DAILY BOOSTER: Don’t Blame Me

DONT BLAME ME

*This devotional thought is adapted from “but it was the snake’s fault,” by John Walker, Daily Hope.

God asked. “Did you eat the fruit that I told you not to eat?” The man answered, “The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” The LORD God asked the woman, “Why did you do this?” She replied, “The snake tricked me into eating it.” Genesis 3:11-13 (TEV)

When God found Adam eating fruit in the garden, Adam stood up like a man and blamed it on Eve. Eve, wanting to set a better example, blamed it on the snake. And in the twisted, pretzel logic only a snake can have, the snake — in a sense — blamed it on God.

Embedded in our fallen nature is the instinct to not only dodge the blame ourselves, but also shift the blame to someone or something else. Praise Jesus, he comes with nail-scarred hands and a thorny crown, paying the price so that we can stop blaming, confess our sins, and stand blameless before our Father in heaven.

This is on my mind today because yesterday I made a mistake that rippled around the world through these devotionals. We’ve been trying to match what is being taught at Saddleback each week, to reflect what God has placed on Pastor Rick’s heart.

This past weekend, Doug Fields, who for many years served on staff at Saddleback, was the guest speaker in our services. Doug is a world-class communicator and the devotional yesterday — on teaching your kids to communicate — was intended to reflect his weekend teaching. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in editing the material and Doug wound up looking like he doesn’t know how to communicate.

As I reflected on the mistake, I found myself wanting to shift the blame. I rehearsed excuses. Perhaps you’ve been there. Perhaps you can hear an echo from the Garden: “She told me to do it.” “He tricked me into it.” “Did God really say you shouldn’t do it? Perhaps he’s just trying to keep you from what is best for you.”

Did Jesus really say we are forgiven, or do we still need to hide behind excuses and blame? Where’s the safest place to be — under the cross of Jesus, or in the shadows cast by our pride and fear?

Praise God, Jesus frees us so we can stop hiding from God. He frees us to walk in his grace, following him into the presence of our heavenly Father.

[Isaiah 53:5,6, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”]

The Lord bless you all.

PHOTO: R. Padla

DAILY BOOSTER: God is at Work in Our Lives

Hello ICS! The overcast in Metro Manila nor the imminent typhoon that may hit us, should not hamper our desire to rejoice in the Lord. Remember no matter where we are today, God’s love and mercy endures forever!!! He remains good all the time to His people. – ACV

God is at work in our lives

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going badly. But we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.

When we are in the point of asking, “God, how can you do this to me?” we can find the answer in prayer. Like Job we need to turn to God and speak to Him. Let us recommend ourselves to God for His mercy and compassion. We may not understand what’s happening to us right now,
but let us believe God knows what is best for us.

Helen Steiner Rice once said,
“Whenever we are troubled, and when everything goes wrong, it is just God working in us to make our spirits strong.”

Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground– it just may be a smoke signal that summons The Grace of God.

Photo: R. Padla

DAILY BOOSTER: The Goal of the Christian Life


goal of the christian life“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” – John 12:24

The AG World Missions Congress will be finished tonight. Our morning speaker from North Africa shared out his heart and spoke to us regarding the call to missions today. Many were touched by the Lord. Following the Lord to the ends of the earth means that the one life He gives us – must be given back to Him. Anyone who follows the Lord will certainly face certain death physically, must fully surrender his will to him, and must give His best to the Lord – talents, skills, comfort, possessions…everything… TO GLORIFY HIM… – ACV

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The goal of the Christian life is death, not success. A popular teaching says that if we follow God, we will prosper materially. God may, in fact, bless His people materially, but few can make this claim among third-world countries. Wealth must never be the goal of a person’s life, only a by-product.”

A missionary to a Middle-Eastern country has shared a motto among their ministry team: “God does not require success, but radical, immediate obedience.” Jesus’ obedience gained Him the cross. It did not gain Him popularity among the heathen, the religious or financial success, or a life of pleasure. His obedience resulted in His death on the cross. This is the same goal Christ has for each of us–death of our old nature so that He might live through us. That may not sell well among outcome-based Christian workplace believers, but it will result in an eternal reward that far exceeds any earthly reward. “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12).

The Christian life is a paradox–the first will be last, death in return for life, and we are encouraged to offer praise to God to overcome aspirit of heaviness. It requires faith in a God who operates from a different set of values that are sometimes difficult to measure from human standards. Let death work in you a life that only God can raise up.

Source: Os Hillman
Photo: Reah Bunsoy

DAILY BOOSTER: We Shall Be Changed

READ: 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8

We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. —1 John 3:2

Being afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Thomas DeBaggio chronicled his gradual memory loss in the book Losing My Mind. This book records the disturbing process by which—little by little—tasks, places, and people are all forgotten.

Alzheimer’s disease involves the failure of nerve cells in the brain, leading to gradual memory loss, confusion, and disorientation. It can be tragic to watch a previously mentally alert person slowly forget how to dress or fail to recognize the faces of loved ones. It’s like losing the person before he dies.

Memory loss can occur by other means as well, such as injury or life trauma. And for those of us who live into old age, the breakdown of our bodies is inevitable.

But for the Christian, there is hope. When believers receive their glorified bodies at the resurrection, they will be perfect (2 Cor. 5:1-5). But even more important, in heaven we will recognize the One who died to redeem us. We will remember what He did and know Him by the nail prints in His hands (John 20:25; 1 Cor. 13:12).

Forgetfulness may beset our earthly bodies, but when we see the Lord, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). —Dennis Fisher

Our Savior’s life for us was given
That we might one day bloom in heaven,
Our mortal bodies changed to be
Like His through all eternity! —Spicer

In the twinkling of an eye . . . we shall all be changed. —the apostle Paul

[Source] [IMG]

DAILY BOOSTER: Working Versus Striving

Hello ICS,

We are on our second day at the AG World Missions Congress, God has been so good. He has been touching the delegates passions’ for missions.

May the Lord bless you as you interact with His Word.

Blessings,

PIC/ACV

working versus striving

“So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.”‘”- Zechariah 4:6

Your greatest obstacle in fulfilling God’s purposes in your life is the skills you have acquired to perform well in your work life. One of the great paradoxes in Scripture relates to our need to depend on the Lord; yet at the same time, we’re instructed to use the talents and abilities God gives us to accomplish the work He gives us to do. It has been one of the most difficult principles to live out. How do we know that what we achieve is by the power of the Holy Spirit in our life versus our own abilities, and is there a difference?

When we reach a level of excellence and performance in our fields, it actually becomes an obstacle to seeing God’s power manifest in our work. What we naturally do well becomes the object of our trust. When this happens, God retreats. You see, God allows us to develop skills, but these must be continually yielded to God’s Spirit. There will be times when God will use these skills to accomplish His purposes. There will be other times that God will not use any of our skills just to ensure that we know it is by His power that we can do anything.

It is the oxymoron of all oxymorons for Christian workplace believers. Learning not to act until God shows you to act is a sign of maturity in God. “Do not lean on the natural skill which you have been given. Let God manifest Himself in what you are doing,” said a mentor who has learned this balance of skill and walking with God. “You must almost restrain from doing those things you know you are prone to do and actually go against them.”

I was learning this lesson recently when I was asked to participate in a large event that would give great exposure and much needed financial increase to my ministry. It made all the sense in the world to participate. Then I prayed with a friend and asked the Lord His mind on it. The Lord showed us this was not His plan for me. I declined the invitation.

Ask God to teach you what it means to walk according to the power of the Holy Spirit in your business life. Develop a listening ear to the small voice inside that wants to direct your efforts by His Spirit.

Source: TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman [IMG]

DAILY BOOSTER: Differences Can Be Managed

solving conflictsHello ICS! I am attending the first AG World Missions Congress starting today until the 26th at the Heritage Hotel, Pasay City. PGCAG is hosting it. Our pastoral staff has been requested to assist in the registration of delegates. Knowing that many of you can’t come this way, the Wednesday night service in ICS is still on. Do pray for the Missions Congress. Blessings.

May the Lord bless you as you read the following devotional thoughts. – Pastor Abraham C. Visca
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“Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (Acts 15:37-39).

Conflict in the workplace, in ministry, or even marriage is inevitable because you are working closely with one another. God has wired each of us with different personalities that can view circumstances differently. One person can see a situation and conclude something totally different from another.

There are times when differences and conflicts just cannot be resolved. It doesn’t mean that one person or the other is evil or sinful. It just means that the difference of opinion or the personality clash has no solution.

We see an example of this in the relationship of Paul and Barnabas, two partners in Christian ministry who had a sharp disagreement regarding a young man named John Mark. In Acts 15, we see that Barnabas wanted to take John Mark on a missionary journey. However, Paul refused. John Mark had disappointed him once before and Paul didn’t want to give him another chance. In the end, Paul and Barnabas agreed to disagree and to part company. Paul went one way; Barnabas and John Mark went another. Sometimes, that’s the only solution to a disagreement.

There’s a postscript to this story: In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul writes from his prison cell in Rome and tells Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” Sometime after the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, John Mark redeemed himself and became a valued partner in Paul’s ministry. In fact, as Paul faced execution in Rome, he wanted his friend John Mark at his side.

Whenever there is disagreement, make sure you maintain support of the person at the same time you disagree with their position. Avoid personal attacks and implying motive behind someone else’s position. This will allow you to disagree and still maintain a relationship.

DAILY BOOSTER: Hezekiah’s Prayer: The kind of prayer God likes to answer

hezekiah's prayerKing Hezekiah and the people of Judah had a problem and everyone knew it. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, camped with hundreds of thousand of soldiers just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Sennacherib and the Assyrians
were an unstoppable force; they had destroyed many other nations. Now they were poised to do the same to the nation of Judah.

In the hearing of all the people at the wall, Sennacherib¹s representatives boasted of the king¹s victories and stated his intention to overthrow Hezekiah; they bragged that none of the other gods of any of the nations
that had opposed the kings of Assyria were able to stop them from being victorious. What then could the God of Israel do to help Hezekiah and his people? Sennacherib sent a letter to Hezekiah with the same boastful threat.

Sennacherib was confident of his military strength to bring the people of Jerusalem to their knees, leaving their city as well as their God nothing more than a pile of rubble. Fear gripped the hearts of all those living in Jerusalem. Would their God do anything to help them in the face of certain defeat?

“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord”
(Isaiah 37:14,15, NIV).

Hezekiah did not prepare for battle. He did not plan his escape from the city; nor did Hezekiah sit and worry or become paralyzed by fear. Hezekiah prayed. But more than just a prayer, Hezekiah laid it all out before the
Lord.

Sometimes I think our prayers make a quick request for help, but we never even let God have a chance to answer our prayers because we immediately try to solve our problems by ourselves. Maybe I¹m the only one with that
problem? With an arrogant pride we never stop and just get real with God. When was the last time any of us prayed something like this? “Lord here is my problem and it is bigger than I am; I don¹t know which way to turn. God
without Your help I¹m as good as beaten before the fight even starts.”

I notice something else about Hezekiah¹s prayer. It¹s not just a helpless cry for help. Hezekiah¹s request is not just for God to come to his rescue, but that God will prove himself as the Living God, the Almighty. Hezekiah’s request wasn’t so much about his need as about God being glorified. God would get all the credit for the victory, not Hezekiah.

I believe those are the kind of prayers God likes to answer, honest prayers with pure motives. I believe it is time to get real with God and stop pretending that I can make it on my own; it is time to lay it all on the line and let God be the One who not only handles it but gets the credit too.

How about you?

[D. Greg Ebie is senior pastor of Praise Assembly of God in Garrettsville, Ohio, and an author of Daily Bread devotionals.] [IMG]

Judgment Day

JUDGMENT DAY*Rapture didn’t happen last May 21. We Christians believe that only God knows the time when Christ will return. Here is an article posted by BibleGateway last Friday regarding Judgement Day that you may share with family and friends.

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Will Judgment Day arrive on May 21? My part of the country is blanketed with billboards confidently predicting the end of the world this weekend—warnings courtesy of Harold Camping and his followers. “The Bible guarantees it,” the signs proclaim. But does the Bible really guarantee this—or any—prediction about the end of the world?

Camping is certainly not the first self-appointed prophet to predict the return of Jesus on a specific date. Most of us, if we’re honest, would probably confess that there’s something strangely compelling about even the most crackpot predictions of the end of the world.

At the most basic level, Judgment Day predictors are attempting to figure out when Jesus will fulfill his promise to return again to Earth. Jesus’ expected return is mentioned many times in Scripture; here are Christ’s own words:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

It’s human nature to ask the obvious follow-up question: when will this happen? The great challenge here, and the reason people still struggle to predict the date of Jesus’ return two thousand years later, is that the Bible simply doesn’t say when it will happen. On the contrary, Jesus plainly explained that nobody except God the Father knows the date:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”

Other descriptions of Jesus’ return stress that it will be both sudden and unpredictable: it will come unexpectedly, “like a thief.” Although some verses suggest that there are prerequisite events that will occur before Christ’s return (the spread of the Gospel across the world, for example, and wars and natural disasters), that Jesus pointedly never provides specifics suggests that he wanted his followers to focus on obeying his commands, not speculating about the date of his return.

Christians throughout history have tried to make educated guesses about Christ’s return, often scrutinizing the striking imagery of the books of Daniel and Revelation for clues. But we’re wise to raise red flags when earnest guesses are replaced by specific predictions. Such predictions are usually obscure and complex, calculated by plugging numbers from throughout the Bible and world history into arcane formulas.

These efforts are problematic for several reasons. First, they’re in tension with Jesus’ own words about “no one” knowing “that day or hour.” Second, claims about hidden formulas and codes in the Bible contradict the long-held Christian understanding of Scripture as plain, clear, and accessible to all. The reformer Martin Luther articulated the Christian confidence that when we read the Bible with God’s guidance, Scripture is clear and open:

The clearness of the Scripture is twofold; even as the obscurity is twofold also. The one is external, placed in the ministry of the word; the other internal, placed in the understanding of the heart…. For the Spirit is required to understand the whole of the Scripture and every part of it. If you speak of the external clearness, nothing whatever is left obscure or ambiguous; but all things that are in the Scriptures, are by the Word brought forth into the clearest light, and proclaimed to the whole world.

Finally, there’s the simple fact that none of the long line of confident predictions—from William Miller’s Great Disappointment to Harold Camping’s 1994 prediction—have ever been correct. That historical context should at the very least inspire extreme humility about the exercise of prediction.

Will the end of the world begin tomorrow, as Harold Camping claims? We don’t know—according to the Bible, we can’t know. When confronted by human prophecies and predictions, our best course of action, as always, is to listen to Jesus’ own words: “Be on guard! Be alert!” We don’t know when Jesus is coming back, but we can strive to live righteously until he does.

DAILY BOOSTER: Prayer – The Hedge of Protection

PRAY
But I will fence her in with thornbushes. I will block the road to make her lose her way. When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch up with them. She will search for them but not find them. Then she will think “I might as well return to my husband because I was better off with him than I am now.” Hosea 2:6–7 (NLT)

When Gomer, the Old Testament prophet Hosea’s wife, continued to chase after other lovers, God placed a hedge of thorns around her, keeping her from finding adulterous relationships and eventually driving her back to her husband.

Job, on the other hand, had a hedge of protection lifted from his life after Satan asked to sift him: “Haven’t You placed a hedge around [Job], his household, and everything he owns? . . . But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face” (Job 1:10–11 HCSB).

A similar sifting, by removing the hedge of protection, is implied in Peter’s life: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31 NIV).

We can pray this hedge for our children and other loved ones. We can ask God to hedge them in so they will find the right kind of friends but be protected from the wrong kind of influences.

In the case of children who are prodigals, we can pray a hedge of thorns around them to protect them from friends who influence them in the wrong way.

The Bible says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16b NLT).

May the Lord give you a favorable and successful week to come.

A.C. Visca
ICS Pastor-In-Charge

SOURCE: PRAYER: THE HEDGE OF PROTECTION by John Walker, editor of  Daily Hope Devotionals

DAILY BOOSTER: God is Everywhere

ICS Daily Booster

The following article is adapted from “Becoming Aware of God” by Os Hillman. May you have a personal encounter with the Lord as you read through the article. Bear in mind that tomorrow is Sunday. Do come, participate in worship and be a blessing to others.

By the way, Pastor Rey Calusay, the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, is our speaker at 7:30 am and 10:00 am, on Sunday, May 22. ~ Pastor Abraham Visca
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…”Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” – Genesis 28:16

Jacob was forced to flee his family after receiving the blessing of God from his father, Isaac. He ran as a result of his broken relationship with his brother, Esau, who threatened to kill him. He was alone after leaving his family and was sleeping in the wilderness area at Bethel. It is here that Jacob encountered God personally for the very first time. He had a dream in which Heaven was opened up to him. The Lord spoke to him there and gave him a promise to give him the very land on which he was lying.

This encounter with God made him realize that God was in this place, even though he had not been aware of it. God had to remove Jacob from all that was of comfort to him in order to reveal Himself to Jacob. What began as a crisis that forced him to be removed from his family and friends led to an encounter with the living God and a fresh vision of God’s purposes for his life.

How often we go about our daily routine and fail to recognize that God is in the place where we are. God had to bring Jacob to a place of separation from his old life and remove all his worldly possessions. He was alone with God at Bethel; nothing else could distract him from an encounter that would change his life.

God often must do radical things in the life of the servant in whom He has special plans: separation from family, removal of physical and emotional resources, an encounter with God. These are often the hallmarks of ownership by God that build a vision into a life.