Are You Ready to Have Your Best Year Ever?

While listening to a powerful message during the last Sunday of 2017, a passage stuck in my mind and heart.

Most, if not all, of us, are looking forward to a better year ahead.

As for me, I’m expecting for my best year ever. This is for the sake of my family and Christian ministry, all for God’s glory.

But I also thought of my friends and circle of influence to have their best year ever. Are you ready?

Through Proverbs 37: 3-6, let me encourage you to have your better or best year ever.

1. Depend on God, Not Much on Yourself.

The truth is, we are not in control of our lives and the future; only God is. We often think we know what’s best for us, but actually God knows what’s best for us, far better than we imagine.

If you doubt this, just try to look at the past and how messy it was. You see how people’s obsession with control and dependence on their knowledge, skills, abilities, and expertise, led them to frustrations and pains.

On the contrary, more successful people are humble and teachable enough to learn to depend on God.

Genuine wisdom says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture” (v.3).

My friend, God wants you to enjoy the fullness and abundance of the land where He planted you. He wants you to be happy and secure. But God also wants you to completely trust in Him while you take the right actions to fulfill your dreams and goals.

2. Delight in the Lord, not the People You Don’t Want.

It’s really ironic how people are so preoccupied in coping with the Joneses, buying the stuffs they want just to impress the people they don’t like or need.

Don’t fall into this vicious trap. No matter what you do, you will never be able to please everyone. Never.

Instead, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (v.4).

Yes, you read it right. Do you have personal desires that are good, noble, trustworthy, and excellent for this coming year?

If God placed those desires in your heart, then you have to please God first, and your God-given dreams will come into reality.

Don’t take my word for it. Let God’s Word be true. He is able to fulfill His promises that if you delight in Him, He will give what your heart desires.

3. Devote Your Whole (Not Just Part of Your) Life.

If you want to take the path to success, then consider the way God wanted you to take. You will be able to reach your destiny but you need to trust God that you’ll get where you want to be.

As the Bible says, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun” (vv.5-6).

Have you observed that our path in life is sometimes rough and tough? Sometimes, we even have mistakes and accidents. But we can’t allow our road mishaps to stop us from reaching our goals and destiny.

We need to show some level of commitment to our every endeavor. But most of all, we need to give full commitment to God if we want to experience His full promises.

If we devote ourselves to God, our hopes and dreams, goals and plans, as well as actions and rewards, will all have meaning and sense of fulfillment.

To have your best year ever, you have to give your best effort.

Faith and laziness are not the same. In fact, if you believe that God will grant you a great year ahead, you have to give God what He deserves–nothing less, nothing more.

Now, can you see a great year ahead of you?

Can you imagine if God is your Master and benevolent partner in whatever you do?

Just think about the direct meaning and reward of it and how great that year would be?

Glenn Plastina (c) 2017

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What Empowers Your Life?

Star Wars popularized the phrase, “May the Force be with you.” But not knowing what kind of “force” is at work in your life is as dangerous as having no power within.

Setting aside the New Age empowerment, what kind of force drives your life?

Psychology research establishes the fact the fear is a strong motivator. But from a Christian view, there is something far greater than fear.

From leader to leader, Apostle Paul said to his mentee, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Here’s a better way to an empowered life and leadership.

1. Receive Spiritual Empowerment.

You have a choice: self or spiritual empowerment.

It seems that the world is desperate for self-help. Just look at the section in every bookstore and you’ll observe that self-help psychology sells much than any other field of knowledge.

Yet, there is an other-worldly empowerment not known to many. Paul said, “For God gave us a spirit,” and this spiritual endowment is a gift. It can’t be bought, but it’s free.

In the Bible, the idea of a “spirit” is that of an immaterial substance, like wind and breath. Often related to spirit, heart, and mind, the spirit being mentioned above is a “mental frame” or “condition of the heart.”

Such spiritual dimension of life must not be confused with the New Age practices and occult practices, but in the sphere of biblical revelation and teachings.

2. Replace Fear with Power.

With God as the giver, the gift is “not of fear but of power.

Accordingly, fear is a great motivator, but it is also a poor motive. People act to do something they’re not used to when afraid, but unlike the adrenalin rush, fear can also paralyze a person.

Human fear is not godly fear, which is the beginning of wisdom. When cowardice, timidity, apprehensions, and distress permeate the heart and mind, the person grows weak.

However, the gift of God is that of “power” (Greek “dunamis”). It refers to spiritual enablement, ability, strength, and authority—all in one. Such supernatural manifestation is only made possible because of God.

While fear is obviously a strong force to push a person to move, spiritual authority and ability are pervading powers that reinforce the life of a leader.

3. Reinforce Faith with Love and Discipline.

From a human perspective, absolute power corrupts. But with “love and self-control,” power becomes a redeeming force for the good of humanity.

Foremost, the world is afraid of power without compassion.

Unlike the tendency of human leadership, God’s absolute power and sovereignty are not shrouded by tyrannical might, but substantiated by love. This spirit of love is best described in God’s love that is abundantly generous and kind.

In the words of Apostle John, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

Secondly, the world is disgusted with power without moral ascendancy.

Yet, the spirit of power that God gives cannot be divorced from self-control. Such self-discipline is demonstrated by prudence and wisdom.

Is this not a true picture of the expression “with great power comes great responsibility”?

Glenn Plastina © 2017

What Do You See?

One important lesson I’ve learned from my mentors is that they are visionaries. They see what ordinary eyes could not see and what must be seen. And they make unseen things happen.

And so every now and then, I’m always confronted with this question: What do you see? 

I’m reminded of John Edmund Haggai who said, “Attempt something so great for God it’s doomed to failure unless God be in it.” My wife even framed the card I kept for years with that statement that I see it every day at our new apartment.

In the Bible–Luke 2:25-35–there’s a man named Simeon who embodies the power of vision in that his whole life is so enmeshed with it and consumed by it.

Here’s what we can continue to apply as spiritual leaders.

1. Learn Well.

In the world of academe, there is a tough saying that goes, “A person can be highly educated but not learned.” Simply because an armchair knowledge does not equate success in the ministry.

Meanwhile, in the corporate world, there is also a tough demand that goes this way: “Keep on learning or else you become obsolete.” The world changes fast. As leaders, where do we go from here?

Either way, the truth is the Bible characters prove that their growing knowledge of God is not theoretical but experiential–which is very suspicious among academies.

The Bible says, “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” (vv 25-28)

Looking at the case of Simeon, he demonstrates the following:

  • Personal godliness. He is known for his moral uprightness (“righteous“) and deep commitment (“devout“) to God. Such core values are integral for personal character in leadership.
  • Patience. Simeon’s waiting-process involves consistent readiness and steadfastness for what has been shown to him, the coming of the Messiah. Although personal holiness is a constant demand for spiritual leaders, patience is the consistent test for persistence.
  • Power in the Spirit. He lived and moved in the Spirit of God, not filled-in by the cultural machismo or confidence in human knowledge and abilities.

Interestingly, these three are some of the most important characters traits I’ve seen from my mentors: that spiritual leadership is a continuing process.

More important is this. Leaders who are truly filled with God’s Spirit have visions in life. It is because the Spirit is the revealer of the things unseen. That’s why it’s called “spiritual leadership.”

2. Live Beyond Ourselves Unto the World.

The identity of the spiritual leader must not be defined by his cultural mold or credentials but by Christ Jesus. Our ultimate vision in life and leadership is Jesus.

We might be so conscious of having Jesus within us, but can we still see past beyond ourselves and see Jesus elsewhere?

It was a divine appointment. “When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and the glory of your people Israel.” (vv 29-32)

All his life, Simeon was so consumed with only one vision: Jesus Christ.

It’s all or nothing. Simeon’s past was settled on God’s promises, his present is set on God’s salvation, and his future sees the glory of Christ to all the nations.

It’s all about living in Christ and leading to the future for Christ.

What do you see? Do you see Jesus lifted up past beyond the walls of our churches towards our local communities, cities, or country America?

Or are there limiting beliefs that overshadow the view of God’s power and glory over all the nations?

3. Lift Our Eyes to the Future While We Lead On.

Even though there is nothing new under the sun and whatever we know, perhaps, are also known to others, it’s ok. In fact, Mary and Joseph do not know yet everything about Jesus.

“The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’” (vv 33-35)

Perhaps you’ve heard already the mantra that “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Be careful in deifying leadership. Our spiritual leadership is only as powerful as Christ allows it to be.

Why? It’s because only Jesus causes the rise and fall of humanity.

Our life journey in Christ does not have to be safe. There is a certain level of risk to cause us failures, rejections, pains, and frustrations. The parents of Jesus were not even spared of these.

While there are people who tend to generalize everything and used their bad experiences in seeing the world, the truth is, these are not the defining moments of life.

As Tony Robbins popularly puts it. “Your past is not equal to your future.” In spiritual leadership, it means the best year is about to come.

Have you observed how a leader could cause damage to his followers if they’ve lost the vision of the ministry and the passion for expanding God’s kingdom?

Or when the call becomes a career? Or when leadership pushed back to simple maintenance?

Like Simeon, do we still see Jesus transforming nations or are we just contented with discipling individuals?

What do you see for the next year? Or ten years and beyond?

May we all see Jesus lifted up in all nations–and see it in our lifetime of leadership!

Glenn Plastina (c) 2017

The Way to Prosperity or Poverty: Which One?

A long time ago, God spoke to Israel through Prophet Haggai.

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.

Are you still earning but somehow you’re still drained?

You work hard but you’re still struggling on getting out of poverty?

Despite that you’re busy with a lot of things, you’re still not productive. Do you feel like the heavens are holding back its blessings on you ?

Here’s how you will be able to overcome these oppressive situations.

1. Pay Attention to Your Ways.

Give careful thought to your ways,” says God.

The rule in the book of Deuteronomy is that the path to God’s blessings is through obedience, while the path to curses is disobedience.

Giving careful thought to one’s ways means being reflective, not reckless, foolish or flippant. In fact, the lazy and lousy thinking leads to poverty and not to riches. It is a curse to one’s life.

So when it comes to money, be prudent. If you’re an entrepreneur, be cautious. Think about what you’re doing.

Make plans well with calculated risks. And do everything with excellence.

2. Plant for Massive Harvest.

You cannot have a harvest if you don’t plant. A lot of people want to have a lot of something, but how many of them are willing to plant?

A person who wants to get much but is not willing to plant good is not thinking right. And if he is planting much and yet he is not getting great harvest, there must be something wrong with his ways.

People who eat and drink but remain wanting and not full are in trouble.

Likewise is the person who dresses well but still feels cold winter. They are all the same with the one who plants but did not harvest what he worked hard for.

Giving careful thought to your ways could mean answering this: Have I done the right way of planting?

What’s the root cause of the failure of crops or harvest?

Once you learn, then ask yourself “how can I do it right this time to get a massive harvest”?

3. Please God in All Your Ways.

Now don’t be too quick to judge that every poor person is dishonoring God. It could be a personal choice.

Likewise, it’s not right to assume that all rich people are blessed by God.

However, God’s chosen people suffered poverty because they were reckless in their ways. They experience problems and poverty because they did not honor God and His work.

It was their personal choice to neglect God’s plans and pathways to blessings. What God wanted from them was to take care of His “house” or the Temple in ruins.

Instead of seeking God’s ways, people are busy with many futile activities. And yet they still wonder why are they not having the power to earn. For them, it is normal to “earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

Have you ever thought why so many people work hard to earn money only to spend it on depreciating things and remain poor?

Whether you like it or not, the truth is this. The rich does something that the poor does not. There are ways of the rich that the poor haven’t done yet.

If the poor decides to think, feel, and act like the rich, it is not impossible that he will become rich. That’s the way from rags to riches–even for the righteous rich.

That’s why paying attention–giving careful thought–to your ways is God’s indispensable command. Consider your ways always and do what is right.

After all, it’s your choice. Take the path to prosperity or poverty. Which one is for you?

Glenn Plastina (c) 2017

Have You Received the Greatest Gift This Christmas?

It’s Christmas time! On the day before Christmas, my whole family received many gifts from our new spiritual family who loved us generously.

How about you? Have you received special presents from your loved ones or friends?

Don’t you know that God has so many gifts for you? Let me share with you the greatest gift of it all and what you can do about it.

The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1. Reflect On Your Present and Your Ultimate Destiny.

Have you heard about the saying, “Today is a gift. That’s why they call it Present”?

Let me go back from the beginning. One of the precious gifts God gave you is your will to decide for yourselves. When you plant a decision, you reap action, as well as a destination.

At this moment, it is good to be reminded about the principle of sowing and reaping. Whatever a person plants, he or she reaps. It also means if today we make a good start–even a re-start–we can reach a certain destiny in the future.

Today, you have the power to will to choose what kind of destiny you want. What God has offered to us are two paths to choose: the path to “death” or the path to “life.”

Before the end of the road comes, we actually have the choices to make, adjustments along the way, and accelerate. But then again, it is still our decision to see where we are now and where to go in the future.

However, the future is not in our control. Only God can do that.

2. Reap The After Effect of What You Sow.

When God’s Word says, “the wages of sin is death,” it is noteworthy that one dictionary defined “wages” as “the result or effect of doing something considered wrong or unwise”

When we think of the law of cause-and-effect, we would somehow see that who we are right now is a byproduct of what we chose to think and did in the past–and what we continue to choose to do would be our destiny.

I believe, the future is a great gift from God. It covers the potentials, possibilities, as well as the power of the future to inspire us to live with accountability and determination.

There are positive rewards for what we have done in the past, and there are things we pay dearly for our sins and failures. We have shortcomings in accordance to God’s standard.

But“–this is the great contrast–“the gift of God is eternal life.” We pay the penalty for our sins, but God presents us an offer that He paid so much in order to give it for free for our sake.

3. Receive the Gift. 

The truth is, eternal life is a gift from God.

Unlike most religions in the world, eternal life is something they have to work for or earn. But according to the Bible, death is the only thing humans could earn–not life eternal.

The implications of this to those who think they can earn eternal life by their good works is staggering. Trying to earn eternal life by religious deeds, good works, and other means as your way to God is actually an act of making Christ’s sacrifices insufficient and incomplete.

God offers eternal life as a gift. Therefore, it is free. If we pay for it through good works or anything to bribe God, then it is no longer free. It’s something we attempt to buy or trade.

But God’s Word is true. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The good news is God’s greatest gift to humanity is Jesus Christ. That’s the core message of Christmas.

Apart from Jesus, eternal life is just an illusion. No matter how hard you try to be good, there is no hope for we all have sinned against the holy God.

To earn death is to try to win God through your own good works. Actually, even if people do nothing, it is still going to be the same path, which is the highway to destruction. It is because humans are sinners.

The truth is for those who want to have eternal life, faith in Christ alone is the essential requirement. To have eternal life is to receive the greatest gift from God: Jesus Christ.

Therefore, to receive God’s gift of eternal life is to go through Jesus Christ for He alone lived a perfect and sinless life. There is no other way around. No middle man or woman, nothing that I could say as “my way” to heaven.

Well, God’s favor for you is already made. You don’t have to enslave yourself to your own personal acts to have eternal life.

Trust Jesus. Be transformed by His love and grace. Receive fully the gift of love, forgiveness, and peace with God. Instead of trying to be good, let God’s goodness prevail in you and through you.

Glenn Plastina (c) 2017

Just What Does God’s Greatest Gift Really Mean This Christmas?

What was the most unforgettable gift you ever received in your life?

More than twenty years ago, I received a very special gift. It was not expensive. My teacher gave it to me and I kept it even until now. It made a difference in my life.

But there is a gift much more than anything this world could give. This Christmas is a great reminder about this priceless gift.

The very heart of Christmas is best captured in this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

1. Refresh Ourselves With the Gift of Love. 

In this life, we received many good gifts that sometimes we often take for granted. Yet, there are gifts we should cherish, like the family, friendships, health, long life, joy, and the like.

If you answered my previous question regarding your unforgettable gift, it is likely that the most unforgettable gift you received is from someone who loved you. Isn’t it?

The truth is God is a giver of gifts. Because God loves us, He gave us His priceless gift. He did his since He is seeking for our highest good and for His glory.

It does not matter what you think about yourself. Whether you believe you are alone, isolated or neglected, God’s love will always be with you. He will never abandon you.

the good news is God’s love is the kind of love that won’t let you go.

2. Remember the Gift of Christ the Son of God.

Jesus is the real message of Christmas. Apart from Him, Christmas is meaningless. Perhaps, it is simply a grand celebration to make closure of the past.

Like children, it is easy to think of Christmas as simply a time of receiving gifts, having forgotten why Christmas took place in the first place.

The truth is, Christmas is about God’s generous love. Foremost, it is superlative and “so” amazing that our minds could not completely comprehend its depth and width.

Also, God’s love is sacrificial that He “gave His Son” Jesus Christ to people who could hardly even give their lives for God in return.

The very act of God giving His Son for humanity shows us that He also suffered beyond measure. He also experienced the excruciating pain when Jesus felt He was forsaken at the cross by His very own Father.

God’s greatest gift for humanity came with such a price that no one can pay it back.

It would be an insult to the Giver if we consider it that our personal goodness can earn God’s gift and favor. For if we think we could or should pay, then it is no longer a gift, but something we bought.

3. Reconsider the Gift of Choice We Have.

Life is full of choices, just like the decision to succeed or not, make time with family or not, and more. So far, we reached this point and a huge part of this is because of the choice we made in our entire lives.

Our personal relationship with God also involves a personal decision that would affect our lives today, even our ultimate destination.

The Bible shows us that there are only two ultimate destinations.

First is life eternal with God–that is to experience God in the present and will continue through eternity.

Second destination is eternity without God. Such eternal damnation must be a terrible place to go. It’s because it is enough for God’s Son to suffer temporarily at the cross just to save some away from that destiny.

The truth is, the most painful isolation anyone can experience is to be separated from God’s presence to eternity.

If Christ was born just to live great, then Christmas exist just to make us feel good. And if Jesus was crucified and hell is not real, then Jesus would have died for nothing.

Our ability to make decisions is a good gift if we use it right.

If someone decides just to see Christmas from a superficial view, then by all means, enjoy this season with gusto and hope Christmas will last forever.

But if this Christmas will give you an opportunity to really know the Savior who was born to save us from our sins, then with all godly-fear, get to know the truth why this concern for salvation is such a serious business for God’s Son to really come.

For when He comes again–and He promised He would–such opportunity to really know Him would close or by then it’s too late.

Remember this. If there was certainty that Jesus was born on that first Christmas morn, then do you think it is certain that He would also come again–no longer as a small child in a manger but–as the ultimate Judge, Lord, and Master?

May this Christmas be your moments of growing and trusting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Believe and have eternal life.

Glenn Plastina (c) 2017

What’s the Fuzz About the Philippine Currency? 

Money is the root of all evil, right?

Wrong.

Money is many things to many people. For the government of the Philippines, its currency is a testimony.

Since 2010, have you noticed the phrase “Pinagpala ang bayan na ang Diyos ay ang Panginoon” emblazoned on the new Philippine currency?

It’s actually quoted from the Judeo-Christian Bible. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” (Psalm 33:12)

1. Appreciate the History.

The new Philippine currency is perhaps the first money in the world history to have the Word of God written on it.

But isn’t it the US Dollars have “In God We Trust” emblazoned on it? True, but it is actually not directly taken from the Bible.

The Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Philippines’ central bank, emblazoned the new currency with a verse from the Bible, attesting to its faith in the God of the Bible and possibly the link with Israel as God’s chosen people.

After all, the context of the verse has something to do with Israel as a blessed nation, “the people He chose for an inheritance.”

Is this an acknowledgement of the Filipinos’ faith in God?

Is this a declaration of faith of God’s benevolence over the Filipinos and its undisputedly rich country?

Or are we seeing now that God is actively involved in the history of the Philippines in fulfilling it manifest destiny, be it spiritually, economically, and the like?

2. Admit the Controversy.

In a world where money is directly implicated as “the root of all evil,” it’s really controversial. In fact, we’ve seen the rich and powerful topple other leaders and countries just for the greed of wealth and money.

The truth is, money is not the root of all evil, but “the love of money.” (As some would also say, “the lack of money is also the root of all evil.”) The love of money is another form of greed.

Money is important but it is not everything. That moment a person makes it his or her all, it becomes idolatry. On this, the object of worship is Mammon, the god of greed.

On the other hand, atheists and non-Christians argued against putting a Bible verse on a currency that is a supposed to be neutral. They opposed stating that the government should not prefer any religion as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Such mention of “God” is inappropriate according to these free thinkers.

There’s only one problem. The same Constitution also opens with the Preamble “imploring the aid of Almighty God.”

Does this constitution guarantees the freedom of expression to quote God on its currency?

But even if a nation can separate its powers from the Church or any preference of religion, can a nation really separate itself from God?

3. Accept the Promise for a Blessed Country. 

Can anyone withhold the God of Abraham in blessing a nation who has been a blessing to His people, the nation of Israel?

The beauty of God’s character and benevolence is this. He gives rain to both the believers and non-believers. When He blesses His people, even those who do not have faith benefits from his generous blessings.

So I sometimes asked. Is the Philippines too big for God to change? I don’t think so.

The rise and fall of every nation depends on God.

If the emblazoned quotation in the new currency is the Philippine’s declaration of faith in the God of Israel, the chosen nation, then so be it.

When greed doesn’t suffice the heart of man, why not try God?

If corruption does not work, why not try Christ? Even if you’re a gambler, what do you have to loose in choosing to do so?

I agree with Chief Justice Puno who once pointed out. Christians should play the critical role in changing the landscape of the Philippines through good governance.

I believe, most, if not all, Christian Filipinos should impact the marketplace by living out their faith, values, and positive influence through their excellent services, works, jobs, employments, and businesses.

Indeed, this is a call for all God-fearing Christians to make a difference in a nation blessed (not perfect or ideal but blessed) by God to be a blessing to the world.

So who’s not proud to be a Filipino?

I focus on the blessings, not the burdens. For I’m blessed to be a Filipino Christian.

Glenn Plastina (c) 2017

Jesus Means Christmas to Me: The Christmas Future III

Since the future is clear that “The Exaltation of Jesus” and “The Established Lordship of Christ” are some of the certainties of the future, what would you do? Will you stick to your way or God’s way?

THE ENDURING GLORY OF GOD

We already know this. The ultimate purpose of man is the glory of God.

The same is true about Jesus being exalted. It was not to make a name for Himself. It is “to the glory of God the Father” (v.11b).

Don’t get this wrong. The glory of God is not an abstract idea.

The fact that we think of it in relation to our purpose or reason of existence, or something like grandeur, praiseworthy, beauty, and the like, we tend to think of it as a distant concept. But it is not.

Let me give some concrete ways in which the glory of God is made more tangible in our Christian life and leadership:

  • Spiritually, let us love God with everything we are, do, and have. It’s not about making a name for ourselves. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everythingin the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17).
  • Personally, let’s be aware of our attitude in living for Jesus in every way, not for our self or our family alone. Let Jesus take full control of every area of our lives.
  • Professionally, let’s always be conscious that our real boss at work is Jesus, not the one handing the paycheck. We can make a declaration of having God as our business partner and our workplace as our mission field.
  • Financially, let us honor God with our resources as stewards if we want to be blessed in every way. Let us give His tenth-share or we’ll work ten times harder. If Jesus is not the Lord of our money, then money could have the lordship over us easily.
  • Relationally, let us seek the highest good of others as Jesus did. That’s the love to share. Express it in very practical ways. Pray for the salvation of your family and friends, coworkers and community.
  • Mentally, let’s feed our minds with God’s Word and anything that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Think right, live right.
  • Physically, let us take care of our health. Our body is God’s temple. Avoid sexual impurities that you might not sin against.

(By the way, each of this category is important and interdependent. It is essential that we grow in those area because what we tend to neglect will also affect or even weaken the other areas of your life.)

As of today, doing things for God’s glory is doing things with excellence—not just our best.

Don’t be insecure about others. When you receive praise, be humble. Say “thank you,” but don’t let the praises get into your head. Let the people see the glory of Jesus in you.

These are some of the very practical ways of living for the glory of God. As we plan for a better year, consider these things.

Now, since the glory of God is the ultimate purpose of our total personality, family, work, and ministry—even the whole humanity and history—does it make sense now why we submit and how we ought to live under the Lordship of Jesus?

I pray that you will focus on what God can do for your future.

Align your lives, your goals, your hopes and dreams, and everything you live for to the coming future. It is because even if people will not believe this, everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is, indeed, Lord of all.

Have hope for the future. Expect a great year ahead.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph 3:19)

Glenn Plastina (c) 2017

Back —- Part I: The Exaltation of Jesus

Previous —- Part II: The Established Lordship of Christ

(Article 3 of 3)

Jesus Means Christmas to Me: The Christmas Future II

What does Christmas mean to you? With the prevalent commercialism surrounding Christmas season, Christ is easily forgotten in this celebration of the year.

But as for those who stick to the true essence of this season, there is no doubt in affirming, “Jesus means Christmas to me.”

The first part of this article is “The Exaltation of Jesus.” The second part is:

THE ESTABLISHED LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

Here is a question to ponder. If you know for certain that you would not fail in the future, what would you do?

Your answer to this question will reveal the condition and longings of your heart.

The fact is when people are certain of the future they would pursue their lifelong dreams without fear. They would take that new opportunity to succeed and start doing what they really wanted to do with their lives.

In other words, when a person begins to see the future clearly with healthy confidence, it will change the attitude within.

Now, my real question to us is this: If you know that Jesus is the Lord for eternity—and that future would not fail to come—would you be willing to align your attitude to that ultimate and certain future that He controls?

The truth is this. The Christmas future is sure and this future is about the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

One of the secrets of great leaders is this: the sense of humility to recognize that we are not in control of everything, much more so about the future.

So, there is a willingness to submit to the inevitable and trust in the Lordship of Christ.

The apostle Paul declares that God exalted Jesus “and bestowed on him the name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (vv.2:9b-11a).

What’s in the wonderful name of Jesus?

In the past, we learn the PERSONALITY of Jesus. Through His name there is:

  • Authority for Salvation. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
  • Assurance of Presence. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Matt. 1:23)
  • Ability to Overcome Sin. “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21)

In the present, we understand the POWER of Jesus’ name.

  • In Our Prayers. “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
  • In Our Position. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

In the future, we see the PROMISE in the name of Jesus.

  • Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do” (John 14:12).

(Do you know there are more or less 7000 promises of God in the Bible? I’ve learned this lately from my pastor.)

But here’s the problem. In the words of Jesus, He said, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 14:6). Isn’t this true?

We constantly fail because we think we are in control of our lives. But our lives ain’t working! Don’t you think there’s a need to try something that works?

See this. If the Jesus holds the future and is certain to be declared “Lord,” the established destiny of what is to come, am I making any sense if I’m not going to submit to that? Will it work?

But people can be irrational. Despite the fact that there are some certainties in life, some people would not be courageous enough to change. They gamble. They allow their failures to hinder them or dictate their future.

They imprison themselves with fear and not be able to accomplish the goals or fulfill their mission and vision in life. Some even keep on doing the same thing over and over again—even if it does not work!

In other words, people would rather have fear and failures to be the lord of their lives, rather than have Jesus to be the Lord of their all.

Why not see the future and be willing to embrace change? Why not change and let God do the work in you, through you, and for you?

Glenn Plastina (c) 2017

(To be continued 2 of 3)

Back —- I. The Exaltation of Jesus

Next —- III. The Enduring Glory of God

Jesus Means Christmas to Me: The Christmas Future I

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11 ESV)

The major concern on Christmas season is this. Most Christians around the world tend to see Jesus as a baby born in a manger and not as the One coming “in the likeness of men.

The truth is that the Christmas future is no longer about the baby, but the second coming of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

I firmly believe that what happened in the past is a guarantee of the certainty of the future. I understand if some us would find this too optimistic, especially in the light of what’s going around us today.

The point is: If God was able to fulfill His promises in the past, He is able to fulfill the coming of the Christmas future.

In the light of the biblical prophecies in the past and the recent events in Israel at present, the clues for the future are showing that the coming of the Lord is near.

So let’s take a look. What does this song tell us about the Christmas future? And what can we do about it today?

THE EXALTATION OF JESUS (v.9a)

This ancient hymn has a very deep theology about Jesus Christ. Even today, Christian theologians continue to comprehend and understand its beauty and depth. In fact, so many books have been written about it through the centuries.

The text quoted above is a part of an early hymn of the Christian church. We can also call this “the Christmas song” in the Bible that summarizes the Christmas past, present, and future.

The verses show us the past when Jesus was “beingborn in the likeness of men” came into this world, present in “being found in human form,” as well as future when everyone will declare Jesus as “Lord.”

This one thing is certain. Jesus was exalted—once and for all the world to see.

Prophets prophesized and angels in heaven sang of His birth. Imagine how the angels would have reacted when they saw the Son of God who was born in a smelly manger.

And yet, God’s Son came in such a lowly place. As Ptr. Jerry Lepasana puts it. “He was willing to take the lowest level in order to bring us to the highest level of blessings.”

In the context, the hymn-text captured the unique nature of Jesus Christ and His deep humility, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (vv.6-7).

This means Jesus is divine. But even though He is coequal with God, He voluntarily surrendered his divine attributes and glory to become human at the first Christmas. He did not consider it as a threat to His nature as God or as something inferior to the Father. He also emptied Himself of the position of being seated in equal with God.

The first Christmas did not make Jesus less than God. In fact, it showed the true nature of the God of the Bible.

Further, it says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” So, even though Jesus is co-equal with God the Father (as well as the Holy Spirit), He humbled Himself. For this, the Father exalted Him up.

The truth is Jesus was born to die and the One who was hanged at the cross was God crucified.

The apostle Paul exclaims, “Therefore God has highly exalted him” (v.9a). It literally means, the Father has “super exalted” Jesus—not because He is lower than God the Father or the Holy Spirit, but Jesus was elevated to where He was positioned originally—at the right hand of God’s throne.

The biggest challenge of our generation is that many people tend to grab and hold on to the highest levels of position in life and career without recognizing the need for humility.

People want the altitude of highest success but not the attitude for humble service.

There is only one problem. There is no amount of success that can sustain significant success without humility.

This Christmas is a great reminder that the Christlike mindset and attitude is totally opposite to what the world worships today. In a culture that idolizes the narcissistic, ego-centered, and selfish attitude, humility is perceived as weakness.

But in the eyes of God, humility is a strength. The ability to control your pride is much better than the greed for power and position.

Remember this. Mature Christians do not need positions in order to serve God.

The most dangerous people in the ministry are those who want to position themselves without understanding the true nature of servant leadership in the ministry.

But God wants to position those He foreknew who should be serving.

Those who want to lead for the Lord must learn how to serve and make sacrifices first. For without the cross, there is no crown.

That’s the reason why Paul instructed early Christians of Philippi. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (vv.3-5).

When someone claims to grab any positions without consideration of God’s process in molding the attitude, even if the person would get them, soon it will show that the person is not the right fit for the work and leadership.

How much more if they don’t get the position! The natural reaction will only prove whether the person is Christlike or not.

If you want God to exalt you in due season, embrace humility. Jesus did it. So are we.

Glenn Plastina (c) 2017

(To be continued 1 of 3)

Next —- II. The Established Lordship of Christ

Forward —- III. The Enduring Glory of God