“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” – Luke 2:1-7
This year’s Christmas could have not come at such a bad time with the global pandemic and financial crisis still going on. The circumstances are simply not conducive for a “special” event…or is it? Well, let’s consider the first Christmas.
The first census in Israel could not have come at such a bad time as Mary was on her ninth month of pregnancy. Why of all time did Caesar Augustus come up with a bright idea of mandating all subjects of the Roman Empire to be registered in their city of origin? Now the young couple were obligated to embark on a journey from Galilee, Nazareth to Bethlehem, Judea, the distance of which is roughly 133 kilometers or seven days on foot with Mary’s condition. Upon arriving in the city of David, due to the high demand for accommodation, only an unsantized manger was available for the birth of the Messiah. Bad time…or is it?
In reality, had Caesar Augustus not ordered a census, perhaps the prophecy of Micah (chapter 5 verse 2) regarding Messiah being born in Bethlehem may not have come to pass. Jesus’ birthplace was a credential of sorts that HE indeed is the Messiah. In reality, God was ever present working through the events and circumstances. Hence, all prophecies regarding the Saviour are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Doubtless, in spite of the difficulties, God gave grace to the young couple in order for them to fulfil their destiny. They were in the center of God’s perfect will.
Instead of focusing on everything that is going wrong this year, let us hold onto faith and trust that God is working all things for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). A blessed Christmas to one and all!
“For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” – 1 Corinthians 14:8
To say that we are living in unprecedented times is an understatement. Although we find ourselves in a Second wave of this pandemic and renewed State imposed lockdown where activities and movements are designed to slow down, the opposite is happening in the spirit. There is much rumblings in the spirit as the global birth pangs is intensifying. It is the time to gird ourselves with the belt of truth, the Word of God.
On October 19, I received a message for the church that it is time to go to higher ground as a tsunami wave of fear, dread, discouragement, depression, hopelessness, and even apathy, will sweep many away. Hence, it is imperative for each one of us to gather all the divine resources we can get our hands on in prayer and muster every ounce of spiritual strength. Only the Word of God is the sure foundation during these uncertain times.
True prophecy is not given to put fear on people rather than to cause them to prepare. We will be hearing of civil unrests in different cities as the spirit of anarchy will continue to try to spread destruction. Nations will rise against nation and terrorists will sow seeds of mayhem. Despite the fact that persecution will intensify against the people of God, we should not be shaken into despair rather we should all the more watch and pray. We can and must contend in the spirit for the sake of our families and the younger generation. No matter what, God is in control and we must not buckle in fear.
Unprecedented time of crisis means an unprecedented opportunity to let the light, love, and life of God manifest in and through us. Jesus is Lord!
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” – Rev. 3:10
Perseverance is a virtue that is mostly glossed over. As we find ourselves in a prolonged season of pandemic and financial crisis, it is imperative that we remain steadfast in the faith. We are to hold onto the anchor of our soul and never give up hope.
Important as it is to start well in a race, what really counts is how one finishes. We are encouraged to follow the example of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12). All of us want to see instantaneous miracles but the reality is that many answers to our prayers manifest after a period of time. Such events are needful for us to develop patience. Let us encourage one another knowing that our God is faithful who will finish what HE has started in our lives. This pandemic and financial crisis will pass but God’s glorious presence and life giving word will forever stand. “
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:9-10
In the late 80s and early 90s, we were travelling to Pembo, Fort Bonifacio, Philippines at least once every week to a community of mostly Ifugao folks who migrated there. It was quite a challenge going there because of the hardship of getting a public transportation. Most of the times I would just be hanging on a Jeepney carrying a guitar. At that time, the road condition was terrible, it was very dust during the dry season and muddy during the monsoon rains. Sometimes, there were lots of folks attending our Bible Study with a full packed house but there were times that only 2-3 sleepy people would show up. We would arrive home in our mission house late in the evening dirty and exhausted. We continued the work through the years.
The ministry continued even when I left for overseas missions and many other church workers paid the price in loving the people in Pembo. A month ago, M.M. got a hold of me in FB. Honestly, I forgot who she was but now things are slowly getting back to my memory. She sent me this letter of thanks which really touched my heart. I asked her permission if I could share it and offered to hide her identity. She consented and told me that she has nothing to hide since God has healed her of her past. It is a testimony of how powerful is the Seed of the Word of God and that we should not belittle the things we do in the name of the Lord. We may not see grand things right away but one life that is saved is worth it all. I would like to encourage you all to keep on doing good even though we do not see results right away. He makes all things beautiful in His time. To God be the glory!
It’s my time to let you know how much you have changed my life when I met you and your family. It’s your family that opened my heart to Christianity. At the age of 10, my mother joined our Creator. From that day on our family was not same as before. My father didn’t become a father anymore and all of us four siblings lived separate lives. It was at that time when my depression started. I was in High School when we started the fellowship in Pembo. I call it “Be-Youthful Times”. During those times I experienced depression, I tried to commit suicide many times. I was a victim of Incest. My elder brother raped me and when I tried to tell my relatives about it, nobody listened. So I just kept it to myself.
Our Fellowship and God’s teaching gave me strength. I joined the Worship Team and I was not only leading the church but was offering myself to the Lord…whenever I felt sad, I would sing praises to God and cry. He has sent your family in my life and that’s why I am still standing. I would ask myself, “Why me?” I have attempted to commit suicide four times. Whatever is God’s purpose in my life, I am still here. Now I have a happy life family, four kids and one grandson. I am here for them and to be a blessing to others. Again, Pastor Reggie, thank you so much that God sent you in the right time in the darkest hour of my life. Now I found peace and wanted to tell you this. – M.M.
The stonewalled rice terraces of Mayoyao, Ifugao Philippines are breathtaking and inspires awe. More than the landscape, it was there where I met ladies who showed me true inner beauty. Let me share to you three encounters I had.
First, an elderly lady was waiting for the church to open early Sunday morning. I was informed that she had to travel on foot in the dark over three mountains in order to arrive early for the Sunday Service. She inspired me to hunger and thirst for the Word of God and to value the freedom we have in assembling for God’s glory.
Second, after I preached, another elderly lady approached me and handed me an old crumpled twenty peso bill. Knowing well that money was scarce in that place (people there practiced barter trade), my initial thought was to reject the offering. However, the Lord stopped me with the words. “Do not deprive her of her blessings.” I received it and prayed for a mighty blessings upon her. I realized that obedience to the leading of the Lord and generosity is not subjected to circumstances.
Third, an illiterate woman caught my attention as she quoted scriptures. Knowing that she couldn’t read nor write, I asked how she learned the Holy Scriptures. Accordingly, she heard the Biblical references directly from the Lord during her lone moments working on mountains. She committed to memory the words of God. Aside from the awesomeness of the supernatural experiences she had, it may realize how precious are the Words of God. May we all learn to keep the bread of life in our hearts, meditating on it day and night.
Now that the restrictions are steadily being eased and we are allowed to meet again to worship the Lord together, there are still those who are not enthused to come. We totally respect those who are still cautious and we’ll not force anybody. However, there are those who simply got used to the comfort of their homes, conveniently being served through live stream services. There are those who go from one channel to the next, being stuffed with the spiritual Internet buffet. Sadly, there are those who lost their connection to the local church family. Much worse, some have backslidden and their hearts have grown cold to the Lord.
Let none of us be like the nine lepers who didn’t come back to thank Jesus. The Lord has kept us thus far from this pandemic, it is but right to thank Him publicly in the mids of the congregation.
No more excuses
A fellow countrywoman walked up to me after service asking for prayer for her driver’s license test. As if I needed some convincing to pray for her, she said that if she passes the test and gets her own driver’s license, she won’t be dependent anymore on her German husband to bring her to church. “Pastor”, she said, “if I get my own driver’s license, then I can come to church regularly.” Needless to say, it was music to my ears so I prayed for God’s favor upon her request. Ironically, that was the about the last time I saw her in our church.
After three years since I prayed for her, we bumped into each other in a mall. It took some time for her to recognize me. I asked her what happened to her driver’s license test to which she replied, “Oh yes, I passed it.” Having heard the update for the first time, my follow-up question was about her pronouncement of coming to church regularly when the Lord answers her prayer. Disappointingly, she fell in line with the countless of people who utter the usual lame excuse, “I’m busy”.
Having been in ministry for many years, I’ve learned not to take it personally and have accepted it as simply part of the territory. It is not unusual for people to go into great lengths to get in touch with me when they are in desperate need to ask for help and prayers. Some make promises and oaths to the Lord if their plea is granted. Unfortunately, not all keep their word.
Sadly, people tend to easily forget God when everything is well. Just like the Israelites who were so relieved when the Red sea closed in on the chariots of Egypt. Psalm 106:12 tells us that they believed God and sang praises in thanksgiving for the miraculous deliverance. However, the next verse says: “They soon forgot His works…”
Jesus had a similar experience after healing ten lepers and only one of them returned to give thanks (Luke 17:11-19). He asked: “Were there not ten who got cleansed? But where are the nine?”
Let us thank God especially now that we’ve survived the first half of 2020. Moreover, let us continue to persevere and love the Lord more passionately. Let us have an intense focus in fulfilling our divine destiny and set our minds on things above. Thank God for Divine Protection.
We thank God for His grace upon all of us as we come to the end of the first half of 2020. As a church family, we praise the Lord in thanksgiving for protecting and providing for us. We are all alive and well, having thus far survived the pandemic. Some among us got sick and some were challenged financially yet God’s healing grace and divine provision came at the right time. Although the pandemic is not yet over, restrictions are steadily being eased and many are understandably eager to go shopping and dine out. It is wise to heed the advice to maintain the precautionary measures. Moreover, may the reminder continually ring in our hearts never to forget that we are living by God’s grace. May each one not neglect to give thanks to God for answering our prayers.
As we prepare to enter the second half of this extraordinary year, let us obey the Lord’s command to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” The Great Commission is actually possible as the highly digitized world is literally in our finger tips. The global lockdown forced people to do business, study, worship, socialize, and be entertained in the world wide web. Internet traffic increased and demand for online services soared. The world is now in the Internet. Our Online Services have gone much further passing beyond the geographical boundaries. Our recent Online Prophetic Training School had students from different parts of Germany, USA, as well as Central America.
Knowing that it is the Lord’s grace that have kept us alive and well, let us accelerate our spiritual pace as we reach out to the world before this significant year comes to an end.
Victorious greetings in the Lord’s name in the midst of this pandemic. Definitely 2020 will stand out in the history books. Whether in earthly libraries or in the heavenly courts, the question is: “What will be written of us as a church and you as an individual?” How did we behave? What did we do? We’ve sung the song of Delirious but now is the time to actually be a “History Maker”. Given this very unique opportunity to be the salt and light in this unprecedented time, may each one of us fulfill our function in the Body of Christ and be the visible representation of the invisible God in our generation.