Text: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:4; 3:17-19

Habakkuk’s Objections and Response on Pain and Suffering (Sermon Manuscript)



Pain is the ultimate teacher. (Roger Collier)

C.S. Lewis said, “We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told in Matthew ‘Blessed are they that mourn.’” Indeed, pain has been present since the beginning of life—mothers feel the pain of birth—and until the last moment of life—death.

Main Idea:

  • Habakkuk complained and lamented to God. He was questioning God. (1:1-4, 13)
  • God answered that he was already at work even before Habakkuk’s complaints. (1:5-11)
  • Perfect time – never delays. (2:3) Other people rely on their might, power, riches, and possession. (2:4a) – The kind of faith that Habakkuk describes, and that the NT authors promote, is continuing trust in God and clinging to God’s promises, even in the darkest days.
  • But Christians—the called out righteous ones—are to live by faith. (2:4b)

How did Christ respond?

Matthew 26:36-45: Jesus prayed three times – in this the same story, in Luke’s version, he said, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (22:44).

Christ sympathizes with you, in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Dane Ortlund explained that “In our pain, Jesus is pained…His human nature engages our troubles comprehensively. His is a love that cannot be held back when he sees his people in pain. Jesus is able to sympathize. He “co-suffers” with us.”


Same with Jesus, Habakkuk’s response was prayer. As Christians, this is our default setting. NT Wright says, “That is our vocation: to be in prayer, perhaps wordless prayer, at the point where the world is in pain.” (the temptation to be pragmatic or solution-oriented).
Habakkuk 3:17-19, Rejoicing! Yet even amid suffering and loss, Habakkuk has learned that he can trust God, and with that trust comes great joy, not in circumstances but in God himself: yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Yahweh has become Habakkuk’s strength.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
March 13, 2022


This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.



Text: Acts 1:6-14

The Spirit-filled Congregation (Full Sermon Manuscript)



The book of Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Luke was the author of both the Acts and Luke. He is a physician and closely works with Apostle Paul during his missionary journeys, struggles, and gospel proclamation (see 2 Timothy 4:11).

In Acts 1, Jesus Christ told the disciples that they needed to wait for the Holy Spirit (verse 4). This promised gift was told by Christ during his farewell discourse to his disciples. (John 14:16-17, 25-26); John 7:39; John 16:7, 12-15.

Main Idea:

The ministry of Christ continues through the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of God applies these works of Christ through the church. Hence, the church should follow the Holy Spirit. It is not the Spirit that we ask to follow us, but rather, it is the Spirit that must lead the church.

I. A Spirit-filled Church is a Prayerful Church
II. A Spirit-filled Church is empowered to witness
III. A Spirit-filled Church is led by the Holy Spirit

When we let the Holy Spirit lead our church by being filled by the Spirit, only then that we can truly find joy and excitement in worshipping God. “As church members obey the command to yield to the Spirit, their endeavors to relate deeply to one another, praise God corporately, thank him continually, and submit to one another will flourish in genuine community living.” – Greg Allison and Andreas Kostenberger

Conclusion: UCBC Global Vision

The church must worship somewhere: “The church is not geographically bound to one place … but it is not geographically agnostic, in that it lives, moves, and has its being in some spatiotemporal (space and time) reality. It can be anywhere, but always is somewhere also.” – Reid Monaghan cited by Greg Allison and Andreas Kostenberger

For UCBC to be a Spirit-filled congregation, first and foremost, it must devote to prayer, then to commit to the empowerment to be witnesses to the world, and lastly, to submit to the Spirit’s leading.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
March 6, 2022


This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.



Text: Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and Psalm 101:1-8

The Lost Practice [Spiritual Discipline] of Family Worship (Full Sermon Manuscript)



However, in Titus 2:6-8, we learned last month that discipleship is communal. That older people—the parents—should “6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

Today’s sermon will be short but practical. I will emphasize the importance of the said spiritual discipline on our title, the practice of family worship. Listen, parents especially fathers because all of you have this imperative command from God. This spiritual discipline, a biblical model for our faith has been a lost practice amongst many Christians.

Main Idea:

Old Testament Model: Joshua 24:15, But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

The challenge is that we let our children be discipled by pop culture. Or maybe even yourself. How many hours do you watch Netflix? Spend time on your work? Play a game? Or read Facebook posts or use other social media?

Well going back, while in NT Model we learned that Timothy learned how to do worship and the practices of the faith not through other people but through Eunice (his mother), Lois (his Grandma.

In Acts 10, when Cornelius heard about the coming of Apostle Peter, he called his entire household and even his relatives which led to regular time for them to do family worship. If you are going to survey the book of Acts, there are many times where the household of Christians—or the early church, the early converts—worshipped God continually.

What happened then? How come many churches and Christian families no longer practice such spiritual discipline? Short church history lesson, during the Medieval years, the shift from Family Worship to Church Catechism happened. From the Reformation years, even Baptists had Catechism classes where we train children about the doctrines of our faith. So, when they will engage with the outside world, they are equipped with this knowledge. The Puritans also adhered to the return of the Family Worship.

However, in the late 18th century, Sunday School was introduced. Instead of teaching doctrinal faith or doing family worship. Sunday school classes focused on Bible stories and moralistic lessons that can be learned in those stories. A shift from worship and doctrine to some GMRC lessons. Then in the last quarter of the 20th-century meaning, in the 80s-90s, Sunday school shifted to small groups where Youth also have their own group and was being led by a Youth Pastor.

Practical Guide for Family Worship:

What constitutes Family worship? Two major things: Prayer and the Word. Both are inseparable. Just as how Christ modeled prayer, teach your children to pray. Actually, the best method is to pray with them. You do not need to pray long, “Sleepy prayers will put your children to sleep.” Be varied. Don’t pray the same thing every day; Don’t reduce your prayers to self-centered, shallow petitions.”

Read a verse. Explain shortly how you can apply it in your lives. Another method is you can explain the Sermon last Sunday, many things were mentioned during the preaching that your children were not able to grasp somehow. “Be plain in meaning. Ask your children if they understand what you are reading. Be plain in applying scriptural texts” (Beeke and Jones).

The goal is simple. Family worship. Keep it short, you do not need to replicate the entire worship service during Sundays. You can be creative if you want. Integrate music, YouTube, devotional apps, and more. As long as Prayer and the Word of God are there, and your family is there, then you are doing it well. Again, this is a biblical model. This is not a new discovery, nor an invented system by some pastors.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
November 21, 2021

This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.



Text: Titus 2:9-15

The Revealed Hope (Full Sermon Manuscript)



The world of the early church during the first century was not a golden time full of abundance, resources, and economic rise. It was a time where ordinary people need to work hard, exert much effort and time just to put something on their table. This was a time when they also need to pay high taxes to the Roman government. A time when security was tight, and the politics were full of corrupt people even from the lowest form of their government.

In short, it feels like the last days and it seems like it is the end of the world. No hope. No purpose. Everything is meaningless. EXCEPT for the faithful Christians.

Main Idea:

Jesus Christ is the Revealed Hope to the whole world. Now let us dissect this statement of mine one by one. We will start from the last words up to the first part.

1. The Whole World.

In verse 11 of our passage, it is clear that “the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” To whom? To ALL PEOPLE. Plain, simple, and clear. For everyone. Now reading this verse is not enough since the starting word is “for” –conjunction. Meaning, it is connected to the prior verses.

When Christ came, He became the liberator not just of the social status but the spiritual realities of each person. Paul here was echoing Christ. He is saying to Titus that the bondservants have the same privilege, access, and responsibilities to the Christian faith. This may not be something extravagant nowadays. But during that time where bondservants do not have rights or any choice. Finally, someone is giving them a significant value in the community. This community is the Christian faith.

So in here, Paul is saying that the Grace of God is for everyone—equally given to all people who will call upon His Name. Paul is surely consistent with this doctrine. Let us look at the book just after the book of Titus. Philemon. Paul here is saying that Philemon—the master—needs to equally treat Onesimus—the bondservant—as brothers in Christ (Philemon 12-17).

2. The Revealed Hope

As stated, everyone is given the same offer to embrace such freedom. This freedom, liberty, redemption is the hope of those people in ancient times. This hope is a revelation. This revelation of hope is a person. This person is Jesus Christ. They know that Christ will return.

God has revealed to the world that there is hope. Tell the person beside you, there is hope and this hope is Jesus Christ. This revealed hope is the blessed hope that was stated in verse 13. Even in verse 11, the term “appeared” implies a revelation. Therefore, Christ is also the personified grace of God.

3. Jesus Christ (read verse 13b-14)

For every one look at YOURSELF, take ten looks at CHRIST.” – Robert M. M’cheyne

Means, look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions. But as I shared this last ladies prayer meeting, Wednesday. I told them that this statement is applicable to many circumstances in life. Sufferings, righteousness, goodness, achievements, sin, forgiveness, giving, and more.

When we need someone, you immediately call the person you know who can help you. If you want someone to talk to, someone who will listen to you, then open the Bible. The Bible is Christ’s words. “To read it is to hear Christ.”

The Bible is God’s speaking to us; prayer is our speaking him. We acknowledge that God is a real person. Someone, we can lean on. Do not treat God as a tyrant abusive demanding father but rather a loving gracious Father.

4. is/ ego eime/ am

2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Heb 1:2) Christ even said that He is the same “Great I AM” whom Moses met at the burning bush event. Christ said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58) –that was more than 6, 000 years ago.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8) – If Jesus is good before, he is still good today. If he was faithful during the broken times of David, He is still faithful today. If he was gracious to the thief on the cross, He is still gracious today. That is the “is” the “am” be-verb means. Christ was and is and always will be the very Friend, Savior, Redeemer that is.


The Blessed-Revealed Hope – we are all sojourners of this world. We feel pain, experience problems in life, we grieve but we have hope, unlike other people. Why? Because we are not going to stay here in this world permanently. Our home is in the heavenly kingdom of God. We are kingdom citizens.

Embrace the Revealed Hope—Jesus Christ.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
September 26, 2021

This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.



Text: Colossians 4:2-4

Devote Yourselves to Prayer (Full Sermon Manuscript)



I will be direct! Prayerlessness invades churches nowadays. Too much confidence in ourselves, extreme pragmatism, and indifference. “Prayerlessness is spiritual suicide.”

Why do we ignore prayer, forgetting, or not prioritizing it? In fact, when Paul reminded the church about putting on the full armor in Ephesians 6:10-20, he emphasized at the last part the importance of prayer. Which is alongside the sword—God’s Word—enclothed with the Spirit of God through prayer. You cannot fight the battles in this world without prayer.

Main Idea:

As said, prayer is a spiritual condition: “Tell me who your friends are; I will tell you who you are.” But for Christians, tell me about your prayer life and I will tell you what kind of Christian you are. Prayer life is like a mirror, it reflects one’s spiritual shape. Do you just pray because you are told to do so? “Prayer is oxygen for the Christians (John Onwuchekwa).” When you do not pray, you feel weak, exhausted, and feel like giving up. Why are you exhausted today? Why are you sleepy right now? Check again, maybe because you have not prayed that today will be all for Christ because today is Lord’s Day.

“Continue (ESV)” or “Devote (NASB)” – meaning, “to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty.”

What hinders our prayer? 1. Lack of faith (James 5:14-15; prayer flows from faith, only those who have the gift of faith can enjoy prayer.); 2. Cherishing Sin (Psalm 66:18, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”); and 3. Unforgiving Heart (Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that the Father in heaven may forgive your sins.”; Matthew 5:23-24).

Other than prayer as a spiritual condition; it is also our spiritual celebration. Hence, we are called to always have an attitude of thanksgiving. Having a grateful heart is a sign of contentment. A sign of humility. Signifies our recognition of God’s authority, power, and rule over our lives.
Every time we have a celebration, we are excited because we know there will be food, fellowship, fun time, and more. This should be our attitude too, despite the struggles of life, we still have someone willing to listen to us, talk with us, and walk with us.

Celebration is not merely just having some fun time, but more of observance. We pray because we would like to remember what Christ had done for us; what God has planned for us; and what the Holy Spirit is still doing for us.

Lastly, prayer points to an end, this is our spiritual motivation. The goal of prayer is more than just what we need, but we take part in God’s kingdom call. We pray for God’s Word to be shared with others.

But the problem most of the time is that we are motivated not because of God’s plan, but because of our personal agenda. We pray because beneath our hearts we want something in return. We pray and try to manipulate God with our own plan.

Then if God did not answer your prayer, you will blame him and tell God that you prayed so hard for this and that but how come He did not answer you. If this, is you, stop blackmailing God. Do not pray and twist God’s arm, that is not possible.

Many churches—or individual Christians—treat prayer as a prescription rather than a life support system. It is not something that you only do when you need something like a vending machine. No. Prayer is an essential part of Christian life for breathing, living, and walking.


Why pray? Because Jesus prayed. When they asked God, the disciples did not ask God to teach them how to preach; they did not ask God to teach them how to cook, play instruments, or heal; but they ask God to teach them how to PRAY.

Why did they ask Christ to teach them to pray? Because they know Christ as the one who models prayer in His life. We do not ask a person who does not know a thing about what you want to learn. Youth goes to Sebi because he is good at chemistry. We go to Miguel because he is good at music. We go to Jon C, Kuya JR, and more because we know they can advise us about the matters of the church.

The apostles ask Christ because He is an expert on prayer. Christ is the ultimate model of prayer. Christ is indeed the foundation of prayer.

  • Choosing the Twelve Apostles
  • Raising Lazarus – John 11:41-42
  • Feeding the 5, 000
  • Transfiguration
  • At the cross (Luke 23:34

Soli Deo Gloria!


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
July 18, 2021


*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.