Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Caught Sleeping

“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.” Luke 12: 35-36




My neighbor has a lot of horror stories about her house help. One would hide pasta and spaghetti sauce and other goodies in a box hidden in their laundry area. It was covered with old bottles and other recyclables. On her day off she would bring the box with her in a taxi. Another one would tell all her companions that they were not fed, and that my neighbors were super strict until the other helpers would leave one by one. The two  they have at present are quite pleasant but they spend a lot of time sleeping. The daughter of my neighbors came at 3 in the afternoon, and after some time of knocking and ringing the door bell, one helper came out, and she obviously woke up from a nice nap. 




In Luke 12, Jesus tells us that we are not to be like that, caught sleeping or it will not go very well for us. He says we are to be ready for His coming at any time, even in the second or third watch. If He finds us alert, we will be blessed because He Himself shall wait on us at table. 


A few days ago, a man I know died from cardiac arrest. It was very sudden. I am sure we know people who have left us without warning. That is why we have to be ready. We never know when it is our time to go to our real home. Jesus tells us that if we have “girded our loins and lit our lamps” waiting for Him, He will lead us to a feast, a banquet table. 





We are Jesus’ friends but He also teaches us that we should learn to be servants. When God created us, He gave us a purpose, and He put that in our hearts. We also have a calling, and that’s what we have in our hands. If we want to be good stewards of what He has put in our hands, our gifts and talents, our resources, our time, we need to use it all to fulfill God’s purpose for us. 


Lord, may I be a good servant and use what I have in my hands to fulfill what You have put in my heart. 


Original painting altered using Prisma app. 


Monday, October 22, 2018

Eternal Inheritance

“A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” Luke 12:21




In another version of the Bible, we can read, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong? Thus it will be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” 


In this life we are called a fool if we do not save up and take care of the future. But what we really need to learn is to trust God. In “Pondering the Anawim Way” the meditation book I read daily, I was struck with this passage: “There is no need to fight with our brother for our earthly inheritance. Our Brother, Jesus, is sharing with us His eternal inheritance.” 


Jesus instructed, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Real life is not measured by how much we own. In God’s eyes, what is really more important is how much we share! 


If it is really difficult, we can do it step by step, but it is important to be generous consistently so it becomes a lifestyle. My mother used to say, “Yard by yard, life is hard. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch.” If we want to train ourselves in the ways of God, there is no other way but to just do it, until it becomes easier and easier. God cannot be outdone in generosity!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

You Do Not Know What You are Asking

“You do not know what you are asking.” 

Mark 10:38




This story in the Bible holds a lesson for all of us. Frequently we read of corrupt politicians or infamous celebrities saying that they prayed or read the Bible. They “kept company” with God, but they do all sorts of things not compatible with a servant of God. We should not really be surprised because even James and John, who accompanied Jesus everywhere, did not understand what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. 


They went to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” Already, that request must have rang multiple bells in Jesus’ mind, but He replied calmly, “What do you wish Me to do for you?” James and John answered, “Grant that in Your glory, we may sit one at Your right and the other at Your left.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.” 


Many times we ask God for things, and sometimes He gives it to us, and sometimes He doesn’t. Perhaps like James and John, we do not know what we are asking. In the last Ultra Lotto, so many  people bought tickets, and I am sure many people prayed they would win! 


I read a prayer in one Facebook post that went something like, “Dear God, let me win so I can show You I won’t waste the money and use it for good.” Another one posted, “Lord, I believe that if I win, I can help change the lives and future of the poor. I believe that if I win, I will make the Church, my family, and friends happy. I believe that I am so ready to win the Ultra Lotto!” It seems exciting to win 1.1 billion pesos and most of us think we won’t make the same mistakes as the 70% of lotto winners who lost all their winnings in 5 years. The money destroyed them. 


So yes, we may pray for all sorts of things, and we should. But let us trust God to answer in His own way and time, because He knows what’s best for us. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Glorious Inheritance

“...glorious inheritance...” Ephesians 1:18




Let us pray for what St. Paul prayed for God’s holy people of Ephesus while he was a prisoner in Rome: Lord, give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we might grow in our knowledge of You. May the eyes of our heart be enlightened, that we may know the wonderful future You have promised to us whom You have called. Help us to realize our rich and glorious inheritance and the surpassing greatness of Your power for us who believe.




On earth we see all this dimly, imperfectly, as in a poor mirror (1 Cor. 13:12) but one day we will see and know God with perfect clarity. Surprisingly, we can catch glimpses now and then if we develop a friendship with God, the Governor of all the universe, of the heavens and the earth. 


My 92-year old dad has been lying in bed since the last week of August. He is very bright, likes to research, and is always thinking of projects, like fishing, or new products for our stores. So of course the enforced bed rest has not been a happy time for him. 


He was bemused yesterday when he told us this story. He experienced a frozen shoulder, and when he prayed, the pain disappeared. Then when he wanted to use his laptop, the screen was black and there was nothing he could do to make it work. After a while, he asked, “God, can You fix it?” And God said, “Of course!” and the laptop turned on right away! 




Daddy explained, “I wasn’t praying. I was just casually talking to God.” But is not that what prayer is? One day, we will see God face to face, and we will be able to talk to Him. That is the glorious inheritance that awaits us who believe in Him. 


(Original painting on my Bible altered by Prisma app) 



Friday, October 19, 2018

Every Second of Every Day

“Even the hairs on your head are counted.” 

Luke 12:7




This a good assurance especially after Jesus said in the same instance, “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Whatever you said in darkness will be heard in the light, and what you whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.” 


I can’t help but think of how prevalent false news is spread on social media. Reputations of good people are being destroyed, and the bad deeds of some are being praised and made to look like it is the best thing that ever happened to our country. I am sure we cannot imagine the evil being done behind closed doors, not only in political arenas, but in the Church, in schools, offices, on the computer, even sometimes in our own homes. 


We need to always be wary because we have an ancient enemy out to destroy each and every one of us. He wants to destroy our country, our political institutions, our churches, our work places, our schools, our marriages, our families, our children. It seems to me like the world is getting more and more rotten to the core. 


We used to have well meaning, upright statesmen in the Senate and Congress. Now it seems all the cockroaches and rats are coming out of the woodwork thinking they can make good and effective laws to build our nation! The Catholic Church has always had its own worms destroying the wood of the ark, but now it seems the devil himself has infiltrated within, up to the top! 


That’s why it is assuring that Jesus said even the hairs of our head are counted. That means every second of every day, God knows what’s happening to us, because our hair is always falling off and there are new ones growing! Even while the enemy is plotting all the time to destroy us, to make us quarrel with our spouse, or to introduce our children to pornography or digital cocaine, God is there. We only need to turn TO Him, to read His Word which is sharper than any two-edged sword that will reveal to us even our secret sins. If we repent, and intercede for one another, for our Church and our poor country, our God is faithful to hear us and heal us. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Only Luke

"Only Luke is with me." 2 Timothy 4:11




Today, October 18, is the Feast Day of Saint Luke the Evangelist. He is known as the patron saint of artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers. In Christian tradition, Saint Luke is known to be the first icon painter, having painted the Madonna and child several times. The well known Black Madonna of Częstochowa is believed to be his work. I happily discovered that he illustrated a book about Jesus with miniature paintings! It's amazing to know that we who paint in our Bibles follow in the tradition of Saint Luke! 


I love reading about the saints. We can discover how ordinary men and women place their God-given gifts, their time, their resources, their voices, at the feet of Jesus, offer their lives to God, and discover their purpose. The saints come in different sizes, colors, temperaments, and professions, but they all point to Jesus. 




Saint Luke was not a Jew, but when he discovered the Savior, he decided to know as much as he could about Him. He interviewed Mary and wrote the most beautiful account about her in the Gospels. He was Paul's companion several times as Luke mentions in the Book of Acts which he also wrote. I am sure he tried to learn as much as he could from Saint Paul and others as well. We find 6 miracles and 18 parables in his gospel not found in the others. 




Luke is mentioned in Paul's letter to Philemon, where Paul calls him "my fellow worker". And after Paul is deserted by everyone else in his final imprisonment, only Luke remains with him. Do we get to know Jesus with all the resources available to us today? We may not be able to interview Mary or Saint Paul, but we can prayerfully read the gospels. We can listen to people who study God's word and learn their insights. We can sit at Jesus' feet and listen to Him. He may not speak clearly at first but if we persevere, God will surprise us. After all He said if we knock, He will open the door. Like Saint Luke, let us open our hearts to discover all that God has in store for us! How exciting it is to wake up every morning to God’s wonderful love and generosity! 


Original painting on my Bible altered with Prisma app

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Making of a Saint

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, self-control and chastity.” Galatians 5:20




These are the values of the Kingdom of God, God’s values. Scott Hahn said that this world is a vast, intricate, Saint-making machine. Just yesterday my patience was sorely tested by one of my staff, and two customer service reps from Smart. Was I kind? No. Did I exhibit self-control? No. Hopefully as I get older, I will learn to be more patient and more in control of my words. The hope is that we exhibit more and more of the fruits of the Holy Spirit as the days go by. 


I like reading about saints. There are of course our favorite saints who really exhibited love, joy, peaceful endurance, etc. But then I read about Padre Pio who was known to have an awful temper. In spite of that, he was beatified in 1999 and canonized in 2002. From the age of 5, he knew he wanted to dedicate his life to serving God. At the young age of 15, he entered the noviciate of the Capuchin friars at Morcone. 




Padre Pio said, “The person who meditates and turns his mind to God, who is the mirror of his soul, seeks to know his faults, tries to correct them, moderates his impulses, and puts his conscience in order." Here we see this holy man’s advice to us who easily lose patience. We need to recognize our faults, try to correct them and moderate our impulses. Padre Pio also suggested weekly confession. Just as a regular cleaning of our homes is necessary, so too we should see what unnecessary baggage we carry in our souls. I am sure he too experienced disappointment in himself, and that’s why he always said to his visitors, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.” 




Lord, thank You for the example of Your saints. They were not perfect but they lived their lives for You. May we too never give up striving to live holy lives, going back to You and drinking from the living water of  Your Spirit. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Sign of Jonah

“The only sign I will give them is the sign of Jonah.” Luke 11:29



The sign of Jonah is a call to repent. In verse 32 of the same chapter, we can read what Jesus said to the “evil generation” listening to Him, “At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.” 


Such an understatement! Jesus is much greater than Jonah, much greater than all the prophets combined! His grace-filled Words fill the Gospels, and the Old Testament all point to Him! When two young Muslim girls read Jesus’ words, they converted to Christianity, and put 20,000 Bibles in mailboxes in Iran. They started two house churches, and spread the good news. 




In 2009, Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh were arrested and put in the notoriously brutal Evin Prison in Iran. At first, they were terrified, and prayed that they would be released. But as it became clear they had a purpose being there, they became a sign of Jonah to the inmates, the prostitutes, and a sign of hope for the desperate. Even though it was dangerous to speak loudly, they would sing in tongues, and the Moslems around would feel the presence of God. Many would cry, confess their sins and turn back to God. 




After 259 days, they were both released. Many Christians, the UN, even the Pope wrote letters to the Iranian government. Now they are free, they wrote their story in a book, Captive in Iran, and vow to be a voice for those who are still in prison. 


Lord, there is so much evil in the world. Like Maryam and Marziyeh, may we be a sign of Jonah where we are. But more importantly, may we sit at Your feet every day. Soften our hearts that we may receive You who are the source of all good things. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Choose Wisdom

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” Psalm 90:12




When Solomon was young, God asked him to ask for anything he wanted, and out of all the things he could choose, Solomon asked for wisdom. Our choices make us, make our future, make our families, make our character. In this world, there is no lack of examples of men who have chosen the gold and the power of this world instead of the treasures of heaven. That is what we can call short-sighted thinking. 




Solomon chose wisdom, and God gave him everything in addition to wisdom. In Wisdom 7, we can read, “I pleaded for the spirit of wisdom...Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.” Wisdom is the key that opens every door, but oddly enough, wisdom is not something we pray for every day! 




We need to start listening for God’s guidance every day, so that if we listen to Him for little things, we will hear Him clearly for the big things. Will I change my job? Will I move my family to the US? Will I marry him? How can I solve my problem? What should I do? To receive God’s wisdom for the hard things, we need to go to him every day when we do not have a decision to make, a hard choice, a dilemma, a crisis. We need to train ourselves to listen to His still, small voice. I think hearing from God is the most important thing in our life! 


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Our Inheritance!

“And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29




Like many Filipinos, I have taken part in discussions about the Ultra Lotto 1.1 billion peso jackpot ($20.7 million). One day my helper, ate Lucy, said she does not want to win because her life might get wrecked. She knows of many quite depressing stories of lotto winners. One man committed suicide after spending all his winnings. Several had court cases against family members or friends. The brother of one winner hired a hitman to kill him and his wife! Statistics show that however big their winnings, 70% of lotto winners lose all their money in 5 years! 




We are all heirs of a much more than a billion dollar inheritance. We do not need to buy a ticket. We do not need to dream up any number combinations. Our inheritance is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, and reserved for us in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). Saint Paul prays for us that the eyes of our heart be enlightened, so that we can understand the wonderful future we are promised, and see the rich and glorious inheritance we have been bequeathed (Ephesians 1:18). 




Indeed, if we only knew how real this inheritance is, compared to the deceptive gold, silver and diamonds of this world, we will spend more time scouring the Bible in search of real treasure! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Finger of God

 "by the finger of God..." Luke 11:20




In the 11th chapter of Luke, Jesus casts out a spirit from a man who could not speak, and He said, "But if it is by the FINGER OF GOD that I cast out devils, then the reign of God is upon you."

That's bad news for people who don't believe in Jesus, who think He is a fictional character, or even just a prophet.

The first time this phrase appears in the Hebrew Bible is in the Book of Exodus, chapter 8, verse 19, when the magicians of Pharaoh, impressed by the miracle where all the dust of Egypt turned into swarms of gnats, proclaimed, "This is the FINGER OF GOD." The second time is in Exodus 31:18: "As the Lord finished speaking with Moses on Mt. Sinai, He gave him two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the Covenant, written by the FINGER OF GOD." The third and last time the phrase appears in the Hebrew Bible, Moses says in Deuteronomy 9:10, "The Lord gave me two stone tablets inscribed by the FINGER OF GOD."




This is just one of the many things Jesus said that proves He is claiming to be God, I think. Although many listened to Him and believed, many more rejected Him and His teachings. The Pharisees and teachers of religious law were furious with Him and hostile, such that they were always looking for ways to trap Him with their questions.


How about us? Do we believe that Jesus is God, that we want to listen to Him and obey? Or are we looking for proof that He is not God, so we do not have to take heed of His Words and change the way we live?




Lord, may I allow You to write Your Words in my heart and free me from all the ideas that do not come from You!


(Original painting on Bible altered with Prisma app)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ask!

“For whoever asks, receives...” Luke 11:10




Many of us ask things of God. Some would say, "But God is not listening." And many people have become atheists because they ask how can a good God permit so much evil and injustice in the world? Indeed, that is a question that we can never satisfactorily answer even if we win the Ultra Lotto billion peso pot and pay every wise man to come up with his own dissertation. 




But another question is, how can a righteous and holy God even look at us, and consider us His children when we are a sinful and rebellious people? How can He forgive us for rejecting Him again and again? Is it not when a judge pardons a guilty man and sets him free, we cry out in disgust, "Corrupt!"? Why will a pure and blameless God listen and answer our prayers when we repeatedly turn away from Him?




Is it not because He sees Jesus? Jesus who took our sins, our perversities with Him on the cross. It is also Jesus who advises us to persist in our prayers until God sees His Son asking in our place! Oh Lord, how deep is Your mercy and grace! Thank You for sending Your Beloved Son to stand convicted in our place! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

WOYWW: Teach Us to Pray


Starting my painting.







"Lord, teach us to pray..." Luke 11:1

Jews are supposed to pray three times a day and they have a special prayer book called a Siddur which contains the set orders of daily prayers. Readings from the Torah, the  writings of Moses and the Nevi'im, writings of the Prophets, form part of their prayer book. So I think it is natural to conclude that the disciples had a reasonable idea of how to pray to God. But they saw something in how Jesus prayed that made them long to pray the way He did. 

They watched Jesus pray many times. They saw how close He was to the Father, and they wanted that for themselves. WE should want that for ourselves! We should always want to grow in our relationship with our Father. Brother Lawrence wrote in "The Practice of the Presence of God" that he was united with God during the day as he went about his work of cleaning the floor and washing the dishes. There are many ways to practice the presence of God in the course of our day. We just have to 'mind' He is there, and not just there during our morning or evening prayers. 



Lord, teach us to pray. Teach us to grow closer to You. Teach us not to forget You when we are busy. Teach us to carve some time out of our day to be with You, and only You. You are the Governor of Galaxies, but You are also our Father. We long to be with You in heaven one day, our one true home. 

(Original paintings altered by Prisma app)


Joining the lovely Julia Dunnit for a 
peek at desks and projects!
I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:

Blessings!
Patsy  

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

One Thing

“Only one thing is required.” Luke 10:42




I am more of a Martha than a Mary in so many ways. Although I am seldom busy in matters of the household, I am never idle unless I am sick. These days, apart from all the work in the office, I am preparing for a talk, a workshop and I am spending time with my father. When Martha complained to Jesus about her sister Mary, He kindly reminded her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things; only one thing is required. Mary has chosen the better portion and she shall not be deprived of it." 


Jesus in his reminder to Martha tells us in no uncertain terms, that listening to Him is SO important. Sitting at His feet and getting to know Him and His words will produce more results than any labor we do. 


We can get so disheartened about life sometimes, maybe our work, or relationships gone bad, sickness, finances, what's happening in our country... But what can get us through any seemingly hopeless situation is not racking our brains for a solution, but prayer and reading the Word of God. I heard about this experiment with rats put in water. Some rats were in a dark room and they drowned right away. Others were in a lighted room and they kept swimming for about 72 hours more than the rats in a dark room. The difference? Hope.


Hope is not tangible. We cannot buy it anywhere. Same with peace. Same with joy. But we cannot live a blessed life without these gifts from God. Indeed to be surrounded by His favor, we need only one thing. 


Jesus' conversations with Martha and Mary have not been recorded, but we too can have our own conversations with the Lord. When we are bothered and upset about many things, Jesus calls us to have a conversation with Him. To sit at his feet. Dinner can wait. Worrying can wait. Only one thing is required. That we listen to him. That we believe. That is the only way we will see the glory of God. Yes Lord, I will listen. I believe! I want to see Your glory!

Monday, October 08, 2018

Who is My Neighbor?

"And who is my neighbor?' Luke 10:29




The story of the Good Samaritan is applicable to every day life in so many ways. It doesn't have to be a stranger lying on the road on our way to work or school or to the mall. I'm thinking it can be our office mate whose constant laughter hides her many pains, a sick father in need of some company, a brother or sister from church fighting their own demons.

The Samaritan traveler was "moved with compassion" and approached the “victim", poured "oil and wine" over his wounds. OIL and WINE. 


Oil is the symbol of the Holy Spirit, and we usually apply oil when we pray for healing. How wonderful that this man had oil with him! He was like one of the wise virgins in the story in Matthew 25! He was always prepared, always ready! This time it was to offer aid and comfort. But other times he would be ready with his oil to do what God wanted him to do. He can say like Jesus, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has ANOINTED me to preach the gospel, to HEAL the brokenhearted..."


Wine in the Bible is a necessity because of the scarcity of water, so it symbolizes sustenance and life and God's blessings. How wonderful that this Samaritan was willing to share out of his need, not his excess.


Lord, I know I fall short in so many ways. But I pray that like the Samaritan traveler, I will be ever ready to help those in need with the oil and wine You have blessed me with in my life! 


Sunday, October 07, 2018

The Crucial Dad

“It is not good for man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18




Marriage was and is God’s idea. And that is why the ancient enemy attacks that holy bond between a man and a woman from every direction. I find that he reserves the most vicious offensive against men, husbands, fathers, and priests. The destroyer finds ways to pervert men’s most important and significant role in the formation of families.




Writer, researcher and teacher Scott Hahn, in one of his talks, recounted a story about his father on the first day of boot camp. The drill sergeant talked about all the weapons of destruction, and when he got to the hand grenade, he “accidentally” dropped it, and then shouted, “Run, take cover!” All the recruits scampered in fright, and the sergeant roared in laughter. “Get back here!” Scott’s father, when he spied one of his friends arrive with all the other new recruits in the next bus, told his friend in secret, “If you get Sgt. so-and-so, this is what he’s going to do.”  




His friend did get Sgt. So-and-so, and when the Sgt. dropped the grenade and everyone ran away, his friend fell over and covered the grenade! He was the only one to get a medal in boot camp! Many husbands and fathers go through their roles “faking it”, not knowing their contribution to the family is CRUCIAL. They should be more purposeful if they want the best for their family, and not just wing it. 




From a 1994 study conducted by the Swiss, one of the conclusions was that it is the religious practice of the FATHER that determines if the children will be regular churchgoers. If the father does not attend church, no matter if the mother goes to church every day, statistics show only one child in 50 will go to church regularly. If a father attends church, even if the mother does not, 66% to 75% of their children will go to church sometimes or regularly! Wow! 




Let us pray for protection over our families, our marriages, our husbands, and our children against the constant barrage of messages and images contrary to the wonderful plan of God for us! And mothers, let us not forget the example of St. Monica. Her husband Patricius was a Roman pagan, but because of her prayers, her son Augustine became a saint! 


( original painting on Bible altered with Prisma app)