Something more significant. Something more relevant. Something closer to home.

            He did it for you and me.

            To give us hope in light of our despair; to give us courage in the face of our fears; to give us strength in the midst of our weaknesses.

            Jesus did what He did to remind us that this world, good with all its beauty or bad with all its challenges, whichever case may be, isn’t all there is to it.

            Yes, my friend. There is life beyond the grave. And Easter simply reminds us that death is not a dead end but a doorway. Not a destination but a departure. Not a final stop but a launching pad.

            So the moment death knocks on your door, call to mind the message of Easter. Gladly receive your ticket and eagerly await your flight.

            Jesus never gambled on your salvation.

                 You are surely heaven bound!

 

Advertisements

What is your response to the Cross?

            What is your response to the cross of Christ?

            For some, a long weekend out in the beaches…

            What is your response to the cross of Christ?

            For others, a time to catch up on their favorite movies on HBO…

            What is your response to the cross of Christ?

            For many, a time to surf the net and update their Facebook page…

            Sad but true. Sometimes, our response this Holy Week to the greatest act of love from God in the history of the entire human race can be, quite shamefully, inappropriate.

            When you talk of pathetic responses, I am definitely not an exception.

            I look at my life and I see an anemic response to God’s outburst of love. Sure, I preach. Certainly, I serve. Admittedly, I sacrifice. But I also complain a lot. And I criticize others. And I entertain negative thoughts. I am quick to judge and slow to forgive. My reputation is near the cross, but my heart can sometimes be so far from it.

            As I write this, memories of disgraceful acts of sin flood my mind. I cringe in shame as I recall the times I gave in to Satan’s deceptions. I wince in humiliation as I relive those moments when I believed the enemy’s lies. I grimace with embarrassment as I call to mind those instances of human weakness and folly.

            Is this how I respond to the cross of Christ?

            But then a phrase in the passion account of the Gospel of Luke detonates to shatter my indignity and overcome my disgrace:

            “…Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do’…” (Luke 23:34)

            This is Jesus, in his most difficult hour, trying to understand us.  

            Really, Christ’s love for you and me shone the brightest on that first Good Friday when he hung upon that cross…when he had given all…when he had exhausted everything…when pain was at its highest peak…and strength was at its lowest dip.  

            Jesus still managed to muster the strength to justify you and me before the Father.

            Yes, friend. He understands that time when you lost your temper. He understands that instance when you uttered that lie. He understands that occasion when you gave in to that drink or that puff or that thought. He who sees everything you did and everything you are, tells you today — “I understand, child. Really, I do”.

            Such is the power of the message of the cross.

            It is a message of love, not condemnation; a message of hope, not despair; a message of honor, not shame; a message of life, not death.

            So trudge your way to the foot of the cross today. Lay before Him that guilt that has been weighing you down. Place beneath his feet that long-standing resentment.  Release to his hold that overburdening regret. Offer to Him all that you did, and all that you are.

            Then hear the pounding of the nails.

           Jesus nails them with Him on the cross… just for you.

Nothing He Won’t Do for You

When Michael Jordan was still actively playing in the NBA, he said during one of his interviews, “Whatever my team needs to win, I will do it.”

This statement comes to mind today as I reflected on the Gospel of John’s account of the washing of the feet (John 13:1-15). In a similar yet more profound way, that may have been the tenor of Jesus’ message to His disciples when he washed their feet. More than a lesson on humility or servanthood, Jesus may have been trying to bring across a more important truth: His love for them will lead Him to do anything for them —- even wash their grubby feet.

During Jesus’ time, people wore only sandals while walking around the dusty streets of Jerusalem. (The poorer ones were even barefoot!) In other words, the feet of his disciples were not exactly immaculate. Not to mention that Jesus and His disciples were constantly on the move because of the nature of Jesus’ ministry. And the washing of the feet was a task reserved for the lowliest servants. Hence, it was unthinkable for a rabbi and a master like Jesus to wash his disciple’s feet.

What could have led Jesus to prepare the basin of water that night? What could have motivated him to wrap the towel around his waist? What could have urged him to place in his hands the grimy feet of his disciples? Certainly not to impress them. And definitely not simply for hygiene purposes. Most likely to teach them some lessons on humility and servanthood.

But I believe it was more than that…

It was, I believe, to remind them of what his primary driving force in life is: love.

Love that says I am willing to do anything for you. Even the most shameful undertaking. Even the most degrading task. Even the most demeaning act. Whatever it takes to let you know of my love, I am willing to do it.

The washing of the feet on Holy Thursday exclaimed Jesus’ incomparable love for Peter and his brothers. And the cross of Good Friday perfectly punctuated it.

The lesson for the twelve is also a lesson for the millions who have chosen to follow Jesus — yes, including you and me. It is a lesson that must be re-lived especially in moments of confusion, or anxiety or despair. It is a lesson that assures us of the height, depth and width of God’s love for us. It is a lesson that shall carry us through the long and dark nights of our lives until the eventual breaking of the dawn.

The lesson is crystal clear: There is nothing that God won’t do for you, my friend.

Even in the face of insurmountable debts: or a dead-end career; or a deteriorating health; or a collapsing marriage. Now, God may not express his love in the way you expect him to. But He will express it nonetheless. In a far more overwhelming way that will exceed your highest expectations, He definitely will.

So this Holy Thursday, pause and pray. Take stock of your biggest challenges and burdens. And then place them side by side the magnitude of God’s love for you. See them shrink in the face of his reckless and unbounded devotion to you.

Look down to your feet. There. With a basin on the floor and a towel around his waist. That’s Jesus right there. With your feet in his palms.

He looks at you. His lips break into a smile. And He whispers a statement that explodes into an avalanche of warmth and comfort:

“Child, I will do anything for you”.

The Certainty of a Happy Ending

My two daughters are budding script writers.

Whenever I tell them a bedtime story and they anticipate a sad ending to it, they intervene and finish the story themselves. They make sure that I always end my story with the phrase: “And they lived happily ever after…”.

I thank the Lord today because of God’s promise that in our Christian life, we will always have a happy ending. 

Hard to believe, eh?

Especially when you are going through financial difficulties and the tunnel seems long and dark…

When the diagnosis isn’t very promising and the body slowly weakens as the days go by…

When the pain of losing your loved one isn’t ceasing and the tears aren’t drying up…

When nights are long and the days seem night…

Yes, sometimes, when you’re in the midst of challenging times, it is quite difficult, even impossible, to think of a happy ending.

But in today’s scripture readings, God paints to us a picture of abundance (Isaiah 65:17-21) and of prosperity that will turn our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30).

This is my conviction: Every person who trusts in the Lord will never be put to shame. 

Sure, God may not answer your prayers the way you expect Him to. But in the end, He will definitely answer your prayers in a way that is best for you.

Today, I invite you to trust again, to believe, and to hold on. God promises a happy ending for you. And you don’t need to be a script writer to do that for Him. He promises. He fulfills. A happy ending for you is for certain!

Believe!

In Christ,

Bobby Q.