Sunday, April 02, 2023

Conquering Spirit

“I gave my back to those who beat me.” 

Isaiah 50:6

As we get to the heart of the Lenten season, we read more and more of the prophecies of Isaiah. Today Palm Sunday, we read this prophecy about Jesus, that He did not rebel, He gave His back to those who beat Him even if He could have called on any element in the universe, any force in heaven and earth, to save Him. “Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?” He told His disciples who wanted to fight for Him. 

We may think that Jesus had a supernatural spirit behind Him, and that’s why He could endure all His beatings, all the insults piled on Him. But we too have this prevailing, conquering Spirit. 

When Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were in the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, Betsie would get beaten because she was so weak from her congenital anemia. She could not carry much and Ravensbrück was a work camp. The women were forced to get up at 4:30 am and get their job orders. But Betsie would remind Corrie, “No hate.” Betsie told Corrie there was always a reason for everything, and that when they got out, they would be able to tell their story. Betsie died in camp, but Corrie was able to go around the world and tell many stories. One of my favorite is how Betsie would prod her younger sister Corrie to thank God for everything. “Everything? Even the fleas?” The large room where the women were crowded into was crawling with fleas, and Corrie was skeptical about thanking God for those creatures! One day Betsie said excitedly, “I found out why no one bothers us here!” They had been holding 2 bible studies a night, all the women crowded together, singing hymns, and none of the guards came in to stop them! “It’s because of the fleas!” 

Thank You Lord for giving us Your Spirit of forbearance and strength. Thank You that we can lean on You. We do not have to struggle on alone. 

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Covenant of Peace

“I will make with them a covenant of peace." Ezekiel 37:26

When we are in our comfort zone, we do not feel how important this promise of God is. 

In July 2007, 23 young Korean missionaries were captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Two of them, the Pastor of Saemmul Presbyterian Church and a 29 year old member of the church, were executed before an agreement was reached with the South Korean government. One of the missionaries who was released shared that although they had this horrible experience of being incarcerated, knowing that martyrdom was a real possibility, they also had a very concrete sense of God's presence with them. The last day when all the 16 women and 7 men were all together, before they were divided into groups and brought to farmhouses in remote areas, they had an amazing time of fellowship, surrendering their lives to the Lord, and telling Him they were willing to die for His glory. One of them who had a small Bible, ripped it apart into 23 pieces, so each would have a portion of Scripture to read. 

The most amazing story is that after they were freed and they would get together, some would say, "Don't you wish you were still there?" Many of them were able to experience a deep communion with God, a peace that defies understanding, that they have not felt since. 

Dear Jesus, may I abide in You and Your words abide in me. Thank You for this covenant of peace! 

Friday, March 31, 2023

My Mighty Champion

“But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion...” Jeremiah 20:11

We will never be able to grasp how high, how wide, how deep is our God’s love for us. He really is our mighty champion who never ever gives up on us, even when we give up on ourselves. Sometimes we feel disappointed in ourselves for having failed in some way, or sinned, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. God waits always by our side. He doesn’t turn His back on us. 

I love this song from Hillsong Worship: 
“You were the Word at the beginning
One With God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ
What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
You didn't want heaven without us
So Jesus, You brought heaven down
My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now”

When we see the vast scope of God’s mighty hand, from the Old Testament stories to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can’t help but marvel at God’s love written in large bold letters. The story of Moses and the Passover foreshadow Jesus, His death on the cross and the Eucharist. Jesus is the true Passover lamb who leads us out of spiritual bondage to a new Exodus. Just as the Hebrews who partook of the lamb as instructed by Moses, were spared from death, so too we who feed on Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist receive grace for salvation. The new Passover is Christ our champion delivering us from the bondage of sin, leading us to the true promised land of heaven! Nothing compares to this!

Song can be found here -

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Name Change

“No longer will you be called Abram…” Genesis 17:5

What's with all the name changing in the Bible? God told Abram in Genesis 17:5, "No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations." After Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, wrestles with an angel and wins, the angel tells him his new name is Israel. God changes a person's name to give him a new identity, a new destiny, a new mission. It's also a prophetic call.

Perhaps some of us have nicknames given to us in our youth that have negative connotations relating to our height, our failures, our social inadequacies. Or maybe some of us have labels we carry because a doctor pronounced it upon us: diabetes, cancer, hypertension... We can also give ourselves a declaration that forms a barrier to our happiness or confidence: "I can't do this." "I'm not creative." "I'm not beautiful." "I'm destined to fail."

God can give us a new name, and we can claim it, by looking through the Bible, and finding those verses that we can confess until we believe it.

God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 "I have power. I have no fear!"

The love of God in me never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 "I am love."

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. Jeremiah 17:14 "I am healed."

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 "I have a good future!”

Like Abraham, let us hold fast to God’s promises for our God is the same today as He was yesterday. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Even If!

"Even if God whom we serve will not save us, know, O King, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statues which you set up." Daniel 3:18

In the Book of Daniel we encounter a King who decrees that all his people worship his god, and bow down before a 90 ft. tall golden statue. Everyone obeys except three young Jewish men by the name of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The King gets furious and ordered their presence before him. "I will have you thrown into the fiery furnace!!!" The three answer that their God can rescue them, but that, "Even if God whom we serve will not save us, know, O King, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statues which you set up."

How admirable that these young men put no conditions on obeying and loving God! Many people, even long time preachers, have stopped believing in God and obeying Him because God did not fit into a box of their own making. "I'm not going to believe in God anymore because what kind of a god allows people to suffer?" Or, "I'm not going to church anymore because the Bible is full of errors.” The excuses can go on and on.

Twenty-one years after Charles "Chuck" Templeton became an evangelist, he declared himself an agnostic and he died an agnostic. He was quite a popular evangelist, and preached with Billy Graham. Many thought that he, not Billy Graham, would become the biggest evangelical preacher in history. Towards the end of his life, he was interviewed by Lee Strobel, the writer of "The Case for the Real Jesus". When asked about Jesus, Templeton became melancholy and said, "I adore Him. I miss Him." How sad that because Templeton couldn't explain everything in the Bible to his satisfaction, he turned away from his best friend! 

Lord, may I follow and obey even during times of testing, and even when I have doubts!

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

No Complaints!

"Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he recovered." Numbers 21:9

In the book of Numbers there is a very strange story of how the people complained bitterly against God and Moses. The journey from Egypt to the promised land was arduous and their patience was wearing thin. "Why have you brought us out from Egypt only to die in this desert, where there is no food or water!? We are disgusted with this wretched food!" 

In punishment, the Lord sent serpents which bit them and many died. When the people repented, realizing their ingratitude and belligerence, the Lord instructed Moses what to do, and Moses obeyed. He made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole and when someone who was bitten by a serpent gazed at it, he was healed. 

We too are on a pilgrim journey along the desert roads of this earthly life. There is much to complain about. The pandemic which went interminably long wreaked havoc not only on economies around the world but also on the mental well being of young and old alike. Will we ever recover? 

God never promised an easy carefree trip. He promised that He would walk with us and bring us to the Promised Land. We need to find God's promises in the Bible and hang on to them. There are too many serpents roaming around waiting to bite us. But just as the Israelites could look to the bronze serpent for healing, we have Jesus to gaze at. 

Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:14-15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.”

Lord, many things are mysteries to me. There is the age old question of how come some of our prayers are answered, and others are not. But I do not need to understand everything. I just need to believe You and Your Word. I just need to walk with You and follow Your lead. I want to go where You will bring me, no where else! And I want to be always willing to go where You will lead without complaints. 

Monday, March 27, 2023

Anoint My Head with Oil

“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

My head overflowing with oil! Icky! Why is it mentioned as one of the “good things” a caring, attentive shepherd does for his sheep? I know that David was anointed with oil on the command of God in 1 Samuel 16. That meant he was chosen to succeed King Saul. A simple unknown shepherd boy was anointed to be King. In the 1710 Commentary of Matthew Henry, he wrote that the anointing was a blessing  of the Holy Spirit for his entire life. 

A good shepherd also uses oil to keep bugs and insects like flies away from his sheep and to heal wounds. If bugs deposit their eggs into the sheep’s nose or ears, it drives them crazy. The lambs would stop growing and the ewes would lose their milk. 

We are “sheep” in the Lord’s eyes. We are not very intelligent, although we think we are! So God keeps a look out for us, unless we like to rebel and run away and hide. He would like to anoint us with oil, because He has chosen each one of us for a very special purpose and work. All of us have challenges that torment us like the bugs bother sheep. If we draw close to God, He can use His protecting and healing oil on us. 

Yes, Lord, You are the good shepherd. Only goodness and kindness follow me if I follow You! And yes, please anoint my head with the oil of Your protection! 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

I Trust in the Lord

“I trust in the Lord; ​my soul trusts in His word.” Psalm 130:5

If our lives were in danger, and we are asked, "Are you sure God will save you?", what will we answer? My answer would be a resounding yes! That no weapon formed against me would prosper! (Isaiah 54:17) Not that I would remember the exact bible chapter and verse which I just googled, but I do know I can stand on the promises of God. I'm 66 years old, and I can say that my whole life, I have lived in the shelter of the Most High and the shadow of the Almighty.  He alone is my refuge, my place of safety. He rescues me from any trap and protects me from the plague. I need not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day. I need not dread whatever stalks in darkness nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Psalm 91 goes on with many more promises, and in the Bible, there is so much more to claim. 

I know that my security lies not in myself, nor my husband, nor money in the bank. My security is in God and His Word. God did not promise to bless me and protect me because I am good, but because He is faithful and because He loves me.  But God always gives us a choice. We have to choose to claim His promises. We have to choose to listen to Him.  We have to choose NOT to listen and follow the enemy. 

Sometimes God does allow bad things to happen. These may be a consequence of our actions, or it may not be. But if we stay trusting God, He will be sure and bring us through the dark valleys. 

Father, Your Word and Your promises are true. Help us to always trust in You, even during those times we do not understand why You are allowing things to happen to us. Help us to always stand on the the rock of Your word, and to believe Your promises. 

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Nothing is Impossible with God

“For nothing is impossible with God...” 

Luke 1:37

Perhaps we all need an “Annunciation”. The word comes from the Latin ‘anuntiatio’ and refers to the announcement of the Angel Gabriel to Mary that she was going to bear a son, even though she was a virgin. “Do not be afraid, Mary,” the angel said to her. “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.”

“How can this be? How can that even be possible?” this young maiden asked, pondering the words of the angel. And Angel Gabriel pronounced, “Nothing is impossible with God.” We too are asked to bear Jesus to a broken world. Jesus is the Good News, the Word made flesh. Before He left this earthly world as described in Acts 1:9, He gave explicit instructions for His disciples, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” 

Like Mary, we may say, “How can this be? How can I do that? I am a too busy housewife. I am a teacher in a remote barrio. I am an inmate. I am a secretary. I am sick.” Whatever it is we do, if Angel Gabriel were to confront us, he would say the same thing he told Mary. “Do not be afraid. Like Mary, you will be able to do this by the power of the Holy Spirit for nothing is impossible with God.” 

Lord, open our eyes to see the many opportunities You have given us to spread Your gospel of hope to people around us who need to hear encouragement. May Your Holy Spirit inspire us, and teach us what to say. 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Close to the Broken Hearted

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; ​and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” Psalm 34:19

Nikki Cruz was one of the street-tough gang members from a ghetto in New York evangelized by Pastor David Wilkerson. Their story is told in the amazing book and movie, “The Cross and the Switchblade” starring Pat Boone. Nikki was saved from a life of drugs, violence, witchcraft, physical and emotional abuse, and a dangerous life as warlord and leader of the dreaded street gang, the Mau Maus. 

Now he goes around preaching God’s wonderful news of love and salvation around the world. In his book, “One Holy Fire”, and many other best selling books, he shares about how God can change our lives in amazing ways. One day he was so down and depressed because he witnessed a terrible accident in Jerez Zacatecas, Mexico. He and two of his ministry coworkers tried to help but all their efforts failed. The people in the crushed remains of the jeep had just come from their very successful evangelistic meeting at a nearby stadium and tattered Bibles and crusade leaflets were littered on the street along with broken bodies. 

“Why, God, why?” Nicky cried out weeping, helpless and frustrated. After the exhilaration of a successful crusade at a 3000-seat stadium filled to capacity, Nicky was brought to despair. He continued to wrestle with God until morning, thinking it was time to quit. At 6 am, he went out for a run. He ran and ran until he got lost. A pickup stopped, and the man inside said, “Nicky Cruz! You’re lost! Get in!” 

Nicky got in, a little wary, but the man continued to talk to him. “Don’t be afraid. What happened last night was not your fault. Things happen that we don’t always understand, but we have to trust that God is in control, in spite of how it may seem. God knows you’re hurting and confused. He knows you’re tired and ready to quit. But I’m here to tell you He isn’t finished with you yet.” The stranger said much more and even prayed for Nicky. Before he knew it, he was at the entrance of his hotel. When Nicky looked back, the truck was gone. 

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by what life throws at us. We should always be confident that God is looking out for us. Whatever it is we are facing, know that He just isn’t finished with us yet!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Stand in the Gap

“Moses, his chosen one, withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath.” Psalm 106:23

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend, it says in Exodus 33:11a. He was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Then when the stiff-necked people angered God at Sinai, God said, “Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.” What did Moses do when God was ready to destroy all of Israel and just raise up a new nation out of Moses’ descendants? Did Moses just say yes, ok, do what You want, Lord? No, Moses “stood in the breach”.

Standing in the breach is a military metaphor, meaning to stand in a break made in a fortress or city wall where an army can rush in and invade. In Sinai, Moses heroically chose to confront God, standing in the gap, interceding like a warrior who tries to stop an enemy at the risk of his life. God relented in the punishment He had threatened to inflict on His people, it says in Exodus 32:14. 

We see clearly that we as Jesus’ friends (John 15:15), we may stand in the gap for others. We can plead earnestly like Moses for our family, friends, our nation, whatever we care about. Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote in a poem, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” We will never know how much evil has been turned aside, and how much good has gushed forth, when we are at our knees in prayer. We do not know if God really did intend on destroying the rebellious Jews, who made for themselves a molten calf and worshiped it, or if He was testing His servant Moses. 

What we must take away from this passage is we must never give up praying no matter how dire the situation. We need to stand in the breach like Moses, to intercede for one another, to fill in those gaps in one another’s spiritual armor. 

Another example is during the time of the prophet Ezekiel. God was angry because, “The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice.” And we read in Ezekiel 22:40 that God “looked for someone among them who would ...stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” Today, will He find us standing in the gap for our nation, for our leaders, for our people, for our family and friends? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

I Will Never Forget You

“Even should she forget, I will never forget you." Isaiah 49:15

This is one of the most poignant verses in the Bible for me. Even if a mother would forget her child, God would never forsake us. Sadly, there are many instances today of mothers killing their own children in the womb, of mothers selling their own children to slavery. It may be inconceivable to us but here in the Philippines and other parts of the world, some mothers are capable of giving young daughters to the sex trade in exchange for money.

We are surrounded by a world gone mad. We need a compass, an anchor, a refuge from the storm raging about us. That can only be God who said He will never forget us, never forsake or leave us. We can depend on Him. We are precious, the apple of His eye, His favored one! When we know this, believe it from the depth of our being, we can laugh at the future, whatever it brings (Prov.31:25).  Without Him by our side, we will be filled with anxiety, and needless worry. 

Lord, when I am weary with disappointment, catch my heart! When trials are too hard to bear, come and carry my burden! Meet me where I am, Father, as You have faithfully promised. Bring healing, bring love, bring peace. Bring whatever it is I need, Lord!

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

A Clean Heart

“A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” Psalm 51:12

In Jeremiah 17:9, the Lord despairs of His people, if that can be said of God. He says the human heart is more tortuous than all else, deceitful and desperately wicked. I can indeed see evidence of this in what is happening around me, in my country, in the world. In Jeremiah 17:4, the Lord says, “The wonderful inheritance I have reserved for you will slip out of your hands, and I will send you away as captives to a foreign land. For you have kindled my anger into a roaring fire that will burn forever.” 

There was this Youtube video of one of Mother Teresa’s interviews. What I read in the comment section totally shocked me. People were saying she was a monster, she was no saint, she had millions hidden in bank accounts, she wanted the sick to suffer, etc. etc! In the political arena, it is no different. The comments on Facebook posts seem to come from sick, deranged minds. I learned yesterday that a fake news post on a fake news site was shared 10,000 times and the real news post on the real news site was shared 50 times! Why do we prefer to share sensational stories that are untrue? 

A beautiful country, Ukraine, is being ravaged by war because of the lies spread in the country of its oppressor. So much deception in the words of our enemies. May we not be the ones who lead people away from You, Lord, but may we always bring people to know of Your saving love, graciousness, faithfulness, and goodness by our words and actions. A Christian’s life is the world’s Bible. 

Be gracious to us, O God, according to Your lovingkindness. According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out the stain of our sin. Purify us from our transgressions. Create in us clean hearts, O God. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Make Room for Jesus

You should have known that I would be in My Father’s house.” Luke 2:49

Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem every year on the Feast of the Passover. When Jesus was 12 years old, they all joined the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast. Passover is a major Jewish holiday, celebrated up to the present to commemorate the Exodus. This was the time God liberated the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt 3,300 years ago. With signs and wonders, God led the Jews from Egypt, through the parting of the Red Sea, the wilderness of Mount Sinai, and gave Moses the Ten Commandments. 

After the week long festivities, Joseph and Mary started walking towards Nazareth. After one day of travel, they looked for Jesus, thinking he was in the caravan of family and friends journeying homeward. When they could not find him, they walked back and searched for Him. They found him three days after the Feast was over. 

Where did they find Jesus? In the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard Him were astonished at His understanding  and intelligence. Of course His parents had been worried! “Son, why have You treated us this way? We were so distressed to find You were not with us,” His mother lamented. 

“Didn’t you know I would be in My Father’s house?” Jesus replies. Where will we find Jesus today? He wishes to live in the temple of our hearts. Can He find a home in our hearts? During Passover in the Holy Land, one of the activities is cleaning their houses, from top to bottom, vacuuming especially for any minuscule chametz(“leaven”). We too should spend time searching our hearts for “leaven”, ways we disobey God and His laws. Let us make room for Jesus this Lenten season, do some ‘spring cleaning’ to be ready for His joyous Easter resurrection! 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Treasure Hunt

“Not as man sees does God see, because he sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

How many times do we make assumptions based on appearances? In our business, we always tell our staff to treat everyone well. Even if someone is in slippers, torn shorts, or a house dress, our staff are supposed to greet them and take care of them. One time a scruffy man in shorts and slippers came into our store, and he was looking at magnets. One of our staff approached and started talking to him, and she found out that he collected magnets, and was able to sell him, not only several magnets, but a magnet board. 

During our busy day, do we dismiss the janitor in our office as not worth our time and effort to get to know? I know a busy CEO who when he goes to conferences, always takes the time to get to know the names of the food servers and people behind the scenes. He always finds it interesting to talk to them. 

When we try to see people through God’s eyes, the world will be a more beautiful place. We may find that the man who is rough and grumpy actually has a kind heart for animals. There is always treasure we can find in each person, and that is what God sees in us. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Humble Pie

“…for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14

The great statesman, Winston Churchill, once said, “In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.” Not many people appreciate the diet of humble pie, and we often learn humility with the greatest difficulty. 

Something was very wrong in the Vienna General Hospital between 1840 and 1846. It was one of the largest teaching hospitals in the world but in the maternity wing, the mortality rate was staggeringly high. The mothers would get raging puerperal fever, painful abscesses in the uterus and birth canal and die within three days of giving birth. After studying the problem, two doctors, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, proposed that the doctors who did autopsies should wash their hands before going to the maternity ward to deliver babies. The doctors scoffed in disbelief! Some even erroneously maintained that the dirtier the doctor, the better, because then they were very well trained as they regularly performed autopsies!

Dana Tulodziecki, a philosophy professor, wrote that the “doctors weren’t pleased that  Dr. Semmelweis, essentially implied that they were responsible for killing all those women.” That was probably the reason why it took a surprisingly long time before doctors realized how very important hand washing and sterilizing their instruments were. 

Yes, it is most humiliating when we realize the problem is us. When will we be sensible enough to know that humility is the root of all virtues and the surest sign of strength and wisdom? Let us allow God during this season of “spring cleaning” to show us how when we put ourselves in the center of everything, we interfere in His perfect plan for us. 

“Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.”

Friday, March 17, 2023

Wash Us Clean

“Take with you words, and return to the Lord.” Hosea 14:2

The prophet Hosea was a pitiful man. His wife had left him for a life of prostitution which mirrored what Israel was doing at that time to the God who loved them. Fickle Israel left God to go after false gods. And just as Hosea continued to love his wife, going after her and finally buying her back for fifteen pieces of silver, five bushels of barley and a measure of wine, so did God not give up on Israel. 

“There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land,” the Lord accused Israel, “You curse and lie and kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere, with one murder after another. That is why your land is not producing...Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! Look, you priests, my complaint is with you! ...My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.” Hosea 4:1-6 

These charges can be made against our nation. Like Israel, God loves us very much. But we have turned away from Him, choosing leaders who blatantly defy Him and His ways. We do not take care of those whom God loves most, the poor, the sick and those who are falsely accused. All is not lost. Just as God continually called Israel back to Him, He still loves us and wants to help get us back on track. 

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the Lord.” In Hebrew, ‘words’ means things, realities, and the connotation is we need to repent sincerely. Rabbi Len Ben Sisi wrote that the power of repentance was so great it soars all the way up to the throne of glory. 

Yes, Lord, forgive us for abandoning You. Show us the way back to You! Father, we want to be pleasing in Your sight. Wash us clean of our iniquities, and heal our land! 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Harden Not Your Hearts

“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Psalm 95:8

It would be so easy if we heard God’s voice every morning and just had to follow what He said. We would be successful, have the perfect family, security for the future and know with absolute certainty we were going to heaven. Life would be simple, and we wouldn’t be confused about our priorities and busy ourselves about things that had no value. True? Maybe not. There is nothing easy about obedience. 

God wants to speak to us, and if we read His Word every morning, and keep quiet enough to hear Him, we may get His heart for those He loves. If we want this enough, usually God will oblige. 

One day in 2007, when Christine Caine, an evangelist and speaker, was in the Thessaloniki airport in Greece, she saw many handmade posters of missing girls. She found out that these young girls were trafficked and some sold on an auction block like slaves. She heard God tell her to help. “But God,” she argued, “I just gave birth! But I’m a woman! But I’m an Australian who lives so far from here...” Her buts were a mile long. God knew all those buts. He also knew that in 2008, Christine with all her buts would obey and start the A21 Campaign with her husband Nick, and would be instrumental in rescuing babies from pedophile rings, and young girls and women from sexual trafficking. Their crucial work continues and over the years, thousands of female survivors have been assisted to safety and have found restoration through their Aftercare programs worldwide.

Christine studies the Word, listens to God, and obeys. First it was the little things. How about us, do we listen and obey the little things God instructs us? Let us not harden our hearts so God can put His dreams into our hearts.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

God’s Friend

“Teach them to your children and your children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4:9

There are things I remind my son Josh about, and because I've said them again and again, his response is a plaintive, "Mom! I've heard that before!" 

“Pray everyday and read the Bible.” I drummed this into his brain since he was young. "Don't date until you're ready to get married!" I've taught my son what I believe is best for him. Would God our Father do any less? 

In the 4th chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses tells his people to listen and observe the statutes and decrees God gave them, His chosen people. It is for their own good, just as it is for ours. His law is easily summarized into the Ten Commandments and the Shema, the Jews' daily declaration of faith to one God. Just as we want to teach our children what is good for them, so God wants to teach us how to live in good order, wisely and faithfully. 

There is a story of an old miner who lived like a hermit in the Colorado Mountains. When he died, his relatives came and took his meager belongings, an old cooking pot, and some rusty mining equipment. Before they left, his old friend came walking up and asked if he could have what was left. They answered, "Sure! We got everything we want." The friend then went in, moved the table, and lifted one of the floorboards. There was his friend's hoard of gold worth millions. Only a true friend would know your worth! We need to be God's friend to know how valuable His Word is! 

Lord, thank You for the gift of Your Word. I know Your Word, Your promises, are worth more than gold or silver, or property on Manhattan or all the wealth this world has! 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Seventy times Seven

“Should you not have mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?" 

Matthew 18:33

Seventy times seven times. That's what Jesus answered to the question, "How often must I forgive?" We get hurt all the time. A careless word. A stupid joke. A boss who takes credit for your idea. A teacher who shows favoritism. We can practice being forgiving and merciful every single day. It's a decision, but it's also a miracle of grace. 

The story of Matt Swatzell and Erik Fitzgerald is an amazing story of superhuman forgiveness. Matt was driving home after a 24 hour shift as a firefighter. He was very tired, and very sleepy. He woke up to a crash that changed his life. The crash killed June Fitzgerald who had been driving the car Matt hit, and her unborn child. 

June's husband, Erik, was a full time Pastor. “You forgive as you’ve been forgiven,” said Pastor Erik in his grief and pain. “It wasn’t an option. If you’ve been forgiven, then you need to extend that forgiveness.” Because of that openness, Erik and Matt forged a friendship that has lasted, and Matt has been able to build a good life instead of one disturbed by demons of guilt and regret. 

“This has been just as healing for me too,” said Pastor Erik of his relationship with Matt. “I’ve taught on forgiveness and I know that forgiveness is not so much for the other person but for yourself.” 

Lord, is there someone I need to forgive? Pour down upon me Your abundant, overflowing, healing grace that I may be worthy to be called Your child. May I forgive just as You have generously forgiven me. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Be a Messenger of Hope and Healing

“Wash and be cleansed’!” 2 Kings 5:13

Naaman was a highly regarded, valiant, army commander of the King of Aram, but he was a leper! A little slave girl, captured in a raid of Israel, told the wife of Naaman that the master would be healed if he presented himself to the prophet in Samaria.

So Naaman with a full retinue and presents for the King of Israel went to Elisha. But Elisha did not even meet with him! Elisha just sent a messenger to instruct him that he should wash 7 times in the Jordan. “And your flesh will heal,and you will be clean,” Elisha's messenger told him.

Naaman went off angrily! He had a lot of expectations about what the man of God should do! “I thought he would surely come out and invoke the Lord His God..." It was a good thing that his servants reasoned with him, “If the prophet would have told you to do something extraordinary, wouldn't you have done it?" So Naaman swallowed his pride and did as the prophet told him. And he was healed!!!

Lesson number 1: Even if we are a lowly slave girl, we can be a messenger of hope and healing. Perhaps we are too afraid of our boss to speak to him or her about  something he or she needs to hear? Perhaps we prefer to just be silent even if we know something that would greatly ease another's burden? Let us always speak out words of life and truth with courage. This world filled with despair and darkness needs to hear it. 

Lesson number 2: Obedience may bring us to a closer encounter with God. What is it that God is asking of us? Sometimes when God does not fit into the box we made for Him, like Naaman, we can be so adamant, proud and unwilling to see things from God's point of view!!!  Let us not allow our expectations of how God should act or who God will use to speak to us be a hindrance to what God wants to do for us, and through us!

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Right Beside Us

 "Sir, give me this water..." the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well, asked in John 4:5-42

"Our Father uses every part of our ordinary, everyday lives to teach us about the  extraordinary, heavenly life that he is offering us,” I read in the ‘The Word Among Us’.

Jesus would strike up conversations with people and tell stories to teach them about heavenly realities. Today God does the same- He uses the events, and people of our everyday life, to teach us. We just have to be more observant, to listen, and to be willing to cast away our expectations of how God is supposed to move or speak or act.

So today, let us be more present, more mindful, of whatever ways God will choose to show up. He will! He is right beside us all the time! 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Focus on the Father

‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns…you slaughter the fattened calf.’ His father said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ Luke 15:29-32

I don’t know about you but I can relate more to the son who did not leave home, who was obedient, and did his chores and did not squander half of the father’s wealth. Like that son, I most probably would have felt very bad about the big welcome given to the son who left home. I have to confess that I sometimes wonder if I will see the big sinners in heaven. After they have stolen millions from our country’s coffers, after they have deprived a majority of our people of a good education, basic medical needs, quality transportation, will they receive forgiveness from the “ocean of mercy that opened up for the whole world” when Jesus died on the cross? My mind says an adamant NO! But my heart says YES! If they come humbly before the Father, of course He will welcome them with open arms! 

I realize I am self-righteous much like the older son, “caught up in the narrow confines of the ego”. If we are in the right relationship with the Father, we will just be focused on  Him. We will be using all our strength, our passion, our gifts, on being one with Him in His purposes and goals for me and for others. We will desire that all, absolutely all, may receive of the Father’s bountiful mercy and grace. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Rejected and Scorned

“The stone that the builders rejected ​has become the cornerstone…” Matthew 21:42

Just as Jesus was rejected and scorned, many missionaries through the ages have been tortured, mistreated and even murdered. There is John and Betty Stam who passed out tracts and held meetings in the small city of Tsingteh, China. Although they were assured that there was no threat of Communist activity in the area, soldiers invaded the area and took John, Betty and their baby Helen Priscilla hostage. The husband and wife were paraded through the village and killed. Their baby was saved.

Many Catholics had been arrested, tortured, and made to step on crucifixes or images of Mary and Jesus when Christianity was suppressed and Catholicism driven underground. On February 5, 1597 26 missionary and convert martyrs were marched across villages in Japan, then impaled by spears and hung on a cross just like Jesus. In 1862, they were canonized by Pope Pius IX. 

In 2018, the news was filled with the story of an American missionary, John Allen Chau, who was killed by the Sentinelese, an indigenous tribe in North Sentinel Island, India, whom he was trying to convert. Last year, the Vatican reported that 18 Catholic missionaries were killed for their faith. 

In spite of the danger, men and women still go out of their comfort zones to evangelize. Usually, they feel God calling them to preach the good news, they are impelled by an urge bigger than themselves, stronger than their fear. How about us? We are also instructed by Jesus to “go out into the world and preach the good news” (Mark 16:15). We need not fear being tortured or mutilated or boiled in oil. But are we able to obey Jesus even if we will be rejected or ridiculed? 

Thursday, March 09, 2023

More Tortuous

"More tortuous than all else is the human heart...who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9

In other versions of the Bible, the heart is described as deceitful, sick, corrupt, incurable, weak, perverse, and desperately wicked! I would like to vehemently disagree, but sadly, there are so many horrible and inexplicable things that have happened and continue to happen in the world! 

In this same chapter of Jeremiah, we read that only God can understand our hearts and minds. He can probe it like a surgeon can use his tools to examine and explore our bodies. If only God can do this, perhaps we can only fathom the tortuous heart of man through the lens of compassion, which is how God sees us. I try to remember the adage, "There, but for the grace of God, go I", before judging others. I am not always successful. Hopefully I shall get better at it! 


This was allegedly stated by John Bradford when he saw a group of prisoners being led to their execution. Indeed, if I was not born to parents who had the fear of God and taught my brother and sisters right from wrong, where would I be now? What kind of a person would I be? 

Lord, My heart might rebel against You, but You have ransomed me and taken me for Your own! Help me to choose You always! May I obey You so You can tame my tortuous heart! 

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Make Me Feel Important

“Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 20:26

Does this make any sense?

How can anybody who wants to be great apply to be a servant? Quite absurd in the world’s way of thinking! But no one can doubt that Jesus was great except perhaps some perverse people. And Jesus had the heart of a servant. A servant is not a slave by any means because a slave has to serve his master involuntarily most of the time. But a person with a servant heart has a purpose and a gift. And as St. Peter said in 1 Peter 4:10, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 

In 1985, Mary Kay Ash was named one of “America’s 25 Most Influential Women” and in 1999, the “Most Outstanding Woman in Business in the 20th Century". In 1996, her business, Mary Kay Cosmetics, was highlighted in the Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Times. 

Mary Kay was an outspoken, God-fearing, hard working, Christian woman who did not plan to be the greatest, but what she wanted was to help women like herself succeed in business. She did everything she could to mentor women to get ahead. Her mother used to tell her, “You can do it, Mary Kay!”, and she imparted that same encouragement and confidence with millions of women. She built her company guided by the Golden Rule, and remained faithful to the right values. She often told others, “Never, absolutely never, compromise your principles.” 

One of the things she taught her saleswomen was, “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.” 

How many times have I concentrated on myself and what I think I am entitled to,  rather than making others feel important and needed? If I value Jesus as my treasure, my heart will be in the right place of serving the people He loves. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Lord, forgive me. Teach me to be a servant like you.