Thursday, April 30, 2020
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
"I am the Bread of Life." John 6:35
Jesus also said in John 6:32: " For the bread of God is that which COMES DOWN FROM HEAVEN, and GIVES LIFE TO THE WORLD." So of course, the people hearing that said: "Lord ALWAYS GIVE US THIS BREAD!!!" They were probably looking for manna, like the bread that fell from heaven during Moses' time every single day! But today, we can have the bread of life every single minute! If we believe. If we don't believe He is God, then we will always be hungry. Always be searching. But you see, that's OK. Jesus said, "If you seek, you will find." (Matthew 7:7) Let us just keep seeking, keep asking, keep looking. Don't stop.
Jesus also said, “Whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.” Just this morning I received a message from our employee saying that her mother’s neighbors are hungry. The husbands of the eight families work in construction and they don’t have work because of this quarantine. They have so many children and they have hardly anything to eat. The mom tries to feed them twice a week. And this is happening all over the Philippines! Is this true, Jesus, that whoever comes and believes in You will NEVER hunger nor thirst? All over the Philippines, prayers are going up to heaven, for food to feed their families. But Jesus also said that if we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, all these things, food, clothing, whatever we need, will be given to us as well (Matthew 6:33).
I believe that God also answers prayers through His people. Many are working to feed the people in the slum areas, in shanty towns across our cities. Big foundations have been able to distribute food and gift certificates in many places. But I also like the stories of small groups like the Poveda high school batch of my niece who started out by helping with medical supplies, and then they decided to help feed the poor in Payatas. They were able to give rice and canned goods for hundreds of families. And that was because they made infographics, and were able to raise funds and find suppliers who gave them a good price. There’s also the ICA high school batch who also raised funds to help the Puso ng Ama Foundation feed the hungry in Payatas. Many people are helping, and what I know is God will not be outdone in generosity. “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed (Proverbs 19:17)”
Donations in cash and kind accepted. Contact Father Paul Uwemedimo at-
BPI (BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS)
Account name: - Puso Ng Ama Foundation Inc.
Account number:- 0421074003
Facebook Puso ng Ama Foundation Inc.
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Monday, April 27, 2020
Sunday, April 26, 2020
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Friday, April 24, 2020
When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” John 6:5
This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Although it would have been easy for Jesus to make food from nothing, He took the simple offering of a poor boy of five barley loaves and two fish, gave thanks, and had the food distributed to more than five thousand people. Does this happen today? I believe it does, if one has faith.
Father Paul Uwemedimo is half Nigerian and half English and he has spent most of his life serving the poor in Payatas, a putrid garbage dump inside Quezon City with thousands of families living in shanties. He set up a foundation center there with his inheritance, and helps young kids get an education. With the quarantine, his heart bled for the thousands of hungry families in Payatas. At first he was just aiming to feed the families of his students and volunteers, but he could not bear the need, hunger and despair all around him. He wanted his foundation, Puso ng Ama (Heart of the Father), to be a visible sign of God’s love to the poor and the hurting, but how? The Lord said, “Prayer must remain your first priority. Trust in Me and see what I will do.”
True enough, donations of rice, canned goods, tons of vegetables came pouring in. The Center would be filled with donations and just as quickly as they came in, they would be distributed. God made a way even if there seemed to be no way. And that is because like the poor boy who gave his five loaves and two fishes, so many donated, so many started calling their friends, started fund raising, sharing on social media, contacting companies who could help.
Just yesterday, one of our staff in our company who lives in Payatas, said in our chat group, “Almost buong Payatas nabibigyan ni Father Paul ng food packs dito sa amin...” (Father Paul has given food packs to almost the whole of Payatas). She said he was so good and persevering, not minding the heat, and the virus, visiting the poorest of the poor. God is good and He will continue to multiply the little we give Him to pass through Father Paul’s hands, and the many like him, who heed the Master’s voice to trust in Him and see what He will do.
Fr Paul Uwemedimo MGL
email at firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTACT Fr Paul by SMS, Viber message or WhatsApp message on +639052477082 for details of foundation’s Bank Acct details for Australian dollars or British pounds)
Puso Ng Ama Foundation Inc.
Bank of Philippine Islands 0421-0740-03
Branch Address:BPI Commonwealth Branch, Commonwealth Ave. cor Don Antonio Heights Subdivision, Quezon City, 1109, Philippines
Swift Code: BOPIPHMM
Routing Number: 026005966
Account currency: Philippine Pesos
Thursday, April 23, 2020
“He does not ration His gift of the Spirit.” John 3:34
It's amazing how Waze gets us to where we want to go. Even if we make a wrong turn, it just recalculates, and we can still turn up at our destination. I think that's why God gave us the gift of the Spirit. Because God definitely wants us to get to heaven. Even if we take several wrong turns, if we call on Him, we can depend on the Spirit to take us Home!
Thank you Lord that You called us to follow You! That even if there are forces against us, You will prevail! And we can trust that You will finish the work you started in us and bring us Home!!!
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16
No matter what kind of person we are, saint or sinner, construction worker or magnate, mother or whore, Jesus died on the cross for us. In the opera, Les Miserables, the protagonist, Jean Valjean, prisoner 24601, was freed from prison on parole after 19 years. When Valjean had stolen silver from the Bishop, he was caught by the police, and he claimed it was given to him. The kind Bishop went along with Valjean’s story, and gave him even more expensive silver candlesticks. Valjean realized he was given a chance to reinvent himself, and using the money from the silver, became a factory owner and a mayor of a small town.
Valjean thought he was free of his past but he finds out that someone was accused of being Jean Valjean in his place.
“Must I lie?” he sings, “How can I ever face my fellow men?
How can I ever face myself again? My soul belongs to God, I know, I made that bargain long ago.”
“He gave me hope, when hope was gone, He gave me strength to journey on.”
Because Valjean had given his life to God, he was brave enough to face Inspector Javert and appear in court to save the innocent man accused of being himself.
“Who am I? Who am I? I’m Jean Valjean!” he reveals dramatically. He unbuttons his shirt to reveal the number tattooed on his chest.
“And so Javert, you see it’s true, that man bears no more guilt than you,
Who am I? 24601!”
Our lives may not be as dramatic as this opera adapted from Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, but we can depend on God to give us this same courage to do what is right, to give us hope and strength during hard times.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Monday, April 20, 2020
“The wind blows where it wills...” John 3:8
The same Holy Spirit that emboldened the timid disciples after Jesus died, blows around the world today. Yesterday, I was reading the book, “Miraculous Movements” by Jerry Trousdale, a co-founder of Final Command Ministries, an organization which establishes disciple making movements among the Muslim people.
The first story was about Sheikh Hanif, a seasoned Muslim leader in East Africa who studied the Qur’an for years. He personified a decent, good Muslim man committed to Islam. But there were questions deep down he never voiced to anyone that his religion could not satisfy. What was his status with God, and why was there such violence in his Islamic world? Why could they not make their own choices? He also grieved at the lack of compassion for the suffering. He prayed 17 times a day for God to show him the right way. Then one night, he encountered in a dream a handsome and graceful man. This man said He was “Isa al Masih”, Jesus the Messiah, and He wanted Hanif to serve Him. “If you obey me, you will succeed in what you have longed for in your life.”
“What should I do?” Hanif asked, and Jesus instructed him to wait along a busy road where there was a tree standing alone atop a hill. “Go now, and wait for this man, my servant. You will recognize him. He will show you the true answers to all your questions.” Hanif woke from his dream, and left without telling his wife who might stop him. He waited under that tree the whole day searching for the face Jesus showed him. He had waited 12 hours before he saw the man he was waiting for! At first, Wafi, the man Jesus showed Hanif, who mentored new Christians and made them disciples, did not understood what Hanif was excitedly asking. Eventually he got it, and they both went to Hanif’s home where his astonished wife was full of questions. After a few days, she and her husband accepted the Lord and now they are planting churches in other parts of the country.
Please Lord, let Your Spirit blow across our land bringing healing and renewal to our spirits and our physical bodies. May Your fire burn within us so we can be Your instruments, ushering Your Kingdom to earth.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” John 20:29
The disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene when she delivered the news that Jesus was alive. Neither did they believe Cleopas and his companion when they reported seeing Jesus on the way to Emmaus.
Jesus then appeared to them and rebuked them for their disbelief- “their stubborn refusal to believe". Do you think Jesus was frustrated with the disciples here Disappointed? Was He thinking they are hopeless? He can't depend on them? That they can't be trusted with the mission He wants to give them?
On the contrary, right after rebuking them in Mark 16:14, He said, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to everyone, everywhere." I can imagine Jesus being frustrated with a lot of us! We are being given so much! We are entrusted with so much treasure in His Word. What do we do with it? But then I know, because I see it in my own life, that no matter how much I fail, Jesus never gives up on me. He still gives and gives and gives! Every day, He opens up His treasure chest. And every day, I just want to shout, "Yes, God is good!"
In John 20:29, Jesus urges us to make a leap of faith. "Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed." There are times I think, "Why do I believe?" To a non-believer, the Bible can be a bunch of made up, absurd stories! I decided a long time ago that yes, Jesus, You are God, and I will follow You. Because of that leap of faith, I have been blessed. Now I know without a shadow of a doubt, like Thomas, like the other disciples, like Paul who tried to destroy the followers of Jesus, that He is alive, He is God, and He holds the key.
Saturday, April 18, 2020
“It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20.
How sad for the leaders, scribes, and elders who saw the miracles of Jesus, and then witnessed the disciples themselves curing the sick, but could not accept this as a movement of God. Instead they wanted the disciples to shut up! “What are we to do with these men?” They asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign was done through them, and we cannot deny it. But so that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us give them a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in this name.”
We should be careful not to be like these leaders and recognize God is always moving amongst us, His finger writing our history. Perhaps we see this time, this pandemic as a terrible time, with so many people sick and dying. In the Philippines alone, 5,878 COVID-19 cases, including 339 doctors and 242 nurses. 387 people have died. There are also so many in desperate situations, hungry, homeless, in need of help.
How does God see this time in our history? Isn’t He giving us time and opportunities to help and be a blessing to others? So many are making ways to feed the poor, give transportation and meals and places to stay to frontliners, make PPEs, etc. Just to get to work, some frontliners have to walk so far every day. I know a priest who is not even Filipino but he has a big heart for the people of Payatas. At first he was just helping the families of the scholars of his foundation, but he saw how many people needed food in Payatas. And so today, he is able to give rice and canned goods to about 7,500 to 10,000 families a week. God made a way where there seemed to be no way! Challenging, terrible times are also hero making times.
When people pray, and rise up to the challenge, miracles happen. We may not be able to attend mass, or fellowship with our brothers and sisters in church, but more people are seeking God today than at any time in the recent past. According to Pastor Greg Laurie, digital worship may create America’s next spiritual awakening. Since the shutdown started, the millennial viewership of his church alone was up 235 percent. “Doesn’t it make sense that God would bring about revival, a great new American Awakening, through our telephone and laptop screens?”
Yes, God will make a way where there seems to be no way. I am sure He is moving in so many unexpected ways in this unprecedented time when an invisible enemy has put so many of our lives at a standstill. I am excited to find out what God is doing in our midst, and to be a part of it!
Friday, April 17, 2020
“It is the Lord.” John 21:7
How do we recognize the Lord’s work in our lives? With Peter and the other disciples, it was only when they obeyed Jesus’ words to cast their net over the right side of the boat, and they caught much fish, that their eyes opened.
If we want God to work in our life, we should also obey His words. The promises in the Bible are like seeds that we plant in our lives, and we can wait for it to bear fruit. If for example, we are anxious about the future which is so terribly uncertain, and we can’t wait for this lockdown to be over so we can get back to our normal way of life, we can search the scriptures for what God has to say. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” That’s what St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans (8:28). He also says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) If we repeat these Words, confessing them, believing them, and rejecting other negative thoughts that we have, it will transform the way we think, and God will transform our life.
There is a battle we are fighting all the time, and the battlefield is our mind. If we can take control of our thoughts, by refusing to think self-defeating, negative, cynical, pessimistic, or gloomy notions, we can change our life. My sister used to tutor kids in the slum area along with other brothers and sisters in our Christian community. One of the things that they had to do, was change the children’s perceptions of themselves. They could not excel because they did not believe in themselves. They thought they were dumb and worthless. Where did they get these ideas? Unfortunately, it was drummed into them by their parents who just got it from their parents who used to say the same things to them. “Wala kang kuwenta!” “Wala kang alam!” “Wala kang patutunguhan!” ( You’re not worth anything! You don’t know anything! You won’t get anywhere!”)
We are all unique, special individuals with our own talents and gifts. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart...” (Jeremiah 1:5) Our God loves each of us, we are each the apple of His eye before we were even born! If we just know how much God loves and values us, we will be more confident about facing the future. Let us strive to see ourselves the way God sees us. When Jesus saw Peter, He did not see an uneducated, uncouth, lowly fisherman, He saw a man that could change the world! How does He see us? Let us catch His vision, His plan for us, and then we will be able to say with excitement, “It is the Lord’s work in my life!”
Thursday, April 16, 2020
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.” Psalm 118:24
We continue to celebrate the Easter joy of Jesus’ resurrection this whole week. We cannot relegate the miracle of Christ’s rising from the dead to one measly day of the year! No! We need to ponder this great gift of God some more, which is why Easter is a whole season of glorious rejoicing!
Father, why do You love us so much as if there is just one of us to love? Why did You send Your Son, and allow His sacrifice on the cross? “What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)
Perhaps we are feeling out of sorts at this time, we are stuck at home, we are itching to go out, and see our friends, go to a restaurant, go to work. We yearn for the old familiar things. But have we considered that with this gift of time, there is much to discover about ourselves? I believe we have a God shaped vacuum within each of us, that only God can fill. Every time we long for something, it is really God we long for. “He has set eternity in the human heart...” (Ecc. 3:10) That is why we will never be satisfied with the things of this world, we long for another world, where one day we will be united with our Creator, the One who loves us best. And that is why Easter is the most marvelous gift, it opened up heaven for us! Because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, we can walk into our Father’s Kingdom, like the prodigal son, and He will welcome us with open arms!
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
“Of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.” Psalm 33:5
Hallelujah! Jesus is risen! That miracle happened hundreds of years ago, of what possible consequence can that be for us? Because He lives, what may have been impossible is possible for us. It all depends on our faith. Like Mary Magdalen, if we look for Jesus early in the morning, we will find Him. After all, He said, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) God also promised, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Call upon me and I will hear you.” (Jer. 29:11-12)
Are we open to the possibilities, the opportunities the Lord offers to us with His Resurrection power? We are His children and He wants the very best for us, but sometimes we are too caught in a limited mindset. We are not good enough, we are not smart enough, we are not bright enough, to move forward, to move higher. We should see ourselves as God sees us. He said, “You are the apple of My eye!” (Psalm 17:8, Zech. 2:8) He loves us so very much He sent His Son to die for us. All of us, no exception, have an invisible crown on our head, because we are sons and daughters of the King of Kings.
Let us not be like the man who bought a ticket to ride a ship from America to Europe. The man had scrimped and saved to buy the expensive fare, until finally he was able to make the trip which would take two weeks. All the while, he kept eating his hoard of dry crackers. All the other passengers had their meals in the dining room, feasting on good, delicious food. It was almost at the end of the trip that the poor man found out that all the meals were included in the price of the ticket!
Let us be sure to find out what is included in the price of the ticket Jesus bought for us! Let us read the Bible, God’s love letter to us, to find the promises we can claim for ourselves. Let us be sure to know deep in our hearts how God sees us, and never again believe the enemy’s foolish lies. God has wonderful plans for us, much better than we could ever make for ourselves! Let us trust our Father and put our life in His hands!
"Were not our hearts burning inside us as He talked to us on the road and explained Scriptures to us?" Luke 24:32
If we could choose to be a participant at any of the bible stories, this would be one of my choices. It is amazing to me that Jesus chooses to teach these two disciples, "interpreting for them EVERY passage of Scripture which referred to Him, beginning with Moses and all the prophets" (v.27).
Who were these men? Were they important? Were they going to be mighty evangelists? Were they going to write one of the Gospels? We know that one of them is named Cleopas, and from early writings, a historian noted that Cleopas was a brother of Joseph, husband of Mary. But there is nothing more. And nothing at all about the second man. To me, the significant thing is that they were ordinary men. People like you and me. They were leaving Jerusalem. Why? Perhaps because it was too "hot" there for the disciples. Perhaps because they thought nothing more was going to happen, that was “the end”. But Jesus joined them on their journey, and after He walked and talked with them, after He broke bread with them, they recognized Him, and they WENT BACK to Jerusalem. It obviously was not “ the end”!
It's a pity that they did not record anything of what Jesus said. It would have been fascinating, I am sure. But I think we are supposed to go on a treasure hunt for those Scriptures that would point to Jesus. This story is already a clue that there are many Old Testament passages that point to Jesus! If we find them, our hearts will burn as well! If it was all written down, it would just be ho hum, another lecture we will take for granted. And Jesus did say something about not giving pearls to swine. If we really seek, we will find. We will find the treasures hidden in the Bible. If we go through the journey from Genesis to the stories in the New Testament, we will find what Jesus thought was important for the two disciples to know. In Jeremiah 6:16, we can read: "This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." Yes, if we travel the ancient paths, we will walk with Jesus, talk with Him, and break bread with Him. Our eyes will be opened, and we will really know Him. I think that is what Jesus wants for all of us!
Monday, April 13, 2020
“O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.” Psalm 16:5
I think the women were quite bewildered and befuddled with the events of Easter morning. How could it be that Jesus had risen from the dead? They saw His body bloodied and torn and broken just the previous day. And now, miracle of miracles, the stone is rolled away, and Jesus meets them and even talks to them! They touch his feet, embrace his feet, too timid to hug His risen body! Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” They must have been so excited to be the bearers of such astounding news!
Why do we believe this amazing story? The Jews continue to believe that Jesus’ disciples stole His body in the middle of the night. Why don’t we give credit to this? First because the disciples were cowering in fear, hiding away somewhere they wouldn’t be found. That’s why it was the only the women who came to the tomb. In those days, women were not credible witnesses, their word would not have been believed. So if the story was concocted, they definitely would have said men found the tomb empty! But no, it was the two Mary’s who faithfully went to the tomb early in the morning.
One of the most convincing reasons why we believe in Jesus’ resurrection is because the timid, hopeless and fearful disciples were transformed into daring, courageous men who were confidently preaching with authority and boldly witnessing the resurrected Christ. It could only be because they saw Him alive as they claimed, as did more than 500 people as well. They risked their lives for the gospel.
Today, we need not risk our life to talk about Jesus Christ or to follow His way. But we need to stand up for Him because little by little, our Christian way of life is being belittled and mocked. Even our leader attacks our God and our Church. In other countries, it is very difficult to be a Christian. Let us stand fast in our faith, holding on to the Lord who is our portion, and our inheritance!
Sunday, April 12, 2020
“We don't know where they put Him!" John 20:2
As a woman, I can imagine myself in Mary Magdalene' place. I would not have had a good sleep...who could, after seeing someone you love crucified! I would have asked others to walk with me to Jesus' tomb early in the morning, just as I did when I walked to where my mother lay in her coffin at 4 in the morning. It was very dark and all I wanted was to be with her, just one last time. So I can fully understand Mary. Perhaps she wanted to pour out her fears, her sorrow, her dashed hopes, despair even.
But because Mary went, she is given a gift. She does not know what it means at first. Sometimes, even most of the time, God's gifts are shrouded in mystery. And like all gifts, there is an anticipation, a hope, then a revelation. We only realize its significance, its worth, when we stay close, trusting, and we ponder like Mary, the mother of Jesus. She whose heart was pierced, “treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)
The revelation of Easter, Resurrection Sunday, is not something we should keep for ourselves. Like Mary Magdalene, after unwrapping the gift and realizing its value, we should go out and share it with others. “This is what I found out! HOPE is alive! All Jesus said was true! IS true! ALL His promises!"
Because Jesus rose from the dead, as He said He would, we should go back to ALL He said and live the way He said we should live, so we can have ALL He promised we could have! Thank you Lord for this absolutely marvelous awesome gift!
Saturday, April 11, 2020
“Let us strive to enter into that rest.” Hebrews 4:11
It’s been a pretty hectic few days. On Holy Thursday morning, I prepared haroseth, mixing apples, raisins, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, honey and red wine in a bowl. At a Seder meal, haroseth symbolizes the mortar which the Israelites used to bind the stones and bricks in their back breaking work for their Egyptian masters. Haroseth has been a symbolic part of the Jewish Passover for at least 2,000 years. Luigi made focaccia bread. Usually we buy flat pita bread, in place of matzah or the bread of affliction, (Lechem Oni in Hebrew), which symbolizes the hardship of slavery and the Jewish people's hasty transition to freedom.
At 2 pm, we prepared the Seder meal plate, using a bone from a goat we’ve kept through years of celebrating Seder, bitter herbs, the haroseth, eggs, salt water and the bread. At about3 pm, our little family of 3 joined the online Seder meal with our brothers and sisters in community using Zoom. Usually we are a huge group with my extended family and as many as 15 guests. This time all our companions were virtual! After we attended the online Holy Thursday liturgy of Father Dave in Sta. Maria Goretti Parish, patiently waiting when the broadcast was interrupted several times.
Yesterday, I listened to Raoul Roncal’s recollection, “Love is courageous and never loses hope”, and Peter Tan Chi’s Seven Last Words. After lunch, we finished the new series about Jesus and His disciples, “The Chosen”. For the Good Friday service, we chose Bishop Ambo’s online Biyernes Santo Pagpapasakit ng Panginoon (The Passion of our Lord). The good Bishop started his homily with a story about his niece crying when she saw Jesus on the cross. “Mommy, can’t we bring Jesus to the hospital?” she pleaded in distress. We are so used to seeing Jesus on this instrument of torture that we do not mind it anymore. We are so used to acts of violence against our fellowmen, injustice, extrajudicial killings, cursing, that we turn a blind eye and do not even speak up. Bishop Ambo said in a loud voice, “Open your eyes, my people! Yes, we need to open our eyes, yes we need to act, to help, to do something. But now, it is Holy Saturday, and the world is at rest as it has never rested before.
One of the greatest gifts that God wants to give us is the promise of rest. In Hebrews 4:1, the writer says, “God’s promise of entering His place of rest still stands.” Today, Holy Saturday is a day of rest after two days of blessed busyness. There is no mass today until the Easter vigil tonight. So we wait with the disciples, with Jesus’ mother, with all the faithful. Jesus’ body lies in the tomb, but we know in faith, that we do not wait in vain. Today, like all the times we wait for God’s answer to our prayers, we wait in hope and faith. God is working. Even if all others see is the tomb, we know the tomb is empty and our Savior lives. We can rest gratefully in that truth.
Thursday, April 09, 2020
“How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” Psalm 116:12
An old man was charged a lot of money for the oxygen he used in the hospital. He started crying and the woman in the cashier’s counter asked him why he was crying, was it because he did not have money to pay the bill? “No, oh no,” the man answered, “I have been breathing oxygen my entire life and God has not asked me to pay for anything!”
Indeed we cannot repay God’s goodness to us. Our bodies with fingers that work, feet that walk, hearts that pump, are all miracles. How much would we be willing to pay just to have eyes to see? An opposable thumb? Healthy lungs? Even the sensitivity to feel physical pain is a gift! Feeling physical pain is vital for survival, and it is common for people with congenital analgesia to die in childhood due to injuries or illnesses going unnoticed. So many blessings we take for granted!
So however we are feeling right now, out of sorts, anxious, confused, uncertain, it is always the right time to praise the Lord. God is always worthy of our praise whether we feel like praising Him or not. Praising God makes us strong and is an essential weapon in our fight against the invisible enemies out to destroy us.
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
“The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” Isaiah 50:4
I think this verse refers to Isaiah the prophet, but it also points to Jesus. And as we are supposed to be imitators of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1), we should also strive to speak and write to the weary and discouraged, words that will rouse, encourage, and strengthen them. Many people are anxious at this time, confused and disheartened. We should think of ways to be Jesus to them.
The thing is if we use our own words in our own strength, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Cordie was a member of the James Island Fire Department when they were called to put out a house fire. After he and the other firemen were able to extinguish the fire in the den, they started salvaging what they could, and cleaning up the burned materials. Cordie noticed that all the keys of the piano got melted into one lump from the intense heat.
They continued to clean up until Cordie found a large book which turned out to be the family Bible. He brought it to the lady of the house. It was the only thing that survived intact. All the pages were undamaged! This experience impressed Cordie so much and taught him that the Word of God is indestructible and dependable.
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God endures forever." (Isaiah 40:8) May we use this great gift of God’s Word to strengthen ourselves and others.
Monday, April 06, 2020
“That perfume was worth a small fortune." John 12:5
I like the retelling of the story of Mary of Bethany and her alabaster jar sung by Lillie McCloud. She is able to capture the poignancy of the moment when Mary pours this precious oil, this expensive perfume on Jesus' feet. Mary's offering was worth a year's wages, 300 denarii we are told, and came from far away, a place in Northern India. Was Mary so rich that she could afford to just give this away? But she broke her beautiful container to get every ounce of that ointment to wash Jesus' dirty feet with. And she wiped it with her long unbound hair. Why?
The song goes, "Though she spoke no words, everything she said was heard, as she poured her love for the Master from her box of alabaster. I've come to pour my praise on him, like oil from Mary's alabaster box...I can't forget the way life used to be. I was a prisoner to the sin that had me bound and I spent my days, poured my life without measure into a little treasure box I'd thought I'd found. Until the day Jesus came to me and healed my soul with the wonder of His touch. So now I'm giving back to Him all the praise He's worthy of. I've been forgiven and that's why I love Him so much!"
Listen to the song here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o3U4kxuBfIo
Do we realize how much God loves us that we are willing to respond to Him with an extravagant love? A love that costs us something? Are we aware of God's forgiveness and mercy that we desire
to be wildly generous and give God the best of us, our "first fruits"? In John 12:3, it described that the whole house was filled with fragrance. Although Mary did not say anything, every one who was there (except Judas!) knew that Mary was offering a pure worship to Jesus.
Lord, I am so unworthy, and so lacking in gratitude. As the Lenten season comes to a climax this week, help me to see Your face more fully, and the sacrifice You offered on the cross for me. Help me to love You with a wildly generous love, the same love You have for me! I do not deserve this love Lord, but You surround me with it! Thank you Lord!!!!
Sunday, April 05, 2020
“This night, all of you will have your faith in Me shaken...” Matthew 26:31
Jesus knew His disciples would have a difficult time continuing to believe in Him that night of the Passover. Although Peter said to Him in reply, “Though all may have their faith in You shaken, mine will never be,” Jesus knew Peter would deny Him three times. Sure enough, before the night was over, Peter had said he did not know Jesus three times. Peter wept bitterly at his betrayal of His master and Lord.
We can say these are times that try men’s souls. We ask God why are You allowing this to happen? Almost ever day we hear of good men and women dying. After intubating his wife because she had difficulty breathing, Dr. Dennis Tudtud also contracted Covid 19. His wife, Dr. Helen Tudtud passed away last Saturday, and he followed her the next Tuesday. Their heartbroken son said that his father was so generous and selfless he would pay for some of his patients’ chemotherapy himself. This scenario is repeated all over the world, elderly parents dying one after the other, husbands, wives, neighbors, good friends. Why God?
Jesus knows that these are times that will test our faith, that will shake our trust in Him just like that night of the Passover. After the meal, He led the disciples to Gethsemane, where He told them to keep watch with Him and pray for an hour. He always found them asleep! I am sure if they prayed with Him, they would have been stronger and would have been given to grace to understand. And so it is with us.
We need to pray for grace even if we do not deserve it. Grace is power. St. Paul wrote, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15:10). We know that St. Paul was a powerhouse of the early Church, but it was the grace of God working in him that made him what he was. Like the apostles and St. Paul, we need grace to get us through these dark times with our faith stronger than ever.
Saturday, April 04, 2020
“My dwelling shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Ezekiel 37:27
In the beginning of Ezekiel chapter 37, Ezekiel describes his vision of a lifeless valley of very dry bones. It’s a desert. As Ezekiel gazes at this desolation, God asks him, “Can these bones live? Can they ever have life in them again?” Ezekiel answers that only God could ever know that. But looking at the bones, it seems as if all hope is gone.
God then tells Ezekiel to speak to the bones on the ground. He tells them to, “Hear the word of Yahweh, hear the word of God.” God will then bring breath, the Holy Spirit, a new wind, to these bones and they will live again and in this vision God does just that.
When we look at the future, it seems just as bleak as this valley of dry bones. Economists are predicting a slow down in world economies, as much as 40% less than last year. Business has ground to a halt, and it will be difficult to get back on track. The stock market has taken a dive.
If we look at this scenario, let us gaze through God’s eyes instead. He is doing a new thing, a major reset. Only He can bring a fresh, new wind through this desolation. He says, “Hear My Word, read My Word,” and I will dwell among you, and guide you, and you shall be my people once again.
Friday, April 03, 2020
“But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion.” Jeremiah 20:11
Who does not need a mighty champion? Like Jeremiah the prophet, we need someone who can defend us when we are being persecuted, when we are under trial. Jeremiah went through many difficulties, that is why he is sometimes called the “weeping prophet”.
Today we certainly need a mighty champion. It seems like everyday, we get heartbreaking news about people who are sick, or have died. We get frustrated because it does not seem like enough is being done to stem the tide of this virus, or to feed the poor and hungry. Where do we turn?
One of my favorite verses is from Exodus 14:13, when Moses tells the people to just stand firm when they were being pursued by Pharaoh’s mighty army with 600 of Pharaoh’s best chariots and charioteers. The Jews were caught beside the shore with nowhere to hide.
Moses reassured, “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 only have to keep still.” We know what happened. The waters parted, the Israelites went through, and the chariots drowned when the waters closed in on them.
As Holy Week approaches, we need to see that sin is even deadlier than the Covid 19 virus. When Jesus became man and was crucified, He took all our sins with Him. He is our mighty champion! All we need to do is repent, believe in Him, accept His saving work for us and receive His Holy Spirit. Pure grace. Pure gift.
Thank You Lord for grace, a way out of sin and a way into Your family.
Thursday, April 02, 2020
“Look to the Lord in His strength; seek to serve Him constantly.” Psalm 105:4
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that, “Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, and faith looks up." The year 2020 has been quite unbelievable, so many things have happened already. There was that almost explosion of Taal Volcano, that almost war between US and Iran, and now this global pandemic. My favorite meme goes: “Dear God, please reboot 2020. It has a virus".
If I didn’t know that God can work the worst situation into good, and He is already doing it now, amidst all the chaos and confusion of this standstill for most of us, I could easily go into a panic attack. But I know that the worse a situation gets, it only gives God more material to work with. I feel like we are in the middle of a suspense movie, and we are moving towards the climax. The plot is so complex, we do not know what the ending could be. But since we know the hero never dies, we are excited and nervous, but we know the ending is going to be great!
God is in control. He holds our lives in His hands. He can make a way where there is no way. He will never abandon nor forsake us. Instead of “looking around” in anxiety at what is happening, the mounting death toll, the hungry people mounting protests, the lack of equipment to protect our health workers, we need to “look up” in faith. After praying, praying, praying, we can be sure of God’s steadying hand on our lives, and we can act secure in His presence.
There are so many things we can do to bring light into this dark situation. We can donate funds to the many fund drives and food banks, we can volunteer to make face shields like my sister, we can encourage our friends and neighbors, and of course we can pray for the sick, and those who are working for our safety, and so much more. We may not know what tomorrow brings, but we can be certain who holds our future!