Faith that Works Through Love

Every time I read something about the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and the imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (like the book I’m reading now, Maranatha: Our Lord, Come) or hear news that a brother or sister in Christ has gone to be with the Lord, I have this instinctive desire to do more for Christ and it’s basically triggered by fear. But always instantaneously with the thought are these questions, “Why would you want to do that? You want to make sure that you will be saved? You want to do more just so you will be assured of salvation?” And even before the questions are complete, I know that to even think to do more to make sure I receive God’s promised salvation is misunderstanding God’s grace altogether.

I know there’s no way I can work for and earn my salvation; the Lord Jesus has completed the work for me. So, that checked, how can these reminders minister to me? It is not to do more to make sure I will be saved, but to be more faithful to my Savior, to burrow myself deeper into Him. For it is my faith which keeps me attached to Him. For to be far from Him, let alone be cut off from Him, would spell death for me. For it is faith in Him that has saved me. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

So, what I can do is to prove my faithfulness to Him. When I seek Him more with all my heart and spend more time in His presence, I’m being faithful to Him. When I do my best to obey His commands, honor them, and live them out in my daily life, I’m being faithful to Him. When I desire Him to expand and grow my love for others, so that I delight to think about the welfare of the widow and the fatherless, to the “least of these”, and do something for them, I’m being faithful to Him.

It is my faithfulness to Him that drives me to do more, and it has become clear to me that I can only prove that faithfulness through my love.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love(Gal. 5:6, emphasis added)

Faith that works through love.

It took two full years before I got a good grasp of it. For faith without works is dead (James 2:20). And the greatest faith is rendered as nothing without love.

…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2)

So, it is a trio:

FAITH that WORKS through LOVE.

Now I understand fully why our dearly beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde Almeda would want to leave the comforts of home and the congregation of the saints and enter into the “lions’ den”, the camp of the most feared terrorist group in the country, the Abu Sayyaf, to preach the Gospel, pray for the sick hostages, and help with their safe release.

It was great FAITH that WORKED through unfeigned LOVE; fearless faith proven through fervent love for the Lord and for the unsaved. He loves the Lord so much he would obey Him and follow Him to the ends of the earth. Halleluiah! To God be the glory!

And I think about beloved Brother Alvin Flores, one of the prayer warriors who went with the beloved pastor in that most dangerous peace mission, as he went to be with the Lord just three nights ago. Together with his companions, he experienced the horrors of being in the constant presence of the enemy; escaped at night without the light of the moon and stars, in danger of wild beasts and falling into deep ravines; stayed on the ground with his knees deeply rooted in prayer as bombs fell from military planes, cutting down trees and turning over the earth in their wake.

Their faith saw them through that 3-month ordeal and came out of it unharmed. Faith that was not without love. And it is this faith that was proven through love that Brother Alvin finally laid at his Savior’s feet as he saw Him at last.

Related posts:

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My gratitude list ~ the things I am thankful to the Lord for:

(For over a year now, I have been joining Ann in sharing my one thousand gifts list, but I haven’t been numbering mine. I believed that my weekly list was just a small fraction of God’s daily gifts and to number them would be putting a limit to the rather COUNTLESS blessings. But today, I will start to number them, but write only the ones that may edify and encourage others, leaving the rest written on my heart).
  1. For another evening out with the family (another “travel test”); relishing these healing moments from the Lord.
  2. For the loving support and patience of my beloved husband; he is one with me in stepping into faith at this time of our life.
  3. For the love of my daughter Hannah, quietly receiving her little brother’s hostilities and punches inside our parked car just so I wouldn’t be stressed while their dad went into the restaurant.
  4. For Tim always wanting to sit beside me when I go out to the garden.
  5. For Thursday night which found me praising, worshiping, and weeping before God; weeping in deep gratitude for His enduring mercies – how can the soul forget?
  6. For brethren welcoming fellow Christians from the states, embracing and showing brotherly love. Blessed to see the wondrous sight!
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Journey with Jesus,

More Than Overseas Workers

It is with great gladness that I share this with you today. Though I’m still recuperating from severe diarrhea with fever and body pains that I suffered during the holidays, the Lord has brought a new wave of freshness to my humble work.

I’ve heard so many testimonies from overseas workers and seamen in our Church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY, of how they are being used by the Lord to advance His kingdom. Our country, Philippines, is known for “exporting” work force – professionals as well as skilled workers – to all parts of the world, but mostly to the Middle East. They are called OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers. A lot of Filipinos also choose to work as seamen since this is a high-paying job, and though life in the ship is hard, compounded by the agony of being far away from their loved ones, they make the sacrifice, for it is through their overseas jobs that they can put food on their tables, build their dream houses, and send their kids to school. So, in general, that is the life of the overseas Filipino worker.

But the Christians from our Church who are OFWs are more than that. They are also zealous workers in the vineyard of the Lord, even in a foreign land which maybe hostile against Christianity, or aboard a cargo ship surrounded by other nationalities. For years I’ve been hearing their testimonies of how they work to preach the Gospel side by side with their jobs wherein they were hired, but it is only now that I realized this is actually the fulfilment of God’s great commission.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)

(Above photos were taken during the JMCIM-Saudi Arabia Spiritual Revival Gathering held last October, attended by Riyadh, Al-Khobar, Jeddah, and Dammam brethren with their visitors. Photos courtesy of Sis. Luchie Villacarlos.)

(Photo taken during the 5th Church Anniversary of JMCIM-Dubai Outreach, courtesy of Bro. Enry Bantay.)

They voluntarily give themselves to the furtherance of the Gospel, despite their full-time job, and put up outreach stations where they can meet and worship. They invite colleagues, co-workers, and friends, and their groups continue to grow. More outreach stations are mushrooming, specially in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, they go to such dangerous lengths just to gather and worship. I wrote about JMCIM-Saudi Arabia’s activities here. I hope you’ll have time to read it and be encouraged by how these beloved brethren in Christ put their lives in danger for the sake of the Gospel. Through their labors and the unceasing prayers with fasting of our beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde Almeda, many have received the Lord Jesus Christ, Muslims have converted, and they continue to serve the Lord to this day. 

(One of many Bible Studies at POLO/OWWA, Doha-Qatar)

Lately, the beloved brethren in Qatar have been holding crusades in the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Association ) Office where many of our beloved countrymen are housed. Most of them are destitute, being faced with seemingly unsurmountable problems, such as disputes with the government, their employers or co-workers or battling illness. After they had heard the Gospel and received the Lord Jesus Christ, their problems had been resolved and most of them had been sent home.

(General worship service of JMCIM-Hong Kong; photo courtesy of Sis. Satty Bulusan)

(Beloved HK brethren giving out Church invitations; photos courtesy of Sis. Satty Bulusan)

In Hong Kong as you know, many of our countrymen work there as domestic helpers. Brethren from JMCIM maintain an outreach station there and they meet every Sunday when most of them are off from work. Every now and then, the main Church in Manila sends a preacher to visit them and stays for weeks. After their Sunday worship service, these faithful brethren go out and share the Gospel to others and bring them to Christ. It would be late when they return to the homes where they serve. That is how they spend their day off.

The seamen are not behind in their calling either. They are as zealous in sharing the Gospel and winning souls. Whether they are captains of the ship, engineers, technicians, or cooks, they are used by the Lord in furthering the kingdom. I’ve heard many testimonies of how they had been saved through a fellow sailor. Indeed, in our Church, seamen form a large number and they serve the Lord with their families.

These Christians have tasted first-hand the goodness of God: they have received His tremendous mercy and the blessings of a new life in Him. These are living testimonies – freed from vices and addictions, healed of diseases and illnesses, families restored – who believe without a doubt that they are heirs of eternal life. These are the things that drive them to share Christ and His Gospel.

Additional reading: A Light to Others (with the testimony of Bro. Ren Gumayagay, a seaman)

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • Being healed of severe diarrhoea, fever and body pains after prayer and laying of hands by my beloved husband.
  • the love and care my daughter Hannah showed while I was sick; grateful to see how she has learned love and learning Christ.
  • Tim thoughtfully putting an orange on my food tray
  • anointed testimonies and choir singing on Sunday service; the Lord’s fervent love that never grows cold
  • worshipers being filled with the Holy Spirit, speakings in tongues, the mighty sound of the powerful moving of the living God – a glorious, glorious sight!
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Give More Time to Prayer

He first showed us over two thousand years ago, how to really live in constant communion with God. The Lord Jesus Christ, He lived and exemplified a prayerful life. I wrote about that in detail in To Be Christlike: Prayerful. (If you’ve missed it before, I hope you click on the link after reading this post  ~ thank you!)

There were days when I felt so discouraged and grew faint in praying, but the life of Jesus would come to mind and I’d then say to Him, “I’m here again before You, Lord, re-believing that prayer must work. You Yourself taught us to pray always, to persevere in prayer and not grow faint (praying His Word; see Luke 18:1). So, I’m praying now and persevering, and continuing to believe that my prayers are not in vain.”

I have also written a few times before how the beloved workers of JMCIM, an Apostolic Church, praise and worship the Lord many hours in the morning and again in the evening, praying always with all prayer and supplications in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, reminiscent of the early disciples’ practice (see Acts 6:4). I have described this devoted life in Praise, Pray, Fast and in The 7 Habits of a Spirit-filled Christian (I do hope that you will click on these links also if you’ve missed them).

At 3 o’clock in the afternoon when the workers are finished praising, worshiping and praying, and have taken a break from fasting, they will disperse to attend to other duties, namely, assist in Bible Studies or visit the sick in the hospitals or in the homes upon request. In this way, the workers are fully equipped with the Lord’s fresh anointing and their prayers are therefore powerful.

There is also a testimony of one of the beloved preachers, Dr. Ric Alarcon, which I haven’t forgotten ever since I heard it. Bel. Doc (as he is fondly called) would close his clinic at noontime, and instead of enjoying a hearty lunch, he would be praising, worshiping and praying the whole lunch break. Even if there were patients waiting outside (and he praised and prayed every morning and evening as we’ve all been taught), Bel. Doc gave priority to spending time in the presence of the Lord. Why? He was driven by His deep gratitude to Him.

Bel. Doc arrived in JMCIM a very sick man, having suffered from bronchial asthma since he was little and then in his adult years, he acquired a liver disease which the doctors could no longer cure. To make the story short, he was completely healed by the Lord when he received Him in his life and was baptized in His name. Later on, Bel. Doc left his flourishing career for good and totally surrendered his life to the Lord as full-time preacher. Halleluiah! (You can read beloved Dr. Ric Alarcon’s testimony here).

Pondering on these stories, from the Lord Jesus to His present-day followers, we can see that there are two common factors: desire and discipline.

Desire and discipline. A successful prayerful life cannot be achieved without one or the other.

By God’s grace, I praise, worship and pray in the morning and at night (sometimes as late as midnight for that could be the only  time I find myself free from discomforts or worse, from the many things I get myself busy with). But there’s always this awareness that the Spirit is calling me to spend more time with God, like praying in the late-afternoon or early evening. I have done it intermittently, not being steadfast with the practice, and for that, I feel strongly convicted.

A prayerful life is not supposed to be easy and comfortable but sacrificing, but the rewards are immeasurable

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Related:

My weekly gratitude list – thankful to the Lord for:

  • these piping hot homemade mini lemon doughnuts on a summer afternoon.
  • the wonderful time reading books with Hannah – the “lightbulb moments” and the hearty laughs.
  • my daughter waking up in the wee hours of the morning to assist me.
  • for turning sad and difficult situations into opportunities to teach her compassion.
  • for PicMonkey.com (for Picnik.com is closing).

A Light to Others

We are called, not only to receive salvation for ourselves and all the gifts that come from being God’s true children, but also to be lights to others and win souls for Christ.

The moment we receive the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives and His Spirit dwells in our hearts, we begin to walk in His ways, living lives that are both pleasing in God’s sight and shining examples to the people around us. As we grow in the knowledge of His Word and with the closer guidance of the Holy Spirit, we begin to reflect God’s glory, as we ourselves live beautiful lives.

But a beautiful life in Christ doesn’t mean that it’s free from hardships. On the contrary, life in Christ is never easy, and is in fact, strewn with trials along the way. But this is so to mold and refine us according to the Potter’s plans and purposes for us. Trials in many different forms come to discipline us and form our character.

If for a season, we go through pain and suffering, or any difficult trial that is too hard to comprehend – rejoice! – for our faithful God is busy working on us. So that when His work is complete in us, we’re steeped of the valuable lessons we’ve learned during our hardest trials, and we bear the fruit of the Spirit.

Our loving Father lets us go through dark valleys so we would know His comfort and healing, and His love that never fails. So that after we had gone through this passage, we know how to comfort them who are in the same situation as we were.

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. (2 Cor. 1:3,4)

As we walk through these dark valleys, our faith grows and becomes fortified. These are all the Lord’s planning, so that when we’re fully-equipped and ready to rise and shine, we become lights to others who are in the dark, and vessels of hope and encouragement to the sick and the suffering.

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)

We are called to be ambassadors for Christ, sharing the Gospel to the lost. We are called to win souls, and the best way to do that is by showing a shining example to others.

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among who ye shine as lights in the world. (Phil. 3:15)

I’m delighted to share with you another story (we all love inspiring stories, right?):

Brother Ren Gumayagay, a brother-in-Christ, is a seaman. In 1992, before he came to know the Lord Jesus Christ, he was working with a big shipping company, Hapag-Lloyd, and was earning a lot of money, as most seamen do.

Their life in the ship was one of indulgence, that is, wallowing in different vices – booze, cigarettes, women.

One day, Bro. Ren became ill. He was brought to a hospital in the USA where they were then docked. It was found out that he had a tumor in his lung which could probably be cancer. He left the hospital and they sailed to Europe. While they were in Germany, he had to stay in the ship’s clinic because he had become too sick and too weak to work. He was alone all day, everyday. His fellow seamen didn’t want to come near him. They had all left him.

Bro. Ren began to be depressed. He wasn’t only very ill, he also felt lonely and was becoming hopeless.

One day, he had a visitor. It was the new one who arrived from the Philippines to replace him. (Bro. Ren was to be sent home, but while waiting for his scheduled flight, he had to stay in the ship’s clinic).

Much to Bro. Ren’s surprise, his replacement visited him many times in the day, bringing him milk, fruits, and other snacks this compassionate man had carefully prepared.

Bro. Ren was amazed by him. This man really cared for him – speaking to him with comforting words and showing him kindness. While his other companions had all abandoned him, this one stayed by his bedside.

His replacement, a born-again Christian from the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry, told him not to lose hope, and shared with him the Gospel. He told him many testimonies of God’s healing in the Church and encouraged him to go there when he arrived home in Manila.

Bro. Ren was strengthened and hope shone on his weary soul. When he arrived in Manila, he visited the Church of JMCIM and there, he received Jesus Christ and was baptized in water in His name.

The Lord Jesus completely healed him of his lung disease that he was able to go back to his work as a seaman. His life was also completely changed by the Lord.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)

Endnotes:

1) Photos of my lighted candleholders.
2) Related posts: In His Time {And the Time of Waiting for the Bridegroom}; Beautiful Feet {What Love Really Means}