Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WOYWW: How Can This Be?

 Today I am going to Busuanga
with my family, and aside from doing my meditations
for the morning, I am also packing up what I need
to bring- paints, brushes, pencils, carbon paper, etc.

Busuanga is my husband's hometown.
His mother grew up there, and it is one of the most
beautiful places in the world!

Here is a picture my niece posted yesterday
as they were approaching Busuanga.
The water is so clear, according to my husband,
you can see ship wrecks from the surface of the water!
You don't need to dive!

 "How can this be?"  Luke 1:34

Today the Christian  Church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation, marking the day angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive and bear a Son. That she is highly favored for the Holy Spirit will overshadow her, and she will carry in her womb the Son of God.  "How can this be?" she asks.

 We too are favored.  We too, as disciples of Jesus, have a special calling to "carry Jesus", to go to all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  Like Mary, we ask, "How can this be?"  I'm just a student. I'm just a fish vendor.  I'm just a businesswoman. I'm just, as my mom would say, "an ordinary housewife".  

But there's really nothing ordinary about us.  Yes we are made of dust, but God breathed us into life. By virtue of our baptism into God's family, we are His family. Just like Mary, we can't do this on our own.  We need the Spirit to bring Jesus into all the world and preach the gospel of our lives to everyone we meet, everyone who sees us.  

Can we say, with Mary, "I am the servant of the Lord.  Let it be done to me just as you say."?

 "Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he recovered." Numbers 21:9
This story in the Old Testament which happened while the Israelites journeyed to the Promised Land, shows how God is very creative with His solutions to problems. The Israelites were grumbling, murmuring, complaining that they had NOTHING to eat or drink. In truth they had fresh manna to eat every day from the hand of God, and even lots of quail in the evening. They also had water. But like Adam and Eve in the garden, they listened to our ancient enemy. The enemy likes to deceive and loves it when we are ungrateful.

Sometimes God teaches us by allowing hard things to come into our lives. This time He sent serpents, poisonous snakes. Some of the people were bitten and died, and they pleaded with Moses for help. God then instructed Moses to make a replica of the snake and mount it on a pole. "Those who are bitten will live if they simply looked at it."
We too are frequently bitten by sin which leads to death. But if we look to Jesus who became sin as He took all our sins with Him on the cross, we will live. What a beautiful solution God has come up with for His people!

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


Monday, March 23, 2015

Inspire Me Monday: Words for Me Alone

 "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."John 8:10-11
In John chapter 8, we meet a woman accused of adultery. Scribes and Pharisees (I wonder how many? At least 2 scribes and 2 Pharisees which makes 4 men!) lead her to Jesus. Can you imagine her shame, her self-loathing, how dirty she feels when they force her to stand in front of everyone?
"Teacher," they said to Him, "This woman has been caught in the act of adultery. In the law, Moses ordered such women to be stoned. (In the law, Dt. 22:24, both the man and the woman who sinned should be stoned. Where was the man?) What do You have to say?"
I imagine that I am one of the crowd. Do I condemn her and want to spit on her? Do I know her? Perhaps I knew her history and think, "Good! It's about time she gets her comeuppance!" Do I pity her? Do I continue to jostle the crowd to see what happens out of curiosity, in satisfaction, or in revulsion, my eyes glued to the scene like it is a suspenseful thriller?
What did Jesus do? He bent down and started tracing the ground with His finger. How many have attempted to surmise what He wrote? Why didn't John write down what He wrote? The thing is, He wrote, not for a second or a few seconds. He wrote all throughout the persistent questioning of the Scribes and Pharisees. He ignored them and their questions.
Finally He straightened up and said, "Let the man among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her." Then He bent down and wrote on the ground again. Suddenly there is silence but for the shamed shuffling of feet. No one cast a stone, even if Jesus did not say DO NOT cast a stone in direct violation of Moses' law. I am one of the crowd, ashamed to have taken part in this poor woman's humiliation. I leave and do not know what happens next.

 I believe when we sin, Jesus wants to meet us one to one. I like to think only the woman knew what Jesus wrote. I am almost certain that John would have interviewed many and asked them if they knew what Jesus wrote. No one knew. But Jesus obviously thought it was important, as He spent much time writing it on the ground. Easily erased after the one it was meant for, read it. When I sin, it is me and Jesus, against a condemning world. But Jesus did not come to condemn me, but to save me (Jn 3:17). When I sin, all I need is to stand, sit, kneel, or prostrate myself in front of Him. He will say, "I don't condemn you. Sin no more." And He will tell me words for me alone, no one else will know.

 "Sir, we should like to see Jesus." John 12:21
In the 12th chapter of John, we read of some Greeks who went to Philip with the request to meet Jesus. That is certainly not surprising considering that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead and miracles of healings followed him wherever He went. Today, although there are many miracles, people scoff and are very skeptical. But in Africa, many are coming to know and meet Christ because of Heidi Baker, a Christian missionary since the 1980s, who proclaims God's Word to the poorest of the poor in dusty villages in Africa. 100 % of the deaf in Chiure have been healed, food has multiplied, sight has been restored, and yes, there have been people who were dead and came alive again. It is no wonder that God's Word has spread in that remote forgotten region of the world. Forgotten by men but not by God. He sent Heidi and her husband there so the people of Mozambique could meet and see Him.
The couple began with nothing when they started their ministry to the poor, homeless children in Mozambique. Now they are able to provide water, feeding programs, livelihood, schools. There are now more than 5000 churches in Mozambique.
She introduces Jesus to many because Heidi Baker met Jesus. She heard about Him and was convicted through a Navajo preacher's sharing while on an Indian reservation. Do we really know Jesus? If we do, we should be eager to introduce Him to others!

 "For to you I have entrusted my cause!" Jeremiah 11:20
Jeremiah the prophet lived about a hundred years after the prophet Isaiah. Jeremiah's ministry was very frustrating as he was prophesying to a people who did not listen and there did not seem to be any fruit. He was known as the weeping prophet for he was always mourning, mourning for a people who did not heed the words of God. Jeremiah lived very much in a time like ours, where men sought to remove God from the equation of their lives.
It seemed as if God was calling the people back to Him with warnings, cajoling, but people still worshiped idols of their own making! There is corruption everywhere, even in religion. Moral corruption even in the way women dressed or the way men spoke. Dishonesty. Rejection of scripture and God's moral law. "They have gone after other gods to serve them. My chosen people refuse to hear My words." (Jer. 11:9-13)
During Jeremiah's time, people burned incense at the altar of Baal and other idols, and today many of us burn incense at the altar of money, or influence, beauty or other worthless things. We are Christians in name, or on Sundays, or during our meetings at church or service or prayer gatherings.

Let us pray like Jeremiah: "We and our ancestors are guilty of rebelling against you. Don’t forget that you promised to rescue us. Idols can’t send rain, Only you control the rain, so we put our trust in you, the Lord our God." (Jeremiah 14:20-22)
And the Lord will respond to us, as He reassured Jeremiah: "If you return, then will I restore You. And if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman...for I am with you to save you and deliver you." (Jeremiah 15:19-21)

Friday, March 20, 2015

PPF: My Eyes See You!

 "Joseph, son of David, have no fear..." Matthew 1:20
I find it quite amazing that in the Bible, a book filled with the exploits of men, there is hardly anything said about Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. Only 2 of the Gospels mention him, Matthew and Luke. We celebrate Saint Joseph's Feast Day today in the Catholic Church.
Ever since Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines, the statue of the sleeping Saint Joseph has been quite popular. Pope Francis revealed that he had one, and that when he had difficulties, he would write them on a piece of paper and ask Saint Joseph to pray with him about it.
In the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Saint Joseph gets clear directions from God while he is asleep TWICE! In Matthew 1:20, Joseph is told by an angel in a dream,not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, as the child in her womb was conceived by the Holy Spirit. In chapter 2, verse 13, he is directed by an angel,while dreaming, to flee to Egypt for their safety.

 God speaks to us in different ways, but we need discernment to know what comes from Him, and what comes from our own desires. Geza Vermes, a British scholar and noted authority on ancient Aramaic writings on the life of Jesus, stated that the term for "carpenter" and "son of a carpenter" ,used in the Jewish Talmud, signifies a very learned man.
Learned man or not, what we know is Joseph was kind and compassionate, a man of faith who obeyed God wherever He led. How beautiful to be a man or woman, obeying God whether awake or asleep!!!
 "Let us see whether His words be true." Wisdom 2:17

Do we know God? Do we know that His words are true?  Or do we merely know about God?  Even if our bibles are full of lines and colors and notes, or paintings (like mine), it doesn't mean we know God.  It may just mean we know about Him.  Can we say like Job, that "I heard of You but now my eyes see You." (Job 42:5)  

There are so many bible studies available online, so many books to read, so much preaching on Youtube and the whole world wide web, but it is only head knowledge if we do not take what we learn and try to put it into practice.  We need revelation not information.  We need to "see whether His words are true".  

I know His words are true because I put Him to the test all the time. (Malachi 3:10)  I just do what I can, and let God do what I can't do.  In our business, I have to pray a lot about all sorts of small and big things.  I'm smart but not that smart.  I'm capable but not that capable.  I'm forgetful, disorganized, my mouth says the wrong things, but if I do my best, God will take care of the rest.  The list of what I have to do and take care of is long, and just got even longer (the manager of UP Town Center called last night to offer us a space! Answered prayer!).  As long as I get up early in the morning to pray and read the Bible, I know I can depend on Him who keeps His promises, and who gives so many good things! 


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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WOYWW: Who Can Measure a Mother's Love?

Something I finished when I invited friends
for a paint party this weekend.

And here is what my friend painted
after I taught her what I do.
Really pretty, isn't it?

 "Do you want to be healed?" John 5:6
In some translations, we can read Jesus' question to the lame man as, "Do you want to be made whole?" There is always something in us that needs to be made whole. The lame man needed to walk, how about us? Perhaps there is some physical healing needed. Or how about some inner, spiritual need? A childhood trauma, or even a lack of confidence, a need for love from a parent, an inner yearning for security?
When the lame man was asked the question, he did not immediately answer a resounding yes! He responded, "I can't sir. I have no one to help me..." What are our excuses? I can't because I don't have the time or money to see a psychiatrist. I can't because I don't want to forgive. I can't because I don't want to appear weak. I can't because I don't believe in all that hocus pocus. Because sometimes all it takes is faith! Sometimes all it takes is surrender. All it takes is saying, "Yes Lord, I want to be made whole!"

In the Anawim Way, I read this: "The example of this healed man can help us identify our own weak and crippled responses to Jesus at times. When we give in to self-pity, we no longer ask for help. Instead we take a kind of sick pleasure in thinking no one can help us, not even the Lord. Resentment is another big obstacle to our spiritual progress.Instead of getting up and walking, we are focused on blaming others for our troubles. We make very poor disciples if we focus more on ourselves than on the Lord. The central point of this Gospel is that Jesus is the Source of every blessing."

 "I will never forget you." Isaiah 49:15
There are numerous stories of a mother's unfailing love, but this one highlights a mother's love even in death.
36-year old Patsy Lawson left for her teaching job one morning, with her two children. She was planning to drop them off at the baby sitters, but they never got there. 8 1/2 hours later, her husband James found Patsy and their 5 year old daughter Susan dead inside their badly damaged car. The car was submerged, upside down, in a very cold mountain stream. James saw that even if Patsy was dead, she had been holding 2-year old Gerald's head above the 48 degree water. He was barely alive. For hours, his wife had held up the toddler's head so he could breathe, until she froze to death. (Story from Pastor James S. Hewitt's book, Illustrations Unlimited)

Who can measure a mother's love? Who can measure God's love? How inconceivable is it that God, who created us in love, would give His only Son to die for us in love? That kind of love never forgets, always forgives, and is ever faithful.

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