Sunday, April 30, 2023
Friday, April 28, 2023
Don’t Be Saul!
Thursday, April 27, 2023
Living Water in the Desert
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Bread of Life
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
Signs and Wonders
“And these signs will accompany those who have believed..."
Today is the feast day of Saint Mark the Evangelist. He took Jesus' words to go into the world and proclaim the good news to all creation very seriously, even if he probably did not hear this from Jesus Himself. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys, and he wrote down the stories of Peter in the 2nd Gospel. It is probable that he was the founder of the Church in Alexandria, Egypt and its first bishop. He was martyred there. He died while being dragged through its streets.
Jesus said in Mark's narration that signs would follow those who believed Him. This is so intimidating. We can use His name to expel demons, we can speak entirely new languages, we can safely hold serpents, we will be able to drink poison and not die, and when we lay hands on the sick, they will recover. These signs followed the Eleven as they continued Jesus' work. They would follow us too if we would just believe and do it. Most of the time, we are too timid to lay hands because what if nothing happened?
What would have happened if the Old Testament prophets were too timid? James wrote in his only epistle that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently...(5:17). Peter was a man with a nature like ours, Jonah, even Moses who needed someone to speak for him. Yes, there is hope for us, if we believe, pray fervently, and go out and do His work. We can be Jesus' hands and feet. We have HIS Spirit!
Monday, April 24, 2023
Walk Hand in Hand with God
Sunday, April 23, 2023
God’s Word is Alive!
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Jesus, Help Me Grow My Faith
“See, the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, To deliver them from death…”
I was listening to Heidi Baker preach, she always has such fantastic stories. Heidi has been a missionary in Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, since 1995. At first they worked with orphans and abandoned street kids and eventually moved on to found Bible schools, medical clinics, primary schools, well drilling, evangelistic and healing outreaches in many remote villages of Mozambique.
She told this story in the Prayer and Presence Conference last year. She was one of the translators in a prayer meeting in Africa. The small, old lady testifying was speaking in Makonde, a language spoken by an ethnic group in southeast Tanzania and Northern Mozambique. Someone else would translate to Portuguese and Heidi would translate to English.
The old lady started out by saying, “My husband died and I was super happy about that. I’m rejoicing!” So Heidi as the third translator verified if that was what the old lady was really saying and it was! She thought why was this testimony not screened? She was cringing inside. Meanwhile the old lady went on, “I hated him! I hated him! He beat me! But I came in here last week, someone hugged me so I thought I should pray for my dead husband, so he got up and here he is. Lead him to Jesus now!” Pandemonium. The old lady was a brand new believer, and did not know anything, did not even know that this was a big miracle. They all prayed for the husband who said in a loud voice, “I will never beat her again!”
God met the old lady’s simple faith and answered her prayer. She wasn’t this awesome anointed lover of God, just someone who believed in the power of Jesus, that He can deliver from the power of death. God did it and it’s a testimony for people around the world that God can do anything for anyone. Jesus, help me to grow my faith!
Friday, April 21, 2023
Whom Should I Fear?
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
An Indonesian priest came over to pray over me some time ago. He is the only priest I know who goes out into the streets and marketplaces to evangelize. He invites people to go to Church. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they put a knife on his neck. He used to do it back in Australia, and 6 men harassed him and his companions. One threatened to kill him, and while he had the knife pressed to his neck, he said, “Don’t you know that God loves you so much?” To his surprise, the man crumpled up and cried.
After fasting and praying for several weeks, Father and his companions went back again. The same men approached them and they were able to invite them to Church. Eventually, three of them became Catholic.
The world is full of things that look and feel frightening. We can be anxious about many things. The future of our country, our world, can look very bleak indeed. Personal problems can seem overwhelming. That’s why we need to have God’s perspective when we look at the world we live in. The priest could have been tempted to punch the man who threatened him, but he saw him through God’s eyes and knew how much God loved him. Why should he fear this man?
Problems like a debilitating sickness, losing a job, a broken relationship, etc., are devastating, no doubt about it. But if we let God light our way, and find our refuge in Him, His grace will envelope us. He has many gifts for us, if only we trust Him with our life. I know this to be true.
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Oh How He Loves Me!
Tuesday, April 18, 2023
“If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” John 3:12
Everyone loves a good deal, a good investment, don’t we? And we hate it when we lose money! The stock market here in the Philippines can be quite erratic. When I thought a particular stock was on its way down, I sold a major chunk of it. Within the next few minutes it went up. Then it went way over the amount I sold it! I felt sad because I liked that particular stock. Now I don’t bother to look at my portfolio because all the stocks probably lost so much value!
In the 6th chapter of Matthew, Jesus gives us His financial advice, His divine blueprint for estate planning. "Do not lay up for yourselves earthly treasure." Earthly treasure is not going to last, it can be stolen, burned, it can rust and devalue. Instead we should make it our practice to to store up heavenly treasure. We can think of storing heavenly treasure as buying stocks in heaven. The difference is it's not going to devaluate, the price won't go down! Whatever we invest is going to go up, up, up! But how can we buy Kingdom stocks? What is of value in heaven?
Jesus told the story of the pearl of great price in Matthew 13. When a merchant found the pearl more beautiful than all the others, he sold all his possessions to buy it. What is it that Jesus was willing to give up everything for? Jesus bought us, the pearl of great price at the cost of His very life! He became a man, left His power and glory in heaven, just so He can give us His greatest gift, eternal life in Heaven with Him.
Saint Lawrence is one of my favorite saints. When asked by the Prefect of Rome to turn over the treasures of the Church, Lawrence went throughout the city and gathered together the poor, the lame, the blind, the sick. Then he presented them to the greedy Prefect. "Here are the Church's treasure!" he announced. The Prefect was not amused and the saint was roasted over an iron grill!
We need not follow Saint Lawrence to buy stocks in heaven, but we should remember that if we use our time, talent and money to bring people to God, to love those God loves most, we are investing in heavenly treasure!
Monday, April 17, 2023
“Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe!” John 20:27
Like doubting St. Thomas, I should be called doubting Patsy! Many times I have to deal with my lack of faith, and I resort to the father’s prayer in Mark 9:24, “I believe, help my unbelief!” And I know Jesus will help us because, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)
We can pray that like St. Thomas, Jesus will meet us where we are and show us His face and His wounds so our faith will grow. St. Thomas’ faith became so strong that according to tradition, he preached about Jesus all over up to India, until he was martyred and buried in Mylapore!
"Throughout his journeying, St. Thomas took with him the firm belief that just as He did for him, Jesus will do whatever is necessary for each person to come to faith." (Word Among Us)
This weekend I attended a retreat and heard many testimonies about what can happen if we have expectant faith. Even when we have doubts! Bobby Quitain, a lawyer who gave up his practice to become a preacher, told us of one time he was asked to speak to a big group of businessmen. He was quite dismayed because it was raining hard and the rain hitting the galvanized iron roof made it difficult to hear and understand what was going on. Before it was his turn to speak, he sensed God saying to him, “Call the leaders to the back of the stage and together pray for the rain to stop.” Although Bobby was hesitant, he decided to obey. At the back of the stage, they asked God to put a stop to the rain. When Bobby took the microphone, it stopped raining. Then when he ended his talk and said something about an outpouring of blessings, the rain fell in torrents! Bobby felt God’s hand in orchestrating that drama!
We need not be timid! Even with all our doubts, Jesus is journeying with us!
Saturday, April 15, 2023
“…they refused to believe it." Mark 16:11
The writer of the Gospel of Mark is John Mark, who traveled with the apostle Paul. When he settled in Rome, he wrote down Peter's recollections of Jesus' life. The last chapter of his writings are a short summary of what happens after Jesus' death,
starting from when the women discover the empty tomb.
The disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene when she delivered the news that Jesus was alive. Neither did they believe Cleopas and his companion when they reported seeing Jesus on the way to Emmaus.
Jesus then appeared to them and rebuked them for their disbelief- “their stubborn refusal to believe". Do you think Jesus is frustrated with the disciples here? Disappointed? Is He thinking they are hopeless? He can't depend on them? That they can't be trusted with the mission He wants to give them?
On the contrary, right after rebuking them, He says, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to everyone, everywhere." I can imagine Jesus being frustrated with a lot of us! We are being given so much! We are entrusted with so much treasure in His Word. What do we do with it? But then I know, because I see it in my own life, that no matter how much I fail, Jesus never gives up on me. He still gives and gives and gives! Every day, He opens up His treasure chest. And every day, we still get a new chance to believe in Him, and become His Easter people of hope and generosity!
Friday, April 14, 2023
It is the Lord!
“It is the Lord.” John 21:7
How do we recognize the Lord’s work in our lives? With Peter and the other disciples, it was only when they obeyed Jesus’ words to cast their net over the right side of the boat, and they caught much fish, that their eyes opened.
If we want God to work in our life, we should also obey His words. The promises in the Bible are like seeds that we plant in our lives, and we can wait for it to bear fruit. If for example, we are anxious about the future which is so terribly uncertain, we can search the scriptures for what God has to say. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” That’s what St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans (8:28). He also says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) If we repeat these Words, confessing them, believing them, and rejecting other negative thoughts that we have, it will transform the way we think, and God will transform our life.
There is a battle we are fighting all the time, and the battlefield is our mind. If we can take control of our thoughts, by refusing to think self-defeating, negative, cynical, pessimistic, or gloomy notions, we can change our life. My sister and some other brothers and sisters in our community used to tutor kids in the slum area. One of the things that they had to do, was change the children’s perceptions of themselves. They could not excel because they did not believe in themselves. They thought they were dumb and worthless. Where did they get these ideas? Unfortunately, it was drummed into them by their parents who just got it from their parents who used to say the same things to them. “Wala kang kuwenta!” “Wala kang alam!” “Wala kang patutunguhan!” (You’re not worth anything! You don’t know anything! You won’t get anywhere!”)
We are all unique, special individuals with our own talents and gifts. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart...” (Jeremiah 1:5) Our God loves each of us, we are each the apple of His eye before we were even born! If we just know how much God loves and values us, we will be more confident about facing the future. Let us strive to see ourselves the way God sees us. When Jesus saw Peter, He did not see an uneducated, uncouth, lowly fisherman, He saw a man that could change the world! How does He see us? Let us catch His vision, His plan for us, and then we will be able to say with excitement, “It is the Lord’s work in my life!”
Thursday, April 13, 2023
It is I!
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Rejoice, Easter People!
“Were not our hearts burning inside us?” Luke 24:32
After the horrendous crucifixion on Good Friday, two of Jesus’ disciples walked to Emmaus. They were conversing and debating for much of what happened was confusing and dismaying to them. A stranger came and joined them. They did not know it was Jesus, and after they recounted what had happened with downcast spirits, Jesus admonished them, “Why do you find it so hard to believe all the prophets wrote in the scriptures? Wasn’t it all clearly prophesied by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering His time of glory?” Then, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures. I would have liked to be in on that conversation and take down notes!
“Genesis to Jesus”, a 12-part series of St. Paul Center, is a journey through the Old Testament to the New. It is a view of our salvation history, God’s love for us, from the time of Adam, through to the time of Noah, Moses, Abraham, and King David to Jesus, the new Moses and the true son of Abraham and David. It is amazing how the Old Testament foreshadows the life and death of Jesus. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus would have told Cleopas and the other disciple some of these parallels.
Just as Abraham was asked to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, and Isaac had to carry the wood upon which he would be sacrificed up Mount Moriah, God the Father gave His only beloved Son for atonement of our sins. Like Isaac, Jesus had to carry the wood of the sacrifice, His cross, up to Calvary. When Isaac asked his father, “What will we sacrifice?”, Abraham answered, “God will provide Himself the lamb.” Just as Abraham received his son back from a sentence of death three days after the command was given, because it was a three day journey to Moriah, so Jesus rises on the third day. There is so, so much in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Kings, etc. that have parallels in Jesus’ life! It is amazing!!!!
In Christ, all God’s promises to Abraham, Moses and David are fulfilled. We now have a New Covenant and we can claim God’s promises for ourselves. Truly, if we realize how hard God worked and is working for us to be together with Him in His Kingdom, we will be humbled. Rejoice, Easter people, our King is risen! He is risen indeed!
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
I Have Seen the Lord
“I have seen the Lord!” Mary went and announced to the disciples. (John 20:18)
We may think we have very few occasions in which to proclaim this. Some will even say they have never seen the Lord. I know someone who was visited by Jesus when she was young and sick in bed. And then there is the star sportscaster, Nick Charles, who died of bladder cancer. He too was visited by Jesus who sat with him while he was struggling with pain. “It wasn’t a hallucination,” he said. He told Jesus he was ready to go home, but Jesus said, “Not yet.”
I like the story in 1 Kings 19:11-13. The awesome prophet Elijah was told by the Father to ‘ “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.’ When Elijah heard the gentle whisper, he knew it was the Lord. Usually we will hear the Lord and experience Him when we are waiting in silence. He cannot come if we are surrounded by noise and busyness all the time.
I saw a Facebook post of Mel Gibson talking to a bloody and battered Jim Caviezel, who acted the part of Jesus in the blockbuster movie, “The Passion of the Christ”. Mel Gibson looked like he was having a deep conversation with Jesus. The thing is, Jesus is always waiting for us to talk to Him. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) That is a promise we should claim again and again.
We should carve out time to make a friend of Jesus who is willing to get bloodied and battered for us! If we open the door every day, one day we will say with excitement, “I have seen the Lord and it was awesome!”
Monday, April 10, 2023
“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples.” Matthew 28:8
After the Sabbath, it was still dawn when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb. What they found was inexplicable, the heavy stone was rolled away, and an angel whose appearance was like lightning, said to them, “Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.”
The resurrection of Jesus? Fact or fiction? One would think that most skeptics would debunk Jesus’ resurrection with theories like mass hallucination or the idea that He did not really die, but they can’t. Our belief in Jesus’ resurrection is based on eyewitness accounts written by men willing to die for it. Those men, Peter, James and John, knew the truth. They saw Jesus. They preached it, and they were able to convince so many others by the power of their conviction. St. Paul, a skeptic, became a Christian three years after Jesus’ death.
Bart Ehrman, a very well known skeptic, a non-Christian, says, "Paul got to interview Peter and James. I'd like to interview Peter and James. This is as close to eye witness testimony as we can get. It's very close to eye witness testimony.”
Another proof of the resurrection is the gospel account tells us that WOMEN discovered the empty tomb. Women in those times couldn’t give a testimony in court. They were second class citizens. They were not considered credible witnesses. If the story was made up, it would never have included women as the first to be at the scene. And then there were the radical transformations of Peter, who went from coward to a champion of the truth, James who thought Jesus was crazy to the leader of the Jerusalem Church, and countless others martyrs of the faith.
God made sure that what we believe in is based on defendable facts. There is so much more evidence about Jesus and His life, death and resurrection, than there is about Julius Caesar and Alexander! Yes, Jesus is risen! Alleluia!
Sunday, April 09, 2023
Because He Lives
“He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.” Matthew 28: 6
Yesterday afternoon I watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ again. I had to close my eyes many times when Jesus was being scourged and mangled by the cruel guards with the flagellum aculeatum. These leather whips would tear the flesh of the victim and weaken him to prevent any sort of resistance to his being crucified. I felt like crying with Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene when I saw what they were doing to Our Lord.
During our Easter Vigil mass last night, after the many readings and songs, when a glorious Jesus was finally revealed behind the stone that was rolled away, my joy leaped in quiet confidence. Yes, my Saviour is alive. He is risen, and He is with us!
The revelation of Easter, Resurrection Sunday, is not something we should keep for ourselves. This is what Father Herb emphasized in last night’s homily. We should share it, even with strangers, because we will never know whom it will impact. And he told us a story which happened in 1971 when he was in Germany giving retreats and counselling. An American soldier knocked at his door late one night and said, “Father, I don’t have a problem. I want to share with you the joy that I have in my heart because Jesus is alive.” Then he explained how Jesus became alive for him through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. That led Father Herb to research and study about the Charismatic renewal. It was instrumental in his being baptized in the Holy Spirit himself, and getting involved in the renewal in Germany, the US, and here in the Philippines. Even in a way, our community, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, The Joy of the Lord Community, was formed, and many other communities after that, because a soldier that Father Herb does not remember the name of, took the time to share his joy and peace. We do not know the far reaching effects of a simple sharing.
Because Jesus’ tomb was empty, we too have our own pilgrim journey, our own stories to tell. We too, like Mary, like Peter, have a commission to bring the joyful news of the resurrection to others. Everyone has to know the truth that we can rely on all His promises, all of the promises in the Old Testament. Because He lives, we too shall live! The same power that raised Christ from the dead can raise dead marriages to life, dead relationships, dead careers, dead hopes, dead dreams... There is resurrection power available for us who believe!
Saturday, April 08, 2023
Friday, April 07, 2023
Behold Your Mother
Thursday, April 06, 2023
Beauty for Ashes
“…beauty for ashes...” Isaiah 61:3
This is one of the most beautiful promises in the Old Testament. The prophet Isaiah’s ministry spanned 60 years and four kings. He lived through war and the destruction of Israel. But his prophecies were always about rescue and restoration.
“...to provide for those who grieve in Zion, a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness in place of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” When Jesus went to the synagogue on a Sabbath, he read these same verses from the passage of Isaiah.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Jesus rolled up the scroll and sat down. “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
For hundreds of years, the Jews had been waiting for their Messiah. They expected a King in resplendent robes with a mighty army. Jesus came in peasant garb and sandals and a walking stick. Today He walks among us, and many people still ignore His presence. He may be the beggar with a misshapen face on the overpass. He may be the autistic child in the corner shunned by his classmates. He may be one of the 5000 prisoners in the overcrowded jail. He may be anyone who needs us to bring him glad tidings and good news.
Before Jesus left, He instructed, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.” If we obey, we will have the joy of giving beauty for ashes, gladness instead of mourning, thanksgiving instead of despair.