Sunday, January 19, 2020

Unfathomable


“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29




Why is it that we expect to understand the ways of God? In Isaiah 55:8-9, we learn that, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 


There was a family on a boat with other refugees traveling from Turkey to Athens. On the way, their 7 year old daughter fell into the water. They frantically looked for her and could not see her anywhere. Suddenly she appeared, dry and calm at the front of the boat, claiming, “A man who walked on the water took me and brought me to the other side of the boat.” The family did not believe her, but upon arriving on Lesbos, they met a Christian.  He asked if they would like to know about a God who walked on water. They started crying, and when he showed them the passage in the Bible about Jesus walking on the water, the more they cried. 


When we ourselves realize how much God loves us, and how much He did for us by sending His Son to die on the cross, we will cry too. We cannot fathom why the God of the universe would care about silly, unfaithful humans, but He does! He is the God of second and third chances! 



Saturday, January 18, 2020

Follow Me


“Follow me.” Mark 2:14




Just as Jesus called the tax collector, Levi, when he was sitting at his customs post, Jesus calls us as well. Tax collectors in Jesus’ day were well known sinners. Today, it is the same. I know someone who quit his job in customs because of all the money changing hands, the guns, because agents have to protect their turf, whether it’s drugs, cars, etc. 


Jesus said He came to call the sinners, not the righteous. He came to call us, not because we are good, faithful, always praying, always reading the Bible, but because, like Levi, we need a savior. Isn’t that good news, that we don’t have to fix ourselves up first, before Jesus will accept us? He wants us to follow Him just as we are! This call to conversion, to walk with Jesus, and follow Him, lasts our whole life. If we fall, take a step back, we can always call on Jesus again. It’s an adventure of a lifetime we will never regret. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

I See Your Faith

“Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above Him.” Mark 2:4



This story of the paralytic and his 4 friends show just how important being part of a community of believers is. There were too many people surrounding Jesus inside a particular house in Capernaum, so the four men carrying the paralytic, broke through the roof. They let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying to bring the sick man to Jesus’ attention. 

When I was in the hospital, it was a big comfort that so many prayed for me. My family, friends and my community brought me to the attention of Jesus. One of my doctors, after the procedure, mentioned, “Millions are praying for you.” I was so surprised because I did not know him, but I assumed he knew someone from my community. 

At times, we are the sick man being brought to Jesus by our friends, but most of the time, we can be one of the friends carrying the mat. There are so many in need of prayer. Do we take the time to stop and pray? How many people have we carried through the streets, up to the roof, and through broken tiles? Has our faith and love brought someone to the notice of Jesus, enough for Him to say, "I see your faith. I will heal your friend!" 

Sometimes we give up because of the "crowds", the busyness, the hopelessness. But if we want to see "incredible things", we should persevere and push through the crowds, and whatever obstacles are put in our way! And we should remember, that even if we put down the mat, we can always take it up again, and continue the journey. That is what it means to be a part of God’s people. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Perfect Time

“I do will it. Be made clean.” Mark 1:41




Sometimes during great and terrible trials 

it can seem as if God is hiding His face, indifferent to our pain. The Gospel reading today is about a leper who approached Jesus, pleading, “If you do wish, you can make me clean." And Jesus moved with pity, touched him and said, “I do will it. Be made clean." Is Jesus not the same 

yesterday, today and forever? 


Yes He is! Today, just because it seems He is not answering my prayers quickly for healing my lungs, He is no different. I trust Him. I am also praying that Taal Volcano quiet down for the sake of all those people who cannot go back to their homes, and are anxious about their livelihood. It is taking too long, Lord! How are all those people coping? I saw one mayor crying already from what is happening in his city. 


We need to build up our faith all the time so that we can be strong when trials come. In 1855, some builders wanted to hang a suspension bridge over Niagara Falls but they could not figure out how to get the heavy cables across. Finally, Theodore G. Hulett said they would hold a kite flying competition. Whoever could send a kite across the 800 ft. wide river would win $5.00, a princely sum. 16-year-old Homan Walsh beat several other contenders. His kite string was tied across the gap, and was used as a pilot line to pull a stronger rope across from Canada. Several exchanges later, and a cable was finally brought across which became the foundation for the first ever suspension bridge. 


Our faith is like that, it starts out very weak and feeble. Over time, reading the Bible and feeding on God’s word daily, trusting Him, our faith gets built up. We know God will come through for us in His perfect time!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Speak Lord

“Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:9




There is so much cacophony around us today. People play video games or watch movies on their phone with no headphones. You hear people talking on their speakerphones. Cars honk in traffic jams and even churches or mosques like to make their services heard far and wide. 


Before, we hardly noticed the phone. It was stuck on the wall, or placed on a desk. You couldn’t bring it far. Now we have our noses buried in it everywhere we go because we keep trying to catch up with the latest news, answer our emails, or find out what our friends are doing. 


Where is God in all this noise and activity?  He is still speaking. God is speaking to us in many different ways, and we just need to quiet ourselves and listen because God speaks in a still small voice. 


“And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire A STILL SMALL VOICE." (1 Kings 19:11-12) 


This was how the great prophet Elijah experienced the Lord. God spoke to him in a still small voice, a whisper. Samuel heard the Lord while he was sleeping. Samuel said, "Speak Lord, Your servant is listening," after three times of thinking it was Eli the priest who was calling him. We need to have the disposition of Samuel, who was so willing to get up from his sleep and do Eli's bidding. "Here I am," he said, three times. Perhaps we need to wake up earlier, while there is no noise yet, so we can say, "Speak Lord, Your servant is listening." 


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Hope for the Future


“I am an unhappy woman. I was pouring out my troubles to the Lord. My prayer has been prompted by deep sorrow and misery.” 1 Samuel 1:15-16




Hannah was unhappy because she was barren. She longed to have a male child and she promised that if the Lord remembered her, she would give her child to the Lord. Eventually she bore a son whom she called Samuel. Her son led Israel from the system of judges to its first monarchy under Saul. He was a prophet, the last Judge of Israel and anointer of Kings! 


If Hannah only knew what God had in mind for her, she would not have been bitter and miserable. Instead she would have rejoiced and spent the time in the Temple praising the Lord!


We can hold on to God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We can choose to be shortsighted like Hannah and dwell in our problems, or we can obey God’s advice to “rejoice the the Lord always!” (Phil.4:4) and have hope for the future. 


Monday, January 13, 2020

Fishers of Men


“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17




Can you imagine what Simon and his brother Andrew thought when Jesus invited them to be fishers of men? They were busy casting their nets into the sea, busy making a living because they had to support their families. What a bother Jesus was with His crazy invitation to catch men instead of fish! 


What if Jesus approached us this very day with this absurd suggestion? What would our answer be? What?! Taal is erupting, I have to take care of my house, our water, our pets, decide whether to go to work or stay at home! I can’t think of catching men just yet! Every day, we can find a really good reason not to start being fishers of men. But imagine if Simon and Andrew, James and John just flat out said no to Jesus? They wouldn’t have gone on the greatest adventure of their life! 


Jesus extends that same invitation to each of us. All we need to do is follow Him. He will lead the way. 



 A picture of Taal spewing mad! 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Beloved

"This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17




In another version, we find: "Thou art My beloved Son, on You my favor rests." And in the Amplified, it says, "This is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight." I went through different versions because I imagined myself, during my baptism, with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit being present along with my parents and godparents. God looked down and said, "This is my beloved daughter! My favor rests on her! I delight in her! She pleases me well!" Blasphemy? Indeed no!


Jesus paved the way for us to be part of His holy family. We are adopted sons and daughters of God. We read that John the Baptist protested strenuously to Jesus' request to be baptized, but Jesus insisted. "This is the fitting way to fulfill all righteousness, to perform completely what is right." (Matthew 3:15, Amp.)


Jesus went into the waters of baptism just like any sinner. He joined with us, sinful humanity, and shared the travails, weakness and death of ordinary human beings. Because of His obedience, the Father was well pleased with Him. In His baptism, the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, were present. In our baptism, Father, Son and Spirit were present as well. We are one family, one church. And when Jesus was baptized by John, even though He did not need it, He was saying to each one of us, I am one with you. I will be with you through thick and thin, I will journey with you, I will see to it that you finish the race. I will do everything, even to dying like a common criminal, so that the good work started in your baptism will be carried to completion (Phil. 1:6). 


Thank You Jesus for everything! You made the impossible possible for us! 



Saturday, January 11, 2020

Plant Seeds


“This joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase, I must decrease.” John 3:29-30




John the Baptist said this in answer to some questions put to him about him baptizing and about Jesus baptizing as well. John was very clear about his role in God’s Kingdom. 


Are we clear about our role in the Kingdom of God? In His last recorded personal instruction to His disciples, Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Do we take this as a personal commissioning or do we dismiss this as a call only to the disciples, to priests and pastors and missionaries? 


I take this as a personal call to step out in faith and plant seeds of faith in any way I can. Today there is such tremendous opportunity to do so, not only because of the internet, but also because more and more people today are in need of prayer and encouragement. Every day, we can pray that Jesus lead us where we can plant seeds. He promised to accompany us while we do this. We will be surprised, like John the Baptist, at the joy it will bring when we obey Jesus’ instructions. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Eternal Life


“God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life, whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11-12




When we were young, we did not have many toys. My sister Peggy used to draw paper dolls and if we wanted to play paper dolls, we would have to trade some of our toys for a paper doll. I remember Meldy had to trade a plastic dining set for a doll. I knew the dining set was very precious to her, but she wanted to play with us more. 


Every day, we do some trading. We should weigh what is important to us, what is valuable to us, but most of the time, we do not really think about it. If getting to know God and His ways is on top of our list, then we should make time for it. After all, those who know Jesus possess eternal life. 


Our time is finite. What do we spend it on? Netflix, scrolling through Facebook, telenovelas? What is the trade off? What more valuable thing could we be doing? 2020 could be a year of breakthroughs for us if we are more intentional about what we want to accomplish. After all, God promises fullness of life. He is our partner in this adventure. Let us not waste the opportunities He gives us. 


In a world where we can be anything, we should choose to be the best we can be, always choosing the values of the Kingdom whatever we are doing. 


Thursday, January 09, 2020

Love God, Love Your Brother

"Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.” 1 John 4:19




When we were young, my brother Robert and my sister Tina were always quarreling. Robert would sometimes maltreat Tina and annoy her endlessly. Then my mom read the passage in 1 John 4:19-21 to them. It reads, "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister."


From that time on, we were all amazed, because they became the best of friends! Truly, the Word of God is alive! In Isaiah 55:11, we read that when God sends out His Word, it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all He wants it to, and it will prosper everywhere He sends it. (New Living Translation) 


Is there someone we can’t forgive? Someone we detest? There’s a saying which goes, “Not forgiving someone is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.” With the new year, let’s try to expose and clean up the old wounds. Allow God and His Word accomplish what He said He will do. 


Wednesday, January 08, 2020

No One Has Seen God


“No one has ever seen God.” 1 John 4:12




I usually start my day thanking God for the previous day, for blessings big and small. Today I thanked God for Luigi, my husband, and said I saw God’s face in him, because of Luigi’s love for me. Ever since my operation, Luigi has had to do everything for me, bathing me, combing my hair, bringing the oxygen tank up and down the stairs, buying so much medicine,  going to Bambang to buy an oxygenator, walking with me very slowly to church every day, etc. When I suggested at the start, we get a caregiver, he said, “Let’s take it one day at a time.” The other day after going to the doctor, and getting more assignments to do, I said I was sorry he had so much on his plate. He said he was happy to do it for me. 


We may never see God, but if we are sensitive and observant, I believe we will see God in the goodness of people around us. We can see Him especially in His Word which never returns to Him empty but will accomplish and achieve the purpose for which He sends it (Isaiah 55:11). We can see God in the beauty of nature. There is no doubt that He created a beautiful, awesome world for us to enjoy ourselves in. If only we took more care of it. 


I believe we are surrounded by God’s love and He is continually showing us His face in different, creative ways. We too can be the face of God to others when we are kind, generous, encouraging and loving. “If we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us.” (1 John 4:12)



Tuesday, January 07, 2020

How many Loaves do You have?


“How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” Mark 6:38




It would have been easy for Jesus to set out a banquet for the hungry crowd from nothing. He could have provided fish, the bread, wine and cheese. He did not need help from anyone if His goal was just to feed the hungry. Obviously, Jesus had another goal. He asked his disciples to, “Give them some food yourselves.” And He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” When the disciples showed him the bread and fish, then and only then, did Jesus multiply their offering, making it enough for the crowd. 


Blessed Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed one.” She started in just that way, all alone in her mission except for her faith that God had called her to be among the poorest of the poor. “I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith." She then left her comfortable convent in Loreto, walking and walking and walking to find a place to rest her weary head. She had to beg for food for herself and for those she saw dying in the streets of Calcutta. 


Jesus used what was in her hands and multiplied it a thousand fold. When Mother Teresa died in 1997, there were 4,000 sisters in her Missionaries of Charity operating 610 missions in 123 countries. Let us never be afraid that what we have is not enough to help the poor. We just need to offer God what we have in our hands. 


Monday, January 06, 2020

Great Crowds


“And great crowds...followed Him.” Matthew 4:25




If Jesus came today, we can expect the same phenomenon. One healing, two, three, and people will come in crowds, even from far away. “His fame spread to all of Syria...and great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed Him.” Perhaps some are merely curious, others in search of a story. Not everyone is sick physically. Some were possessed, lunatics, and He was able to cure them. If we were part of the crowd, what would we be wanting Jesus to do for us? 


The thing is, Jesus died, and rose from the dead, so we do not have to be jostling for position in a crowd of people. We just need to wake up early in the morning and talk to Him! Or, we don’t even have to wake up early at all. We can talk to Him while we are commuting to work, waiting in the bank, washing dishes. Jesus can be our constant companion. What a pity if we don’t take advantage of this privilege! 


I have a lot of time right now while recuperating, and I have the leisure of going through my long list of people who need prayers. I also ask the Saints, and Mama Mary to pray with me. I once said to Mama Mary apologetically, “I am sorry I have such a long list!”, and I felt the kindest voice say, “I have infinite time.” I know that Jesus too has infinite time for us, for even our foolish thoughts and imaginings. We need never think that Jesus is too busy to listen to us. It is usually the other way around, we are too busy for Him.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Where is the New Born King of the Jews?


“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?” Matthew 2:2




Today is the feast of the Epiphany. The story of the astrologers or magi traveling from a far away land to pay homage to the newborn king of the Jews is the stuff of legends and amazing stories. Imagine, they actually followed a star that moved, that went ahead of them, leading the way, until it remained stationary above the manger where Jesus was born! Then there is the prerequisite villain, a powerful King who pretends to want to know where the baby is, to pay Him homage, but actually wants to destroy the baby!


The Magi, men from an ancient tribe, were the first Gentiles to worship Jesus and give Him gifts. Saint Paul says in the 3rd chapter of Ephesians that God's secret plan is now revealed. That we Gentiles are now co-heirs with the Jews, and sharers of all the promises given to them! 


There are many Herods in the world today who stifle their conscience and choose  to follow their own nefarious schemes, even if they know about Jesus. Should we not choose to be one of the Magi, the wise men, who left their homeland and all that was familiar and comfortable in search of a far better kingdom, tribe and family? We are wise indeed if we spend our whole life in search of our King, in search of the One foretold in ancient scriptures, and finding Him, follow His way. 

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Come and You will See


“Come and you will see.” John 1:39




In U.P. High School, a couple of men from Gideon Bible came and spoke to my class about reading the Bible. Before they gave us these really cute Bibles, they made us promise to read it. I promised, but I stopped a few chapters into it because of some passages I disagreed with. In U.P. College, I was invited to join a Campus Crusade for Christ group. I thought the group was composed of dull students who didn't have friends, but I liked the Australian leader who invited me out for ice cream. She was the one who would say, "Come and see." 


After college, I remember that it was my mom who would invite me and my siblings to all the Christian rallies and Bible Studies. It did not matter if it was Catholic or not. I do not know how many times we went to the front to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I cannot count how many times I joined a Life in the Spirit seminar and was prayed over. After one of those baptisms in the Holy Spirit, the Bible came alive for me. I would read and read and mark almost every line with a yellow pencil. 


Lord, thank You for all those people who said come and see in different ways. I have, through the years, seen Your face, and heard Your voice! May I also invite others to experience the fullness of life You offer me every single day! 


Friday, January 03, 2020

Amazing Future


“...we shall be like Him...” 1 John 3:2




What an amazing future God has planned for us! We can be confident about this plan because it was John the Apostle himself who wrote about it, someone very close to Jesus, who listened to him intently, who even spent time with Mary, after Jesus’ death to learn more about Jesus. 


I know someone who is very insecure. If people are whispering, she immediately believes they are talking about her. She reacts by throwing accusations to the wind, and she always gets into trouble. If she truly knew who she was, knew that she was the daughter of the King of Kings, knew how valuable she was in God’s eyes, she would not feel so vulnerable. 


We should be planted in the truth, and the truth will set us free. We need not be so anxious and stressed all the time, because, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) That future includes a life with Him, as His sons and daughters. Life here on earth is just training. Just as Meghan Markle had to undergo some lessons on how to be royalty, how to sit, what color of nail polish was permissible, what not to say, we too are undergoing intensive training so we can join our Father in heaven. So we can be like Him! 

Thursday, January 02, 2020

A New Year, A New Song


“Sing to the Lord a new song...” Psalm 98:1




Many people like to make new year resolutions and we we know that most of those resolutions are forgotten after a while. My son said he does not go to the gym in January. There are just too many people. But by February the crowd thins considerably. Still, it is good to face the new year with a new attitude, a new hope, a new confidence. We then should examine ourselves, and see what needs changing, perhaps even admit that we need help.


I admire my friend who put a post on Facebook, “I was just wondering how an ordinary wife and mother can turn dull routines into life enhancing rituals..how her ordinary work can create extra-ordinary impact in her home making it a haven of tranquility for her family - a home that lessens stress and creates inner peace for her entire family...” What a wonderful goal for every mother! I know how cooking and cleaning and washing and doing it all over again can be very tedious and time consuming and can make a woman long for escape. 


I suggested studying the life of Brother Lawrence who found the secret of joy doing menial things, like scrubbing floors and peeling potatoes. He was always, always talking to God. 


He wrote, “I have found that we can establish in ourselves a sense of the presence of God by continually talking with Him...I have resolved to make the love of God the end of all my actions.” Even if he had a natural aversion to the kitchen, Brother Lawrence found his work easy during the fifteen years he was stuck doing kitchen duty. 


Perhaps we can start singing a new song to God by imitating Brother Lawrence. Whatever we find tedious, our work, a relationship that needs fixing, taking care of a baby, we can find new life by “practicing the presence of God”. I can certainly sing a new song while I am doing my breathing exercises, and waiting, waiting for the pain in my breast bone to subside. With God as our partner, we can have a wonderful 2020. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Blessing for 2020


“The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites , and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:24-27




What a special blessing to start the year with! This was how the Lord wanted Aaron to bless His people, Israel. This is how the Lord wants to bless us too. With the new year, we should have hope in our heart, a trust in God, and gratitude for everything. Then we will have confidence and strength for whatever the new year will bring. 


Yesterday during our new year family celebration, my niece exclaimed, “Auntie Patsy, you survived!” I guess many of us can say, “I survived!” Many of us have come through such painful, difficult circumstances. Some have lost loved ones, some are battling cancer, some lost jobs, etc. Life can be extremely battering to the soul. 


Recently I have been fighting discouragement. After my operation, of course I have to deal with aches and pains all over. I don’t understand why my arms feel like they have been carrying weights. But the most difficult is my breathing exercises with the spirometer. There’s hardly any improvement for days! But you know, even in the desert, we can find water. Sometimes, there are desert flowers, and they are beautiful! A few days ago, God gave me a breakthrough with the spirometer, which measures my lung capacity. I did not reach that high since, but it was as if God told me, just keep at it, and trust me. Everything will be all right. I may be in the desert right now, but God is with me. I am going to be all right! 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Jesus My Friend


“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14




When we see something exciting, different, scary, or life changing, we have a tendency to share it with others, don’t we? St. John the Apostle was no different than any of us. He witnessed something amazing and life changing and he not only talked about it, he wrote about it. 


John was a fisherman along with his father Zebedee, and his elder brother James, when he decided to investigate, who is this man, Jesus? He followed Jesus around for three years, learning all that he could. Then, after Jesus’ crucifixion, John took Jesus’ mother into his home, and he discovered even more about Jesus, and Mary. What an awesome time St. John must have had learning more and more about his Master Jesus! 


John had personal knowledge of Jesus. He ate with Him, and we know how close we usually get with people we enjoy a meal with. John walked miles with Jesus, and the other disciples, saw the miracles, prepared the Last Supper, and shared in the horror of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. And he wanted us to know and believe what he knew and believed. And so this fisherman decided to write it all in the Gospel of John, his 3 Epistles, and the Book of Revelation. 


Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15) If we want to be friends with Jesus, all we have to do is read the stories of Saint John the Apostle. What a treasure trove he left!!!