MP KEVIN LAMOUREUX
The Road to Christmas
PASTOR JUNIE JOSUE
Ngayong kapaskuhan, importanteng malaman at maunawaan ang mga himalang nangyari noong unang pasko at kung ano ang importansya nito sa ating buhay. Ang pasko ay ang kapanganakan ng anak ng Diyos. Ang Diyos ay naging tao. Taong walang bahid ng kasalanan dahil hindi siya bunga ng relasyon ng dalawang tao kundi nabuntis ang kaniyang ina sa laman na si Maria ng dahil sa kapangyarihan ng Espiritu Santo. Pakinggan natin ang isa sa bahagi ng kwento ng mga pangyayari tungo sa kapanganakan ng Panginoon. Ito ay nasa Lukas 1:26-38 - “Nang ikaanim na buwan ng pagdadalang-tao ni Elizabeth, ang anghel na si Gabriel ay isinugo ng Diyos sa Nazaret na isang bayan sa Galilea, upang kausapin ang isang dalaga na ang pangala’y Maria. Siya ay nakatakda nang ikasal kay Jose, isang lalaking buhat sa angkan ni David. Lumapit ang anghel sa dalaga at binati ito, “Magalak ka! Ikaw ay lubos na kinalulugdan ng Diyos. Sumasaiyo ang Panginoon!”
Naguluhan si Maria sa sinabi ng anghel at inisip niyang mabuti kung ano ang kahulugan ng ganoong pagbati. Sinabi sa kanya ng anghel, “Huwag kang matakot, Maria, sapagkat naging kalugud-lugod ka sa Diyos. Makinig ka! Ikaw ay maglilihi at manganganak ng isang sanggol na lalaki, at siya’y papangalanan mong Jesus. Siya’y magiging dakila at tatawaging Anak ng Kataas-taasang Diyos. Ibibigay sa kanya ng Panginoong Diyos ang trono ng kanyang amang si David upang maghari sa angkan ni Jacob magpakailanman. Ang kanyang paghahari ay walang katapusan.” “Paano pong mangyayari ito gayong ako’y isang birhen?” tanong ni Maria.
Sumagot ang anghel, “Sasaiyo ang Espiritu Santo at mapapasailalim ka sa kapangyarihan ng Kataas-taasang Diyos. Dahil dito, ang isisilang mo’y banal at tatawaging Anak ng Diyos. Hindi ba’t ang kamag-anak mong si Elizabeth ay baog? Gayunma’y naglihi siya at ngayo’y ikaanim na buwan na ng kanyang pagdadalang-tao kahit na siya’y matanda na, sapagkat walang anumang bagay na hindi kayang gawin ng Diyos.” Sumagot si Maria, “Ako’y alipin ng Panginoon. Mangyari nawa sa akin ang iyong sinabi.” Pagkatapos, umalis na ang anghel.”
Sa plano ng Diyos na iligtas tayo sa kasalanan at kaparusahan at kapahamakang dulot nito, gumawa siya ng mga pambihirang bagay. Una ay ang pagpasok ng kaisa isang anak ng Diyos na si Jesus sa ating mundo. Ang banal at makapangyarihang si Jesus na lumikha ng langit at lupa at naghaharing kasama ng Diyos ama sa langit ay bumaba sa masama at magulong mundo ng tao. Pangalawa ay ang pagbubintis at paglilihi ng isang birhen. Wala pa sa nakaraan at pagkatapos nito na nangyaring ganitong bagay. Pati ang pagbubuntis ng baog at matandang kamag anak ni Maria na si Elizabeth ay konektado dito. Ang anak niyang si Juan na kung tawagin ay Juan Bautista ay ang lalaking magbibigay daan sa pagdating ni Jesus ang tagapagligtas ng mundo. Isama na atin ang dakilang arkanghel na si Gabriel na pinadala ng Diyos para kausapin si Maria at Zakarias na tatay ni Juan. May ilan pang himala ang ginawa ng Diyos na matatagpuan sa ibang bahagi ng kwento tungo sa kapanganakan ni Jesus, tulad ng kausapin ng anghel si Jose na mapapangasawa ni Maria na huwag niyang iwan ang kasintahan at ipagpatuloy ang pagpapakasal sa kaniya.
Ang lahat ng iyan kaibigan ay dahil sa pambihirang pag ibig ng Diyos sa iyo at sa akin. Gagawin ng Diyos ang lahat ng bagay para matupad ang hangarin niyang tulungan tayo sa ating abang kalagayan. Pinadala niya ang kaniyang kaisa isang anak para iligtas tayo sa kasalanan at kapahamakang dulot nito. Kaya, kung anuman ang pinagdadaanan mo sa buhay, pakatandaan mo na ang lahat ng nangyari sa unang pasko hanggang sa kamatayan at pagkabuhay muli ni Jesus ay dahil sa pag ibig ng Diyos sa iyo. Kaya huwag kang magatubiling lumapit sa Diyos at isuko ang lahat ng iyong bigatin lalo na ang buong buhay mo. Hindi ka mabibigo, kaibigan. (Junie Josue, Lead Pastor, International Worship Centre, 1077 St James Street, Winnipeg Manitoba, 204-774-4478)
The last thing this country should want is to have politicians dip their hands into wage-setting. You can almost hear lawmakers counting the brownie points they think they would earn with voters in case they get to legislate an increase in the minimum wage.
It gets worse: several lawmakers are reportedly open to a national minimum wage, as proposed by some sectors. Anyone with a modicum of sensibility understands that the cost of living differs widely across the archipelago, so how can there be a uniform minimum wage, even within the same industry?
Everyone is suffering from galloping inflation. Economic managers should stop denying that the sizable excise tax on fuel products and energy is the culprit. The tax is not entirely to blame, but it is among the factors. Combined with surging crude oil prices in the world market and the peso depreciation, the fuel excise tax has helped make pump prices jump by over 100 percent since its implementation in January – and consumers haven’t seen the end of price hikes.
Everyone needs relief, especially the extremely poor and daily wage earners. But the need for wage adjustments must always be balanced with job preservation, with job creation as the ideal goal. Tripartite regional wage boards are meant to achieve this balancing act. The mechanisms are in place, and the less politicized the process, the better for workers and employers alike and the healthier for the economy.
The average employer is already having a hard time complying with current wage rates especially in Metro Manila. Increasing the minimum wage by about 50 percent to cope with inflation sounds good for political grandstanding. But combined with soaring costs of other production inputs and business expenditures, such an increase could force the shutdown of many enterprises. Even large enterprises might find it more cost-efficient to relocate to neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Myanmar.
The result is unemployment, and it’s uncertain that those who will lose their jobs can quickly find work overseas. When unemployment rises, none of the grandstanding politicians who want to legislate wages will take the blame.Philstar
Are You Ready For Christmas?
PASTOR FRED SEBASTIAN
For some this is the time of the year when they start getting ready for Christmas. Some of my neighbours have already put up their Christmas lights! After Halloween, the stores will be packed with Christmas decors and shelves will be filled with Christmas gift ideas.
Those boxes packed away months ago are brought out and all of that lovely Christmas stuff is put out. The houses are decorated with lights and trimmings and yards become the showcases of Christmas display.
What do you do to prepare for Christmas?
In my house there is a mass cleaning effort. The whole house is cleaned from top to bottom to get everything in tiptop shape. Before any decorations can be put out the whole house gets a good cleaning.
When the cleaning is complete; the house needs to be arranged for the decorating. The dining room gets completely changed for the Christmas tree and all of the other decorations. Everyday decorations are put away. The whole house is given a new look in preparation for the Christmas decorations.
All of this is a great illustration of how God wants us to prepare for Christmas. When we truly prepare for Christmas, there is a personal cleansing. When we truly prepare for Christmas, there is a new arrangement of our priorities. Christmas this year will be wonderful if we prepare right.
Let me start with the cleaning of the heart. Jesus said in the Gospel of St. Matthew, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”
The word “blessed” literally means happy. From this statement of Jesus we see that the pure in heart are the happy in heart. Why? Simply because they will one day see God. Now this sounds really simple, doesn’t it, because all that you need is a pure heart.
I don’t know about you but there are a lot of days when my heart seems more polluted than pure. I still get angry when someone cuts me off when I’m driving on our street. I get frustrated when my best plans are not carried out. I still get jealous when I hear of others whose achievements out shine my own.
How can we become pure in heart? What do we have to do?
I have some extremely bad news for you: there is nothing you can do to make your heart pure! The good news is that God is the one who cleans the heart and all that you need to do is ask Him.
King David asked God for this exact thing: “Create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) God granted David’s request and gave him a clean heart.
He can do the same for you; all you need to do is ask Him.
An essential part of preparing for Christmas involves re-arranging of our priorities. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
Just as we arranged our homes, schedules and other aspects of our lives for Christmas, God wants us to arrange our hearts for Christmas. His desire is for you to make more room for His Son in the room of your heart.
When we make this extra room in the heart, God blesses us with more of Christ. It is then that the blessings of God begin to rapidly flow into our lives and overflow into the lives of others. When we put Christ in the center of our lives, everything else comes together.
When Jesus made this statement of seeking the kingdom of God first, he was giving the antidote for worry. Jesus makes it clear that if we are to succeed in life; our focus must be on God first.
We become so busy celebrating the season that we totally miss the reason for the season! We become centered on shopping for the right gifts and forget to tell others of God’s perfect gift. We are not prepared for Christmas until our hearts are clean and our priorities are in line.
The wonder of Christmas can come alive for you in brand new ways if you will open your heart and allow God to prepare you for Christmas. Praying that your Christmas this year will be Merry indeed!
(Pastor Fred Sebastian serves the Church of the Living Hope, 235 Enniskillen Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Pastor Fred invites you to their services on Sundays, beginning at 10:30 AM. We also have strong ministries for children (Promiseland, Sundays) Youth (Fridays, 7PM) and Young Adults (Thursdays, 7PM). For more information: 204.633.2230/204.952.4460 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) For more information visit our website: )