Little is Much

by Ma. Charity Diong-an

“The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.” Proverbs 30:25 (KJV)

Two weeks ago, we discussed about the ant’s life in our science class. As we studied together, I was reminded of our lives and I immediately compared ours to theirs.

When we examine the life of ants, we can say that it’s really amazing how these little creatures live and survive amidst the competition in the big world.

Here are some reasons to ponder on how little becomes much:

First, ants work hard even if nobody notices them. This is an exemplary attitude that we should follow. We should work for God even if nobody notices us.

Second, ants are tiny but they leave marks when they bite you. Even if the things we do are only small but as long as they are good, they will leave marks to those people whom we serve. Soon, our Heavenly Father will reward us.

Lastly, ants are united in everything they do. They work hand in hand for the benefit of their colony. So we, as God’s children, must work and be united in one purpose–to let others know about God.

Small they may be but they are able to store up foods that will make them happy up to the time of conflict (rainy season). In a more realistic view, we see ourselves as nothing. We might say, “I’m just a tiny piece in this vast universe, just like the ants.” But if we make use of the little things that we have–our talents, time and ourselves–and dedicate it for God’s work, we can help hasten the coming of the Lord by storing many souls in God’s storage room. It might be a long process, sacrifice and a long tiresome walk just like what the ants are doing, but in due time the work will be done and we will be happy that we are partakers of this big work that God had set before us.

God Refines

by Lenvyl Serfino (35th Batch)

 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NASB)

I would always think why God converted me into a Seventh Day Adventist. By becoming one, it seems like my life is always at its worst because of many trials and struggles that would often come my way. And I experienced more of these tests when I became a missionary. We all know that missionary life is not easy. Storms of life may lie ahead. Many people would watch and condemn us and by listening to them, they can become stumbling blocks for us. Sometimes some circumstances are out of our control. The beating rains of trouble and flowing waters of sin may weaken us and may pull us down yet surely God won’t let us down. I believe that everything happens for a reason and purpose and most importantly, it would help to mold ourselves into better individuals–not bitter people. God sent us to our respective mission fields with a purpose and under varied circumstances so that we may discover our defective characters that have been concealed from our own knowledge. He will give us opportunities to correct and refine our defects so that we would become fit for His service. Often God permits great tribulations for us to be purified.

“The fact that we are called upon to endure trial shows that the Lord sees in us something precious that which He desires to develop. If He saw in us nothing whereby He might glorify His name, He would not spend time refining us. He does not cast worthless stones into His furnace. It is a valuable are that He refines.”(The Ministry of Healing p.483, Ellen G. White)

God’s Reconciling Love

by Mylene A. Delos Reyes

 “I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints – but let them not return to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him that his glory may dwell in our land.” Psalm 85: 8-9, NIV

A couple of weeks ago, I had been struggling with a feeling of guilt. I knew that I hurt God for not being the missionary He wanted me to be–in thoughts, words and deeds. Even though forgiveness had been granted, I still found it hard to forgive myself and see myself as a worthy missionary. I had been telling myself, “Why can’t I be perfect?” “Why can’t I rest from sinning even just for a day?”

All I wanted was to become a good missionary.

This feeling went on for a few days until God made me understand that His grace is sufficient to cover all mistakes I had made and that it is only Him who can make me perfect the way I was originally planned and made. There is hope to start afresh and be a better person for Him each day.

Often, we find it difficult to humble our hearts and acknowledge that it was us and no one or nothing else, not even Satan, who chose to make us commit sin. Somehow we try to acquit ourselves by putting the blame on other people or our situation for the mistakes we had committed. But deep in our hearts there is a feeling of guilt that just won’t go away.

God sees sin as sin regardless of how seemingly small (from drinking drinks that we are not supposed to drink or going to places where we are not supposed to go or staying up so late, doing things we are not supposed to do) or big (stealing or lying or killing) they are. They are still sins that have to be confessed and repented of. Otherwise our hearts will not be at peace or we would feel comfortable with sin and fail to see them as what they truly are.

EGW says that the closer we come to Jesus, the more faults we will see in our own lives. (Steps to Jesus p. 138) As we read His word everyday and pray, do we see ourselves filthier and in need of more cleansing than before? If we feel this way, then God’s Spirit is working in us. There is no hope for everyone by his own effort. It is only God’s love that can reconcile us with Him and change our deformed characters. It is only His grace that can help save us. However, we have to take a step forward, move out from our sin-filled life, and come to Jesus everyday.

Father, we want to surrender our lives to You. Make us and mold us to be the sincere missionaries You want us to be. Teach us to be humble, kind and true in all our dealings. Give us the courage and faith to do Your will every moment. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Love or Hate

by Michella Gonzales (33rd Batch)

Which is easier: being a missionary or being a teacher? What if you’re doing both jobs? I would like to share a real incident that happened inside my own classroom.

I was in a roomful of 18 five-year old students. Each of them seemed to be doing well and everybody was seating quietly until a little boy pulled the hair of his seatmate. The other boy started to cry. Then two students stood up and told me they wanted to go to the toilet (which is prohibited). When I told them they couldn’t go, they started getting angry. Then some students stood up on the table and sang some songs. From quiet, lethargic students they transformed into a chaotic mob of tiny boys and girls. With all my might I tried to calm and ask the students to go back to their seats and be quiet. But then a little girl started shouting and said, “Teacher, shiro!” (which means “I don’t want to”). She was disturbing the class. Trying to ignore her, I asked all the students to stand up and sing a song, and I gave stickers to those who participated. But this girl remained in her chair and therefore lost her chance to have a sticker. That was when she started crying.

Throughout that day my mind was full of misery and pain because one girl hated me. I didn’t know what to do and the thought that we will never be friends again bothered me. I went to school the next day and could you guess who met me at the door? Yes, that same girl–with arms wide open waiting for a hug and a greeting kiss! She never mentioned the things that happened the day before. To her, it was as if nothing had happened.

If only us grown-ups could have the love of a five-year old! No wonder God said in Matthew 18:4,

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

As Adventists, we are proud to be commandment-keepers. But do we keep the greatest law of the universe? “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

Now when faced with a vital question to love or to hate someone, I just think about this little girl who taught me to love and to forgive unconditionally.

Be Submissive

by Bheejay Furagganan

Submission is an act of submitting to the power of another. It also means meekness or humility.

Six years had passed. Time is really fast. The memories I had in each of my mission fields are still vivid in my mind. Being a missionary trained in the campus helped me a lot to grow as a strong individual and a child of God. My first mission field was the first place where God taught me to be submissive. I really learned to obey my superior without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:14 says,

“Do everything without complaining or arguing…”

Just like Jesus when He was on earth, He served and taught the people with all of His heart. He never complained about anything. And I probably felt that way.

God is really good all the time. He will help us fight the good fight and finish the race if we are willing to take our cross, work with zeal and enthusiasm, be submissive, practice humility, do our best in everything, and above all, love God and the people around us.

I’m grateful that I’m still working in God’s vineyard. Being meek is just one of Jesus’ characters He had taught me. It helps me a lot in my everyday life as a missionary.

Let’s keep looking at the cross. The cross where Jesus has laid His life for you and me.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:13

PRAYER–Unlimited call/SMS

by Antonio S. Lines Jr.

 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

My life as a foreign missionary is just like any other missionary’s life around the world–sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes there’s plenty of food, and sometimes there’s a lack of food. In my case here, on every last week of the month, my pocket is empty and my refrigerator is also empty. There was a time when I only have a little rice left and there were no more side dishes on stock. At first I was really worried about what to eat the next day. But my subconscious said something: “Why don’t you tell God about your needs?”

So with this thought, I just uttered, “Lord, I have no more food for the next few days. Lord I have nothing.” (Take note that I didn’t say Amen.)

Days later my needs were answered. My pastor called me up and asked me to help unload sacks of rice into our church kitchen. Those sacks of rice are for widowed or single church members. After unloading, He gave me a sack of rice. To my delight, a tear of happiness trickled down my worried face. From that time on, whenever I have worries, I just boldly say everything to our Lord who is our gracious and merciful Father in heaven.

My dear fellow believers in Christ, let your worries turn into a word of prayer. His promises are true. In Malachi 3:10, He promised to pour out blessings to those who are faithful. Matthew 7:8 says that,

“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

In Matthew 21:22, we are told,

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Did God Create Evil?

by Fretz Alcalde

This has a thought-provoking message no matter what you believe in. Does evil exist?

Did God create everything that exists? Does evil exist? Did God create evil?

A University professor at a well-known institution of higher learning challenged his students with this question. “Did God create everything that exists?”

A student bravely replied, “Yes he did!”

“God created everything?” The professor asked.

“Yes sir, he certainly did,” the student replied.

The professor answered, “If God created everything; then God created evil. And, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then we can assume God is evil.”

The student became quiet and did not answer the professor’s hypothetical definition. The professor, quite pleased with himself, boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, “May I ask you a question, professor?”

“Of course”, replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked, “Professor, does cold exist?”

“What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?”

The other students snickered at the young man’s question.

The young man replied, “In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 F) is the total absence of heat; and all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat.”

The student continued, “Professor, does darkness exist?”

The professor responded, “Of course it does.”

The student replied, “Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact, we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color.

You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.”

Finally the young man asked the professor, “Sir, does evil exist?”

Now uncertain, the professor responded, “Of course, as I have already said. We see it everyday. It is in the daily examples of man’s Inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.

To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist, sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat, or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”

The professor sat down.

The young man’s name – Albert Einstein 7

When the Enemy Strikes, GOD Cares

by Dovie May Paran

During my stay here for seven months, I could say that the enemy is really trying his best to break and destroy me. He used anything, anyone and any situation to make me give up my missionary life. Since I was in my mission field in the Philippines, he used the closest person to me to distract me in serving God. Honestly speaking, I almost did but not until I fell down on my knees and cried out to God saying, “Lord, I want to serve You. You know that. So please help me to overcome this.”

So God called me here as His way to rescue me from that situation and I was truly happy serving Him here. But the story doesn’t end there.

The enemy got jealous again and made a way to break me once more. Whenever I am happy and in good relations with my family and special one, he uses my students to make me cry and feel depressed and discouraged. Also, every time I’m good and happy with my students, the enemy uses another situation and person.

My aunt (whom I consider as my second mother) died last January and it really hurt me. I was thinking of going home but I know when I do that there would be some instances that would hinder me from going back here. Then I fell on my knees again and cried out loud to the Lord, asking Him to comfort me and hold me still. And He just did that. Though every night of that month until some nights now I still cry so hard to Him about that loss. But I am happy serving Him right now in this place.

Then the enemy is more furious that he decided to use one person that will really affect my service here. Then I told God about my feelings and also told Him, “I will choose You. I will serve You. So please help me in this.”

Then just last month we (I and that person) decided over things and now we are both happy. But then THE ENEMY STRIKED AGAIN. Last Saturday morning (June 4, 2011) my uncle died and problems arose in my family, which really troubled me here. But GOD CARES that He never lets me feel I’m alone. Instead, He sent people to make me happy and to comfort me. I know that after this there would still be other situations that I would have to face. But after all that has happened to me here, I am well assured that I have a POWERFUL and MIGHTY COMFORTER, HELPER, and SAVIOR that is in Heaven. As what the whole chapter of Psalm 91 and in Psalm 46:1 say,

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Hope Against Spiritual Angst

by Lordjane Mandar

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For so long I blankly gaze on these walls of my daze,
I breathe a sigh, letting within me a silent cry
On this condition, I need to look on the lighter side,
Lest the tempter’s deception drags me into hell.
I do not want to feel I’m living like in a cell.
When I look beside me, there’s a Holy Book You wrought.
I gently shut mine eyes and I utter a prayer,
Dear Lord, I whisper, You made me feel a lot better;
You verily know the will of my true happiness.
Spiritually lethargic, make me enthusiastic.
Please, fashion me to lead the message of Your great love,
To teach every dying soul that there’s hope set above.
I will rise now; I’m out to flee of this misery;
My sinfulness makes me so vile and unworthy.
Oh God, let Your divine decrees be my optimist’s creed.
I better choose to suffer and die in Your own midst.

As a missionary, legions from the dark side are doubling their time to tempt us. The enemy is working too much to snatch our bright future with God. They are most powerful if we are persistently attacked with boredom and depression and it really pays to learn from our mistakes and take control of our emotions in a positive way.

Reading the Holy Scriptures and doing our Christian duty in an inconsistent way cannot sustain us to be righteous. One must self-deny, for we cannot depend on our efforts for salvation. We need to have God’s infinite mercy and His grace.

lil’ hug

by Denise Ariel Cadiz

 “And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 18:3 (NIV)

I treasure that day when a little boy taught me a great lesson. Whenever I remember that day, my heart would melt. It never fails to make me smile. It was a moment that would surely stay with me for a lifetime.

There was this day when all of my kids were being so hard to deal with. They shouted here and there. Some had let their classmates cry. As a result, I punished them hard, too. Some were crying because of the heavy punishment that I gave–squatting with their arms forward. I didn’t care if they became so tired. I angrily shouted at some, strongly hitting my stick on the board, chairs and table. Then the class was filled with silence. Everybody in the class was quiet, seated with hands folded on the table, as what I usually require them to do. I’ve noticed that some were crying silently with tears falling from their eyes. I felt a bit relieved because I saw them suffering and I could easily handle them then. And so we continued with our class. Before we ended, we recited the prayer song altogether to close the class. After which, some almost flew, running out of the classroom. I stayed in my chair. Then came the naughtiest eight year old student to me saying, “Teacher, teacher…”

I replied, “WAE?”

What he did next was very unexpected. He sat on my lap and hugged me so tight. I didn’t know what to do and how to react at that time. I’m a person who doesn’t easily cry. But at that time I was so touched that I couldn’t help myself. I just cried while he was still hugging me. I completely felt relieved and at peace. My heart was filled with joy and gladness. This little kid taught me not to hold on to grudges, realizing and remembering what Jesus taught us in Matthew 18:3 to be like these little ones. Then he looked at me smiling and said, “Bye, bye teacher.”

I couldn’t afford not to smile at that time–all because of a comforting, warm hug.

 Everyone wants to change, but change demands desire and discipline before it becomes delightful. There is always the agony of choice before the promise of change. –LARRY LEA