Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Your Faith has Saved You

“Courage, daughter!  Your faith has saved you.” Matthew 9:22

The story of this woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years can be very discouraging. She spent everything she had for doctors and medicine and she was not getting better. In fact she was getting worse! I know so many people who have been sick a long time. In fact I am one of them! I have Thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder caused when the body doesn’t make enough hemoglobin, an important part of red blood cells. It may have triggered all the calcified emboli in my arteries. Three years after my open heart surgery to remove it, I am still breathless, and still need healing for my lungs. 

Sometimes I feel like that veiled woman in a crowd in search of Jesus. “If only I can get close to Him. If only I had enough faith." This woman was very fortunate in that she managed to touch Jesus' garments and she was healed instantly. In the 5th chapter of Mark, we read more of this woman’s story. Jesus looked around at the crowd surrounding Him, and asked, "Who touched me?" What is important to me is that Jesus looked for her. For 12 years, perhaps she was feeling neglected by God, insignificant. How many times do we pray, "Do you care, God? Do You know what I am going through?" This is what our enemy wants, that we think God does not care, God does not know what we are going through. In this battle of the mind, we need to fight for the truth.

God does care. We matter to Him. Every single one of us. We are loved. That is what we want to know in our heart. "Who touched me?" is the cry of a God who wants to connect with us. Faith is our connection. "Daughter, your faith has healed you," Jesus said. And so with us. Our faith that whatever we go through, whether 12 years or not, whether it is about healing, or broken relationships, or lack of money or whatever, God walks with us. God is there, loving us whatever we are going through. He will never allow things to happen to us that is not good for our character. That will not make us bloom. In the next story of Jairus and his daughter, Jesus says, "Do not be afraid. just trust me."

Yes Lord, I trust You. You will work everything in my life for my good, because You love me, and I love You! (Romans 8:28)

Monday, January 30, 2023

Among Tombs

“...he had his dwelling among tombs.” Mark 5:3

In Mark chapter 5, we read of an amazing incident where a man with a legion of evil spirits is made free by Jesus. He had been dwelling among the tombs and he was always crying out and bruising himself.

Here in our city, Manila, there are many who live in the cemetery, among the gravestones. They build haphazard shanties on top of stacks of tombs. The “lucky” ones get to live in fancy mausoleums they are paid P50 to take care of. There is no water, no electricity, the residents say, but there are TVs and karaoke machines and light bulbs. The community is frequently raided by the police in violent anti-drug raids, and the victims are buried there, near the shanties of their families. Their lives are terribly wretched, but they are used to it. Some have lived there since the 60s.

Sometimes some of us get too comfortable living amidst dead things. Many of what we concern ourselves with have no eternal value. Instead of spending time with loved ones, we work to accumulate things we cannot bring with us when we die. We are surrounded by dead things. I am surrounded by so much stuff that sap my energy, and I cannot hope to take care of even if I live to be a hundred! I hope I can put more of my time and effort investing in people instead of things!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Blessed are We!

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of God is yours.” Matthew 5:3

This is kind of a difficult passage with many possible interpretations.

I guess it's because we tend to pick and choose what we want to hear. I think Jesus meant that we have to be poor in spirit, dependent on Him, empty of ourselves, before we can have the kingdom come into our lives. You can't fill a bottle which is already full of water or wine. If our hands and hearts are already carrying so much of what the world has to offer, we will not be able to receive from God what He wants to give us. That is reason enough to be pitiful instead of blessed! 

This passage is also about being really poor, wanting, needing... when we are poor, we are not content with the state our life is, and we are ready to cling to God. Not like the rich, young man in the Bible who was already contented with what he had and did not want to give up anything for God.

I hope we will never be content with our life as it is. No matter how special we are, we should know that we are spiritually poor, bankrupt before the Almighty God. We have absolutely nothing to offer Him aside from our sinful selves. Still He calls us to Himself, worthless as we are. As His children, He wants to give us the riches of heaven, robes of royalty in exchange for rags, and beauty for ashes. Blessed are we indeed!

Saturday, January 28, 2023

We are Perishing

“Master, do you not care that we are perishing?” Mark 4:38

In this story we see how human Jesus was. He was exhausted after preaching to a multitude. I am sure we can relate if we’ve had to give a talk, seminar, lecture or workshop. Nowadays we have microphones, weather proof outdoor speakers, amplifiers, laptops, powerpoint, projectors and all sorts of digital gadgets to help us. Jesus had none of that. He must have had to choose the location, by the sea, so His voice would be naturally amplified as it traveled over the water. 

In the evening, after preaching, He asked that they go over to the other side on a boat, and He promptly fell asleep in weariness. He could not rest for long because a furious squall arose, and the waves broke over the boat, almost tilting it over. The experienced fishermen turned timid and woke Jesus, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing? We’re going to drown!” 

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the raging sea, “Hush! Be still!”, and the waves and the wind obeyed Him. Many of us are like these fishermen. We go through life unmindful of what God does for us every single minute of the day. Then something happens, and we cry out, “Lord, do You not care what happens to me? Why are You allowing this? Why do You allow me and my family to suffer?” 

Many even become atheists because they cannot believe a loving God allows suffering and pain. But many of us forget all God has done and is doing for us. A human Jesus came down, leaving His glory, to be able to speak to us, man to man. For three years He preached, healed, and gave us the unparalleled sign of His death and resurrection. He taught and did so much, the whole world would not be able to hold all the books if everything was written down (John 21:25). We should take the time to read, and understand His Words. His Words are so important, crucial, significant, essential for us to learn and know. He sacrificed so much, He exhausted Himself, He drained His life, just so we would understand Him and know what is important to God.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Spread the Faith!

“The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed." Mark 4:31

If Jesus were to start a business, I think He would have started small. He wouldn't have borrowed a lot of money. He would have worked out of his garage or bedroom. He wouldn't have looked for PhDs or business people with a lot of experience. He would have trained His people Himself, and He would have grown this mustard seed business slowly but surely. God never looks down upon small beginnings. In Zechariah 4:10, God asks, "For who has despised the day of small things?"

We can start with a mustard seed faith, really tiny, but in God's hand, the Master Gardener, it can grow and develop into something so mighty, the devil cowers in fear before it. We can and should grow our faith. 

A little known fact about the lowly mustard seed is that many species are allelopathic. They produce high amounts of sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. When the seeds are planted, these compounds are released into the soil and triggers a biofumigant response. This simply means that when we plant mustard seeds, we don’t need to use pesticides! It produces a toxicity in the ground so that other seeds will be unable to germinate! 

We need to spread our mustard seed faith far and wide so no tares of the enemy can grow! No to weeds or thorns, no deception, no fake news, no double dealing and fakery! Let us clear the land of the seeds the enemy plants by dispersing our seeds, no matter how insignificant and small over any territory we can claim, our home, our offices and schools, our parishes, our subdivisions, all over social media! Let us not allow the enemy to lay claim on what is rightfully ours! Game? 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Stir into Flame

Stir into flame the gift of God that you have...” 2 Timothy 1:6

Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Saints Titus and Timothy. Saint Paul wrote letters to both of them as they were his companions on his missionary journeys. The second epistle to Timothy was written with great affection sometime in 67 C.E. while Paul was imprisoned in Rome, towards the end of his life. 

He writes, “I am grateful to God...as I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day. I yearn to see you again...as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you.

“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice

but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”

It is good to read this as a letter to ourselves as well. Indeed we all have received gifts from God, and if we do not find out what gifts these are and use them, we will be like birds in a forest, silent, with songs inside us that no one can hear. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Why are You Persecuting Me?

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Acts 22:7

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle. Saint Paul is definitely one of the pillars of the church, but he started out as an enemy of God’s people! 

Saul was so sure he was doing God’s will. He watched as Stephen was stoned to death. He was zealous in rounding up the new followers of Christ, bringing them to Jerusalem in chains and throwing them in jail. But God did not allow him to continue. On the road to Damascus, a brilliant light flashed from the sky and he fell to the ground. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 

“Who are you, Sir?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting!”
I wonder how many times Saint Paul told his conversion story, and to how many people? It was certainly dramatic, and did not need any embellishing. How many people were spellbound and turned to God because of listening to him? What marked him as a man that God wanted on His side? Perhaps it was his passion and bravery. Whatever he did, he did with conviction. God doesn't want us to be lukewarm, sitting on the fence, waiting to see which side will win. I am sure if he was alive today, Saint Paul would not be intimidated by anyone. 

Saul never saw Jesus, never touched Him, never knew Him. Yet Jesus accused, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Jesus was the man Saul arrested, had chained and scourged. Jesus was the woman Saul had dragged into prison. Jesus is the maid we talk harshly to. Jesus is the beggar we ignore. Jesus is the employee we vent our anger on. Jesus is the Christian persecuted in China we do not pray for and forget about. Jesus is the baby in the womb with no voice we do not fight for. Jesus is the hungry child in Payatas we do not feed.
Lord, how many times have I, like Saint Paul, persecuted You? Open my eyes, like You opened Saul's, and make me see, just as You made Paul see, what I can do for You and Your people. Help me to bring Your light of truth into the world.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

We are God’s Family

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” 
Mark 3:33-35

How wonderful that Jesus includes us in His Royal family, for that is what He is saying here. If we do the will of our Father in heaven, in loving obedience, we are adopted into God’s household. And what better way to truly belong but to study our family’s history? The Bible is not merely a book of instructions, but it lays down the story of our Father and His plan to bring us into our eternal home. We get to know the different members of our family, but most importantly, we will be introduced to Jesus. All the books of the Bible are signposts to Jesus. We can find him not only in the New Testament, but also in the Old. Jesus Himself said in Luke 24:27 that we can find Him in the Scriptures, from the stories about Moses and all the prophets.

I think of reading the Bible as a treasure hunt. So much to marvel at, and to learn. How many times have I wished that what Jesus explained to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24) was written in the Bible. But I suppose if we find the truths for ourselves, we will own it. Just like we will be more confident that we belong in God’s family, we are loved by Him, cherished even, because He sacrificed so much for us. 

Let us read the Bible and get to know our family. When Jesus saw His mother and John the disciple at the foot of the cross, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26-27) When we get to heaven, wouldn’t it be exciting to see Mother Mary, and John, and Simon Peter, and Moses, and King David, and oh, so many other inspiring, crazy, intimidating, lovely relatives face to face? That is what Jesus is inviting us to! A heavenly banquet with our eternal family!

Monday, January 23, 2023

United We Stand

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” Mark 3:24-25

Many of the posts on my Facebook wall show how deeply divided the American people are, much like what has happened here in the Philippines. Sadly there doesn't seem to be a place to meet in between. 

There is a fable about an old man, his successful family business, and his three sons who were always quarreling. One day the old man got so sick, he feared for his life and their business, and wanted his sons to be united in peace. He called them all, and asked each one in turn to break a bamboo stick. Each one was able to break the stick easily. Then he gave each one a try to break a bundle of sticks. Not one of them was successful. "You see how you can survive only if you are united?"

This reminds me of our family business. Many people have asked why we don't divide the stores among each other. But we each have different gifts and talents, and we work well together. It is the same for our country. We should find a way to work well together, or as Jesus says, "A kingdom divided against itself will not stand." 

Lord, we pray for our country and our people. We pray that we will be united under You. May we work towards the same goals of loving and serving one another in righteousness and justice.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Catching Men

“Come after me and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

In another version, this same verse reads: “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people."

Why did Jesus target Simon and Andrew, James and John? Was it because they were fishermen? Maybe because fishermen are used to being patient, to not catching anything for long stretches of time!

My father wanted to catch fish. He was quite obsessed and he even built a boat. But he wasn’t successful. It was not that he wasn’t patient. He would stay out in the sun for hours. Even with a fish finder, and even when he went out with the fishermen in their boat, he wasn’t able to catch fish. I remember when he gave up. He was already bedridden, and he gave instructions to his granddaughter. He said she had to go to Simo Banks and gave her directions, and sent her videos about fishing. Imagine if we were that eager and persistent about ‘catching men’! The father of Ric Warren was like that. He was dying already, but he had to be held down, because he had to ‘get one more for Jesus’! 

I believe that when we follow Jesus, even if we're total dummies about "catching men", He'll be the one to make us excellent fishers of men! We just have to be willing to be fishers of men. 

Todd Millikan wrote in his blog, “Every single child of God is made to have a role of incredible significance and influence in others' lives." Yes, Lord, teach me and use me! 

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Beyond the Veil

“A tabernacle was constructed, the outer one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of offering; this is called the Holy Place. Behind the second veil was the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies.” 

Hebrews 9:2-3

When we read the instructions of God about the tabernacle and its furnishings in Exodus 25 and 37, we see how specific God was about this Holy Place. The amazing thing is it all foreshadows and symbolizes Jesus and what He did for us. Back then there were 3 veils that separated God from men. Only priests could enter the Holy Place where the lampstand, the table of showbread and the altar of incense was placed. Only the High Priest could enter once a year into the last veil where the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy seat was hidden.

The bronze of the whole courtyard symbolized sin, and the gold inside the tabernacle symbolized God and His separateness from us. The lampstand clearly was an early representation of Jesus, light of the world. The light on this lamp could not be permanently lit, but we have the light of the Word which will never die. The table of showbread was specified to be made of acacia overlaid with gold, which symbolized that Jesus was both God and man. The bread on the table, which was also called Bread of the Presence, symbolized God's presence among us. God with us! The altar of incense is Jesus' interceding for us continuously. Blood was applied to this altar on the Day of Atonement! How obvious could God be about His plans for us?

There is so much richness in all God does. Even in the little things then, and the little things now. We really need to open our eyes, to read His Word, and take advantage of the many gifts He wants to give us in His Word and in His presence in our life!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Fresh, New Wind

“I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Hebrews 8:10

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. 

When we look at the present landscape, it seems just as bleak as this valley of dry bones. Of course economies around the world have suffered but ours is especially vulnerable. Our unemployment rate in September fell to a new low since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the World Bank assessed that 7% of firms have closed permanently. A survey revealed that an estimated 3 million Filipino families experienced hunger at least once in the last quarter of 2022. The state of the education sector is heartbreaking as it will impact the future of so many children. Then there are the rising suicide rates, and young people becoming mentally unstable. 

We hope we are over the worst of the pandemic, but we will feel its impact in generations to come. “Can we have life as we know it again” we echo the words in Ezekiel. 

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, the Holy Spirit, 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…I will put My laws in your minds and I will write them upon your hearts. I will be your God, and you shall be My people.” 

Instead of helplessness, if we focus on God, He will be sure and give hope. If He can bring a valley of dry bones to life again, it will be easy for Him to get our country and people on track again if we turn to Him. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

High Priest

"It was fitting that we should have such a High Priest." Hebrews 7:26

The description of the garments of the Jewish High Priests were so specific and mysterious. There was a breastplate with different colored stones with engravings on them, and this had to hang from "remembrance stones" on the priests' shoulders. Even the means of securing the breastplate and the colors of the ribbons hanging from it were identified. The high priests could only go inside the Holy of Holies once a year to offer sacrifice. That was in the Old Testament.

In the New Covenant we have Jesus as our High Priest and intercessor. He offered The Sacrifice once and for all. Our High Priest is forever before the presence of the living God, and He "forever lives to make intercession" for us! (Hebrews 7:25)

I think of how people would line up for hours (some up to 10 hours), walk long distances, stand in the rain and shiver with the wind, only to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis when he came to the Philippines. Then afterwards, they would say it was worth it! Can you imagine what it would be like to BE in the presence of Jesus forever and ever? To be eternally His friend? To not have to wait in line? We do not need to go through elaborate ceremonies, and wear different colored stones attached to "cords of wreathen work", "fastened to onyx stones on the shoulder", etc etc. Revelations 1:6 reads, "Jesus Christ has made us to be a kingdom and priests unto God." 

Jesus' Word and power and victory are available to us who believe!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

One of the Chosen Ones

Stretch out your hand." Mark 3:5

In a few days it will be the Feast Day of Saint Marianne Cope, who entered the Sisters of Saint Francis at the age of 24. Like Jesus, she helped many of the outcasts of society. In 1883, Marianne received a plea from King Kalakua and Queen Kapi’olani of the Kingdom of Hawai’i to help the lepers in Moloka’i, Hawaii. They had already written to more than 50 other religious congregations and had been declined by all. 

Marianne wrote him back, “I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones….I am not afraid of any disease, hence it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned lepers.” 

Marianne left for Hawaii with six companions. Two years after she arrived, the King awarded her with the Cross of a Companion of the Royal Order of Kapiolani for setting up hospitals and homes for children of lepers. In November 1888, Marianne cared for St. Damien of Molokai in his final years, and she and her companions began to take over his work in the leper colony.

For fifty-six of the eighty years of her life she lavished love and care on men, women and children with withered hands, bodies, and hearts. At night, she would stay at a patient’s bedside after the lights went out. Miraculously, Marianne never caught the disease and she died of natural causes at the age of 80. 

She said in confidence, “God gives us life; He will take it away in His own good time. Meanwhile it is our duty to make life as pleasant and comfortable as possible for those of our fellow-creatures whom He has chosen to afflict.”

We may not know any lepers, but I am certain we know many who are sick in the body or in their hearts. Do we see it as our duty to make life pleasant and comfortable for them in any way we can? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Prisoners of Hope

“Be strongly encouraged to seize the hope which is placed before us. This confidence is like a sure, strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls." 

Hebrew 6:18-19

In 2015, Pope Francis visited the Philippines and we watched as a poor little girl posed a question to him, a question with no answer. All who watched were suddenly overwhelmed with sadness for the many little girls like her who live with helplessness, in fear and little hope, not only here in the Philippines but around the world. She asked, "Why do children suffer?" She couldn't even continue her prepared sharing because she broke down in tears.

Really, only God knows the answer to that question. But when she was interviewed on TV a few days after, gone were the tears, and in its place, a big smile. She and the other children with her talked of HOPE. Nothing changed much in her life, but she was hopeful, happy, looking forward to the future, even giving encouragement to other children like herself. 

Living without hope is only half living. We live in a broken world, bodies that need healing, relationships that need mending, economies that need rejuvenation, values that need re-alignment...When we put our hope in the wrong things like wealth, power, ourselves, or our leaders, that is what happens. Brokenness. We have to put our hope in someone who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Someone who is trustworthy.

We may be in the dark, not knowing what lies before us, but God knows. "I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and peace, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11) We need to become "prisoners of hope" (Zech. 9:12)

Monday, January 16, 2023

Rich Harvest

“Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered..." Hebrews 5:8

When I was young, I was always asking God to treat me gently. I was always aware that there were many things that could happen that could destroy the perfect world I had with my family, my friends, this precious little circle I lived in. And God was faithful,and answered my prayers. Until He showed me, that if He did not prune me, I would wither and die like a plant that was not exposed to a gardener's pruning shears. There are different kinds of cutters. Some are strong enough to cut tree branches, and they are called "loppers". Then there are the specialized ones for pruning Japanese bonsai and the exquisite miniature landscapes of the Vietnamese. To cut leaves and branches higher up, gardeners can use an averruncator which has a telescopic pole.

One of my favorite verses is from 1 Corinthians 3:9, where Saint Paul tells us we are God's garden, His field, His farm. And like any farmer, God prepares the ground for a rich harvest. The hard soil must be broken up, so He can plant the seeds. The season, the timing, the depth of the seeds in the soil, how much water, how much sun, these are all to be considered. And then when the plants are grown, and in need of pruning, God lovingly takes out those pruning shears and removes those dead leaves and unfruitful stems. Even Jesus was pruned. And Jesus learned obedience from His suffering. Perfect obedience. I do believe that God has a special set of shears for each one of us. For some of us, He uses the lopper. For some He picks the high carbon kiri style shears for precision cutting. Whatever tool God uses, and we can be sure it is the perfect one, we know it is so we will yield much fruit, and bloom! One day we will be perfect too, like Jesus!

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Muddy Places

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light..." Isaiah 9:2

I love reading books because I meet many people I would otherwise never know. In Stasi Eldredge's book, "becoming myself", she introduces me to her friend. Annie was born with asthma, and was sickly and weak, so she was left alone at home most of the time. Her parents and siblings were all athletic and had busy schedules, and they did not know what to do with her. She was left unprotected for hours and hours, and was sexually abused by a cousin. After all the neglect and being violated, she grew up believing she wasn't worth much. 

When Annie was about thirty years old, she went back to her childhood years and all the pain, the messiness, all the muddy parts. She remembered her loneliness, but she remembered something else as well. She remembered she loved springtime, and how she would put on her boots, and tramp out to the swamp near her house. She loved seeing all the buttercups that came out at the first sign of spring. The thing about these fragile, pale yellow flowers is they only grow in mud. 

Stasi Eldredge wrote: "Annie's childhood was muddy. And honestly, she is one of the most beautiful women I have ever been privileged to know. Beauty for ashes. Praise for despair. The phoenix rises, and Annie has risen too with a faith that is precious and contagious and lovely beyond words. She is Jesus' very own Buttercup."  


Our past may be dark, messy and muddy, but we should never lose hope and give in to despair. God is always there. We may not understand why, but we can claim His promises, especially Romans 8:28. Thank You Lord that in all things, You work for our good! 

God can find all the muddy places of our soul and plant a garden. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Sharper than a Sword

"God's word is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword." Hebrews 4:12

There are many dramatic chapters in the Bible but none more dramatic than Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones.   The prophet is placed in the middle of a plain with dry bones in every direction. He is asked, "Can these bones come to life?" Whoa! What a question, but Ezekiel knows the perfect answer, "Lord God, You alone know that!" Then God says to him, "Prophesy over these bones! Dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord!" If anyone but God said that, it would have been a mockery. But God's Word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). God's Word will not return to Him void or with no effect. It shall prosper and succeed wherever it is sent (Isaiah 55:11). 

We do not use God's Word enough. We do not wield it like a sword. We do not expect things to happen when we prophecy over hopeless situations. Dry bones? No job? Cancer? An ailing business? What is any of that to an all mighty, powerful God? 

Lord, may I study Your Word and use it like a sword. You said, "I have promised and I will do it!" (Ezekiel 37:14). May we believe and trust in You no matter how hopeless the situation! 

Friday, January 13, 2023

Tiny, Mustard Seed Faith

“They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him.” Mark 2:3-4

I like putting myself in a Bible story and gleaning some truth by being a part of what is happening. In the story of the paralyzed man being carried by his friends to Jesus, I have imagined myself to be the paralytic in need of Jesus. Indeed, we are all paralyzed in some way, by our circumstances, by our sins, by our past, by our health, sometimes even by the way we think.

But today I am putting myself in the place of one of the paralytic's friends. They don't give up. Even if the crowd around Jesus doesn't make a way for them to pass through the door, they make their own way. They went up through the roof. They burrowed through the tiles of the roof, and lowered their friend! Can you imagine the hardship they went through? Not only the climbing up to the roof with a stretcher, but carrying their friend through the streets! It could not have been easy balancing the stretcher through cobblestones, and weaving their way through people and other carts and horses. We can see very clearly how much they cared, how much love and compassion they had for their friend. 

How many people have I carried through the streets, up to the roof, and through broken tiles for? Has my faith and love brought someone to the notice of Jesus, enough for Him to say, "I see your faith. I will heal your friend!" Sometimes we give up because of the "crowds", the busyness, the hopelessness. But if we want to see "incredible things", we should persevere and push through the crowds, and whatever obstacles are put in our way! And we should remember, that even if we put down the mat, we can always take it up again, and continue the journey. 

I see how I am blessed to be a part of a loving community of brothers and sisters who pray and bring each other to Jesus’ notice. How many times have I been witness to how we rally around someone in need of prayers, encouragement, financial assistance, and help of all kinds. A single woman got hit by a jeep and got horribly mangled and we came together to “bring her on a stretcher” to Jesus. She is now a walking miracle, and it is good to see her indomitable spirit.

My brother has been sick of colon cancer for more than 6 years and his situation has appeared dire and hopeless several times. But more than four people have carried his mat. A prayer army of people, friends, and friends we have never met, resolutely bring him to Jesus’ notice every day. Thank You Lord for seeing our faith and giving us a miracle every day. 

Lord, there are so many in need of our prayers and our help. May we always make time to bring our friends, neighbors, our hurting country, to Your attention. May You see our tiny, mustard seed faith, and answer our prayers.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Building Our Faith

“I do will it.  Be made clean.” Luke 5:13

Sometimes during great and terrible trials it can seem as if God is hiding His face, indifferent to our pain. The Gospel reading today is about a leper who approached Jesus, pleading, “If you wish, you can make me clean." And Jesus moved with pity, touched him and said, “I do will it. Be made clean." Is Jesus not the same yesterday, today and forever? 

Yes He is! Today, just because it seems He is not answering my prayers quickly for healing my lungs, and healing my brother’s cancer, He is no different. I trust Him. I am also praying for so many others who are sick, that this pandemic will end, that our economy will get stronger, that Russia will stop bullying Ukraine, and prices of food will decrease. 

We need to build up our faith all the time so that we can be strong when trials come. In 1855, some builders wanted to hang a suspension bridge over Niagara Falls but they could not figure out how to get the heavy cables across. Finally, Theodore G. Hulett said they would hold a kite flying competition. Whoever could send a kite across the 800 ft. wide river would win $5.00, a princely sum. 16-year-old Homan Walsh beat several other contenders. His kite string was tied across the gap, and was used as a pilot line to pull a stronger rope across from Canada. Several exchanges later, and a cable was finally brought across which became the foundation for the first ever suspension bridge. 

Our faith is like that, it starts out very weak and feeble, just like the thin kite string. Over time, reading the Bible and feeding on God’s word daily, trusting Him, our faith gets built up. We know God will come through for us in His perfect time!

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Prayer is How We Abide

"Everyone is asking for you." Mark 1:37

Can you imagine how many people were looking for Jesus? Huge crowds of people from all over would follow him. Some came to gawk because of the miracles. The deaf, dumb, blind and lame would be healed. Then there were the demon possessed who would for sure add to all the commotion and noise around. It's a wonder Jesus would get any time to sleep and rest. 

In Matthew 1:35, we read that after all the work of healing and ministering, Jesus did get some sleep, but He woke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray. It was very important for Him to connect with His Father. This shows me how important, how very essential prayer is. Prayer is not the work of women only, not the work of sissies or weak people. Prayer is necessary if we want to get the job done, if we want to get our marching orders, if we want things to happen! 

Prayer is how we "abide". In John 15:4-10, Jesus instructs us to abide in Him if we want to bear much fruit. Father Michael Scanlan died at the age of 85 in 2017.  He helped revitalize the Catholic faith, and was called "the giant in our midst". He led so many into a deeper relationship with Christ and openness to the Holy Spirit. He is an example of what can happen if we abide in God, and become men and women of prayer. Sister Ann Shields said he was always in prolonged prayer. Father Davis said that he would have his daily planner open and he would ask God what he should do very early in the morning. 

Father Scanlan shared in his book, "Let the Fire Fall", that while walking through a hotel lobby in Michigan, he noticed a young boy screaming and rolling around the floor. A crowd was gathering much like it would have gathered around Jesus. Father Michael heard God asking him to pray for the boy for total healing. He was astonished because he suspected the boy had Down Syndrome, which is a genetic defect. Every cell in the boy's body had an extra chromosome! But God asked him to pray and he did! That young boy was healed and when doctors ran tests they could not find any trace of Down Syndrome in his body!

Father, may we learn to abide in You. May we be intimately connected to You. May we, like Jesus, learn to listen to You and obey You. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Leave Me Alone

A man with an unclean spirit shrieked: "What do you want of us, Jesus of Nazareth?" 

Mark 1:24

"What do you want of us?? Why are you bothering us?? Let us alone!! What business do you have with us??" These are all translations of Mark 1:24. In other words, "This is my life, get your hands off my life, don't interfere!!"

The unclean spirit KNEW whom he was talking to- Jesus, the Holy One of God. We all know God wants to "interfere" in our life. He wants to help us, redeem us, guide us. But sometimes, we want to be left alone to do what we want. We don't want to change. We don't want to see what needs to be changed IN us!! We are too proud to admit we need to change.

Romans 12:3 reads "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought…” I have to confess I deal with this in myself all the time. When I get impatient or annoyed about something or someone, is it not that I am thinking I am too important to deal with this, to deal with incompetence or inefficiency, slow acting, or slow speech, falling in line, or whatever. We have to watch how we treat people, family, office mates, strangers. This is how we show we are learning and growing to be disciples. "By this shall all men know you are My disciples- that you love one another." (John 13:35) Corinthians 13 says that when we love, we are patient, kind, humble, we don't take into account a wrong suffered, we bear all things, we endure!

Yes Lord, bother us! Show us where we need to change!

Monday, January 09, 2023


“This is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight." Matthew 3:17 (Amp.)

In another version, we find: "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased." And in Mark 1:11, “You are My beloved Son. On You my favor rests." I went through different versions because I imagined myself, during my baptism, with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit being present along with my parents and godparents. God looked down and said, "This is my beloved daughter! My favor rests on her! I delight in her! She pleases me well!" Blasphemy? Indeed no!

Jesus paved the way for us to be part of His holy family. We are adopted sons and daughters of God. In Matthew, we see a longer retelling of Jesus' baptism than that we find in Mark. We see that John the Baptist protested strenuously to Jesus' request to be baptized, but Jesus insisted. "This is the fitting way to fulfill all righteousness, to perform completely what is right." (Matthew 3:15, Amp.)

Jesus went into the waters of baptism just like any sinner. He joined with us, sinful humanity, and shared the travails, weakness and death of ordinary human beings. Because of His obedience, the Father was well pleased with Him. In His baptism, the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, were present. In our baptism, Father, Son and Spirit were present as well. We are one family, one church. And when Jesus was baptized by John, even though He did not need it, He was saying to each one of us, I am one with you. I will be with you through thick and thin, I will journey with you, I will see to it that you finish the race. I will do everything, even to dying like a common criminal, so that the good work started in your baptism will be carried to completion (Phil. 1:6). 

Thank You Jesus for everything! You made the impossible possible for us!

Sunday, January 08, 2023

He is in My Heart

 "Where is the new born King of the Jews?" Matthew 2:2

If we seek Him, we will find Him. This is what God promised in Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” And so the Magi from the East set off to find Him. Mystery surrounds these men from the East. In an ancient Syriac manuscript found in the Vatican, “Revelations of the Magi”, they are described as monk-like mystics, descendants of Seth, “guardians of an age-old prophecy that a star of indescribable brightness would someday appear heralding the birth of God in human form”. They set off from far away determined to find God and they found Him. They probably did not expect to find Him in miserable circumstances, but they offered Him their treasures. Traditionally, we think there were three of them because of the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but in Eastern Christian churches, they believe there were actually 12 Wise Men. 

Are we like the Magi, these Wise Men, in that we are determined to seek God, even through deserts and the wilderness of our lives? Contrast their hearts with the heart of King Herod who asked the Wise men, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so I may also go and pay him homage.” God knew Herod was not seeking Jesus to pay Him homage but to destroy Him. 

We may think we can never be like Herod, but every time we put ourselves before God, our ways before God’s ways, we try to destroy God’s throne because we want to sit on it. Lord, may I seek You with everything in me, so when someone asks, “Where is King Jesus?”, I can say, “He is in my heart!”

Saturday, January 07, 2023

Do Whatever He Tells You!

"Do whatever He tells you." John 2:5

The story of the wedding at Cana resonates with me for many reasons. One of them is you see the interaction between mother and son. How many times has a mother asked her son to do something and he gives a reason why he can't? It is amusing to see the same with Mary and Jesus! Mary informs him: "They have no more wine." Right away, Jesus understands what she is asking of Him, but still He answers, "Dear woman, what is that to you and to Me? My hour is not yet come." 

I sometimes ask my son Josh to do something, and he has all these excuses. But a mother knows things her children don't. A good mother won't push a child to accomplish things he or she is not prepared for, not ready for. A good mother sees the potential in her children, encourages, gives them the tools and the opportunities to let them bloom and bear fruit. I was happy that one of the things Josh honored me for on my birthday was that I believed in him, and always encouraged him. 

In the wedding at Cana, Jesus performed His first miracle. It took the prodding of His mom who did not listen to his excuses! The result? Jesus turned water into wine, and showed the world who He was! As parents, we need to recognize our children's gifts and talents. We must help them, especially while they are still young, to use their charisms and not be afraid. And should they fail, or make mistakes, we must help them get past it and move on. I know of a parent who kept telling her son he was dumb, didn't know any better, because he kept failing his subjects. My sister told her to change her tactics and make him believe in himself. The mother followed her advice, and her son did so much better in school. 


Lord, our children may not be able to turn water into wine, but we pray that they will use the many gifts, talents, and resources You have lavished them with. Thank You for loving them more than we parents ever could! Thank You that You have a plan for their lives. Help us to be good and loving parents. We pray that in all respects, our children will prosper even as their soul prospers (3 John 2). 

Friday, January 06, 2023

Take His Side

"You are My beloved Son. On You my favor rests." Mark 1:11

Why do we believe the stories in the Gospels about Jesus? In the 3rd chapter of Luke, something unbelievable happens. Jesus went to John to be baptized along with the crowds. As He was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove. Then a voice from heaven declared, “You are my beloved Son. On You my favor rests.” In other Bible versions, we may read, “With You I am well pleased” or “I am fully pleased with You.” 

In a time when our faith is being belittled by others, by the former President of the Philippines even, it is good to examine why we believe in such amazing things. The historicity of Jesus is well documented. Applying the standard criteria of historical study, most scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed. The two events in His life subject to “almost universal assent” are that He was baptised, and that He was crucified. 

Jesus claimed to be God many times, saying “I AM” over and over again in the Gospel of John. “I AM” is the covenant God of Israel, and Jesus was tried and crucified because of blasphemy. If Jesus claimed to be God, we have to either believe Him, or we reject and ignore Him as a con man or an insane person. 

Obviously, all His disciples (except Judas) believed Him. All of them who believed, except John, were martyred for their faith in Jesus. Hundreds of thousands of followers were stoned, beheaded, tortured and fed to the lions. Why would all these men and women give their lives for a lie? Even if almost all the early leaders were killed for their faith, Christianity flourished. 

Today in our country, we may not be persecuted for our faith but sometimes we get snide remarks. Once President Duterte urged “tambays” or bystanders to kill or steal from “rich” bishops. He said our God is stupid, and continuously lambasted the Church for speaking against his ordered extrajudicial killings. We should not remain silent against all these attacks. Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who lived through the unimaginable gave this advice: “Always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor never the tormented.”  

Let us take Jesus’ side, He who sided with the oppressed, the victims, the tormented, the voiceless.