Monday, July 31, 2017

"Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach..." Psalm 106:23

Moses' job was very difficult. He had to listen to God, and obey Him. He also had to get the Israelites to obey God as well! In spite of the many miracles, signs and wonders the people witnessed and experienced, they were still prone to disobedience, complaining and idolatry. 

Moses left them for 40 days and 40 nights, during which time, God gave him very detailed and intricate instructions about the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the Priesthood, the Bread of Presence, the Holy of Holies, Ark of the Covenant, the Sabbath, etc. (Exodus 25-31). When he came down, Moses' wrath flared because the Israelites were dancing gleefully around a golden calf!!! He threw the calf into the fire, ground it down to powder and made them drink it with water. 

The next day, when his anger abated, he decided to go up the mountain again to plead with God for forgiveness. He stood in the breach. Who is the elect, the chosen, who can stand in the breach? Can we? Can we stay the wrath of God when He is angry because of our sin? 

In Ezekiel 22:30, we read: "I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn't have to destroy the land, but I found no one." Are we doomed because no one can stand in the gap for us when we sin and are disobedient?

But there is Someone greater than Moses who stands in the gap for us! Dear Jesus, thank You for loving us so much that You gave Your very life for us. You are the perfect, flawless, lamb who took our place before God! He sees Your righteousness, not our sin! 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Treasure

"The Kingdom of God is like a treasure..." Matthew 13:44

What are our treasures? To me it seems that I consider a lot of junk to be treasures! I collect old books, magazines, heaps of cloth, lace, buttons, bottles, etc. It's hard to get rid of it all because I can think of many wonderful things I can make with them! But I realize they are not worth anything compared to the treasures in the Louvre or the Vatican. But even the magnificent Sistine Chapel is not worth anything compared to the treasure that is Jesus! 

One of Stephen Curtis Chapman's songs goes:  "And if I should live or die, Let me be found pursuing this prize- The One that alone satisfies, 
The treasure of Jesus." Indeed this treasure is not a thing or many things, it is not a place, but it is a Person. This treasure worth more than all the gold in the Universe is Jesus. 

Saint Paul wrote, “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:8, 10). 

" eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). 

What an amazing and generous God we have that He has given us this treasure we cannot wrap our minds about! I see us going after worthless things for most of our lives, devoting a little bit of it praying, reading the Bible and going to church on Sundays and we expect a prize worth more than life itself? 

Lord, give us the eyes to see, the wisdom to understand, and the faith to give up what we cannot keep to gain what we can never attain on our own.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Better Portion

"One thing only is required." Luke 10:42

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Martha, she who is best remembered for receiving a gentle rebuke from Jesus. I am sure I would have received the same in her place, and if I listen hard enough, I am sure God would want to remind me again and again: "Choose the better portion." 

We do not know what we are missing if we do not choose the better part of listening to Him, giving Him the most important space and time in our life. He can make things happen in our life we can only dream of. 

My family and I are now in Tokyo. We came for a Handmade in Japan fair to get ideas for our gift and decor business. We also came to visit my sister Tina who lives here in the outskirts of Tokyo, more than an hour by train and bus. My dad is 90 years old, and since he fell in April, has a difficulty in walking. We ambitiously planned to visit Tina at her home in Akishima on Thursday. Since we knew it would be too expensive to bring my dad there in a taxi, we scouted around the train station on Wednesday for wheelchair access or at least an escalator. We prayed for good weather, and that we find the right train to bring us. We even asked God to change the layout of the station so daddy would not have too much trouble! On Thursday, God showed us His favor. The weather was perfect, cloudy but NOT rainy. We were able to ride the rapid train with no hitches. AND daddy was able to climb 3 floors up to Tina's apartment with no trouble!!! If we do not attempt the seemingly impossible, and ask God to make a way, we will not see His hand.  

Father, may we seek Your face morning, noon and night. May we see Your favor as we yearn for the best portion of Your company each day. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Law of the Lord

"The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul." Psalm 19:8

I remember when my mom was sick, and she had just received the diagnosis that she had tongue cancer. The prognosis was not good, and her spirits were down. I read to her from the Bible, and after a while she told me she felt better. Then there was a time I was tasked to keep the elderly mother of a friend company while brothers and sisters were busy painting the downstairs of her home. She was quite anxious and visibly agitated as her home was damaged by the recent flood. I read to her from the Psalms as she lay in bed, and she became calm and asked me to continue to read to her. 

I am a great believer in the power and efficiency of God's Word. "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) 

The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD,  and like a hammer that breaks the rock into pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29) 

Lord, may the words I speak line up with Your Word. May I use Your Word like a tool to break down barriers, to make the impossible possible. Yes Lord, refresh me every day with Your Word! 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Rich Grow Rich

"To the man who has, more will be given until he grows rich; the man who has not, will lose what little he has." 

Matthew 13:12

It may seem that the rich grow richer and richer and the poor, poorer. 85% of the world's wealth is owned by 10% of the population! And only a few own a whopping 40%!!! 1% to be exact!!! But is this what Jesus was pointing out? I am reminded of Jesus' parable of the rich man in Matthew 25 who went away on a journey leaving his servants with money to take care of. To one he gave 5 talents, to another 2, and to the last, he gave one. When he came back, he praised the servants who invested his money and gave them some more. As for the third one who hid the money, the master took it away to give to the first. 

God means us to use whatever He has given us. It may be money, talents, time, land, power, influence, knowledge, intelligence, wisdom, beauty, etc. He can be a hard taskmaster as we see in many of the stories of the Bible. What has He given me, and how have I used it to give Him glory?

I think of Nick Vuijic who was born without arms nor legs, but he is able to bring many people to repentance and gratitude by the way he lives his life, and preaches around the world. 

I have a friend who did not start out with much but because of his passion, has been able to build a center for street children, put many of them through school and is now making his dream of a farm for them come true. 

Lord, may I recognize my gifts, all of them, hone them and use them to serve You and my brothers and sisters. May I be able to say when I meet You face to face, that I did not waste anything You have blessed me with. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Grumbling in the Desert

I am in an airBnB in Shinjuku, Tokyo right now. It's quite compact (a polite way of saying tiny!). I share the space with some other members of my family and they are still sleeping. So I am painting in the bathroom...

standing up beside the small sink. 

"Here in the desert the whole Israelite community grumbled..." 
Exodus 16:2

God showed His great power to save the whole Israelite community by parting the Red Sea and showing His glory, and yet the people grumbled!!! I suppose after all that magnificent display of domination, the Jews were expecting more of the same. Food in abundance, no more hard work, the easy life. 

Unmet expectations. I was just reading yesterday about how unmet expectations are the reason marriages end in divorce. I can imagine how men and women can come to believe that after getting married everything would be hunky-dory. Love stories end when the couple gets married or at least come to an agreement to get into a relationship. Convoluted strands in telenovelas show bickering couples somehow ending up in harmony with alls well ending well. 

I remember when I was newly married I had such a huge problem with my husband NOT putting down the toilet seat. I come from a family of 4 girls and one boy and the seat was always down. My husband was part of a lay organization of single men who were serving in Christian communities. And they ALWAYS kept the seat up! So there I was, dismayed all the time, irritated and grumbling without my husband knowing what I was so grumpy about. The thing is 
except for that teeny tiny flaw, my husband is the sweetest, most loving and kind hearted man. If he notices anything I need help with, he would find ways to solve it. BUT there I was focusing on his NOT putting the toilet seat down and being ungrateful. I finally told him about my problem a year after we got married, and the problem was solved. 

The Israelites grumbled and God gave them manna in the morning and a feast of quail at night. Lord, sorry for the many times I grumble and am ungrateful. Please forgive me for not seeing how good, generous and faithful You are to me every single day!  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Treasure in Earthen Vessels

"We hold this treasure in earthen vessels..." 2 Corinthians 4:7

Today is the Feast of Saint James the Apostle. He is a great example of an earthen vessel, brittle, imperfect, and the opposite of precious. Saint James saw the Lord, walked and talked with Him. He listened to His parables and had them explained. Yet he and his companions were clueless about what Jesus was teaching at first. 

In Matthew 20:20-28, Salome, the mother of James and John, went to Jesus to ask the infamous request, "Promise me that these sons of mine will sit, one at Your right hand and the other at Your left, in Your Kingdom." In reply Jesus said, "You do not know what You are asking. Can You drink of the cup I am to drink of?" They both rashly answered, "We can!" As a result, they all got a lesson on how anyone who aspires to greatness must serve the needs of all. 

The treasure in Saint James shone through after Jesus' ascension, when he proclaimed the Gospel across not only Israel but throughout the Roman Kingdom as well. For 40 years, he went around Spain to preach Jesus' way. He was the first of the Twelve to be martyred. His remains are now in the Shrine of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. 

Lord, may I not strive for earthly honor, but may I learn the hard lesson  of serving You through my brothers snd sisters here on earth.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Stand Your Ground! Keep Still!

"Fear not! Stand your ground and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today...The Lord Himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still." 
Exodus 13:13-14

It is very difficult to keep still, to be patient, and trust in the Lord. We would rather do something NOW, right this minute, decide NOW. Proceeding with my own plans NOW is more comfortable than waiting on the Lord. 

After graduation, most of my son's classmates had jobs already. One of his best friends started working the very next day after their Commencement Exercise. Although Josh had several job offers, he waited and prayed. Like I always do, I also prayed for him. He told me that all the good start ups had their offices in BGC. That was too far! With the traffic, it would easily take him more than 6 hours a day just to get there and back! But nothing is impossible with the Lord! He waited and prayed. One day he received an email. He got a job offer from a start up with great investors behind it, in line with what he really wanted to work on, free parking in the office, flexible time, casual clothes, offices in Mandaluyong (soon in Quezon City). All his boxes were ticked! All his mother's boxes were ticked and more! I was praying that he would not think of looking for a place to stay in BGC, or horrors, working abroad! I was praying for good Christians to surround him, great mentors he could learn from, a job that was challenging for him and hone his skills. Thank You Lord, that when we wait on You, You work on our behalf! Thank You for Your favor!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Like Yeast!

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened." Matthew 13:33

How absurd to compare the Kingdom of Heaven to yeast, but that is precisely what Jesus did! Yeast is so tiny, so minuscule, they typically measure 3-4 micrometers! A micrometer is one millionth of a meter! 

This reminds me of what a Chinese Christian leader said. They were happy to be ants or termites infiltrating into the darkest corners of the world where the Gospel has not been preached. They do not even want to build concrete churches but home churches where the faithful meet. Little is known about their work for they work best in secrecy and without fanfare. Many of these men and women have been imprisoned and tortured, and even killed, but their blood is the seed of the church, the yeast that makes it grow. 

God's strategies are not our strategies. Where we would conquer mightily, He prefers slowly but surely. When God led the people into the land He promised, His plan was not to destroy all the pagans living there. "But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Ex. 23:29&30). 

God has a plan, and His ways are not our ways. His thoughts not our thoughts. When we think we see evil prevailing in our midst, we just need to pray and do our part and be that one millionth of a meter yeast in our part of the world. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I Have Seen Him!

"Have you seen Him whom my soul loves?" Song of Solomom 3:3, "I have seen the Lord!" John 20:18

Today is the Feast day of Mary Magdalene, a sinner who became a saint. This reminds me of what Oscar Wilde said— 'Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.' Indeed, we are all sinners and saints in some way at one time or another, but we should remember 1 Peter 4:8, " covers a multitude of sins."

Am I like Mary? Have I been seeking for that great love, and having found it, cherished it, nurtured it, followed Him till the end, even when no one but His mother was there? Mary is Everywoman. An ordinary woman who fell by the wayside, picked up by Jesus and set free. I am that woman, and I continually fall by the wayside. By God's grace, He sends many brothers and sisters with the face of Jesus to pick me up, dust me off and set me on my feet again. How can I, like Mary, say no to that love? 

May I love You, Lord, more than my life itself. Your love for me demands no less.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

What Shall I Say?

"What shall I say to them?" 
Exodus 3:13

The life of Moses before God spoke to him from a burning bush is one short chapter in the Book of Exodus. Then God gives him a mission and that recounting is from chapter 3 to 40 in Exodus, then the whole of Leviticus and Numbers. Moses died when he was 120 years old and this is  described in the last chapter of Numbers. 

What does this tell me? That each of us has a mission, a purpose, and the years that are important to God is when we answer His call and do His work. It matters not to Him, the mistakes we make, how insecure we are, our shortcomings. What is important is He can use us, flaws and all.   

"I have seen the affliction of my people. I am aware of their sufferings," God told Moses. "I will send you to Pharaoh so you may bring my people out of Egypt." And so begins one of the most magnificent stories in the Bible. "What shall I say to them?" asks Moses. "Who am I?" Perhaps if God spoke to us we would ask the same. "What will I say? What will I do? They will not believe me!" etc. etc. etc.

In Jeremiah 1:7, the Lord said to Jeremiah, "Do not say, I am too young,' because you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid for I will be with you." 

Lord, our confidence and security must be established in You. May we know our mission and set our sights on accomplishing it, knowing You are walking with us. 


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

WOYWW: God's Friend

Here are some purses I've made with scrap cloth, lace, buttons, and bits and pieces of embroidered fabric. 

And here I am posting these Boho inspired earrings. I got them for P10 or the equivalent of 10 cents, then I altered them with scrap cloth, a few sequins, a needle and thread. 

Here's another pair I altered. 

"I must go...and see why the bush is not burned." Exodus 3:3

When Moses was doing something ordinary, tending the flock of his father-in-law, a task he did every day, something extraordinary caught his attention. There was a bush engulfed in flames but it was not consumed. When he went closer, God spoke to him. "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob." 

God introduced Himself to Moses. He wants to do the same for each of us, for all of us. In the midst of our ordinary, every day chores, God is there. He may not show Himself in a burning bush, but He is there in the kindness of strangers, the bonds of love we have with our family, the Eucharist, the times we use the gifts and talents He gave us, in every ordinary day. 

Lord, just as You called Moses and had a purpose for Him, so You call us. May we know what You want us to do with the gifts and talents, all the resources You blessed us with. One day, may we hear you say as You said to Moses, "You have found favor with me, and you are my friend." (Exodus 33:17)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

God's Ways

"It is one of the Hebrews' children" Exodus 2:6

The mother of Moses was desperate. Desperate. Pharaoh had given the order that all the newborn Hebrew babies would be thrown into the Nile river. Her precious baby boy! So she hid him for three months, and when that was no longer possible, she placed him in a waterproof papyrus reed basket. She brought him out to the river bank and placed it among the reeds. To me, that is a terrible plan! Pharaoh's servants could easily have found the baby and drowned him! 

And true enough, he was found by Pharaoh's daughter. One would think the daughter would be of one mind with her father, but no! She saved Moses, eventually adopting him as her own. Women in the life of Moses didn't act in the usual way, obviously! 

God acts in His own way as well. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways. For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55:8-9) That is why it is soooo important to read God's Word and listen to Him. Although Joseph' mother foolhardily left her baby in the reeds, I am sure she prayed hard and listened for God's direction. She also sent her daughter to watch out for Moses. 

Whenever we are faced with hard decisions, we should always seek for God's direction. We should pray hard, read the Bible, and ask others to pray with us. Then even if we do something stupid, we can trust that God will work for good (Romans 8:28). 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Carry Your Cross

"He who will not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:38

Yesterday, we celebrated our covenant community's 42nd anniversary. Our theme was a play on our name, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (The Joy of the Lord)- "Ligaya ko ang Panginoon" (My Joy is the Lord). 

One of the sharers was Rosanne Romero, who has persevered with her Multiple Sclerosis for 31 years. MS is a degenerative disease that destroys the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Can you imagine the pain she deals with every single day? We who get so scared of going to the dentist because of the excruciating pain when he hits a nerve? We can't. And it's not only the pain. Things we can do easily, takes her forever to accomplish! 

Rosanne said, "God is sovereign. He decides when and how He wants to use me." And use her He does. She has written books, magazine articles, given talks around the world. Always with her bittersweet humor. She is an example of a beautiful rose in God's garden, blooming in spite of the heat, the blizzard, the storm, the floods sweeping away everything around her. She bears fruit under pressure. She flourishes not fails. She carries her cross triumphantly. 

Indeed we too are supposed to bear fruit in and out of season. We are supposed to bloom under pressure. After all, we are not subject to earth's economy but heaven's. God meets our needs according to HIS riches, and He has met Rosanne's needs while she, like us, are on our pilgrim journey to our real home. 

Rosanne said in closing her sharing, "Nowhere is far enough if it is short of where God calls you to." 

Father, we fall short many times. Teach us to go where You lead, and carry the cross You've given us joyfully as it says in James 1:2, "Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." May we have a triumphant entry into our eternal home! 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Good Soil and an Abundant Harvest

"Mark well the parable of the sower." Matthew 13:18

Mark well. Listen. I tell you truly. These are words Jesus uses when what He wants to say is really important. Jesus is the sower, the gardener, and we are His garden, His field (1 Corinthians 3:9). He sows the seeds of His Words far and wide. Just like the farmer, He is generous with His seeds. Some fall on the footpath, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, and some on good soil. 

When we read God's Word, or listen to it, what kind of soil are we? If you are like me, the Word of God falls on different kinds of soil at different times. Today my soil is rather thorny as I have many concerns. We are going out of town and I want to bring my dad but he may have a hard time. I confess my mind is not wholly on God's Word but keeps straying. Other times, God's message comforts me and settles on the footpath, but birds of forgetfulness pick it up. Sometimes His Word does not take root because I did not meditate on it. 

Lord, when I read Your message to me each day, may it find fertile ground, good soil in my heart. Yes, may I take it all in and accept it so I may have an abundant harvest! 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Not a Single Sparrow

I've been happily altering earrings. I bought some really cheap ones in Divisoria (P10 equivalent to 20 cents U$), and sewed some sequins and fabric on it. 

You can see the unaltered ones at the base. It's really addicting! 

"Not a single sparrow falls to the ground without Your Father's consent." Matthew 10:29

Not a strand of hair on our head falls without God knowing because it says in the following verse that every strand is counted! In Psalm 56:8, it says that God keeps track of every sorrow. "You have collected all my tears in Your bottle, and have recorded each one in Your book." 

A lot of people don't believe in a loving God because of all the misery and terrors of the world. How can a loving God allow a young baby to be sodomized? Even I who am not good would stop it if I could. Why would a faithful God permit little babies in a womb to be dismembered and torn apart? Fanatics bomb in the name of Allah? Does God care? 

God loves us all so much that He gave us free will. He didn't want robots who would always do what He wanted them to do. He wanted free men who would freely give love, and make the effort to be faithful and good and kind. He nurtured a relationship with a few men at first, then a family, a tribe, a nation. He made sure that those who wanted to know Him would have a way, by reading His words, by listening and talking to Him. He even sacrificed His son so we could have His righteousness and know His truth from His Son's mouth. 

But men insist on their own way, making laws with their own wisdom, running countries in their own distorted intelligence, solving problems by creating more. Actually, the world would be a much worse place if God did not keep a reign on evil. The Holy Spirit in God's people is the reason evil is not that free.  

Lord, have mercy on us. Many things trouble us. Help us to remember that we are Your people, You love us and protect us. Enkindle in us Your Spirit that we may keep evil at bay wherever we are! Heal our land and bring Your peace to our hearts. 


Friday, July 14, 2017

Here I Am

"Here I am," Jacob replied. 

There's a lot of traveling in the Bible. Here Jacob is called to set out for Egypt with his his sons, daughters, wives and husbands, children, grandchildren, livestock, and all their belongings they had acquired in Canaan. They migrated to Egypt because there was a famine all around and only in Egypt was there plenty of food. God tells him, "Don't be afraid for I will go with you to Egypt." 

Many filipinos go abroad leaving their families behind in search of a better life. Yesterday, during our Bible Study in the office, one of our former employees came to share. She was very candid. When she would join our Bible studies before, she would be confused about what we were talking about. Tithing? Hearing God? Reading the Bible? Although my sister Meldy gave her a thick Bible, she didn't open it. Before she left, we prayed over her, knowing that her future was in God's hands. We prayed He would go with her, and show His favor. 

I was so happy listening to her sharing about exactly that! She said she had a very good and generous boss, and she had time to serve in Jesus is Lord ministry. She tithes, she reads the Bible and has memorized Bible verses. Eagerly, she exhorted us to persevere in the faith and obey God. How excited Alma was, and on fire, wanting to tell all of us how God is so good and to give Him glory! 

In our pilgrim journey, may we all answer, "Here I am, Lord!" Wherever we go, near or far, may we heed Your call, knowing You walk with us. May we plant seeds along the way, seeds of faith, hope, joy, encouragement; trusting that God would do the watering. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Give Freely

"Give as freely as you have received!" Matthew 10:8

In another version of the Bible, we read, "The gift you have received, give as a gift." Sometimes we are so tight-fisted with what we have, forgetting that these are all gifts generously given to us by the Father. “For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give—large or small—will be used to measure what is given back to you” (Luke 6:38).

I am rereading an old favorite, "Anne of Green Gables". The story is about a talkative young orphan girl who gets adopted by an elderly brother and sister. They actually wanted to adopt a boy to help with the farm, but because of a mistake, a girl was brought to them. When they were going to return her to the asylum, they decided to take pity on the poor child who set her heart on staying in Green Gables. They didn't regret it. In opening their hearts to Anne, they received so much love and blessing in return. That is fiction, but it's true of real life as well. Closing our hearts and hands makes it hard for anything to come out or in. 

We have so much to give, not only money or material resources. A nurse's aid in a hospital named Betty was generous with her love, compassion and encouragement for her elderly patients. She befriended one old lady who had a prolonged stay in the hospital and managed to make her more comfortable. They shared lots of stories together until the old lady knew that Betty needed furniture for her apartment, and how much she wanted to be an illustrator. When the old lady passed away, she left Betty her nice furniture  with a note, "Betty, I promise to put in a good word for you in Heaven so you can get the job you’ve always wanted.” Three months after, Betty got an illustrating job! 

Lord, may we always look for ways to be generous with what You have given us. May we share not only our treasures, but also our time and our talent. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

WOYWW: Go, Preach

Here's what's on my desk this morning. I start out with a Bible verse I want to illustrate and then look for a picture to trace on my Bible.

After tracing, I paint the picture with acrylic. 

I make sure I can still read the Words underneath the paint. Then I use a brown pencil to outline the picture. 

"Jesus sent these men on mission as the Twelve..." Matthew 10:5

"Go, preach!" That's what Jesus instructed the Twelve to do. We may not be conscious of it, but that is our mandate as well. After Jesus rose from the dead, when the disciples saw him again, He reminded them, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:19-20)

A lot of people think the end of the world is near, and although I'd like to think the same, it's quite clear that it won't come in my lifetime. Jesus said, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14) The word nations in this verse is translated from the Greek word which means ethnic groups. There are many unreached people in the world! Not all of us are called to leave our families and go to Bhutan, North Korea, or Iraq, etc., but we can hasten the work of evangelists and missionaries working like little ants in these places. Thousands of Chinese missionaries who have been trained and purified by 60 years of imprisonment, torture, and much suffering, have infiltrated these countries wary of Western evangelists. They are not interested in building churches of concrete, but house churches like in the Book of Acts. 

We need to do our part and support these men and women of steel resolve by praying for them resolutely, and by supporting them financially. tells us what to pray for and how to help. God's work is amazing! 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Your Faith has Made You Well

"Daughter, be of good comfort; your faith has made you well." Matthew 9:22

When someone asks me to pray for healing, I always ask them if they know that God's word is medicine to our bodies. In Proverbs 4:20-22, that is exactly what it says. "My son, attend to my words, consent and submit to my sayings, for they are life to those that find them, healing and health to all their flesh." The words healing and health are translated from a Hebrew word which means medicine. 

The woman with the continuous issue of blood in the Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, and Luke 8:43-48, had a very real pressing need. Even if during those times, she was supposed to closet herself away because she was ceremonially unclean, she risked the censure of the priests and the people to go to Jesus. Of course she had heard Him speak before. He was her last hope. In Malachi 4:2, there was a prophecy about the coming Messiah, that He would have healing in his wings, or literally, his cloak. 

After she touched Him, Jesus turned around to ask, "Who touched me?" The woman came forward guiltily. She had touched Jesus and in her uncleanness had made Him unclean, she thought. When we come to Jesus in the defilement of our sin, do we make Him unclean? Why, yes! He was made sin for us! 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Lord, may we consent, submit, confess Your words and promises so our faith will grow. Thank You for becoming sin for us, that we may put on the robe of righteousness, that we be healed and made whole. 

Of Razor Wires and Daisies

"You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel..." Genesis 32:28

Sometimes the Bible presents us with more questions than answers, just as in the case of the story of Jacob and his twin brother Esau. Esau sells his birthright as the older brother to Jacob for some stew. The Jacob steals the blessing intended for Esau in connivance with Rebekah, his mother. Isaac, the patriarch, sent Jacob away, for Esau planned to kill him. 

Jacob's life continues with many twists and turns like an intriguing telenovela. He marries two sisters because he was tricked into marrying the first when he really loved the second. Jacob then begets many sons including Joseph the dreamer. 

In Genesis chapter 32, Jacob "wrestled with God", another perplexing incident in Jacob's life. Instead of getting hurt however, Jacob managed to receive a blessing.  This convoluted story reminds me of razor wire, which is so ubiquitous in Israel, for security purposes. You undoubtedly would get hurt if you insist on going through it. But because the concertina coils are airy, yellow daisies manage to bloom between the barbs. Jacob's life was like that. Messy, full of the barbs of sin and treachery, but out of it, God's beautiful plan unfolded. 

If our life is full of twists, wrong roads taken, and dirty with sin, we can look to Jacob's life and see hope that God would give us a blessing as long as we don't give up. 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Like Little Children

"You have hidden these things from the wise, and revealed them to the childlike." Matthew 11:25

It's good to ask kids questions. They give you the cutest answers, which sometimes are quite wise. Once I asked Josh, my son, when he was a toddler, "Why are you so cute?" He answered as if it was the most obvious thing on earth, "Because I'm Jesus' friend." 

One kid was asked what love was, and he said it was when his grandpa tied the shoe laces of grandma because grandma has arthritis, but his arthritis is worse than hers. When a 9 year old boy was asked for the meaning of success, he thought for a moment and answered, "Not giving up." Another 5 yr old was asked, "How was your day?" "Awesome!" Surprised, the mom asked, "Why?" "Because I wanted it to be!" 

Indeed, we lose a lot when we complicate things. Kids quarrel but they usually forgive their friends right away, and forget about what they fought about. Adults carry grudges and resentments a long time. Ambitions make us suspicious of others, and selfish as well. These are the heavy burdens we carry that Jesus teaches us to give to Him. We were meant to be like little children, Jesus' friends, depending on Him, loving others not competing with them. And yes, we will be successful if we don't give up! 

Lord, may we be like little children. Excited for each new day, and all the opportunities in it to love, and to experience this awesome world we live in. Help us to give our burdens to You and find the rest You want to give us. 

Saturday, July 08, 2017

New Wine

"Do not put new wine into old wineskins." Matthew 9:17

If you put new, unfermented wine into new wineskins, what happens? Jesus tells us that the skins will burst, and the wine spills out. I've never seen wineskins, but I've sewn patches on holes in old clothes. That doesn't work well either! 

I quote from "The Anawim Way Liturgical Meditations"- "The image of new wine being poured into new wineskins is an image of ourselves. We have become new wineskins at Baptism. The new wine being poured into us is the very life of Jesus Christ, given by the power of His Spirit." 

What a beautiful picture of the fullness of life God wants to gift us with! May we always be willing to learn new things at the Master's feet. Good wine becomes better with age, so too are we transformed as the Holy Spirit acts in us. Lord, may we always welcome Your work in our life! 

Friday, July 07, 2017

Your Heart, Your Eyes

"What reason can the teacher have for eating with tax collectors and those who disregard the law?" 
Matthew 9:11

The Pharisees always had something to say about Jesus. This time, after Jesus called the tax collector Matthew to follow him, Jesus was at Matthew's house, eating and talking with other tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees were critical of this. I can imagine them shaking their heads and frowning. 

Jesus overheard them, just as he hears every unjust, self-righteous, critical thing I've said or even thought! "People in good health do not need a doctor," Jesus explained, "sick people do...I have come to call, not the righteous but sinners."

Lord, may I learn to have Your heart, Your eyes, to love as You love. May I not easily judge others, and be critical of them. May I see like You, what they can become, a saint like Matthew! May I build relationships and not destroy. May I encourage and not discourage. 

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Faith more Precious than Gold

"God Himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust." Genesis 22:8

Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his precious son as a burnt offering. Of all the tests in the Bible, this is the hardest! I cannot imagine myself passing this test, ever! Even if I know that obedience to God brings blessing all the time. But I do not have to worry about this test, God has given me enough to think about. All of life is a test when you think about it. It is a test of patience when we have to go through horrendous traffic, or we have a friend who keeps promising but never delivers. Our character is formed, developed and revealed by continuous tests. Like Abraham, we can be tested whether we trust God or if we prefer to act on our own power and wisdom. Like Joseph, we can be tempted by worldly things. Psalm 105:19 says that the Lord tested Joseph's character until the time came to fulfill his dreams. In Proverbs 17:3, we read that the Lord tests hearts. Sometimes God even withdraws from us like He withdrew from Mother Teresa, plunging her into a prolonged darkness. In 2 Chronicles 32:31, we read of Hezekiah. God withdrew from him in order to test him and see what was really in his heart. 

What kind of test is God putting us through today? 1 Peter 1:4-9 tells us that our faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. "God has reserved a priceless inheritance for His children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay....So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while." 

Lord, thank You for all Your promises. I know that You help us through our tests and trials, like You helped Abraham and provided a lamb in place of Isaac!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

WOYWW: What's the Matter?

I am still working outside in our little garden. Still having mini garage sales and auctions for some if the items that are left. 

Like these books, and the bags, lamps, and other stuff below.

"What's the matter, Hagar? Don't be afraid..." Genesis 21:17

Hagar was the servant of Abraham's wife, Sarah. Sarah had no children, and was impatient even if God repeatedly told Abraham that he would have a son. She took matters into her own hands and offered Hagar to Abraham. "Take Hagar my maid and sleep with her that I can have children through her." We can see how weak Abraham is here, much like Adam. Instead of standing on God's promise and obeying Him, he followed Sarah. That certainly made a mess of things, which continues up to this day, what with Christians and Muslims always at odds! 

Hagar treated Sarah with contempt when she became pregnant, and she ran away when Sarah punished her. In Genesis 16, God assured Hagar, "I will greatly multiply your descendants, so that they will be too many to count. Name your son Ishmael... he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him." In Genesis 21, when both Ishmael and Isaac were a little older, Sarah noticed that Ishmael was mocking Isaac. Hagar and Ishmael were sent away with just a little food and water. Naturally she got very depressed as she wandered in the wilderness. Again God spoke words of reassurance. 

Even if we can say that Ishmael was not in God's plan for Abraham, and was actually the fruit of Sarah's ill- conceived schemes, God took care of him as he grew up (Genesis 21:20). Sometimes we take a wrong turn, make mistakes, or wrong decisions. We can be assured that God will continue to take care of us. "What's the matter?" He asks us, "Do not be afraid, I see and hear you." 

Lord, during the times I make my own plans, and fail to listen and obey, thank You for not giving up on me. Guide me back to the right path, help me to reconnect with You and obey,  so You can bless me with Your goodness.