Months before my salvation, my life was one of searching and questioning. What is the purpose of life? There was a longing within me.
I was living a good life. I have a happy family and a good career in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Industry. I get to do what I want and buy what I need. Until I compared myself with my friends. They were more successful than I was. They had everything I wanted: high-paying jobs, properties and investments, luxury to travel anywhere in the world, and opportunity to work abroad.
In 2011, I resigned from the BPO and left the Philippines with the goal of getting a job in Singapore. At first, everything happened according to my plan.
Until I experienced being in the wilderness. It’s like the situation in Deuteronomy 8:1-5. when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because of their disobedience and lack of trust in God in taking hold of the Promised land. God humbled and tested them causing them to hunger yet He remained faithful in taking care of and providing for them.
In the wilderness, God humbled and tested me. He knows what’s in my heart. He humbled me that He allowed me to hunger and experience many troubles.
I did not realize how difficult it is to be alone. I used to have someone who prepares everything for me (food to eat every day, laundry, etc.) My savings were depleting. I had no relatives and friends in that country to lend help. All of my 3 job applications were unsuccessful because of working visa issues. Singapore was in recession during my stay. I had to exit the country once my tourist visa ended and enter again to secure another 30-day stay. I did not tell my family about my situation.
I had a roommate who is a fellow Filipino and happens to be a born-again Christian. He invited me to attend their Wednesday worship service. At first, my motivation to attend every service was to save money from buying dinner as they always prepare food for their guests. I experienced the love of Jesus through these Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). They prayed for me, helped me with my job applications, and even blessed me financially. God was with me in the wilderness. I started to know Him and humbly asked for His help.
One day, a church member asked me to be his replacement for his tutorial job as he needed to focus on his regular job. This tutorial job helped me pay my bed-space, fare, food, and things I needed during my stay. The family I tutored for became my second family.
Singapore was a time of testing and turning point for me. I needed to go through this trial because God wants me to take the path He prepared for me. He taught me that His plans for my life are far greater than my plans for my life. And I only need to fully surrender to His will. Through this experience, God humbled me and caused me to turn to Him for help and guidance.
In the wilderness, He never took His eyes off me. It was a season of many troubles but, in the end, it turned out to be victorious because of the forgiveness and salvation offered by Christ through His finished work on the Cross.
May 27, 2011 was when I gave my life to Jesus and decided to be baptized. From then on, a lot has changed. The Bible says: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” My perspective in life changed especially with how I define success. I realized it’s not about the things we see outwardly. Success that the world can offer is temporal but being at the center of God’s will is the true success that lasts for eternity.
The Apostle John said: Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father (God) in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Lord, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
I am still a work in progress. I still need to experience God’s stretching and testing. But in all the stretching and shaping, I know that He is molding me to be a vessel He intends me to be for His glory. My identity is in Christ. I am His child and He delights in me.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act. (Psalm 37:4-5)
A personal testimony of Ronald Y. Macalipay, a child of God who loves to sing for his Father. He’s actively involved in different ministries at Jesus Flock Gateway Church (JFGC). He serves as a worship leader in their local church and is also part of the leadership team of the Young Adults ministry and Alpha BGC evangelistic ministry. All these for God’s glory and for proclaiming His great Name to the nations!
I was in first-year high school when two missionaries, Miss Baning (a Filipino) and an American, went to our school and invited us to utilize their newly opened small library. They went from room to room to invite the students and to pray for the whole class.
During that time, I was religious and I thought I was already a Christian. I became the representative of my family in attending Sunday Mass for two years. Within the second year, there was an increasing number of questions in my mind that no one could answer: Why were we praying to Mary and other saints? Aren’t we supposed to pray only to God, not to men? And several practices I couldn’t understand.
Second-year high school came and we were given a project wherein I needed books about scientific names of plants. I found those books in the mini-library of the missionaries. The second time I visited, they shared about salvation through Christ. They asked me and two other students two questions:
The first question was —If you were to die today, do you know for certain that you will be with God in Heaven?
I said “I don’t know” because I thought saying yes would be too arrogant.
The second question was — If God were to ask you, “Why should I let you into My Heaven?” what would you say?
Because of the good things I have done.
Those were my answers but with great uncertainty within me because I admit that I frequently sin. So how can I really go to heaven? Miss Baning shared us the way to heaven.
How to know with certainty that you will go to Heaven?
We can know and be certain if we will be with God in Heaven. In 1 John 5:13, the Apostle John said: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Heaven is a free gift through God’s grace. The Bible says: The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. And because it’s a free gift, it is not earned or deserved. No amount of personal effort, good works, or religious deeds can earn a place in Heaven for you. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done; it is a free gift from God given to those who believe and trust in the finished work of Christ.
Man is a sinner.Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. We sin in thought, word or deed; we sin when we do what we shouldn’t do and not do what we ought to do. Whether minor or grave, sin is rebellion against God. Because of this, man cannot save himself. If you wanted to save yourself by good deeds, do you know how good you would have to be? Be therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). God requires holiness. With such a high standard, no one can save himself.
God is merciful.He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent. But the same Bible which tells us that God is love, also tells us that God is just and therefore must punish sin. He says “. . . (I) will by no means clear the guilty . . .” (Exodus 34:7). And “. . . the soul that sins, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4).
God made a way for us to be reconciled back to Him in the Person of Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus? The Bible tells us clearly that He is the infinite God-Man. “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus). . . and the Word (Jesus) was God. And the Word (Jesus) was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:1,14). Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a sinless life, but while on earth, what did He do? He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave to purchase a place for us in Heaven. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on Him (Jesus) the sins of us all. (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus Christ bore our sin in His body on the cross and now offers us eternal life (be with God in Heaven) as a free gift. This gift is received by faith.
Saving faith is not mere head knowledge, like believing certain historical facts. The Bible says that the devil believes there is one God, so believing that there is one God is not saving faith. Saving faith is also not mere temporal faith, that is, trusting God for temporary crises such as financial, family, or physical needs. Now these are good, and you should trust Christ for these, but they are not saving faith! Saving faith is TRUSTING in Jesus Christ alonefor eternal life. It means resting upon Christ alone and what He has done rather than in what you or I have done to get us into Heaven. “. . . Believe (trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved . . .” (Acts 16:31).
It means that you need to:
Transfer your trust
From what you have been doing to what Christ has done for you on His cross
Accept Christ as Savior
Open the “door” to your heart and invite Him in.
He says: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears My voice, and open the door, I will come into Him . . . .” (Revelation 3:20)
Receive Jesus Christ as Lord
Give Him the “driver’s seat” and “controls” of your life, not the “back seat.”
Confess and renounce your sins and turn to God.
Be willing to turn from anything that is not pleasing to Him. He will reveal His will to you as you grow in your relationship with Him.
I willingly accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I placed aside my former belief that good works can save a person. There’s only one way to heaven and that’s through Jesus Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior. I wrote that important decision in my small notebook together with the date. I had no spectacular feeling at that time. I continued my routine – pray and go to church. But more and more questions surfaced and I didn’t know whom to ask for help.
When it was almost our graduation, one of my classmates, Filamer, had comics about religion. It was about The Reformation, Martin Luther, and other major issues about my faith. I became more bewildered so I stopped going to church. For two months, I read the Bible starting from Genesis. It was very difficult for me to understand everything written in it because I felt that everything was new for me! All my life I had known God to be loving and forgiving but as I read the Bible intently for the first time, I was shocked! God’s image became wrathful. I was discouraged finding out that God took sides and meddled with the battles and wars in favor of the Israelites. I saw a different God.
College came and confusion still abounded. I phoned Charity, my schoolmate in high school, and shared with her some of my concerns. She told me about Laoag Fundamental Baptist Church where her dad serves as a pastor. She mentioned about the Adult Sunday classes where they could answer my questions. She didn’t explicitly invite me to attend but I invited myself to be in it.
That little church helped me know Christ more and more. I’m thankful that in times of my difficulties, they were with me. That’s why I consider the church, in general, my family. I thank God that through His church, I experience His love.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do,and He will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
A personal testimony of Jessica Mae Simon, sales executive at Ford Ilocos Norte. She is part of the Young Adults Bible Study Ministry at Laoag Fundamental Baptist Church.
Growing up in a Christian home, a daughter of a pastor and saved at a young age; my spiritual development and my childhood development were combined. I was surrounded with stories and lessons about Jesus and God.
At around the age of 6, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I liked to read the “Chick Tracts” because they were comics. However, my older sister informed me that they weren’t for fun; I was supposed to get saved! She then showed me using the tract how I was a sinner that deserved hell, but Christ paid the penalty for my sin.
God is holy. The idea behind the concept of holiness is “separation.” God is separate from everything that is sinful and evil. He is without sin and cannot tolerate sin.
Everyone has sinned. There is no one righteous, not even one. We all fall short of God’s glorious standard. When we sinned, we have become separated from God. And the penalty for our sin is death. This death means eternal punishment deserving for our sins.
But because of God’s great love for us, He sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world not to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. God requires holiness. Jesus lived that holy life for us and sacrificed Himself as payment for our sins so that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
What must we do then to be saved? Jesus said to repent of our sins and turn to God. Trust in the finished work of Christ and surrender our life to Him. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Only by the grace of God through saving faith in Jesus Christ alone.
As I grew older and could understand more of life, my understanding and walk with the Lord also grew and deepened. I was surrounded by good mentors that poured Scriptural truth in my life. In my teen years, God was consistently working in my life to draw me closer to Him. I increasingly differed from my friends in their standards and lifestyle choices. When my best friend fell pregnant at the age of 16, it was the final split. I no longer tried to hang on to friends that consistently pulled me towards the worlds’ way of thinking. I would choose to follow the Lord even if it meant I didn’t have a best friend. Being an introvert, I placed a high value on having one close friend to connect with, but God knew that and has since provided people in my life who have stood by me through the hardest times of my life.
In high school, I was pursuing studies to be a veterinary. However, God called me to be a missionary (not yet specifically to the Philippines) and I initially said no. I wanted to be a vet and not leave home. However, God used the song “Shout to the Lord” to remind me that the mountains bow and the seas roar at the sound of His name and who was I to say no to my Lord? From there I was committed and went to Bible School. Throughout the 4 years, the Lord led me step by step to eventually join the Philippine field. There were plenty of challenges, fears, excitement (raising support, going into the “unknown”, etc.) but God was faithful every step of the way to comfort and guide me.
God’s gracious love to me is what I live for. I am completely undeserving of His grace but He has poured it out in my life. So I serve Him in any way He shows me. This has led to me serving in the Philippines since 2006 as a missionary in a variety of roles.
God is faithfully working in me and is using circumstances and His Word to mold me to be more like Him. I know that whatever happens in my life is for my good, even if it is not pleasant all the time because God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)
Hi! I’m Christina Canapp, a believer in Jesus Christ saved by grace. I grew up in a Christian home in the States, moved to the Philippines in 2006 as a missionary with New Tribes Mission (now New Tribes Church Planters of the Philippines) and have served in a variety of roles. I ‘m blessed to be where I am.
Before I came to know Christ, I was shy and timid. One of the many reasons I lack self-esteem was because I did not grow up with a father. My dad works as a seafarer, so most of the time he’s not around.
I was “the good girl” in the eyes of my parents, relatives, and peers. I was good in school and was a teacher’s pet. But I was quiet and afraid to get close to anyone. I was rejected and bullied until freshman year of high school, so I lived a life fearing rejection. I became more reserved and unforgiving. I held grudges against those who hurt me.
Then I befriended boys because I found them more truthful than girls. At 10, I had my first boyfriend. It seemed innocent until it became my lifestyle. I thought happiness and security come from relationships with boys until I got heartbroken over and over again.
I rebelled against my parents when I was in high school. I would come home late from school and frequently fought with my mom especially because of the relationships I had. I thought of my home like hell. I wanted to get free. I wanted to escape.
I was often angry and easily triggered. I hated corrections from people who love me. My life was school and my room. And it was essential for me to have a boyfriend because they made me happy, or so I thought.
God’s Stubborn Love
Growing up, I only had a religion. Our family went to a Christian church but we weren’t committed. Eventually, we stopped attending altogether.
Many years later, the pastors in our church reached out to us again. They offered to conduct a Bible study in our house. My mom accepted and opened our home to them. From my high school through college years, the season of my teenage rebellion, they visited us regularly.
At first, I didn’t want to participate in any religious activities. I’d slam the door going out of my room every time they’d call me for Bible study. But I get interested whenever I hear stories and lessons from the Bible.
When I was about to go to college, my parents went bankrupt. The bank evicted us from our house. Everything crumbled. No more trucks. No more grocery. No more house. No more friends.
But our pastors were there during that difficult season. They comforted, encouraged and prayed for us. We moved to a different house but they persisted in visiting us regularly and encouraged us through God’s Word.
My parents forced us to go to church during this low point in our lives. Hearing the preaching of God’s Word every Sunday for 3 months and seeing the love our pastors have for us, God opened my eyes and my heart. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I realized He loves me and I need Him. God showed His stubborn love through the persistence of the leaders of our church.
As a new believer, I knew very little. My life went on having some changes. They correct me whenever they see my faults and weaknesses. Oftentimes I would rebel against them because I didn’t want to be corrected. But later on I realized they love me; they want to keep me from harm.
Love Always Prevails
I’m glad about the changes God made in my life. They weren’t instant, but day by day He changes me. From a shy and timid girl, I’m now able to stand in front of people and minister through songs and exhortation. God also enables me to share His Word with other people.
From having a religion, now I learned that having a relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important treasure in life. He is the Way to the Father and to heaven. Jesus isn’t just a story, He is alive!
From being a lustful woman, who went from one guy after another, I now have a husband of 10 years, by God’s grace. I learned the value of commitment in relationships and how God reserves that one special person for you.
I’m no longer afraid of befriending women. My hatred for women has changed to being accepting and loving. I have girlfriends now.
From getting even, I now let God do His work because He said, “Vengeance is mine.” God enables me to release forgiveness because He has forgiven me first.
From being rebellious, I learned to respect my parents. I don’t hate them anymore. Instead, I pray for them and share God’s Word with them.
Knowing Christ and having a relationship with Him gives me hope. As I read the Bible every day, I realize I fall short of His glory. Until my last breath, He will continue to change me from glory to glory. I’m not going to be frustrated with my shortcomings, the Holy Spirit will help me overcome them. I want to be the version of myself that God wants me to be. I am still learning to be patient and forgiving of myself; if Jesus did that for me, why shouldn’t I? The journey isn’t easy, aside from myself, we also have an enemy who wants us destroyed. But I know Christ is in me and He will not leave me nor forsake me. As I walk with Him in faith, I know my future is promising. He has done the difficult part, I just need to obey as He leads.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
A personal testimony of Vanessa H. Edaño, Tele-Interviewer at Sun Life Financial. She is a wife of 10 years to Richard Edaño. She serves in the music ministry while her husband serves as assistant pastor at United in Christ Christian Ministry.
(In Kapampangan language with English translation)
Anyang cayanacan cu, mengarap qng maging sacristan, cabang pagsilbyan que ing pari queng banal a misa. Pane cung isipan na metung qng cabalyerung magsilbi qng Kristung Guinu, kapamilatan na ning pari. Anyang ca labing-aduang qng banua, mica oportunidad qng macapacyabe queng awsan dang ‘Knights of the Blessed Sacrament’. Asna qng cagalac at catula queng panaun a iti, pauli na ning pangarap qng maging metung a cabalyeru, ampo sacristan, mitupad nala. Careng anggang Sabadu at Domingu, pane qng atiu queng pisamban, magsilbi queng banal a misa.
Mirinan cu naman oportunidad a pagaralan ing Catequismu na ning Catolico Romano. Buung lub cu yandug iti angga queng miras qng kolehiyu.
Manibat anyang canyancan ku angga keng meging bayung tawu, inandug ke ing sarili at oras ku neng Sabadu at Domingu, panigaralan deng catecismu kabang magsilbi keng banal a misa at deng sablang sacramentu.
makanita pa murin, madacal ku pa murin cutang tungcul queng casalpantayan cu bilang metung a Catolicu, atin cu pa murin tacut at pamagduda. Mitatacutan qng ecu miras banua, pauli na atin lugar a pamalaguan dang purgatoriu. Amanu da pin, metung yng lugar a caralumduman, na agyang ginawa qng kayapan anyang mabie ca, oneng micasala ca, queni ca miras.
Milabas yng mapilan a banua at pane cu pa murin a e isip ing macanining cutang. Anyang dinatang mu rin ing casaquitan queng bie, isipan cu pa murin iti.
Menintun qng tawung malyari qng acasabi, at mangadi para canacu. Minawus cu queng 700 Club, pauli na ning pamanintun qng tawung buri qng acasabi. Ini na pala ing pamagumpisa na ning pamagbayu qng canacung bie.
Itang tawung casaba cu queng sumangid a linya, casaba que angga queng pamangailangan cu. Inumpisan que caring canacung casaquitan queng bie, abed a reng anggang suli na malyari qng isipan. Cabang casabi que iti, yapin nap ala ini ing maging maragul a pamagbayu queng canacung bie. Inambus ne ning canacung casaba ing mayap a balita na ning Apung Guinu. Iti ya ing pecamasanting a dulut a tinggap cu manibat queng Apung Guinu. Mengadi cami at tinanggap que e Cristu queng canacung bie, bilang canacung Guinu at Talapangabus. Mecaramdam qng labis a catiwasayan at cayapan queng panaun a ita. Panandam cu ing pangayatyu na ning Apung Guinu, mebating queng isip cu ing alang casiguraduan.
E miglambat, me cumbira ku queng metung a Bible study. Anyang minuna, mag adua qng isip maquiabe, pauli na ning ecu sane careng macaniti. Pamakilaban que iti pauli na ning capaniwalan cu bilang metung a Catolicu, salungat la queng tuturu da queng Bible study a liban cu. Oneng king pamamunta cu quening grupu a ini, mibuclat cu caisipan queng catutuan na ning Biblya, ampon nung macananu yang magagamit ing Biblya queng pamanuru da.
Mapilan a bulan caibat cung tinagun queng Bible study, tinagun na cu mu naman queng ‘worship service’ da at caibat me binyag na cu mu naman anyang banuang 2013. Meca pacyabe na cu mu naman queng ‘Men’s ministry na ning church. Carin ku mirinan pamikatagun a manimuna mu naman queng bible study para careng lalaki. Ngeni, magsilbi cu naman capamilatan na ning pamanuru cu careng anac edad 8, queng Sunday School. Mipnu cung tula at galac cabang magsilbi cu queng Apung Guinu, capamilatan na ning gagawan cu.
Metung cu pang tawung macasalanan, cabang atiu cu queng catauan a iti. Oneng meging malinis cu queng arapan na ning Apung Guinu, at micabus cu careng casalanan cu, capamilatan nang Hesukristung cacung talapangabus.
“From Altar Boy to Altar Call”
During my childhood, I wanted to become an altar boy who serves priests in the Mass. I used to imagine I was like a knight in front of the altar serving Christ through the priests. When I was 12 years old, I had an opportunity to join a religious group of men called Knights of the Blessed Sacrament. I was very excited as my dreams of becoming a ‘knight’ and an altar boy was finally fulfilled.
Being part of this group also gave us an opportunity to study the Catechism of our faith.
From grade school all throughout college, I dedicated much of my time during weekdays and most especially weekends in studying about catechism and serving in Eucharistic events and other Sacraments.
Despite my devotion, service, and everything I learned about my faith, I still had fears and uncertainties. I was afraid I might not go to heaven. We were taught that even if you lived a good life but had unconfessed sins then you would go to a place of total darkness.
Even as a young professional, I still pondered on this. Until came a time when I was at my lowest. I needed someone to talk to and someone to pray for me. It was late at night and there was no one I could speak with so I tried calling The 700 Club hotline just to look for someone to talk to.
The person on the other line talked to me for as long as I needed. I told her about my struggles at work, at home, and every problem I could think of. I also told her of my fears and uncertainties about the afterlife. This became my turning point. She shared the Gospel with me and I prayed with her over the phone as I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. It became a calm and peaceful moment.
Shortly after, I was invited by a friend to attend a Bible study. At first, I was hesitant since I was not fond of attending such gatherings. It was a struggle especially that some of my religious beliefs were contradicted causing me to question our facilitator’s doctrine. But due to persistent attendance, my mind was opened to Biblical truths. I became convinced of the truth because of the logical, reasonable and systematic way Bible passages were taught. Also with how the Bible was used as a reference in all of the teachings.
After several months of attending a Bible study, I started going to Worship services and was eventually baptized in 2013. Afterward, I became involved in a men’s fellowship which gave me an opportunity to lead a Bible study group. Currently, I am serving in Sunday school where I teach kids aged 8. It is a joy that I could serve the Lord through this ministry where we can express our love for God by meeting the needs of others while doing what we enjoy.
In all these, I have learned that salvation is not about our own goodness, works, service, intellectual knowledge or anything else we can offer to God in payment for our sins. The Bible says: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) The penalty of sin is death — eternal separation from God and the wrath of His judgment. If we can gain salvation on our own merit, then there was no need for Christ to die.
Jesus, the Son of God, took on the form of man, lived a holy life, and paid the penalty for our sins on the Cross so that those who believe in Him are made righteous through Christ’s righteousness and have eternal life.
Salvation is given to us only by the grace of God through saving faith in Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
I am still imperfect as long as I am in this earthly body and I still experience struggles but I am made righteous with God because of the sacrifice Jesus Christ did on the cross to pay for my sins once and for all.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
This life testimony was written by Thon Esguerra. He has been working as an IT consultant for 13 years. He is married to Michelle Esguerra for 2 years and they are both actively serving as Sunday School teachers in Greenhills Christian Fellowship, Ortigas.
A decade ago, I met four women who were instrumental in my journey in knowing Jesus Christ. During our training, they introduced themselves as Christians. I was drawn to them thinking they could give me more insight about the Lord. They welcomed my curiosity and readily answered my questions.
I don’t think I have thanked them for boldly sharing their faith and for teaching me some of the most essential spiritual disciplines through their example. I am a fruit of their obedience and labor in the Lord. I am forever grateful for them for reaching out to me and sharing the most important treasure anyone can ever have.
Part I: Bad News and Good News
After a conversation about the Lord, Angge said she had something important to tell me. I waited expectantly. After training, we were assigned to different teams on different floors and had different schedules so we had no opportunity to meet often. When I couldn’t wait any longer, I went to her station and reminded her of what she promised to tell me. She took a quick break to accommodate me. We looked for a quiet place. Then she brought out a colored booklet with no words in it.
The BAD NEWS is all of us has been separated from a holy and righteous God because of our sins. The Bible says that everyone has sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard. We all have committed sin even at one point in our lives. Thus, we all fall short and unable to meet God’s standard of holiness.
But there is GOOD NEWS! What we could not do to save ourselves, God accomplished for us: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. He is God who took on human form. He lived a holy life, in complete obedience to the Father. While we were still sinners, Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, victorious over sin and death. So that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross demonstrates God’s love, mercy and grace by making a way for us to be reconciled back to Him, be with Him and enjoy Him forever. At the same time, it displays God’s holiness, justice and righteousness by fulfilling His righteous requirements, consistent with His holy character, through the shedding of the blood of a perfect sacrifice as a substitute for sinners, thereby satisfying God’s righteous wrath against sin.
We must confess that we have sinned, turn to God and trust in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross. “It is finished.” Jesus said. The penalty of sin has been paid in full. There is nothing that we can add on to it, not our good works or sacrifices.
God provided the perfect sacrifice for our sin, not because we deserved it or earned it, but only because of His love, grace and mercy. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Jesus said to His disciples:
“If you love me, obey my commandments…
Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them…
All who love me will do what I say…
Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.” (John 14:15-24)
How do we know God’s commands? By reading His Word. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Part II: Unashamed of God’s Word
It was in the wee hours of the morning. I just had my lunch. I went to the main lobby and sat on a couch. Then I saw Van seated at the end of the room, absorbed in her book. I went up to her and had a quick chat. She said she came in early and was waiting for her shift. I asked her what she was reading and she said it was her Bible. “She’s not ashamed to read her Bible in public?” I mused.
Her example was refreshing for me. In principle, we were taught that the Bible is holy and is the written Word of God. An authority that should guide a person for living. Anyone who sincerely believes that should be eagerly reading it and paying close attention to it. But in reality, it was just a mere decoration that accumulates dust in the house. I didn’t know anyone even opens their Bible.
That very brief moment inspired me to buy my own Bible and motivated me to also read it despite of the many difficult-to-understand passages. They advised me to buy a certain version which is easier to read and understand. Then they suggested for me to start with the Book of John.
Part III: The Living God
One Sunday, Aiane invited me to their church. It was the first time I attended a Christian worship service. During the sermon, the pastor mentioned something about idols made by human hands, then quoted Psalm 115:3-8
3 Our God is in the heavens, and He does as He wishes. 4 Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. 5 They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. 6 They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. 7 They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound. 8 And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.
He gave an example, made a comment and the people laughed about it. Everything he said was practically true and on that sense their reaction was valid but I was offended because my belief was challenged. So I snapped at my friend, “What’s so funny?!”
After the service, she toured me around their church. It was nothing like the churches I had been to and this piqued my interest. As soon as we stepped out, I found myself praying: “Lord, I also want to attend a church like this but can You bring me to a church near our house or my workplace so I will not have an excuse not to attend.”
Looking back, I was amazed that even though I was offended with the truth, the Lord made me eventually disregard the offense and gave me the desire to be part of a Christian community. More than two months after that day, the Lord brought me to a church just two blocks away from where we worked. How neat is that! 😉
Part IV: Dates with Him Who Loved Me First
Day 2: You are not an accident.
Your birth was no mistake
Your parents may not have planned you, but God did.
Long before you were conceived by your parents,
you were conceived in the mind of God.
You are alive because God wanted to create you.
God decided how you would be born.
Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are,
God had a plan in creating you.
God never does anything accidentally, and He never makes mistakes.
He has a reason for everything He creates
Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love (Ephesians 1:4).
I broke down in tears upon reading the first sentence. I didn’t know I needed to hear (read) these words from Him. It was like Him telling me: “You are not an afterthought nor an unexpected consequence. You are in my mind even before the creation of the world. I have loved you since then.” His gentle reassuring words resonated in my heart and comforted my soul. His Word healed a wound I never thought was there. This was one of the dates I had with Him who loved me first.
Mommy Mae lent me her Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren which was my first devotional book. As a new believer, this helped me grasp Biblical truths that were too complicated for me to chew by myself.
She also gave me, as a Christmas present, Charles Swindoll’s His Name is Wonderful. This was my first Bible study guide. It was very useful in bringing me to a deeper understanding of God’s Word and His character as it examined the different names of Jesus, each introducing a unique aspect of His infinite nature.
I remember those times when I would excitedly go home from work to meet with Him in my room by reading and studying His Word through the help of these study guides. These intimate dates with Him are some of my sweetest experiences. Such is the love of Jesus, relentlessly pursuing and drawing near an unworthy but dearly loved sinner like me to be set apart for Himself and enjoy Him forever.
For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him (Philippians 2:13).
Prior to all these, I used to picture God as someone who is distant, unreachable, and oblivious of the sufferings of mankind; someone who looks down from heaven with crossed arms and scrutinizing eyes, ready to punish and discipline those who will make a mistake. I realized I viewed Him that way because I only knew about Him through the information taught in schools and in the church. I didn’t understand then that the Lord is a personal God whom we can have an intimate relationship with.
So what now? I urge you to see and experience for yourself this intimate relationship with the Lord by believing and accepting the truth of everything He said about Himself, repenting of your sins, and trusting in His Son Jesus Christ.
Make sure to read ‘Part I: Bad News and Good News’ in this post.
O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psalm 34:8)