Monday, August 31, 2015

The Rapture

​ "Those who died in Christ will rise first. Then we the living, the survivors,will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."  1 Thess. 4:17​
I find it appropriate that this is one of the readings for today in our Catholic daily scripture plan.  Tomorrow is September 1, and this September promises to be eventful. Some Christians believe that either Jesus is coming, or a comet, or economic collapse.  Now how does anyone prepare for any of that? If you search #preppers on Instagram, you will see 10,000 posts which include tips on canning, and what weapons and tools people are collecting. If you search September 2015 on Youtube, you will find many Christians sincerely believing and trying to convince others of amazing things going to happen. So far the most amazing is the story that the Pope is going to the US to convince the world to look to aliens for salvation!!!

 I believe in the rapture, what Saint Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4. Rapture comes from the Latin "rapio", which means to be caught up, to be seized or snatched up.  One day, Jesus will come and seize His Bride, the Church! The whole Bible to me is like a romantic love story where God pursues His people. He wooed Adam and Eve, gave them everything, even free will. They chose to disobey. He has been wooing us through the ages, until He came to show us who He really was and what He would do for us if we gave Him our heart. And yes, one day, He will come back for us, His bride, His beloved. What an exciting day that will be!!! Like any bride to be, should we not be preparing ourselves, body, mind and spirit? Should we not keep ourselves pure for Him who died for us? Should we not spend every day reading His Words to us, savoring it, believing His promises? Yes, we should be waiting and watching, for one day we will meet Him who loved us first, face to face!

"Be doers of the Word and not hearers only." James 1:22
Chuck Swindoll has a great illustration about this important precept. What if I had to leave our business for a month to set up another office and I left someone in charge? Every day I would send instructions via email about what needs to be done, what to follow up on, employees to oversee, etc. At the end of the month, I come back and I see that the office is a mess, employees are not at their desks and the one I put in charge of everything, was nowhere to be found! When I ask questions, I find out that every day, they went through my instructions, underlined it, divided into groups and discussed it. BUT THE INSTRUCTIONS WERE NOT OBEYED!

Sometimes Christians can be very diligent about studying the Word. The words in their Bibles are underlined, encircled, colored in. If you look at my old Bible, almost all the words are highlighted. I have notes in the margins. In my new Bible I have paintings on many of the pages. But what matters to God?
Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, keep my commandments." In Matthew 12:50, Jesus stretched out His hand toward his disciples and said, "Whoever does the will of My Father is My brother, My mother, My sister." If we want to be part of God's family, we need to be doers of the Word!

"Stay awake therefore! You can not know the day your Lord is coming!" Matthew 24:42
I am imagining myself as a servant in a household. When the master is on vacation, would I be relaxed and not very diligent with my duties? If I was an employee and my boss was out on a series of meetings, would I join in the noise in the office, the horse play and loud bantering? In Matthew 24, Jesus warns against not being prepared for the day He comes again. Like the master of the household or the boss, one does not know when Jesus will come!

 With Jesus' coming, we need to always be spiritually prepared! We do not need to wait for His second coming with all the bells and whistles! And indeed if it is not the Lord's coming, death can easily come like a thief in the night!

And the foolish said to the prudent, "Give us some of your oil for our lamps are going out." Matthew 25:8
In the Parable of the Virgins, there are 5 foolish bridesmaids and 5 wise ones. They are all waiting to welcome the groom who is very likely arriving with the Bride after fetching her from her parents' home. The wedding party is very delayed and the bridesmaids get sleepy. Picture it- 10 beautifully dressed and made up ladies, waiting outside in anticipation of the wedding party. At first they are excited, talking to each other animatedly, but as time goes tic ticking by with no sign of the Bride and Groom, they sit down and sink into sleepiness.

Alas! When the warning shout comes that the Groom is near, the foolish bridesmaids find out their lamps are sputtering! They ask the wise ones for some but they say there will not be enough for all! So the foolish ones leave to buy oil and we know what happens! After all that preparation and waiting, they are not let into the wedding feast! "I do not know you!" The Bridegroom says.
What is that all important oil that keeps our lamps burning? Is it the Holy Spirit? Is it the Word of God that is a lamp to our feet? Is it prayer? I think it is everything that keeps us close to God and in fellowship with Him. We should not allow the fire we have within us die- 'en theos', God within.
Because if it dies, if it is not tended, we cannot beg, borrow or steal this oil, as the Bridesmaids found out to their peril!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

WOYWW: Maranatha!

 Here is the last of the three paintings I rushed
for the Manila Hotel exhibit.
I am not that happy with it and wish I have more time to fix it!

But I have to send it off tomorrow already!

 "Make your lives worthy of the God who calls you to His Kingship and glory." 1 Thessalonians 2:12

I don't think we can ever be worthy of God, the King of the universe, the creator of everything visible and invisible. How could we ever make ourselves worthy as Saint Paul exhorts us to do? In the 1st chapter of his letter to the people of Thessalonica, he writes them, "We know that God loves you, dear brothers and sisters, and that He CHOSE you to be His own people."

 Here in the Philippines, we never had a monarchy, a kingdom. We never had a King, so it's hard to imagine belonging to a Kingdom. But nevertheless, every Christian is part of a Kingdom, God's kingdom. We too, like the people of Thessalonica, were chosen, handpicked by God to be part of His own special people. It's hard to see God's Kingdom here on earth, especially with the news about babies being killed so their brains can be sold, or children being abused by their own fathers, or people being beheaded and hung upside down, etc. But God's Kingdom manages to break through- in people who serve, people who love, people who sacrifice their lives for others. After all, our God is a servant King, the King who saves. We see glimpses of God's kingdom in those who go to the prison regularly to bring not only real bread but the bread from heaven. We see it in Pope Francis or any priest who goes out to mingle with the poor and give them dignity. We see it in young people visiting the Aetas in far off Pampanga to feed them and play with the children. We see God's Kingdom in those who tutor street children, give them books and school supplies. We see the Kingdom shining in Africa's little Christian communities, in the underground churches in China, in the Christians in the middle East. 

Lord, show us Your kingdom is all around us, and show us how we can bring Your Kingdom to our little corner of the world. 

 "Cleanse first the inside of the cup..." Matthew 23:26
I have been guilty of superficial cleaning many a time. When guests are due to arrive, I dump all the clutter in my craft room, and then I am aghast when a kid opens the door, as kids sometimes do, and exposes what I have hidden inside! A "horror" guest would be one who opens drawers and peeks into the kitchen cabinets. But Jesus is always the unseen guest in our "home". He sees what is hidden in our hearts. He sees the clutter. He sees my resentment, my irritation, my envy, all those smelly things no one else sees!!!

Here in Matthew chapter 23, Jesus is speaking to the disciples about the Pharisees and teachers of scripture. He is quite disgusted that they are hypocrites and that they only "act out" their religion. They are like whitewashed tombs! "They try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside their hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness." Let us make sure that Jesus does not say the same about us! Let us not only clean outside our cups but inside as well!

 "His mercy is from age to age on those who fear him." Luke 1:50
In another version this verse reads "His mercy goes on from generation to generation..." Mary, the mother of our Lord is singing this from her heart, her soul magnifying the Lord, for He took notice of her, an insignificant young "servant", as she calls herself. She goes on to quote generously from the Torah, the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1, the prophet Habakkuk's song in chapter 3:18, Isaiah's prophecy in chapter 41, verse s 8-9, etc. Obviously, even if women were not important in those days, Mary had mastered the scriptures.

Imagine Saint Luke sitting with Mary, and she telling him all these things which she has pondered about. Even when she is old, she still remembers her joy, her wonder at the plan of God. She still remembers what she sang when she visited Elizabeth. She is sitting in a humble little room, Saint Luke's eyes on her as she looks back at her amazing life. "Elizabeth said that when I came in, her baby jumped for joy when she heard my voice! She said I was blessed because I believed that the Lord would do as He said."

Indeed Mary believed. And that is why God's plan is fulfilled. Mary believed and that is why we have a Savior. Mary believed and that is why His mercy reaches down to our generation. Mary believed because she knew her scriptures and she was waiting for the Savior. How about us today? Do we know our scriptures? Do we believe? Because the Messiah is coming again. Perhaps very soon! Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

Joining the lovely Julia Dunnit for a 
peek at desks and projects!

I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:


Monday, August 24, 2015

As For Me and My Household!

 "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15
In the last chapter of the Book of Joshua, just before Joshua dies and is laid to his final rest, he summons all the people of Israel, along with their leaders and elders and judges. The Lord speaks through him, and recounts how He called their ancestor Abraham and led him to Canaan. He reminded them of their slavery in Egypt and how He brought them freedom. He also recounted how He gave them victory over the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Joshua then tells them they had a decision to make. They could either serve God alone, or if they were unwilling to serve the Lord, then they should choose whom they will serve. "Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites? As for me and my family, we have decided to serve the Lord."

 Indeed it is very important to make a decision. Just as when you start out on a journey, you need to know where you are going to get there, we need to make a decision about whether we will obey God or not so we will not just drift aimlessly with no direction, in our life's journey. Just as God gave the Israelites victory over their enemies, if we look back at our life, He has also given us freedom from many "ites". Personally I have been freed from "Afraidites". It took me two years to get over that movie about dead people, "The Sixth Sense". Every time I took a bath, I would think about that bathroom scene! If we are in bondage to anything, God is the only one with the power to save us!
Lord, I choose You! As for me and my family, we will serve and obey You!

 "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" John 1:46
In the first chapter of the Book of John, we see how John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and his disciples started to follow Jesus. Then Andrew called Simon, and Philip looked for Nathanael. Philip was very excited as he told Nathanael (whose feast day we celebrate today), that, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! Have we not been waiting for Him? His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth."

Then Nathanael reacts with skepticism, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" I think this is a perfectly natural reaction. The Jews had to be careful. They could not just follow anyone claiming to be the Messiah. That's why up to now, they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah even with all the prophecies about him. They don't see the sign posts pointing to Jesus. Eventually Nathanael confesses, "Teacher, You are the Son of God!" When he does this Jesus promises him that he will see heaven open. We too can see heaven open when we try to discover for ourselves who Jesus is. God who had a plan, clearly put "signs" in the Bible, prophecies, to show us His plan and to point out the Savior!

'Make the most of every opportunity for doing good, for these are evil days." Ephesians 5:16
Most people do not like to think about "evil days" or "evil men". If we only listen to pastors of mega churches, and I do because I learn a lot from them, we won't hear much about repentance, and the urgency of coming to Christ. Ever since Jesus' time, the disciples were already waiting for Jesus' second coming. It's been 2000 years, and for sure, His coming is closer today than it was before. Jesus said these are the signs: wars and rumors of wars, famine, pestilence and earthquakes, wickedness and perversions as in the days of Noah, persecution of Christians (Matthew 24:4-45), etc. If we look at any one of these signs, we can say there has been an increase in frequency and intensity. Just for earthquakes, the number of 6.9 intensity earthquakes or stronger increased from 71 (in 38 years 1939-1975) to 164 (in 38 years 1977-2014). How about persecution of Christians? Christians are the most persecuted people on the face of the earth today, and apparently it is going to get worse, even in free America!!!

So what is the point of Ephesians 5:16? I think this is a call to lay treasures in heaven not on earth. Laying treasures on earth is a losing proposition. Next month, many prophets and financial analysts say there will be an economic collapse. What to do? Be more generous to people in need. What we give away, we will never lose! (Matthew 6:20) We need to be more conscious to do good, to serve, to pray, to share, to be kind and encouraging. It is urgent that in our little corner of the world, we shine our light to move the darkness a little bit farther! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Paint Party Friday: Wedding Feast

 "Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.' Ruth 1:16
The Book of Ruth is so interesting and short, one can easily read it in one sitting as I did today. The first chapter is filled with hopelessness as we find Naomi and her husband Elimelech and their two sons leaving their home because of a severe famine. They settle in Moab, which showed their extreme desperation. Elimelech dies, and the two sons marry Moabite women. Alas! The two sons die as well, leaving three widows! In those days, women had no rights, widows had no defenders, no identities even. Naomi decides to go back to her homeland and she tells her daughters-in-law to return to their families for she cannot provide for them. After some persuasion and crying, one daughter-in-law obeys, but Ruth, the other, vows never to leave her. "Do not ask me to abandon you! Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God."

We can assume that the witness of Naomi and her family to Ruth has been such that Ruth would elect to choose Naomi's way of life rather than the life she grew up with. She specifically chooses Naomi's people and Naomi's God. And because of this wonderful decision in the face of uncertainly, brokenness and hopelessness, Ruth is rewarded. In Naomi's hometown, she meets a worthy man who marries her and she becomes part of the lineage of Jesus Christ, one of the few women listed in the first chapter of Matthew. It is during challenging times that our choices reveal who we are. Trials show our true character and values. This gem of a story shows that God always has a plan, a bright future for those who choose Him!

 'How is it that you came here without a wedding garment?" Matthew 22:12
Jesus told the priests and Pharisees the story of the of a King who prepared a feast for his son. The invited guests did not come and he told his servants to go out into the streets and invite everyone they saw. Eventually the banquet hall was filled with all sorts of people, good and bad alike. Going around, the King noticed a man who was not wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. The King had this particular guest thrown out into the darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. One can ask,what does the King expect? His guests were invited off the street!!! It's amazing that there were not more people unfit to attend a wedding! But you see, it was a Middle Eastern custom for the King to provide the garments for his guests. They had only to put it on.

In Genesis, after Adam and Eve sinned and they discovered that they were naked, they covered themselves with fig leaves. God rejected this covering made by their own hands in the same way that God would reject anything we did to "clothe" ourselves. Instead in Genesis 3:21, God made a covering for Adam and Eve out of the skin of an animal. Perhaps that animal was a lamb, a spotless perfect lamb. God killed the lamb and took its skin to cover the sin, shame and guilt of Adam and Eve. In Romans 13:14, Saint Paul admonishes us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, to clothe ourselves with Jesus. All of our righteousness, our good deeds are as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). Only putting on the righteousness of Christ will do if we want to have a place in the Wedding Feast of the King!

 "Praise the Lord who has given you a kinsman redeemer today!" Ruth4:14
In Leviticus 25:47-55, there is a provision for Jews who get bankrupt and are forced to sell inherited land. In the case of Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth, the kinsman redeemer is Boaz, a wealthy landowner who saw Ruth's character and was willing to marry her. This act of Boaz was a sacrifice for him because marrying Ruth who was a widow, meant that the son born to them would be of the lineage of Ruth's first husband. He chose to save Ruth and Naomi from a life of poverty, a future of hopelessness. When Boaz took Ruth for his own, and they had a son named Obed (who became the great grandfather of King David), the women of the town rejoiced. They knew what all this meant to Naomi! They knew that her life had changed from one of darkness to one filled with light!

Jesus is our 'kinsman redeemer'. He chose us. He chose to sacrifice His life for us. And because of that, we can rejoice because our life is filled with the hope, joy and love that His Spirit and His Word brings into our life!


Linking with

So many WONDERFUL blogfriends 
to discover here!


Thank you for dropping by!

You are appreciated!