Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Recognizing Jesus

Today, on the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we read about Mary's visit to Elizabeth in Ain Karim (or in Hebrew, Ein Kerem) in Luke 1:39-56. 

The interesting parts for me are that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born (v. 15). When his mother, Elizabeth, heard Mary's greeting,

even if he was still in the womb, he leaped in her womb! Both Elizabeth and baby John were filled with the Spirit! He recognized Jesus!

How wonderful that Mary was such a kindred spirit to Elizabeth that she hastened to be with her. “While this meeting between Mary and Elizabeth is unique, there is something here that we can all experience. As baptized believers, each of us is capable of bearing Christ to others. If our eyes were opened to this truth, we too would rejoice and be humbled in the presence of so holy a vessel as a sister or brother in Christ.

"Even nonbelievers would move us to great reverence because they too are created in God's image and have just as much potential of being filled with the Holy Spirit. If God has so honored human beings this way, how could we fail to show them equal honor?" (From The Word Among Us) 

May our eyes be open, may our spirit be sensitive to all who bring Christ's love, words and teachings to us. May we not fall into the trap of thinking that it has to be a godly person, or someone we look up to and respect. It may be a child, an office mate, a prisoner, a telemarketer, or even a lowly beggar. 

May we recognize Jesus when He passes by us, when He lingers beside us, or gives us a call!

Monday, May 30, 2022

Take Courage

“In the world you will have trouble, but take COURAGE, I have conquered the world." 

John 16:33

There's no doubt about trouble! We all have it in one form or another! It's the way we deal with it that defines us!

Some act as if everything depends on them. And then there are those who know there is Someone who never leaves them, the One who says, "Take COURAGE, I have conquered the world."

I have to confess I am of the second variety. In our business, we have to depend on God a lot especially since the pandemic started. All we knew of how to be successful at business (if we ever knew that) flew out of the window! 

We knew that we had to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! My sister had her hair cut for the first time since the pandemic and she talked to the hairdresser. He confessed that all he did was pray morning, noon and night for an end to the pandemic. He did not have any customers, and many of his friends lost their jobs. He got to know a vegetable vendor and he would ask for the trimmings of the vegetables, what the vendor would throw away. Then he would cook it, and sometimes have enough to give his friends. He also said that now when he did home service, he found that his regular customers had white hair already, and both men and women have very long hair! He can say he has survived the pandemic! 

God is our PARTNER not only in our business, but our lives. We can depend on Him through thick and thin. We can take COURAGE in the future because Jesus has conquered the world. He has gone before us, He is already there in our future. 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Eyes of the Heart

This reading from Ephesians should have MANY exclamation points and capitals!

"May the EYES of your HEART be enlightened! that you may know what is the HOPE that belongs to His call! what are the RICHES of GLORY! in His INHERITANCE! among the HOLY ones! and what is the SURPASSING GREATNESS of His POWER! for US who BELIEVE!" Ephesians 1:18-19

This is why we pray and read God's Word- to know the hope that is ours when we follow Him, the riches of our inheritance, the power we have when we believe!

If we don't have intimacy with God, we don't know Him as our father, how can we claim what is rightfully ours as His sons and daughters? We would be like pitiful orphans, lost children. Of what value are promises if we don't claim them? What is the use of gold, riches, power, if we don't know they are ours?

Saturday, May 28, 2022

In Jesus Name

“...whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” John 16:23b

Several years ago my sister needed a passport urgently. There was no time to go through the regular procedures. We had to ask someone with a position high up in the Department of Foreign Affairs for help. She did not have to go through calling to get an appointment, and when she reached the DFA, she was treated like a VIP, bypassing all the usual steps. All my sister needed to get through was that all important name. 

Jesus said in John 16 that if we asked anything of the Father in Jesus’ name, He will give it. In Jesus’ name. That does not mean we can ask anything and the Father will grant it. It has to be in accordance to His will. Just like if my sister asked for a diplomatic passport, it would not have been granted to her, if we ask anything outside of God’s will, it will also not be given to us. 

So what is the use of “whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you...ask and you will receive”? Some people may say it is totally useless! Of course it isn’t!!!! If we did not know the DFA consul, my sister could not have gotten her passport in time. 

We need to KNOW Jesus, His character, His promises, what He wants to do for us, what He wants us to do. We have to have Jesus as our friend not only when we need to ask for something. Then we will know what to ask for because we can ask in His name. 

Friday, May 27, 2022

See Thee More Clearly

But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” Acts 18:12-13

It is amazing how the Bible stands up to scrutiny. For instance, there is an archaeological artifact called the Delphi inscription which confirms that Gallio was indeed the proconsul of Achaia as recorded in the Book of Acts. It helps us to date when Paul stayed in Corinth because Proconsuls stay in office for just one year, and Gallio served from the second half of AD 51 to the first half of AD 52. I like listening to videos on biblical archaeology because exciting finds like this are made all the time. 

It is also fascinating to compare the number of New Testament manuscripts with other ancient manuscripts. 24,000 plus manuscripts of the New Testament exist compared to 1,900 of the Iliad, 49 of Aristotle, 10 of Caesar and only 7 left of Plato! The Bible clearly outstrips every other ancient manuscript in sheer number, and we can compare how it was accurately transmitted to this day. 

There are many other reasons why we can count on God’s Word. The more we study and consider the historical and biblical evidence, the more we can be confident that the claims of our Christian faith are true. 

But even if we consider all the evidence that points to the Bible being the Word of God, what will bring us to the foot of the cross is His love for us, the same love that brought Saint Paul to believe in Jesus. In Jeremiah 31, God says ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love, with tender kindness I have drawn you.' 

Dear Jesus, Your love draws me ever closer to You. Help me to see Thee more clearly and love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly each new day. 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

In a Little While

Jesus said to His disciples, “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me." John 16:16

Jesus and His disciples certainly had some strange conversations! But after He died and appeared to them, some of those conversations became clearer.

I miss my mom and dad very much, but that is tempered by knowing I will see them again. How terribly desolate I would be if I did not have this reassurance!

But we do not have to wait to be with Jesus We can be with Him all the time! He left us the Spirit to be with us always! “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20

We just need to spend time with Him and not be so enamored of the things this world has to offer! We can't "see and hear" Him if we don't turn off the noises, the clamoring of this world, the urgent call of our long ‘to do’ list!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Groping for God

 "They were to seek God, yes, to grope for Him..." Acts 17:27

A curious word, GROPE. In other translations we read, "feel their way toward Him", "reach out for Him", or "feel after Him". I remember the story of the blind men and the elephant. They wanted to know what an elephant was and each one of them would grope a part of the animal. One felt the tail and thought the elephant was like a snake, the other the tusk, the other the trunks of its legs. We are like those blind men in every way, trying to grope after God and coming up with our own versions of God UNLESS, and this is a big UNLESS, we are guided by the animal trainer around the elephant. And who's the animal trainer? The Holy Spirit of course!

In this chapter of the Bible, Paul is preaching in the Areopagus, a place where people make public lectures, the highest court in Athens. He was standing before the Council because they were very curious about his ideas and his beliefs. Some, not all, became believers. We are all created by God and in Ecclesiastes 3:11, it is written that He has put eternity in our heart. I believe this means, we will always be restless, we will never be satisfied, unless we find Him! So its OK to continue to grope, to feel our way to God. The full sentence is, "They were to seek God, yes, to grope for Him and perhaps eventually to find Him- though He is really not far from any one of us."

Holy Spirit, lead me, guide me, so I will find You, the true eternal God! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Give Him the Praise

“About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook..." Acts 16:25-26

During his ministry, Saint Paul spent more than 5 years in prison. Like him, we should learn to praise and thank God wherever we are, in whatever circumstance. Praise and thanksgiving changes our minds, our attitudes, even changes circumstances! Like shouts of praise brought down the walls of Jericho, thanksgiving can dismantle strongholds and causes chains to be broken.

I remember when the management in a mall where we had a store, were determined to get us out because we did not have high sales like the other brand name shops they preferred. But it was one of our best stores, and it would be very bad for our bottom line if we lost our space! So I walked around the store 7 or more times and praised God! Well, we still have our space, and in a better location than before!!!

I think about David and why God loved him so much even if he sinned many times. Perhaps it is because he had a wonderful relationship with His Father! God called David "a man after my own heart", and David composed many wonderful songs. He danced for God, even if people thought he was crazy!

Knowing God should lead us to praise and worship. Otherwise we would be just like the devil. The devil knows God and knows with conviction who Jesus is, even more than we do, BUT chooses not to worship God.

Let our knowledge about who God is to us travel from our mind down to our heart. Let us give Him the praise He deserves!!!

Monday, May 23, 2022


“...a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth...listened, and the Lord opened her heart...” Acts 16:14

Sometimes, all we need to do is listen and the Lord will work. But for some of us, we need to do it our way. We can be stubborn, hard headed, self-destructive and make the wrong choices for our life even if God is waiting for us to call on Him and surrender. 

Janie Burkett tells her story in her book “Unshackled: A Road to Freedom”. Even if both her parents were pastors and she grew up in a loving home, she was so insecure that, when her parents went through a rocky time in their marriage, she rebelled against God. Janey turned her back on God and instead depended on alcohol, drug addiction, sex, and developed a severe eating disorder. At 17, she experienced her first cocaine high. When she was 22 years old, she had to sustain her $300-$400 a day drug habit by becoming a high profile drug dealer. She was sentenced to 40 years years in prison. All this time her parents were praying for her, pleading with her to come back to God. They were also talking with lawyer after lawyer in the hopes that one of them could help overturn the sentence. Every one of them said it was impossible. But one called back and said he was just so bothered about it and he agreed to help pro bono! Then the judge who gave the original sentence resigned, and a new judge agreed to a new hearing!!! 

In prison, Janey had a change of heart and asked God to give her another chance. She surrendered her life to Him and asked that if He did not want to free her, to please give her peace and help her. When she got her day in court, she got the miracle the family was praying for. The judge released her on condition she undergo rehab with Teen Challenge, which helps people with substance abuse. 

Today, Janey lives her life with passion and purpose. She started, along with her dad, “Janie’s House of Hope”, a 13 month faith-based program to help those struggling with addictions. 

Father God, like Lydia, may we listen to You! Open our heart Lord! We surrender our life to You! May we not take u-turns or paths away from You. But should we stray away, call us back into Your loving arms. 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Advocate

“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” John 14:25-26

Jesus told His disciples in John 16:7 that, “It is better for you that I go.” What’s better than Jesus walking the earth, preaching, healing people, loving them? Believe it or not, Jesus NOT being on the earth! That’s exactly what He was explaining to those listening to Him. “It is much better for you that I go, (it is profitable, expedient, it is for your own good, it is for your advantage that I leave you),” Jesus said to the disciples because they were filled with grief. “Unless I go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you, (will not have close fellowship with you, will not be able to partner with you). But if I go, I will send Him to you.”

I am tempted to be skeptical here, but I prefer that truth form my experience, rather than experience form my truth. I prefer to believe Jesus when He says things like that. I can see that if Jesus were still walking the earth, I would have to go where He was to speak to Him, to ask Him questions. Instead I can be in my nightclothes, and just ask Him from wherever I am. I can read the Bible and the Spirit can illuminate certain passages for me. I can pray in the Spirit for people I don’t even know because the Spirit knows them and their problems. And the Holy Spirit can speak to a million people all at the same time. The Spirit is more pervasive than the internet or TV or radio because the Spirit can go where those are forbidden or censored. 

Yes Jesus is present in a more powerful way today. He is IN us! And because He is IN us, like the Avengers, we can be more powerful if we work together, pray together, plan together!

Let us not waste this precious gift of the Spirit by belittling it, or not being aware that we have Him in us. Jesus said in Luke 10:19, “I have given you authority…to overcome all the power of the enemy.”

The Spirit of Jesus

 "...the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them." Acts 16:6

It must have been exciting to have known Paul, Silas, Timothy and the other disciples. They were just so full of enthusiasm and fire to go out and preach. They wanted to go every where! But sometimes the Holy Spirit would stop them. In the 16th chapter of Acts, in both verses 6 and 7, the Holy Spirit did not let them go to Turkey at that time.

Jesus promised in John 14:16 that The Father would send the disciples the Holy Spirit who would NEVER leave them. "He lives with you now and later will be IN you." (v.17) Jesus had to go so we could have His Spirit IN us. When Jesus was on earth, even if we followed Him everywhere, we would have to wait our turn to talk to Him. Now, even if we are working in our office, cooking in the kitchen, reviewing for exams, we can talk to the Spirit and ask Him to guide us. 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we read that Paul advises us to pray unceasingly. Prayer is a two way street. We should talk to God but we also need to listen to Him. We need the promised gift of the Spirit. As Jesus said in John 14:26, "He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you."

Yes Lord, pour upon me Your gift of Your Spirit! I pray that my life will show evidence of Your Spirit in me!

Friday, May 20, 2022

You are My Friends

“I call you my friends, says the Lord, for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.” John 15:15b

How truly gracious is the God who made heaven and earth, the huge constellations, majestic mountains and all the myriads of fish in the sea and birds in the air. He deigns to call us His friends! 

In Exodus 33:11a, we are told that, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Moses had to visit the tent which Moses called the Tabernacle of the Covenant, and while Moses spoke with God, the pillar of cloud would descend and stay at the door. Moses did not see God’s face, although he could hear God’s instructions, he could plead with God, and even argue with God. Although Moses asked to see God’s face, God refused him, because “man shall not see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20) 

But today, we can speak to God without going to church, without needing to visit a holy place, without need for the pillar of cloud. When Jesus left us, He said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26) If we spend time with the Lord, even while lying on our bed, He promised to teach us. 

In Matthew 27:51, we read that when Jesus died, the veil in the temple, the heavy curtain that separated the second room called the Holy of Holies, from the first room, the Holy Place, was torn from top to bottom. Not only that, there was also an earthquake, and rocks were split open. This signified we do not need a mediator anymore, like Moses, to be able to speak to God, to hear Him, plead with Him, and even argue with Him! 

As to seeing God face to face, did not Jesus tell us the parable of the King and his subjects? 

“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:31-40) It is clear that if we want to see Jesus, we need to be able to see Him in the poor, the sick, those in prison, the stranger, the widow, the orphan. And seeing Him, what do we do to draw closer to Him? 

Remain in My Love

 “Remain in my love.” John 15:9

This is what Saint Paul prayed for the people of Philippi: “That your love may increase, grow, abound more and more in knowledge, depth of insight, discernment, judgement, and every kind of perception so that you may be able to approve that which is excellent, that which is best, pure and blameless, what is of value..." (Phil. 1:9-10)

We are indeed blessed if we witness real love in action. It is very seldom that we see it on TV or in the movies. It is sad that many people are governed by the counterfeit love that seeks happiness for themselves, and not the kind of love that brings joy. Saint Paul was able to write about joy a lot, even while he was in prison!

In St. Paul's prayer, it is apparent that when our love for God and others increases, so does our wisdom and discernment. We will be able to sense “what is vital and prize what is excellent and of real value" (Amplified Bible). Wisdom is seeing things through the eyes of the giver of wisdom, God Himself. To see life, people, situations from God's perspective. To see others as they truly are- God's children, God's beloved. To have a depth of insight into God's heart.

Seems impossible? If we want to know how a person thinks, who he cares about, what should we do? SPEND TIME with them. That is the only way we can know what is important to God.

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. ​I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (John 15:9-11)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

I Am the Vine

"I am the vine, you are the branches." 

John 15:5

We are branches grafted on to Jesus, the true vine. The Father is the vine grower. In the late 19th century, the European variety of grapes was nearly wiped out because of the plant louse phylloxera. It was saved when someone thought of grafting this European Vitis vinifera grape variety on to Native American varieties which were resistant to the bug. Up to now, any vine not planted with grafted rootstock is in danger of being destroyed by these microscopic sap-sucking insects. 

We too are in danger of being destroyed. The enemy does not want us to know that there is "phylloxera" damaging the way we think, the way our children think, the way our leaders think. This louse is everywhere in our society and there is nothing the devil wants than we are all unaware and oblivious. In the same way that phylloxera attacks the roots and prevents the flow of water and nutrients to the vine, the enemy wants to attack the very foundation of what we believe in. The enemy destroys the truth which should be what unites us. 

We only need to look to the Bible for the solution. Lord, may we be grafted to the true vine, and may we be taken care of by our Father, the vine grower. May we not be deceived by the enemy who wishes to destroy us by any means possible.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Gatekeeper

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Philippians 4:6-7 is one of my favorite Bible verses. We read, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God, then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 

I like to pair it with the following passage from St. Augustine's Confessions: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee."

I remember when I had no peace at all, little things made me cry, and it seemed as if everything I had done in my life was worthless. I would argue with everyone and fought with my poor mother who could not understand what was happening. It was in such a contrast to my usual state of mind where I was content, thankful for everything, and rarely in contention with anyone. My mother called it my MIDNIGHT CRISIS, and so it was! 

I found out eventually there was something wrong with my thyroids that caused all the havoc with my emotions and mental well being. 

Through it all, and it lasted for more than a year, I held on to Philippians 4:6-7. I would confess it, pray it, claim it, repeat it, and I knew that one day, 'this too shall pass'. And thank God, it did!

Peace is not the absence of problems, conflict, storms, anger...It is the surety we belong to Someone who loves us and wants the best for us. It is the confidence that everything will turn out right, even in spite of ourselves. 

Thank You Lord that even in a world full of tension and strife, You are the gatekeeper,  and we can enter into Your peace!

Monday, May 16, 2022

The Advocate

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” John 14:26

It seems amazing to me that the Lord’s chosen disciples who were with Him day and night could not understand what He was teaching them and preparing them for. There are so many passages where it says they could not comprehend what Jesus was talking about. Perhaps they were all scratching their heads in confusion!

What hope is there for us then? The difference is He has given us His Holy Spirit. I looked up what His Spirit does for us. In Acts 1:8, Jesus promised that when He leaves, the Holy Spirit will come and the disciples will receive power. There are verses in Romans which tell us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress and can pray for us. (8:26) Jesus assured His followers that if we love Him and obey Him, we will be given an Advocate, Helper, Comforter, and Counselor, who will never leave us, and will guide us into all truth. (John 14:15-15) The Holy Spirit can also speak for our defense if we are ever caught in a tight place in our work for Him. 

There is no limit to what we can understand if we tap into the power of Jesus’ Spirit! So we should not have any doubts. It is the enemy that sows doubts. Jesus came to do one thing, and He finished it. When He left earth, He sent His Spirit of life, truth and love. That is why nothing is impossible to us. We need only to believe. 

We can see what Jesus’ disciples did after He left them. A bunch of doubters and cowards turned into staunch defenders of the Gospel. Most of them ended up as martyrs for the faith. Today, we are able to do so much more, to reach more people than they ever did. We just need to use His Power, tap into the gifts of His Spirit! 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Love One Another

“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Jesus continues, “And here is how to measure it- the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.” After Jesus taught His disciples about love, and prayed, they crossed to the Kidron Valley where He was betrayed. 

Usually when I think about this self-sacrificing kind of love, the kind of love that Jesus had, I think of the larger than life saints like Maximillian Kolbe, who volunteered to die in place of another prisoner in Auschwitz. Kolbe was a hero many times over before he sacrificed his life for another in that Nazi concentration camp. And there are many other saints who sacrificed their lives in love for others. 

But there are ordinary people who live extraordinary lives as well. Ronnie Smith was a 33 yr. old chemistry teacher in Austin, Texas, when he and his wife discovered that Chemistry teachers were much needed in Libya. Ronnie decided to go in spite of the many warnings he received. “They’ll see you as an enemy! They’ll kill you!” 

“I don’t care,” he said, “My life is in Jesus’ hands, my after life is in Jesus’ hands. Even if they do kill me, I’m still going.”

After 18 months of teaching in the International School of Benghazi, four unidentified gunmen in a black Jeep shot him down in December 5, 2013. Two weeks later his widow Anita wrote an open letter that was spread all over the news. When she and her husband had traveled to Libya, they saw the suffering of the Libyan people, “but we also saw your hope, and we wanted to partner with you to build a better future.” To the attackers, she wrote: "I love you and I forgive you." 

She came out on CNN, and told Anderson Cooper, “I just envision the black Jeep driving up to him and I don't know their faces. I just want them to know that God loves them and can forgive them for this. I just really want them to know that I do love them and I forgive them, and Ronnie would want this, and I hope and pray that our son, Hosea, would believe this," she said. “Yeah, they took away my husband. I loved my husband. But it's got to be God's spirit that's pushing me to show them that this is what God wants them to see.” 

In today’s climate of division, hatred, bullying, where truth is attacked by a barrage of lies, we too can practice the radical love Jesus espouses. 

How do we love as Jesus loves? How do we forgive as Jesus forgives? Only by His grace and Spirit within us! 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Remain in My Love

“Remain in my love.” John 15:9

In my other Bible, this verse reads, “Abide in my love.” The Greek word “meno” which translates to abide means to stay or continue on. In John 1:38-39, two disciples who were curious about Jesus asked Him where He was staying. Jesus’ answer was that they should “meno” with Him. 

I can imagine Jesus saying the same to us. Stay with Me, learn from Me, walk with Me, remain in My light, don’t stray away. “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you, and your joy might be complete.” (John 15:11) When someone we love passes away, we want to be by his side to listen to his words. For weeks, I had been recording my father’s stories as he lay in his sick bed. Almost anything he said was important to me, because I knew he could leave us at any time. A few days before he died, I even transcribed what he said, even when it did not make sense. 

How much more important, life-changing, crucial it is, for us to take Jesus’ words seriously! I believe it is a matter of life and death for us to understand and obey what Jesus said. It is not reasonable to say, “I will take my faith more seriously when I am old. I still want to enjoy my life, have fun, do things my way.” It is like we are frittering the best years of our life away if we do not start making Jesus our best friend now. He has so much to offer us! There is so much more of the “best” life we can experience if we connect, depend, and continue on in His love!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Trust in Me

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in Me." John 14:1

Where does trust come from? Most of the time, it comes from knowledge. To trust someone, you have to know him. Does he keep his word? Is he dependable? Does he have integrity? Does he know what he is talking about? We need to have some past experience to bank on. Or perhaps someone to vouch for him. 

God wants us to trust in Him, to have faith in Him, to believe that if we place our lives in His hands, ALL things will be better than if we don't. Most of us, instead of training our hearts to trust in God, go the other direction, and practice being anxious, even if most of what we worry about doesn’t happen. When I was pregnant, I would be anxious about all sorts of things. Something that kept me up at night just turned out to be hiccups! I didn't know babies had hiccups! But when I intentionally turned to God, and stilled my overwrought heart and mind, He comforted me. "When you hold your baby in your arms, you will see how much I love you." And true enough, everything turned out well. 

But what about those times when it doesn't? What if we lose our job? Our spouse gets a heart attack and the medical bills pile up? Our child gets into an accident? The future is dark and uncertain? All the more, we have to turn to God, be still and trust in Him. 

Lord, may I always remember all You’ve  done for me. You've answered my prayers, provided for me, surrounded me with good. During the hard times, may I not forget that You are a saving God, and You will save Your people. You will answer with Your saving strength (Psalm 20:6). 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Saint Damien

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Damien Joseph de Veuster of Moloka’i. He was a Catholic priest who chose to live among the lepers quarantined in the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. He taught them the faith, helped them build roads, a school, cared for them, bound their wounds, ate with them, and dug their graves. With his leadership they built the Parish Church of St. Philomena which still stands today.

An American writer, Charles Warren Stoddard, was a witness to the changes Father Damien brought to Moloka’i. When he visited the first time before the priest arrived, the place was in squalor but when he returned, he found two villages with rows of white houses, a decent hospital, a graveyard, and two orphanages. 

One day, 11 years after Father Damien arrived, the good priest discovered he contracted leprosy when he spilled hot water on his foot and could not feel anything. He continued to serve there faithfully till his death in 1889. 

The people of Molokai wanted Father Damien buried in Molokai for he was one of them. He touched their lives, and cared for them. But he was originally from Belgium and the Belgians wanted their hero back. In 1936, his body was transferred to Belgium. The people of Molokai continued to petition, and in 1995, his right hand was returned to Moloka’i for burial. 

We may not have Saint Damien’s heroic unselfishness, nor his strength to sacrifice his life for others, but we too should find a way to touch the lives of others, to be Jesus to them. 

As Mother Teresa said, “At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in’.” 

There are always opportunities to give food to the hungry, both real bread and bread for the soul. We can give our loaves and fishes and we can be sure God will multiply them. 

Memorial Stones

“From his offspring, according to the Promise, God has brought Jesus the Savior to Israel.” Acts 13:23

Saint Paul was invited by the leaders of the synagogue in Antioch to give the congregation an exhortation after the reading of the Law and the Prophets. St. Paul then proceeded to show how the God of Israel worked through their history, bringing their ancestors from Egypt, saving them for forty years in the desert, up to giving them a King as they wanted. “From King David’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.” 

It is good to look back at what God has done in our lives. I have a little notebook where I write what I call “Memorial Stones”. I’ve taken the idea from the Old Testament. The first time this was done was when Jacob in Genesis 28:10-22, took a stone which he had used to rest his head, poured oil over it, and set it up as a monument to commemorate a vision God gave him of angels going up and down. He said, “Truly, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

When I feel that God intervened in my life, or blessed me, or spoke to me, I write it down, so as not to forget. In Psalm 77:1, we read, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old.” In Psalm 103:2, it says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” And in Psalm 143:5, we are admonished to remember, to meditate on all God has done for us. 

I love going through my notebook, because I am reminded of how amazing God is, how good and how faithful. There are times when I especially need it, when I am weary, disheartened, feeling hopeless or frustrated. Then I am healed, restored, strengthened, and eager to go forward with a renewed spirit of purpose and hope.