Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Blessed, Broken and Given Away
Monday, October 30, 2017
“She was badly stooped, quite incapable of standing erect.” Romans 8:11
When Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues one Sabbath, He saw a woman who was so badly stooped, she could not stand erect. He called her to Him and healed her.
Many people are bent over with pain, suffering with innumerable trials, and unlike the woman, we do not see it. Here in the Philippines, we have a lower suicide rate than other countries, but an average of seven suicides a day is seven too many. It doesn’t seem to matter if one is a millionaire or a pauper, highly educated and skilled, famous, surrounded by family, young, old, good-looking or not. Sadly, more and more people these days think of ending their life.
Usually, psychiatrists treat depression as a chemical imbalance and use “biologically based intervention” prescribing antidepressants. But there is a second way which is not a quick fix via drugs but is found to be more effective. Listening and talking to someone who feels down, empathizing, and trying to understand will help move the person to a more positive mindset. I believe praying with and praying over the person, calling on Jesus who never fails to heal the broken hearted, can open the door to healing.
It is known that President Abraham Lincoln battled depression and thoughts of suicide for most of his adult life. He would get especially melancholy at times of great stress, and there were many of that in his life. This is from an article about Lincoln’s depression: “According to General James F. Rusling, Lincoln said that during the fighting at Gettysburg he turned to prayer, felt the whole thing to be in God’s hands, and “somehow a sweet comfort crept into his soul.”
At another time, his wife’s dressmaker noticed that the President had a very sad face, and his step was very slow. He had just come from the War Department, and the news was “Dark, dark, dark.” He sat in the corner and read from the Book of Job in the Bible for some time. After a while, his face became more cheerful.
God said in Isaiah 55:11 that His Word will not return to Him until it accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it. If we need hope, peace and joy for living, let us turn to the God who is the giver of every good thing. But most especially, let us be more sensitive with those around us who need our support and understanding.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Saturday, October 28, 2017
God’s Holy People
“You are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19
Saint Paul couldn’t have been writing this to ordinary Christians like you and me, could he? But he did. He wrote this letter while he was imprisoned in Rome. He had spent more than two years building the church in Ephesus, in what is now Turkey. Many had converted to the faith, and of course he wanted to encourage and comfort the believers there. In his 6 chapter long letter, he talks about the glorious inheritance awaiting those who believe in Christ. He expounds in God’s eternal plan from the beginning, how God has given the believer everything he or she needs to live out the Christian life and grow in maturity.
When I think of saints, of course I think of the well known saints like Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Bernadette, Saint Therese, etc. but for each well known saint, there are thousands of unknown saints. There are those who were thrown to the lions, crucified, burned to death, or beheaded for not sacrificing to Roman gods, or renouncing their belief in Christ. Martyrdom is not confined to the early years of Christianity. According to Open Doors researchers, “Approximately 215 million Christians experience high, very high, or extreme persecution.”
But apparently, to Paul, we don’t need to be persecuted, martyred or tortured to be considered a fellow citizen of God’s holy people. We already are part of God’s family. We are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Christ as the cornerstone. We who believe are one of those building blocks, carefully joined together, to make God’s holy temple.
Lord, I’m content to be one of the tiny stones in Your temple, but I want to be the best and strongest little stone for You! With Your help, nothing is impossible!
Friday, October 27, 2017
The Kindness of God
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
WOYWW: The Little Seed
“When much has been given a man, much will be required of him.” Luke 12:48
This is the verse I want to illustrate today so I chose a picture in a magazine and traced it on to my Bible.
After I use acrylic paints and a pencil to outline the drawing.
God gave each of us gifts, talents, natural aptitudes, and resources. It’s up to us to discover them, hone them so they become skills, an expertise that we can use to bless others and give glory to the One who was generous with us. We’d like to think that God was equally generous with everyone, but the parable of the talents that Jesus told in Matthew 25 shows us that God entrusted more to some and less to others.
My mom used to say that she had little talent compared to others but that she used it to the last drop. She also did not have much money to start a business. She started by using scraps to make stuffed toys. She did not have business expertise, she used her common sense. But she had faith, a whole lot of it. She prayed for a business, worked hard, prayed, learned what she could, prayed, persisted, prayed, and now that business is 50 years old this year.
I have to admit, compared to my siblings, that I don’t have as much talent as they do when it comes to art. For years, I did not touch a brush or pencil. But in 2006, when I was dissatisfied that at 10 am I could not remember what I prayed about early in the morning, I decided to embellish the bible verse I meditated on. I would cut up magazines and put borders. I would cut up pictures that would illustrate the verse. Eventually I started to draw. My drawing was so elementary but I kept at it. Then I started to paint. Every day I kept at it. And today, I paint in my Bible. I believe the little seed God put in my hand has grown and will keep growing if I water it every day.
I would think it’s scary if God gave us many many gifts!!!! We would have to grow each one! But I think God only gives us what we can handle. I remember a story of a little boy following his dad in a supermarket. The boy was holding a basket and the father was putting the bread, cheese, milk into it. A woman observing them, asked the son, “Isn’t that too heavy for you?” “No,” he answered, “My father knows exactly how much I can carry.”
Thank You Lord for all our gifts. Help us to take care of everything you give us. May we be grateful, and not proud of what we have, nor envious of what others have. Teach us to use our gifts to help and bless others. How wonderful it is to partner with You in discovering Your plan and purpose for each of us!
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
“It will go well with those servants whom the master finds awake on his return.” Luke 12:37
No one knows the day and the time when the Messiah returns, except the Father (Matthew 24:36), so it is amusing when a date comes up like it did recently. Some believed that September 23 was D-Day because Niburu, a planet which has been debunked by NASA as a hoax, was headed towards a collision with earth. Ever since Jesus was crucified, many have been waiting for Him to come again.
In Matthew 12:35-38, Jesus tells His disciples that they had to be like servants waiting for their master’s return from a wedding. It will go well with them if he finds them awake and ready to do his bidding. Alas for those who are sleeping!
It’s hard to wait. I am not very patient and I usually find things to do while waiting in the bank or the doctor’s office. I usually bring what we used to call a “torture kit”. It could be a book, drawing materials, or a pair of scissors and cloth that I would cut designs out of. But waiting for Jesus is entirely different. We can’t use a “torture kit” to while away the hours, days, months, years, decades, we have before His return. We have to use our time profitably, meaning like good servants, we have to do the work He wants us to do. We can’t choose what we want to do. But the Master left a whole manual of instructions. We just have to read it and obey.
It’s much like the manual my sister Peggy wrote for our sales staff to follow. It’s very detailed. When we go on store visits, we check on how the store looks, how the staff behave, and if there is plenty of stock of the merchandise. Most of the time, it goes well for the staff, but once in a while, some get a lecture. When Jesus comes again, and we are found “sleeping”, I doubt if it’s just a lecture we will receive!
Monday, October 23, 2017
Sunday, October 22, 2017
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21
In today’s reading, Jesus was asked by the Pharisees whether it was lawful to pay tax to the Emperor. Jesus, who knew that in their hearts, they were just trying to trap him, answered, “Whose head is on the coin?” “Caesar’s,” they replied.
“Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s.”
When we were young, we did a lot of bartering and exchanging. We did not have many store bought toys, and usually made our own with catalogs, paper, pens, glue, scissors, and cardboard boxes. One time Peggy and I drew paper dolls. Meldy wanted to play with us, but as she was too young, she had to give most of her toys to Peggy in exchange for one paper doll. Looking back, we would say “Grabe ka naman, Peggy! Kawawa naman si Meldy!” (Too much, Peggy! Poor Meldy!”) And Peggy would answer that she had a hard time making the paper doll. Those paper dolls were her handiwork, and she could ask whatever price she wanted and it was up to Meldy to consider if it was worth it or not.
Just as the coin reflected Caesar’s image, we were created to reflect God’s glory. We are God’s handiwork, made in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), much more precious than any gold coin or treasure on earth. Is it not that He can demand we live by His rules, His design? Our life and breath are His. We can reject Him but He also decrees the consequences.
What are we, Lord, but mere vassals, clay pots You have deemed worthy of Your attention. Help us to rise up from the mud, attire ourselves in Your righteousness, to belong to You forever.
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Faith is the Key
“Faith is the key...” Romans 4:16
In my other Bible, I read, “It all depends on faith, everything is grace.”
Last week I had my hair cut by my favorite haircutter because my hair was scraggly and we were going to have our big celebration for the 50th anniversary of our family business. My sister Peggy told me not to have it cut too short and I did give Bernie that instruction but unfortunately I asked him to tell me his story and it was a long story so my hair got shorter and shorter.
Bernie’s ‘salon’, if it can be called that, is like a hole in the wall next to a dingy car repair shop. He charges P60 (little over a dollar), but I am more satisfied every time I go to him than when I go to expensive parlors. I asked him where he learned to cut hair. He comes from Isabela in the Cagayan Valley and his father was a poor farmer. He wanted to go to school but there was no money for any of the family to go to school. He asked a relative in Manila if he could go stay with her for a while and she agreed. In Manila, even while he was still a teenager, he would find jobs as a houseboy. On his third job, his boss said, “Bernie, you’re not going to be a houseboy forever. I will pay for the haircut and grooming course in TESDA so you can learn a skill.” After he finished that, and he went to school, he would charge P5.00 to cut hair. All his classmates would have their hair cut and he would be able to buy school supplies and books. He is the only one of his siblings who can read and write. He sent his nephew and niece to school and they graduated already, have their own homes, and cars and families. He bought his brother in the province a rice field. He sends money home to his mother regularly.
While telling his story, he would call himself “bakla” (homosexual), and he told me most of his friends could not save any money because they would “rampa” all the time. What’s rampa, I asked him. “Go after men. Different men who just fool them for their money.”
While talking to him, I was praying if there was anything God wanted me to say, but Bernie would keep talking, and cutting. He said he was “palasimba”, a churchgoer. He would pray to God, “Lord, please give me a house. Even if it’s just a ‘kubo’, a hut.” Eventually he was able to buy a house in a gated subdivision. He said he was so grateful to God for his blessings. “Lord, I only asked for a hut, and you gave me a concrete home.”
Yes, faith is the key. I think God gave each of us a key. It’s up to us to use it to open doors, or to let the key sit unused. Sometimes we even lose the key. But if we open one door, work hard, love those God gives us to love, other doors will appear and we can use the same key to open more doors.
Friday, October 20, 2017
Termites and Wrong Thinking
“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed...” Luke 12:2
Earlier this year, my dad had our home, the home we grew up in, renovated. It got a new splash of paint, the windows were fixed, and the garden was replanted with flowers. It looked really, really nice...on the outside.
Two weeks ago, my dad told us that termites attacked the wooden parts of the roof truss and flooring. When I visited I was horrified to see the ceiling and cabinets in the kitchen and master’s bedroom toilet removed to expose the damage. It was much worse in the attic. When my dad was having the exterior beautified, we did not realize that there was so much rotting wood inside the ceilings!
We have to examine our life if there’s anything in our character, attitude and mind set that needs a thorough overhaul. We can be “beautiful” on the outside, like what Jesus said of the Pharisees, but rotten inside. We need to be very careful, because like termites that can destroy a home from the inside out, a ‘little’ sin can grow and corrupt the very foundation of our Christian life. We need to root out wrong thinking, lukewarmness, selfishness, and a placid acceptance of worldly values. We have to pray, read the Bible everyday, and serve others, so that our inner compass can guide us. If we don’t, that inner compass will get rusty, all but covered in the moist soil that termites use to move around in.
Lord, show me where I am not pleasing to You, where I am dirty in Your sight. Sometimes I am not very charitable towards how I think of others. Sometimes I am not generous. Help me to get rid of the ‘termites’ that are destroying my relationship with you and my brothers and sisters.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
"For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard." Romans 3:23
No one particularly likes to talk of sin. A whole lot of preachers shirk from telling their congregations that they are sinners and need to turn away from their evil worldly ways. Saint Paul clearly tells us we are all sinners, not only the Pharisees or tax collectors or corrupt politicians or fornicators, or murderers. ALL are sinners. When we talk of sin, we would also have to ask, "By whose standards?" Most people would like to make their own, and exclude from the list whatever they do!
But Saint Paul tells us we are all under the law of God. We can't make our own rules, even if we argue till we are blue in the face to be politically correct or socially acceptable. In the end, what will matter is we are under God's law because He created us, and we have all sinned against Him.
In Josh McDowell's
book, "More than a Carpenter", he relates a story of a judge in California who declared a young woman guilty for speeding. He fined her $100, and then the judge stood, took off his robe, and paid the fine. You see, the woman was his daughter. He was willing to pay the price for her so she could go free.
In the court of life, of which God is the judge, the "wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). We are all sinners, guilty as charged. God took off His robe of divinity to come down in the form of man and pay the price.
Thank You Jesus for loving as so much to be our redeemer, to be the propitiation for the requirements of the Father, so we may live with You forever in Your heavenly Kingdom!
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
WOYWW: Saint Luke the Evangelist
Small Wonders, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesdays,
Count Your Blessings, Word Art Wednesday, Wildly Original
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
The Visible God
"Since the creation of the world, invisible realities, God's eternal power and divinity, have become visible, recognized through the things He has made." Romans 1:20
Creation is God's first missionary. The beauty of the flower, the majesty of the mountains, the power of the volcano, the terribleness of the storm, the grandeur of an eagle in flight, the perfect peace of a sleeping baby, all speak to us of God's character and nature. He may be invisible, but we can see and experience His love, His creativity, His nobility, His patience, His kindness and His awesome power.
Last year, atheist Bennie Hart applied for a license plate which said "IMGOD", and was refused by the Kentucky Transportation Department. Because Mr. Hart does not believe in God, he makes himself his god. That's what we all do when we disregard the laws God put into place FOR OUR OWN GOOD! It's sad that instead of worshipping the Creator, people put created things on a pedestal. It happened in Moses' time with the golden calf in the Book of Exodus. It is amazing that after all the miracles the Jews experienced, when Moses left them for 40 days, they decided they wanted a god for them to follow! And they created one!!!! Perhaps by our very nature, human beings want to see the god they choose to worship. That's why people make idols. And yet there is the whole universe to ponder that gives testimony to the God of miracles, the God of precise order, the God of exquisite beauty.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them (Psalm 8:3,4).
Lord, forgive us our many failings. Your creation declare Your glory and majesty. May we not make the mistake of making things and people more important than You!
Monday, October 16, 2017
A New Song!
Sunday, October 15, 2017
"Come to the feast." Matthew 22:4
It's almost always exciting to go to a wedding feast. You know you're going to be among friends, eat fine food, and most of all, you will be with the bride and groom and delight in their joy.
Jesus in Matthew 22, likens the reign of God to a wedding banquet given by a king for his son. It's so depressing that the king prepared the best foods and wine, and his guests preferred to work! He invited people who did not think his invitation to be with him was wonderful!
God is inviting each of us to His party as well. We cannot imagine the glorious experience that awaits us in His home. But some of us, instead of preparing our appropriate garments, prefer to work, work, work, or play, play, play, without thought for the eternal future that we all have to face one day. Although we are all invited to Heaven, we cannot get in if we are not fitly dressed in the clothing of salvation and the robe of Christ's righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).
Saturday, October 14, 2017
I joined a mail swap recently and this is what I sent off. I gathered a lot of stuff from my box of collage materials. Stickers, cut outs from magazines or brochures, odds and ends. The theme was hope. Everyone needs hope. I painted a postcard with one of my favorite sayings. "Hope is a thing with feathers...." Couldn't show the postcard before because the recipient might see it!
"The mountains melt like wax before the Lord..." Psalm 97:5
Mountains are mentioned almost 570 times in the Bible, but the verses about mountains that intrigue me most are found in Mark 11:23, Matthew 21:21, Matthew 17:20. In all these verses Jesus says that if we have faith even the size of a mustard seed, we can say to a mountain, "Move!" and it would move. We could say, "Melt!" and it would melt. Nothing would be impossible. Wouldn't we want a faith like that? I am sure there are many mountains we want to speak to. Mountains of cancer and so many kinds of sicknesses and addiction, financial need, broken relationships, etc. If only we could just say, "I rebuke you, tumor! Melt!", and it would disappear.
I believe in everything Jesus said so it is not outside the realm of possibility for each of us to be able to do this. We do not need Jesus to come down and do the speaking for us. He wants us to learn from Him. In Romans 10:7, Saint Paul tells us that faith comes from listening to the Word of God. If we keep reading the Word aloud, we are making our faith grow. I like to not only read the Word, I like to listen to preaching and teaching on Youtube. I see my faith as a garden and I like to plant seeds of different kinds in my garden.
I heard of this woman whose laptop, phone and iPod was stolen. She felt horrible but she had just listened to a talk and decided to practice what she heard. She decreed and declared that she wanted her laptop back, she wanted her iPhone back, she wanted her iPod back. Some days later, she received a call from a man who wanted to meet with her. "I'm the one who stole your things and I want to return it", he told her. They met at a coffee shop, and he said, "I was listening to a talk on your iPod. Bill Johnson's 'I want my life back', and I thought I should return your things." After that, the woman was able to bring the man to the Lord!
Yes Lord, You work in mysterious ways! Teach me those ways Lord! I want to learn not only how to melt my mountains but I want to melt the mountains plaguing other people too!