Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Last Will Be First

"And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last." Luke 13:30

This phrase can be found also in Matthew 19:30, Matthew 20:16, and Mark 10:31. And Jesus means exactly what he says. The thief hanging on the cross beside him must have done terrible things for him to merit the absolute worst punishment, but he received heaven's reward after he repented. That thief received the same fullness of life eternal that Saints Peter, Paul, and Timothy received. The thief just got through that narrow door! 

We will never know who we will meet when we get to heaven. (We're getting there not because of any good we've done but because God will finish the work He started in us!) 

We can try to think of the most evil person we know, the one who murders people, babies even, the one who goes to a crowded place and plants a bomb, the one who rapes, who deceives, who lies, curses, etc. And then when we see Saint Peter, we can ask him, "Why is that person here? I served God, tried my best to be good, told the truth, and prayed every day! And that person, what did he do?" Saint Peter might answer, "He repented and asked for mercy!" 

It's the same as the workers in the vineyard in the 20th chapter of Matthew. 

Some worked a full day, others just an hour, and they all got the same wage! There can't, after all, be any more or less of eternal life. And NONE of us deserve the reward of heaven. None! Only God’s generosity gets us in. 

Lord Jesus, thank You for paying the price of admission to our eternal home! We will never realize how amazingly incredible our inheritance is until we join you, like the thief beside You on the cross, in Paradise! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Living Yeast!

"The Kingdom of God is like yeast which a woman took to knead into three measures of flour until a whole mass of dough began to rise." 

Luke 13:21

Jesus liked to compare His Kingdom to small things, yeast, and seeds. Apparently there is not much fanfare or big signs that point to His Kingdom. Yeast and seeds, especially the tiny mustard seed, are so small and insignificant. It reminds me of Mother Teresa who often compared herself to a little pencil.  "I'm just a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letteyr to the world." "I am a little pencil in God's hands. He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more." She also said the oft repeated, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love."

Jesus started with a little band of insignificant men and women like us. They weren't very intelligent. They didn't have Master's degrees from important schools. They weren't eloquent speakers at the start. They weren't even very brave. But just like a tiny seed which grows in the right soil, and yeast which makes dough rise, we too can contribute our gifts and talents, no matter how little, for God to use in the growth of His Kingdom. How wonderful if God would say to us, at the end of our life here on earth, that we were good seed, usable pencils, living yeast! 

Monday, October 29, 2018

But Instead Thanksgiving

“No obscenity, or silly or suggestive talk...but instead thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:4

One would think it was common sense for people to talk nicely to each other, to be kind, and refrain from obscenities, and cursing, or even suggestive comments that put women down. Sadly we see how even prominent people in power use gutter language, and can lie to a whole nation. It is not surprising then that more and more people are coming out with their fake news and stupid arguments without any basis. 

St. Paul emphasizes in his letter to the Ephesians, “Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.” 

St. Paul’s words are very clear. We need to watch that we are not deceived, much less partner with those who disobey God’s laws. Lord, may we be clear about what is pleasing to You. May You expose these deeds of darkness and open the eyes of those who are deceived. May we always fill our hearts and mouths with thanksgiving, a perfect offering of praise to You. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I Want to See!

“I want to see!” Mark 10:51

Sometimes when trying to understand a story in the Bible, I put myself in one of the character's shoes. This time I put on a blind beggar’s clothes. It is undoubtedly filthy as Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, does not have anyone with him, to guide him or to take care of him. 

At this point when I enter into Bartimaeus’ life, I am just sitting by the road outside Jericho. I am begging for food, dependent on the kindness of strangers. What a lonely life, most would say! But being blind, my sense of hearing is acute. I can hear the chirping of birds, the little things no one notices. I am eager for any conversation and pay great attention to stories I hear as people pass me by. Recently there are a lot of stories of Jesus of Nazareth. Wonderful stories of how he touches people and they walk! My heart is full, and I am so eager to hear about Jesus, His parables, His teachings, but how can I if no one brings me to where He is? There is a little seed in my heart, a seed of yearning, a seed of hope!

Suddenly, there is a commotion. There is a sizable crowd approaching, a lot of shuffling feet. People speaking all at the same time, a lot of excitement. What is happening? I focus my attention so I can understand what is being said. I hear the name, "Jesus of Nazareth", and my heart quickens. Of course, I am not going to let this moment slip by! I shout as loud as I can, "JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE PITY ON ME!" I try to get up awkwardly, but people push me. I almost fall backwards, but I do not care. I keep shouting. Many are telling me to keep quiet, to shut up, but I shout even louder so Jesus can hear. "JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE PITY ON ME!"

Finally, I hear a quietness. Even if I have never seen Him, I know that voice. It is a compelling voice. "Call him over." Someone comes and pulls me, saying gruffly, "You have nothing whatever to fear from Him! Get up! He is calling you!" I throw aside my filthy rag of a cloak, get up, and couldn't believe it. I was right beside Jesus! "What do you want me to do for you?" He asked, full of compassion, (the Greek word used in Mark20:34, is Jesus was moved to His very core). I knew I could ask for anything, anything! I could ask for riches, for fame, for food, for new clothes, but I knew what I was going to ask! "Rabboni," I say in a trembling voice. "I want to see." Jesus then lays a hand on me, "Be on your way! Your faith has healed you!" And then, miracle of miracles, I can see! I see Jesus' kind face and my heart is full! I start to follow Him and never look back.

Am I as eager to hear Jesus' teachings and stories so that my heart will be full of faith? Faith comes from hearing Jesus' words. (Romans 10:17) What do I ask from God? Are my prayers full of pleadings for this and that, and not for the most important prayer, to see? To have faith? We are all blind beggars in a way. We need the gift of faith so we can see God and all that we have in Him! Let us all pray like Bartimaeus, “JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE PITY ON ME!”

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Cut It Down!

“He came in search of fruit.” Luke 13:6

In Luke chapter 13, Jesus tells a story of a man with a garden. For three years, he kept visiting a fig tree in the hopes it will bear fruit, but he was always disappointed. Eventually, he told his gardener, “Cut it down. Not one fig have I found on this tree. We can plant something else in this space!”

The gardener pleaded, “Give it one more chance. I will take special care and give it plenty of fertilizer. If we don’t get figs next year, we will cut it down.” 

Just like the man with a garden, God expects us to bear good fruit with what He has given us. Jesus is the gardener who takes care of each and every one of us. He said in John 17, “I guarded them so that not one was lost...” We can be confident that He who began the good work in us, will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).

When we undergo trials and suffering, that is our gardener at work, pruning our decaying leaves and branches. He is making sure we bear fruit for the Kingdom. One of the ways we can help Jesus is to repent of our stubbornness, so that we give Him the freedom to do what He thinks is necessary for our growth and fruitfulness. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

God’s Face

Had a creative faith journaling workshop yesterday. 

So glad the ladies enjoyed themselves! 

“Lord, this is the people that longs to see Your face.” Psalm 24:6

In the 17th chapter of Luke, Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance changed so that His face shone like the sun, and His clothing became dazzling white. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. Why Moses, and why Elijah, was it only because Moses represented the law, and Elijah the prophets? 

In Exodus chapter 33, Moses asks to see God’s glorious presence, but the Lord said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” God continued, “you CANNOT see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” Instead Moses saw God from behind. 

In 1 Kings 19, God gives Elijah a revelation of Himself when Elijah was downhearted because he was being hunted down for being zealous for the Lord. God told Elijah to stand before Him on Mount Sinai. Elijah experienced a mighty windstorm that hurled rocks loose, an earthquake and fire, but the Lord was in neither of those forces. God spoke to Elijah in a still, small, gentle whisper, but Elijah did not see His face. 

Moses and Elijah both experienced a theophany of God, but both of them were NOT permitted to see His face. In the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah lived to see God’s face.

These two theophanies of Moses and Elijah, along with other manifestations of God’s presence in the Old Testament, foreshadows the appearance of the Abrahamic God in Christ. Jesus is the final, climactic theophany. Through Jesus, the people who long to see God’s face can LIVE (John 14:9; Rev. 22:4)! 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Exceedingly Abundantly

“...exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20

I like to pray from the Bible. Sometimes we do not have the words. Our minds are too cluttered, and our hearts are too occupied with burdens. We have family members, brothers and sisters who are sick, who have cancer, who are recuperating in the hospital, who got into a serious accident, who are depressed, whose loved ones died suddenly. The news about our country and the world can give us heartache as well.

St. Paul’s prayer can be reassuring. In the midst of a decaying, corrupted world, we can say along with Paul, “When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to You Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from Your glorious, unlimited resources, You will give us mighty, inner strength through Your Holy Spirit. I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in our hearts as we trust in You. May our roots go down deep into the soil of Your marvelous love. And may we have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, the breadth and length and height and depth of Your love for us. May we experience Your love that surpasses knowledge so we may be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from You. 

“To You who are able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to You O Lord, be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” 

Yes Lord, it is not about us. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

WOYWW: Unfathomable Riches!

Doing the Creative Faith Journaling Workshop for the umpteenth time. And still adding samples to show participants. 

“To me, the least of all believers, was given the grace to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ...” Ephesians 3:8

Would we believe a man who did an about face from being a passionate enemy of Jesus and His disciples to being His most ardent follower? In the book of Ephesians we see why. Saint Paul says he was given a revelation into the mystery of Christ, a mystery hidden from ages past and now made available to us, as coheirs in the promised inheritance, the inscrutable riches found in Him! Of course, he was willing to suffer, be plotted against, persecuted, imprisoned, and finally decapitated. His understanding and knowledge of Christ was so real, so all-encompassing, and so undeniable. 

Today this understanding and knowledge is available to us. We only have to read the Bible and pray that Jesus will reveal Himself to us. There are many stories of Jesus revealing Himself in dreams to many people. The parents of one young girl who was depressed and would cut herself in desperation approached a Youth for Christ staffer for help. The staffer prayed with the young girl and talked to her. “I will pray that Jesus will reveal Himself to you.” 

“I can’t do that,” the teenager protested, “God will strike me down for what I have been doing!” The YFC staffer convinced her not to be afraid. Two nights later, the teenager had a dream of a man who came to her. As He gently touched her where she had been cutting herself, she instantly was filled with joy and peace, and a sense of hope. He spoke to her and assured her of His love. 

Jesus actively seeks to call us to Himself. Let us approach Him with our whole hearts, eager to lay claim to all God has in store for us!

IG @patriciapaterno

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Caught Sleeping

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original painting altered using Prisma app. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Eternal Inheritance

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 21, 2018

You Do Not Know What You are Asking

“You do not know what you are asking.” 

Mark 10:38

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Glorious Inheritance

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Original painting on my Bible altered by Prisma app) 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Every Second of Every Day

“Even the hairs on your head are counted.” 

Luke 12:7

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Only Luke

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

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

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

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

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

Original painting on my Bible altered with Prisma app

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Making of a Saint

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Sign of Jonah

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Choose Wisdom

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Our Inheritance!

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Finger of God

 "by the finger of God..." Luke 11:20

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Original painting on Bible altered with Prisma app)

Thursday, October 11, 2018


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

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

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

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