Thursday, August 16, 2012

Forgiven and Forgiving

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
~1 John 1:9

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
~Matthew 6:14

Are you wearing forgiveness like a crown?

Or are you hiding it, afraid of what the enemy says of you?

I have been immensely inspired by this message on wearing forgiveness like acrown. And in this entry, I will be adding a few reflections of my own.

You see, I used to be a people-conscious person. I still am but by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me, I am slowly (and at times, painfully) being continually transformed to the image of Christ. That said, I was obsessive-compulsive to the point of being perfectionist—I worked hard to achieve, to win accolades, to gain the approval of the people around me, and to prevail over them. I lived to please myself by pleasing those around me.

As a staunch Roman Catholic then, I found it hard to accept that no matter how hard I try to be good, I would always fail. It was frustrating to think that heaven was always out of my reach.

It was in this frustration of realizing that I can never be perfect that I was led to Christ. It was in the pain of realizing that I can never please everybody that a deep desire and hunger for something more was created in my heart.

And I bumped into the man-god Jesus Christ. Actually, the more I think about it, He intentionally bumped into me to catch my attention as I have always ignored His pursuit of me.

In Him, I found completeness. In Him, I discovered that as a human being, I can never be perfect and righteous on my own. In my encounter of Him, I finally understood that He alone can fill all my inequities and inadequacies. In Him, I found forgiveness for all my sins—past, present, and future.

But as I have said earlier in this entry, it is my human nature to be a perfectionist. And knowing the enemy’s cunning tactics as an accuser, there were a lot of times in my early Christian life that I felt frustrated and it was incredulous for me to believe that I am already forgiven.

But in my a-little-more than three years of Christian journey, I have learned the importance of flaunting the forgiveness and salvation I have in Jesus Christ. I have learned to wear forgiveness like a crown. By His grace, I was enabled and equipped to claim victory in His Cross and Resurrection.

Christ taught me to cling to ancient Truth and to listen to His word instead of being persuaded by the whispers and deceptions of the enemy. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And the moment I accepted Him, His love for me is and will always be complete and perfect.
Another way of flaunting God’s forgiveness in my life is to extend the same forgiveness He has given me to other people, believers or unbelievers alike. This is what the Lord has especially spoken to me for the past month.

The words of Christ in Matthew 5:23-24 are very clear. This is one of the best illustrations that in the eyes of God, obedience is better than sacrifice. As a Christian, I am to forgive and set my heart right in accordance to His will before I can come and fully experience His presence.

As such, I have to show forgiveness to fellow Christians. Because just like me, they are sinners who have been saved by His grace and needing His grace in each moment. Just like me, they are also God’s work in progress. Just like me, they falter and fall but just like me, Jesus is working in them and building them up into His image and likeness.

I have to forgive them because just like them, I am also a sinner always forgiven by Him.

I have to forgive the unbelievers because this is what Jesus commands of me. In fact, this is what He did for me. And this is His continuing invitation for the unbelievers: His forgiveness for all their past, present, and future sins. Since I am already in Christ, I have to reflect His glory; I have to mirror the same invitation to them—to come to Christ as sinners and accept Him as their personal Lord and Savior. I can only do this if I show them forgiveness just as Christ has shown me.

I have to forgive them because once in my life, I was just like them—a sinner, lost, confused, and seeking for the Truth.

When I forgive other people, I wear Christ’s forgiveness like a crown. I radiate His glory and majesty. I mirror His never-ending compassion and perfect love. When forgiveness (from Him and to other people) is always in my heart, I live life with so much positivity, giving more room for the Holy Spirit to work in my life to make me fruitful in His works through me and in me.

When I ask and accept the Lord’s forgiveness and extend the same forgiveness to everyone, I keep my accounts short, making me always prepared to meet the Lord, in death or in rapture.

How about you? Are you wearing forgiveness like a crown? Join my prayer to make each and every one of us aware of who we are in Christ: forgiven and always forgiving.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Tuesday: New Depth of His Love, New Confidence and Security, and A Surpise Provision!

Praises to my King and Savior--Jesus Christ--who has graciously allowed me to experience a new depth of being loved by and being in love with Him. It is amazing how he is using my loneliness and pain to have greater joy and rejoicing in Him. Truly, only He can empty me so He may fill me with Himself.

In this season of seeking His will amid the loss and pain, I praise Him for bringing me closer and closer to Him. I praise and thank Him that He is my First Love, and He is my Only Judge. People may already have their own preconceived judgment and condemnation of what I said, decided, or did, but thank God, they are just people--fellow sinners needing God's grace just like me. Only the Lord Jesus sees my heart and He alone knows what's best for me.

I praise and thank Him for teaching me that my standard should only be His Word, the Bible. His Word is the light to my path and the lamp for my feet. People may give their advice, solicited or not, but I choose Jesus. I choose to honor Him. I choose to listen to Him alone and do what he says. I choose to obey His word, adding nothing or subtracting a zilch from it. I will accept His word and I will not bend it to serve my own pleasure or purpose.

In this season of lack, I praise Him for teaching me to depend upon Him for everything. And in this season of utter surprise, I praise Him for His downpour of provisions--something I did not expect. Just this morning, I was on the phone with a personnel from the Central Office and I was filled with inexpressible joy even when she broke the news I probably have to wait for August for my provisions. But lo and behold, by this afternoon, I received God's provisions. Indeed, I revel in the fact that He is my Great Provider and He alone knows best in when and how He will meet my needs.

For all these, I praise and thank God the Father of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ Himself who is my Lord and Savior and His Holy Spirit within me, my constant Guide and Help and the Seal of my salvation.

I have my prayer requests and desires but I praise the Lord for giving me this peace to say: "Not my will, Lord, but Your will be done."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just Like the Wind and the Waves

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this?
 Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

~Matthew 8:27

The disciples terrified—scared to their wits and in a panic mode. Perhaps they were consumed with the thought of the smallness of their boat in the middle of the vast lake, rocked by the waves and tilted by the winds.

But out of their fear and worry, Jesus arose and demonstrated his majesty. Inside the small boat, the disciples came face to face with the incomparable greatness of their Master. Within their hearts and minds, Jesus challenged them to increase their faith. With just one word from His mouth, He showed to them his awesome authority that even the winds and waves obey him!

In my walk with the Lord this time, I had seen myself behave like the disciples—scared to my wits, in a panic mode, and very much terrified. Similar winds and waves of my insecure and self-centered nature are attacking my very heart and I, sinful as anyone, am at a loss to fight back. The waves have started to drown me; the winds have begun to overwhelm me.

My small boat is rocking and tilting and I was freaking out. I tried to control the situation on my own but the winds and waves became stronger and stronger. I wanted to give up, throw everything, and declare to the winds and waves that they have won the fight.

I did give up.

Not to the winds and waves, though but to my strong and mighty Savior. And it was by giving up that God took control of the situation. It was by letting go that He took over.

And once again, I can say that in His hands, I am always safe—perfectly safe.

If I rely on myself to tackle the winds and the waves, I will always fail. I am just so glad that I do not have to do it myself. In fact, I should not do it myself.

Because it is only through the supernatural enabling grace of Jesus Christ that I can have the exceedingly abundant life He promised.

And you know what? I want to be just like the winds and the waves. I want to obey and follow what Jesus wants me to do, immediately. I want my emotions and insecurities to bow down to the Lord…always…forever.

On my knees, trembling at the awesomeness of my Savior, ready to do His will—this is how I want to remain.

Monday, July 9, 2012

He does not love you less

The Lord has been graciously showering me with opportunities to grow in my walk with Him, more specifically in the areas of controlling and subduing my emotions to His will.

And too many times, I failed. I gave in to my fleshly, sinful nature. I resorted to self-pity and self-centeredness. And you know the rest of the story. I would always end up hurting the people around me. Worst, I would even hurt my Lord and my God.

In the end, God's Spirit would convict me and lead me to repentance. After saying sorry to my Lord and receiving His forgiveness, I would be led to ask for forgiveness from the people I have hurt, who usually would be God's sweet surprise and wonderful blessing to me. And always, he would tell me: "I have already forgiven you. I was just waiting you ask for it."
This ability of his to forgive always amazes me. There are times that I could not believe it. Lately, I developed this habit of following this conversation with a question: "Do you love me less because I sinned?" And always, his answer will be a reassuring, "No."

I am always thankful to the Lord for the kind of man that He has blessed me with. But the more I think about this, the more I am made aware of the Lord's Perfect Love. This ability to graciously forgive illustrated by my sweet surprise and wonderful blessing is only a fraction of Jesus Christ’s grace to forgive and to love me just the same even if I sin against Him.

And this forgiveness and love are not just meant for me, but for you as well—for all of us.

 “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” ~Psalm 86:15

Notice that the first adjective used by the Psalmist to describe God is compassionate. We have a God who is merciful. He sympathizes and cares for us. And it does not stop there. He is gracious, slow to anger, and complete in love and faithfulness.

Is it not great? Whatever sins you have made—no matter how big or small—God is always there, with arms wide open. He has already forgiven you; He is just waiting for you to ask for it. Remember, He did not wait for you to be good but He already sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for you and your sins. Three days after, Christ is risen and He is now waiting for you…waiting for you to come to His arms.

And no matter how many times you sin, He does not love you less. There is nothing that you can say or do which will add or subtract to His love for you. He loved you even before He created you and that love in itself is complete. It is the perfect love.

If you come to Him today and ask for forgiveness, believe that because of the Father’s Perfect Love, He sent His only Son Jesus Christ and through Christ’s death and resurrection, He has forgiven you if you confess your sins. These, He promised in the Bible:

 “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive
and purify us from all unrighteousness.” ~1 John 1:9

But now, this is what the LORD says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine.” ~Isaiah 43:1

You can read more if you want to discover God’s Perfect Love.

If you have sincerely prayed for Jesus Christ to come into your life, believe that He has given His Holy Spirit in your heart and the Holy Spirit will be the one to equip, enable, and strengthen you to do God’s will.

And no matter how many times you fail Him, He does not love you less. He just waits for you to come to His arms and ask for forgiveness.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Tuesday: Another Answered Prayer and the Reward for Obedience

God to the Christian requires a love that is given with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our bodies, and with all our souls. But how do we attain that kind of love? First, it has to be purposed by God Himself who allows His Holy Spirit to be revealed to all those whom He has chosen. Second, as we are constantly filled by the Holy Spirit, we must intentionally seek and desire to be more intimate with Him, giving our best hours communing with Him.

Last Saturday, I have learned that the first gift our Creator bestowed to mankind through Adam at the Garden of Eden is the ability to communicate with Him. As our Potter and Maker, He delights at his child communicating to Him. [Communication involves more than just talking; it also requires listening. As such, it is equally important to listen to our Lord when we pray.] We are given this gift and we must use it. Hence, the importance of prayer.

I have learned how to keep an organized, weekly prayer list from a Pastor's wife who has been greatly used by the Lord during my times in the valley with Him. Through her and our One-on-One Bible studies together, I have discovered how to categorize my prayer and to schedule one category each day. By the Spirit's enablement, I was able and am constantly improving in my discipline to keep my prayer time with the Lord.

One of the prayers I have listed for Monday and Tuesday nights is the Lord's leading for a joint ministry for me and His sweet surprise and wonderful blessing. For more than two months now, I have constantly prayed that He will lead him to the right desire to serve Him together with me. As I said those words of petition, I always knew in my heart as have this trust and confidence that God will answer that specific prayer.

Lo and behold, last Saturday, God's sweet surprise and wonderful blessing led our second devotion time for the week. And his devotion centered on 1 Corinthians 12:12-30. Though we did not stay for long, the Lord surprised me when he said and I paraphrase: "This is the Lord's leading to me that we should start praying and looking for a ministry in church where we can serve the Lord together. And it's not just about you getting involved or me participating in the activities, I want it to be the Lord's ministry for us where we can serve the Lord together as partners."

Wow, I really could not believe what I heard at that time. While he was doing his speech, my heart was leaping for joy to the Lord, thanking Him with all my heart, mind, body and soul.

You see, I could have nudged him and requested him to choose a ministry for us. I could have demanded from him that we should start praying for a ministry together. I could have done a little manipulation but I chose not to.

Because that is how God has been leading and wanting me to honor the man in this relationship.  And I obeyed, by the leading of the Holy Spirit. I obeyed because I desired to honor God's design in a relationship.

And it was much sweeeter knowing that it was God Himself who enabled my man to lead me to Him.

As I shout for joy and leap in celebration, I give back all the praise and adoration to the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Baby Steps

Dear Believers in Christ,

We are not what others say we are. We are who GOD says we are. And we are His beloved, His chosen people, His temple. We are womb-woven and wonderfully made by no less that the Father Himself.

In our walk with the Lord, we don't have to take those extra-graceful long strides or those fierce sprints. Even those wobbly and nervous baby steps that no human can see or appreciate our Savior sees and appreciates. In fact, He is the one who equips and wills us to take these baby steps. Soon, by the Holy Spirit's enabling grace, these baby steps will become graceful strides or fierce sprints.

Let us all fix our eyes on Jesus and move forward, with fierce sprints, graceful strides, or baby steps...all for His glory!

Baby-stepping too, for Christ,
Zu ♥

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Not Burdensome

I was hurting and coddling my hurt, because, as I reasoned out, I had the right to feel the pain. My feelings were violated and I was angry. Somebody had committed a wrong against me and I desperately wanted to seek justice on my own.

On the other hand, a small part of me wanted to forgive. However, my stubborn self did not want to. I was reminded of what the Lord commanded: to forgive just as He has forgiven me. But I relented. I could not just let pass the harm done, could I? No, of course not, I told myself. I will teach her a lesson. I will not humble down.  Still, I felt uncomfortable and heavy-hearted. I knew for a fact that this is not what my King wants from me.

But, Lord, that was just unfair! That was harsh and I cannot forgive just like that! I know forgiveness is what you want me to do but this is just so difficult! Not now, Lord, not now…maybe later…

These are just some of the protestations that ran through my head. I fell asleep, ranting against my King and His will. Early morning I woke up to a new day. And since it was covenant time with Him, I excitedly opened my Bible for my devotion, hoping that the Lord has something else for me that day, something that has nothing to do with forgiveness.

I sincerely sought Him and asked Him to tell whatever He wanted to tell me.

And then it came like an unexpected gift.

For sure, it has nothing to do with forgiveness. He gave me more than that. It’s all about obeying His commands. And His commands are not burdensome because He has overcome the world; He has conquered the enemy.

What was it that God commanded of me that night? To forgive just as He has forgiven me.

What did I tell Him of this command? It is too hard; I cannot do it.

And what is He telling me now? My child, My commands are not burdensome because those born of God have overcome the world.

Am I born of God? Yes. (John 1:9, John 5:24).

Have I overcome the world? Yes, not by myself but through His Only Son, Jesus Christ.

Then, I can freely forgive. Then, I will forgive. I must forgive—freely, completely, happily, all for my Savior and King.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Praise Him!

Psalm 9:1 exclaims: I will praise the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all His wonders!

And indeed, I will praise Him and will tell of all His wonders.

A few weeks ago, or more precisely last April 15, I commemorated a milestone in my life, a feat that the Lord has graciously granted to me. By His Holy Spirit, I had this desire to celebrate God's love by sharing His love to other people. I confided the desire to my special friend and by God's perfect design, he, too, was about to celebrate His victory in his life on the same date.

The rest, as they said, is history. But it was not just an ordinary history, it was a victorious history that only the Lord Jesus can give. As I have written in my previous entry, I have personally seen and great was my joy to be humbled down, challenged by, and encouraged to share more of His love through Jesus Christ to all nations (and this means, people groups).

A few days after that, God gave another victory by His perfect design through my profession. He really is a faithful God and He keeps His promises, especially in Matthew 6:33.

I am still euphoric and will continue to extol His name at all times!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Answered Prayer

Dear Jesus,
I do not see anything good in all these. What did go wrong? Why did You allow this to happen?
But I remember what is written in the book of Hebrews: faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. All I can see is a cloud of confusion and a storm of deceits. But I will trust in You, Jesus.
This is easier said than done, though. And too many times, I have let my self to take over the throne in my heart. I need You. I want to fully trust You again.
I want to get back the same love, zeal, passion, and devotion that I had for You... No, scratch that. I desire for the higher kind and the more quality and quantity of love, zeal, passion, and devotion for You than ever before. Please help me. Please answer my prayers. Please bring me back to You. 

I wrote this about two and a half months ago. And in His grace I can boast that He is really a God who answers prayers. He is a God who knows my needs and meets them the perfect way He sees fit. He is a God of control. He is a God who is also my Creator, Father, Potter, Redeemer, Savior, and Comforter. 

1 Peter 4:12-13 says: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
And yes, dear friends, the trial that I suffered a couple of months back felt strange. I never thought it would happen to me as a Christian. I never thought it was part of the package deal. It came to a point that I was so disappointed with Christianity that I wanted out. I wanted to withdraw from the fellowship of believers. 

But what the Bible declares is really true. In the same book, the apostle Peter wrote: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6). Charles Spurgeon, in one of his sermons, said that our faith will be tested variously. Take note that the word of God uses the term, “all kinds of trials.

But these all kinds of trials are not without a purpose. The passage goes on to say these trials happen so our faith, which is of greater worth than gold, may be proven true and may bring us to praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:7). 

And I could not have agreed more. In my case, the Lord allowed those trials to come to my life because He wanted me to learn to stay in the fellowship and to honor Him, no matter what. Primarily, however, He wanted to rid me of all my negativity and doubts against other believers—something that hinders me from having a pure and genuine fellowship with Him, something which was already tantamount to self-righteousness. And He has to remove that ugly part in my soul, purifying me by His fire so I may be conformed to His mold. 

As a result, the pain and suffering were transformed to forgiveness and victory in the Lord. These led me to seek Jesus Christ and to come closer to Him. Once again, I was reminded that 1 Corinthians 5:17 is not a one-time phenomenon; it is a moment-by-moment shaping process. Also, He led me to realize that the dying to Self and living for Christ mentioned in Galatians 2:20 must be done in a moment-by-moment basis. 

I am not a finished work, yet; but He has already finished salvation for me in the Cross.
And now I can only boast in His powerful work in me and through me. The truth in James 4:7-8 is much sweeter now that I have experienced it firsthand: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to You…” 

Thank you, Lord, for these Biblical truths and promises!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Stumbled Upon 2

Just as I am blessed and will continually be so, I pray that you will also be touched, amazed, and humbled down by Jesus in here and here, too.

I love a risen and living King!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! 
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
~1 Peter 1:3-5

Aren't you glad that we are loving and serving a risen and living King and Savior? 

I am. I really am. And I rejoice, shout, and leap for joy! Hallelujah to Jesus Christ, my Savior and King!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Thanksgiving Tuesday: Opportunities to Serve

Rain splattered hard on the van’s window and splashes of water rose up as we navigated a rough, asphalt road. Weather forecasts had been telling a really hot summer for our dear old country but for the time since summer has officially begun, it has always been like this: intense summer heat in one minute and cold hard rain in the next.

As I watched coconut trees and green fields, I was transported to another world, where traffic and decongestion do not exist. I felt far from the city yet I am just near; after all, we were in the next town from the city.

My concerns about legal opinions and pleadings had been temporarily removed and replaced by an excitement to see the kids and a protectiveness to keep the boxes in their right places. I spent a moment of prayer for protection and guidance to all of us and for God’s hands to work in the hearts of the kid-recipients and their families.

As we arrived in their almost-completed concrete church, the rain has gained a steady pour. We were greeted with the smiles of children and their mothers, all of them waiting patiently for us to distribute the Samaritan boxes. As names were called and a hundred boxes were distributed, I felt a sense of inexpressible joy and excitement of what the Father will do through the Samaritan boxes and a sense of thanksgiving for the opportunity to be a part of His ministry through His chosen children here on earth.

We spent a quick time to interact with the kids and headed back to the van again for the next church in the next town. My spirit was up though my body, battered by severe cough and colds the past days, was already screaming for food. I prayed for the sustaining grace of Jesus and focused instead on His work. And the ever-so-faithful Lord answered my prayer and after a hundred and forty boxes were distributed in such church, we headed back to the city and were generously treated for lunch.

Last night, as I was lying on my bed, I can feel my arms and back aching after carrying and piling those boxes without prior exercise (I’ve never been physically active but because my body is a temple of Christ, I am considering of going back to regular exercise again). I was tired and exhausted and I could feel the strain of being slightly drenched in the rain and sweat. But I praise and thank God to have been given a privilege to help in His ministry. It was both a privilege and an opportunity. And I am greatly reminded and blessed by the first verse from Psalm 115:

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us
but to Your name be the glory,
because of Your love and

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Praises to My King!

The highest praise goes to the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit for the wonderful works in my life. Truly, God is a Repairer of broken lives, a Healer of all wounds. Indeed, He transforms trash into beauty and makes something new and wonderful out of the ashes.

By His grace, I have made decisions simply and completely out of sheer obedience to His words. My human nature would not have done those decisions but I am so glad that it is no longer I who live (though a lot of times I tried to wrestle the throne out of His dominion) but Christ lives in me. Making those decisions which were the exact opposite of what my self thinks was quite liberating. Yes, there is so much freedom when we obey our King!

And ever since then He has led me to greener pastures and quiet waters. I have seen women's lives transformed because of who He is. I have seen so much opportunities to share His love because His eyes are mine.

Most importantly, for the first time in the one year that I have worked, I can genuinely and heartily say that I love my job. And I know this is possible because He lives in me now--He has quelled my restless, doubtful and sinful self.

Oh how I love this beautiful exchange!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Tuesday: Rebukes, Discipline and Godly Elders

All praises and thanksgiving to You--Almighty Father, my Savior Jesus, and the Holy Spirit within me.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nothing and No One

Romans 8:38-39, NLT
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Well-assured. Amazed. In awe. Awestruck. Humbled down. Thank you, Jesus!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thanksgiving Tuesday: God-sent Hope

I thank You, Lord Jesus, for the beauty which is starting to form from the trash I was in. I thank You for the new--yet so fragile but so dearly loved by You--slowly emerging from the ashes.

I thank You, Lord, because You are a God of Hope and Your Hope never fails. I can rest safe and secure in Your immutability and truthfulness.

I thank You Lord for Eric and Leslie Ludy and the Set-Apart Ministries You have wonderfully worked through and in them.

Much love. <3

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Tuesday: A Grateful Heart Despite the Pain

I find this post the most difficult one to write, so far. Upon logging in, I mistyped my password thrice. My hands and my mind are at a loss to do anything due to the pain, the wounds, the breaking of my heart. But since I made a commitment to thank Him always and to verbalize all of my thanksgiving here in this blog every Tuesday, I chose to write and thank Him today, despite the cloud of brokenness and the storm of deceits.

I thank Him for His sustaining grace. Though I am not okay by human standards, I thank Him still because I know that He is at work within me. I thank Him because right now, I cannot see clearly but He said that everything works for the best of His children. I thank Him for my limited vision now because I know that His vision is better and wider than mine. He knows what he is doing and He is in control. I thank Him for the broken heart because I know, in my brokenness, He will make me whole.

My situation right now is not easy. Well, yes, it is easy to say all of the above but it is quite hard every time I am reminded of the pain, the hurt, and the insults. It would have been easier if the person who made the hurt, the pain and the insults is an unbeliever. But no, unfortunately, the one who insulted me and gave me the pain is a supposed child of God. As a human being, it is easily tempting to coddle my emotions and take vengeance.

But I thank my Savior and King because He said that vengeance is His. I thank Him because He sees and He knows each of our every thought, every word, every deed. He is a just God and I know He will not let wickedness and unrighteousness unpunished. I thank Him because this person has the accountability to Jesus Christ.

You see, there is so much to thank for when in pain. I thank Him because I know that He is also letting me see my mistakes, convicting me with His Spirit. I thank Him because I know that He is teaching me a lesson, molding me into the child that He wants me to be.

I am thankful because Jesus is my Lord, my King, my Savior, my Redeemer, my best friend, my perfect lover, my defender, my strength!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Tuesday

Today, I worship the Most High God with thanksgiving and praise for finally bringing to His church last Sunday a family of souls needing healing and reconciliation! :-) It's funny how things in our lives happen and I was fortunate to be a witness of God's hands working to make something beautiful out of something bad, His business of turning trash into beauty.

She's my client for the Free Legal Aid Program and from the very first time I saw her, I can see my old self in her--longing, dreaming, yearning and searching for the perfect love at all the wrong places. I can remember that our "client interview" lasted for almost three hours. Usually, I do these interviews at the most of thirty minutes but the Holy Spirit in me prompted me to stay longer and to listen more to Her. It was awkward listening to her whines and complaints and stories of abuse in her marriage when I have never married. But in a way, I did relate to her. By God's grace, in my very humble ways, I was able to share to her the One True Love which is demonstrated by Jesus Christ.

Fast forward six months later and I ushered her to His church with her husband and their four-year-old son. In between these months, I did pray for her though not as intensely as I pray for her now. Most of the time, I was just listening and until very recently that I had my heart broken, I was so intense in sharing to her the Gospel of Jesus. I opened up to her, sharing the lessons I have learned in my latest heart pain. And I can sense now that Jesus is healing both of us in His very own timing.

Today, I praise and thank God for this opportunity. Today, I thank God for teaching me how to wrestle in prayer, how to abide in Him, and how to have this beautiful, sacred, and perfect exchange of life as I know it to the life that He wants me to have.

Today, I thank God for His message in Paul's letter to Philemon. I thank and praise Him for these beautiful souls writing their story of release, experience of seeking and finding Him, a life of total devotion, and an understanding of His healing power.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for everything!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Self-control…and my utter lack of it

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and
to purify for Himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
~Titus 2:11-14

Last night, I gave in to my self. Again. I’ve been praying for His cleansing and purifying power to give me a pure heart and a pure mind. But my sinful self took over. The enemy knew my weakness and with his scheming tactics, I fell.

It’s quite disappointing, really. It came so unexpectedly. One thing led to another and then another and before I could even stop to think, I was left with a series of destructive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. And these did not just destroy me but those around me as well. Worst of all, it destroyed my relationship with my King and Savior. I was down and grumpy and I could not clearly see His ways.

I refused to have my nightly and morning prayer-times and devotions, because, I reasoned out, I will deal with God once my issues were over. What Leslie Ludy wrote in her devotional and in her book with her husband is really true. Once I start to sincerely have a desire to build a wall of fortification around Jesus, the enemy works double time. Resorting to a show of deceptions, he will make me confused and down-trodden.

Last night and this morning, the enemy accomplished his purpose. I was defeated. And I lost my appetite to pray and spend time with my King.

But you see, the enemy’s deceptions do not last long. Because the truth of the matter is, what he uses are only deceptions, counterfeits, and lies. The truth will always come out, sooner or later, depending on how gracious I am to let the Holy Spirit work in me.

And every time I allow God’s Spirit to do the real work instead of my weak self doing it, I always feel renewed, transformed, and changed. And you see, even at the time of that enemy attack last night, the Lord is already winning the battle for me, He was just waiting for me to acknowledge Him, take His hand, and accept His Kingship over my self.

If you are also keen in your desire to build your life around your King and have been experiencing constant enemy attacks, I sincerely pray that whoever you are, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ’s salvation and the blessed hope He brings fill you with His strength, might and valor.

Click here to read and get blessed by Leslie Ludy’s devotional. You might also want to get a copy of their book, Wrestling Prayer.  

A Pure Heart

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.
In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God,
but by their actions deny Him.” ~Titus 1:15-16

            A pure mind and a pure heart—these, I want. Not for my own glory but for the glory of my King, Jesus Christ. I desire to have a pure heart all the time, no matter what the circumstances are and who I am with. I want to live and see everybody I meet just as Jesus Christ sees them. I want to look at my enemies and see Jesus in them. I want to love and think like Jesus that those who do not know may know Him through me and in me.

            Pure. About two years ago, Jesus worked in my heart to let me know His standards of purity in earthly relationships. The purity He requires includes not only what the world sees as sexual purity but also physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and all-aspects-of-my-being purity.

            This time around, God is telling me to check my mind and my heart and to make sure that His purity is also present there. This is not purity in earthly relationship but purity in my relationship with Him as well as in my relationships with believers and unbelievers. This is purity in my totality as a Christian, as a believer, as His follower. I believe, with all Godly audacity, that this is in preparation to His making of me as His mighty soldier.

            A word as simple as pure is easy to understand that sometimes, I tend to lose the real meaning of it. A quick search for its synonyms gave me two eye-opening words: wholesome and nourishing. Another click and I got spotless and faithful. And another search gave me undamaged and unpolluted. I asked the Lord for more and He gave this: without malice.

            If this is God’s standards, then, I am a wretched soul. Too many times I’ve looked at a person and all I see is his damaged and broken self. This is not spiritually nourishing to me but to the person as well. Too many times I’ve interpreted someone’s words or deeds in a very negative way. Indeed, this is not faithful to the command in the Bible that a Christian is to think only of whatever is pure, whatever is holy, whatever is noble. Too many times I’ve doubted a believer or an unbeliever. Certainly, this is not wholesome. There were times, too, that my mind was so quick to think of what might possibly happen in a very malicious way. This is damaged and polluted.  

            All these show that I am still self-righteous and I still lack trust in my Lord.

            But because God is a just and loving God, He wants me to sincerely get rid of all these, not by my own strength but by the strength and righteousness of Jesus Christ. And I praise Him for this opportunity to grow in His love. I praise Him and thank Him because He loves me so much He does not want me to remain in my old sinful self.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Every Morning

I woke up early this morning and the Lord blessed me so much in my devotion like a loving Father telling His great love for his wide-eyed child and I am this wide-eyed child.

I've been singing and have been blessed too many times with the lyrics of a song which says that His mercies are new every morning. I loved it. I love the fact that I wake up everyday with the sun shining, fresh air wafting, and our home still intact. I love Him because despite my shortcomings and sinfulness, He still looks at me with love and compassion that He provides me with everything I need.

But today, He gave a new meaning to that line. His mercies are new every morning, yes. But it is not just about the material provisions. It's about His great love.

When He created me way before He created the world, He already laid out a plan for me. That's how He loves me much. When He died on the Cross, He loves me much. When He was resurrected, He loves me much. And He wooed and pursued me with much of His love. When I accepted Him, He gave me His love. But what's even greater? Everyday, His love is new. Everyday, He works in my heart to show me wounds, dirt and dust that need to be purified by His love.

I've written it in one of my posts but I will say it again: Jesus loves me so much despite my sin and imperfections but His love for me is so great that He will not allow me to stay stagnant and unchanging.

His love transforms, every morning. 

When I accepted Jesus, His love slowly enabled me to let go of my old self, the part of me which was finding pleasure and comfort in late-night parties. And then He worked in the way I used to dress. His love made me re-think and change my attachment to material provisions. And now, His love is working in me to change the very core of my heart. His love make me new every morning!

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. ~Titus 3:3-8

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Greatest is His Love

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth… Love never fails.”
~1 Corinthians 13: 6, 8

[Blogger’s Note: For clarification purposes, I have liberally used the term, “Valentine’s Day,” but have enclosed such term in quotation marks to indicate that I do not believe nor do I subscribe to this celebration.]

Mid-afternoon of February 13th, I was walking down a crowded shopping center with too many things running in my head. I kept on seeing stalls with nicely-arranged flowers, elegant balloon arrangements, elaborate bouquets, and lots and lots of heart-shaped and cupid cutouts. Then, I muttered to myself, wondering, “Why on earth are they celebrating their supposed “Valentine’s day” early? Would not these flowers wilt?”

            It was only hours after, after I’ve seen too many coffee-shops with overrated good-for-two promos and after my elementary classmate greeted me an advanced “Happy Valentine’s Day” while I was having some documents photocopied—it was only then that I realized that yes, for the unbelievers, “Valentine’s Day” was the day after that.  

            I don’t know their reason for celebrating or the history of it, though I must admit that before I became a Christian, I used to buy the worldly and highly-commercialized idea of Valentine’s Day. I used to be fascinated with chocolates, flowers, balloons, and love songs. I used to get excited for February 14.

            By God’s grace, however, as I accepted Christ, I was able to see the non-necessity of celebrating this day of love. I was fortunate to have attended a Bible-centered church and February 14 was usually spent evangelizing about the greatest love of all—the Father’s love demonstrated through Jesus Christ (John 3:16), who despite our being sinners, died for us and was resurrected to give us a new life (Romans 5:8). Of course, this change of heart and mind came slowly and there were times that I had to fight and struggle with my worldly and fleshly nature.

            And so I am writing this entry to celebrate this Perfect and Greatest Love and to remind myself that with Christ, everyday is a day of His Perfect Love. 

            The aforequoted verse came out as I was preparing my mother’s speech for the Hearts Day Celebration of the public elementary schools which invited her to be a speaker. It was my desire that through her speech, the love of God may also be preached though my mom has yet to fully understand Jesus Christ.

I praise Jesus and I thank Him profusely that He has appointed this task to me, that even if I cannot personally tell these elementary kids about the Greatest Love this day, I can write about it. What’s more, my mom can actually read what I’ve written and I know that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in her heart to fully understand what it is to accept Christ. I know, God is just amazing, right?

Anyway, back to my point. I’ve been reading this Biblical definition of love for quite some time now, even way before I became a Christian. Too many times I’ve pondered on this, studied this, quoted this and memorized this passage about love.

But it was only today that 1 Corinthians 13:6 made a great impact in my life. It was by His grace that this verse has been given new meaning and life in my existence.

Love does not delight in evil. When Jesus Christ died for me out of His Perfect Love for me, He has pulled me out from the pit of darkness. I was living in sin but His grace was overflowing that He chose me, despite the filth that I was in. He chose to save me and die for me because He did not enjoy nor did He savor the fact that His beloved child was entangled in a web of wickedness.

Jesus sacrificed for me out of His Great Love. He chose to overlook all my sins and instead covered all of them with His own blood. He didn’t ask me of my family or educational background; He did not ask me to explain my sins; He did not criticize me. Instead, He looked at me with so much compassion and love. And He has freely given Himself as the full payment and ransom to the enemy in exchange for my life.

It is written in the present tense of the verb. God’s love does not delight in evil. Now that I am His child through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He does not want me to continue gratifying my sinful and horrible nature. He has to cleanse me and prune me so I will remain in His love (John 15). He has to cut all of my connections with the darkness because He does not bask in the darkness.

Instead, He savors the light and He is light Himself. All my connections to darkness include my wounds of the past, my insecurities, my inferiorities, my negative thoughts, my malicious feelings, my scandalous emotions, my doubts, my envy, my jealousy, my lack of trust, my repulsive nature—all these and more He wants to separate from me as far as the east is from the west. He wants that He alone illuminates in me.

And now, He wants me to rejoice in the truth. Rejoice has several listed synonyms, including celebrate and remember. At this point of my life, Jesus is telling me to celebrate the forgiveness that He has given me, the Perfect Love that He is continuing to share with me. He wants me to exult and take pride in Him and Him alone. He wants me to accept His forgiveness with so much openness and be happy in His love and in nothing else.

Jesus also wants me to remember the truth—that I am His and He is mine; that He has called me by name (Isaiah 43:1), that He has erased all of my past sins and have completely forgotten about all of them. He wants me to live this truth that in Him, I have been given a new life, a life that must be spent wholly and completely abiding in Him. He wants me to keep in mind and learn by heart that because of His great love for me, He has defeated sin and the enemy. In times of temptations and enemy attacks, He wants me to bring to mind that I am fighting from His victory, that I will never lose because He has won the battle already. The battle belongs to Him!

He wants me and He needs me to say to the enemy the truth—that His sacrifice on the cross is more than enough, that the enemy is powerless to bring back my old sins on my mind because Jesus has separated all of them from me.

And at the end of it all, His love never fails. I may fall and falter, I will sin again, I will feel bad and be bitter in some days but because His love never fails, I am assured that I can fight all the aforementioned battles with Him in me. The enemy may attack but the Lord Jesus will always remain victorious. He will always be the victor, the winner.

How great is Jesus—my King and Savior! And as I finish writing this blog entry, I am so full of His love and I can proudly say that I am more and more in love with Him!

And I pray that as you read along, you have been blessed by my realizations. And I pray, that you, too, will get to experience the Greatest Love of all, the love of Jesus Christ!

On God's Purpose

I stumbled upon this site, on God's purpose, that is.

This is so timely.

Please click here to know more about the Greatest Love of All.

Be blessed! :-)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

No Longer I

            The apostle Paul eloquently said: “It is no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me.”

            I want to say this too! Not in a whisper, not by my deathbed, not in hopelessness or in desperation, no, I want to say this in a victorious, happy, and rejoicing way, just as God had intended me to be. I want to say this not just once or twice but I want to say this in every moment of my life, in every area of my Christianity, in every square inch of my flesh.

            I am dead. My old self is gone. My old patterns of living have long been buried just as Jesus Christ died, was buried, and has defeated the enemy. I am clothed in new garments, not my own but that of Jesus Christ just as He was resurrected on the third day. God has purchased me from my reckless, imprudent, and sinful nature by the blood and body of Jesus Christ. His love covers all of my sins!

            But why do I live in defeat? Why do I keep on giving in to my temper, to my negative thoughts, to my guilt? Why do I always care about me and myself and constantly wallow in self-pity, self-righteousness, self-centeredness, and all other methods of self-promotion?

            Because, I, just like the Israelites, is a forgetful person. I easily forget what Christ has done for me. I easily forget His mercy, His grace for which I am undeserving. I easily forget His power and His forgiveness. I am too preoccupied with self because I forget that there, in all His valor and majesty, my God is much, much greater than me.

            Eric Ludy wrote that when he compares himself to God, he always feels like a can of Diet Coke next to the highest building in the world. This is so true. But I always forget about this. Too many times in my life I felt like I am the Petronas Tower and God is a four-storey building. How wretched I am to ever think of this!

            And so, I am easily broken down when the enemy attacks. When it comes to temper and negative thoughts, I would easily yield to self rather than to Christ. In this area of my life, I am always vulnerable to defeat. And though this is not something to be proud of, I must admit that this has been my struggle for almost three years already.

            I need help. I need God’s help. I need the supernatural, extraordinary power of Jesus Christ to fill in the gaps. I want to rise above my own mediocre version of Christianity. I need the mighty valor of Jesus to rescue me and to rebuild the walls of fortification around my life, His Jerusalem.

I want to yield every square inch of my body to my King. I am His Kingdom and I know that He yearns to govern all aspects of my life.

Yet, I cannot do this on my own. I need Jesus Christ and He alone can rescue me out of this pit and make something beautiful out of this mess.

So, today and onwards, I embark on this journey to reclaim Jebus for my King and allow Him to transform it to Jerusalem. Today, by His grace, I will start remembering that it is no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me.

I want not just to know this in my mind or in my heart but to actually live this out in my life. I desire to make my King my all in all and in turn, give my all in all for Him.

So, I embark on this journey of wrestling prayer, asking the King of all kings, the Most High God, to enable me and equip me to do this. I will pray continually, relentlessly, unceasingly until my King reclaims this parcel of my life. I will not stop until by His grace, I am fully yielded to Christ and until the protestation of my self have been silenced.

Everything works for the good of those who believe in Him. I know this is possible by His grace. Only by His grace. Will you pray for me and with me, then?