Monday, August 31, 2009

The End to Forgiveness

I had a chat with a good friend today who was going through so much pain because of a betrayal that happened in their marriage. A cut that's happened to my friend years ago still bleeds at this time and still hurts over and over again. I honestly could not imagine how shattering it must have been to know that your spouse has cheated on you. Trust disappears into the shadows of the night and forgiveness seems to have a very high price attached to it.

All this reality in their lives made me think about Hosea and his wife Gomer. Hosea has married a prostitute who had been an adulteress. Everybody was aware of how Hosea's wife had been passed from one lover to another. Gomer and her lovers must have, for so many times, slipped into secret rooms and back-of-the-town inns to shamefully defile her marriage. She had other men touching her body, whispering her name. She served men other than her husband, Hosea, and had stroked their faces and held their hands. It is beyond imagination how utterly shameful the acts of Gomer were and how utterly painful Hosea's ordeal must have been to know about all this. The reality of it all must be so surreal when it all fell into place in Hosea's mind and heart. People must have told him a million times to leave her already. He must have heard family and friends curse Gomer for what she has done. Many might have told Hosea to walk away.

It must have been so difficult to be in this predicament and forgiveness must have been the last of all the options Hosea could take. Yet, it amazes me how their story ended. The bible tells us that Hosea bought his wife Gomer back! All her wretchedness, her vileness, all the shame and hopelessness he bought back and he welcomed Gomer back into his arms as if she was new and untouched and undefiled. Forgiveness in the picture? I believe there was more to it... and I believe I can call it amazing... Love? of course, but Grace? much so. Amazing Grace. That was what Hosea has given out to Gomer. Loving her despite of. Accepting all her faults and embracing her as if she had none. Looking into her eyes as if she hasn't betrayed him. Grace... Love... Forgiveness... amazing. But how? How can Hosea ever come to grips with all that she's ever done to him? How was he able to do all that he had done?

A beautiful truth unfolds as we look deeper. For I am sure that Hosea was deeply hurt and ashamed. He'd been betrayed. He'd been stabbed in the back many times. He'd been torn into pieces. Amidst all this, though, Hosea had something else going on. He had a God who was bigger than his shame. He had a God who was bigger that Gomer's betrayal. He had a God who was bigger than the wounds inflicted on his ego. Hosea obeyed God. As God commanded him to buy back Gomer, he obeyed. Was it because he wanted Gomer back? Maybe. But I guess it was more because he wanted to obey his God. The God who was the witness of the marriage covenant he had with Gomer, no matter how wrong their relationship must have started out. Hosea obeyed. Amidst the hurt, Hosea obeyed. Amidst the shame, Hosea obeyed. Amidst the betrayal, Hosea obeyed God.

I guess that made all the difference. When Hosea obeyed God, everything must have been a lot easier. Hosea was able to focus on God's goodness and not Gomer's infidelity. He was able to focus on Gomer's potential for good and not on her betrayal anymore. This is what marriage is all about, anyway, focusing on GOD and not on our circumstances. Because in a marriage betrayal does happen, and it doesn't mean it's always having to sleep with another other than your spouse.

I know I've betrayed my husband so many times by the promises I've broken and I've been hurt so many times by promises he hasn't kept . Yet, even if we've gone through so much all these years, it is still beautiful to run back to each other. Both of us broken, both of us crying, both of us focusing on what God can do rather than on what we have done. Even if we do not know if tomorrow we would break each other's hearts again, we walk through life knowing that the two of us had become one and that God was the one who rolled us into one. About Forgiveness? I guess there's really no end to forgiveness. Besides, hasn't our Father in heaven forgiven us a million times, too?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Against The Flow...

It is never easy to be "out of place" in a certain crowd. You would stand different form the rest of the people that surrounds you and there's a very big chance of getting ridiculed by what you're standing out for. It may just be very simple daily things that we tend to be different about but it's never easy to be in the position. I remember Legally Blonde Part 1 where Elle Woods, the main character, went to a party dressed up as a bunny while the rest of the crowd came in their casual clothes. Everybody was stunned and was practically laughing at her. It is never easy to be different from the rest.

When we come to think about it in a deeper sense, though, christians were called by God to be set apart - different, form the rest of the world. We ought to look at ourselves and see if we look like the world, smell like the world, walk and talk like the world or live like the world. We need to examine ourselves if we are going WITH the flow of the world or if we're running AGAINST the flow. Becoming "counter-culture", so to say. Are you different? Is the world laughing (sometimes snickering) AT you? Or are you laughing WITH the world?

If we really profess ourselves to be "CHRISTIANS" or "Christ-like" there has to be a point in our lives where we would already feel out of place in this world. The norms of society will no longer be something we would enjoy. The currents of the way of the world will already have to be flowing against us, not with us.

I am so blessed today to have the chance to absorb Romans 12:1-2 in a new light. The bible speaks of no longer conforming to the world. If we no longer conform into something we are already going against the flow. You see, our culture today is going down the drain and if we don't stand up and go against its flow we will definitely find ourselves in the sewer sooner or later. I am blessed to have learned of this today. Our culture is the expression of our heart... and just look at what our reflection is these days:

Death -- talk about abortion as an option a woman can consider! And didn't Jesus tell us that if we harbor HATE in our hearts that's exactly the same as killing somebody?
Debt -- we crave and crave for more even if it means we loan and swipe our credit cards here and there.
Divorce -- we no longer fight for what God has given to us! One taste of the fire and we're out of there.
Detestable Behavior -- we've grown apathetic to the things that God hate: idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, sexual immorality, drunkenness...
Unbelief -- we tend to disregard the fact that there is a God in heaven who created everything with His word... and we exchange that with a belief in a theory that explains we come from monkeys?!
Deceit -- too much striving for "Mine, Mine and Mine!" and we all want "Our Best Life Now!" Can't you see deception is already the name of the game?
Individualism -- and there's the brainwashing of "You being the one in-charge of your life." It's a one-man/one-woman game. "I am my own master, I make my own life." (What ever happened to the sovereignty of God?)
Dishonoring God - we no longer consider the things of God and His commands and instructions to us in the bible. Are we ashamed to say grace in public? Are we afraid to talk about Christ and His love? Do we feel ashamed to tell our friends we actually READ our bible and not just display it? Are we drowned in the humdrum of life that we no longer appreciate our God for waking us up this morning?

Aaahhh... the reflections of our hearts indeed. So sad... yet, so true. Let us then allow the Word to sink into our lives:

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. " (Romans 12:1-2)

Are you ready to go against the flow? It's not easy... it never will be and if you do it with your own strength you WILL fail. But take heart, for the bible gives us our hope as God gives us His promise...
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

(Lessons learned are courtesy of Pastor Ray Cox of First Baptist Church , Pearland, TX)

Friday, August 28, 2009

When God cuts a story short...

I just received a very tragic news today. A very close friend of ours was rushed to the hospital, at 7 months in her pregnancy, after the doctor failed to hear any fetal heartbeat at the clinic. The cesarean section hours later led to the most difficult revelation this would-be parents have ever received - their baby girl came out into the world silent, still, lifeless.
I could not begin to imagine what it would feel like to be anticipating the delivery of a healthy baby girl in as short as 2 months and finding out that God had placed a "BUT" in this chapter in life. I am so sure the nursery had already been decorated. Walls have already been painted pink. Stuffed hypoallergenic toys were already waiting for the new arrival to the family. The crib was ready for the stork's delivery. Thoughts of anticipation already fill each and every day of mom and dad. Little cries would soon be heard, coos will soon echo through the hallway, giggles will soon fill the air. But all this preparation and anticipation was left high and dry with only a silent burial placed in the end as a period. An empty nest is left by tragedy itself. 
The family mourns, as well as all of us friends during this time. There were no words to say that might help fill the void that's left within the hearts of those left behind. Questions will be raised like the usual "Why?" and "How come?". I don't know the answers... and in times of tribulation like this one, I fall down on my knees and hide under the wings of the Almighty. I pray for my friend's family and for strength and comfort. Then slowly as I lift my head up to finish, I start to ponder on another tragedy that's happened a long, long time ago. A tragedy that struck the life of one man.
He had everything that this life can offer. He had a fat bank account. His children were plenty. He can easily throw parties here and there if he wants to. He has servants that he can call anytime he needed something. He had everything he ever dreamed of in his life. His name was Job. Amidst all this flourishing life that Job had lived, God eventually placed a "but" in his story. I have blessed you so much in this life, Job, BUT... God allowed for Job to be tested beyond measure. And tested he was for he lost, not one child, one sheep, one limb, but he lost all his children and all his property and even lost his good health as he was inflicted with sores all over his body! Sores that he had to scrape! It was very unimaginable but Job received the news - ALL of your children are dead, ALL of your livestock stolen.
Yet, the bible tells us that in all this Job did not sin. His very words challenges me:

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:21) 
I really wonder sometimes if I would ever be a Job in this life. I sometimes wonder if I am also able to say the same when everything else is taken away from me. I always wonder if my real treasure will really be revealed if I get stripped of the very things I hold dear in this life. I wonder but I eventually know the answer. I know that I will be able to praise God still. I know that amidst all tribulations I will still acknowledge that it is HE who gives and takes away. I may grieve alright but I know that in the end, God's purpose will prevail.
I know this because I put my hope in Christ. I trust in His promises. And even if I find myself exhausted after all the mourning and grieving, God will allow me rest. I will be able to hide in the shadow of His wings. I know my soul can rest in Him and Him alone. I know this will also be the case of our friend's family. For they know God and have trusted in His promises. They have placed their hope in Christ. No matter how grim the situation is for now, God holds their future. He has promised of plans that are good and not evil. He has promised to allow ALL things to work for good for those who are called to His purpose. 
For now I grieve with the rest of my friend's family. But together, deep down in the recesses of our hearts, we all know that God is in control. The God who restored Job's latter life more abundantly than his former is ready and able to do so with my friend's family.
(We keep you in our prayers always, D & R. God is our refuge and our comfort. He is in control. We all are here to share that burden with you. Know that your little Dara is safe in our Father's arms right now. She is sleeping quietly, peacefully, and safely breathing in heaven's air. God bless you both now and always...)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

All we like sheep...

I have yet to see a real sheep. Really, I wanted to see a real sheep and maybe pet one someday. I wanted to see how they act, sound and smell like! Sheep has managed to prance onto my to-experience list in life ever since I heard about a message on Jesus as our shepherd. I was driving towards a patient's house that one morning (I was still doing home health at the time) when I heard the message on the radio station I was on. Since then I couldn't quite get sheep out of my head. Jesus is our SHEPHERD. If he says so, then I am His sheep. I am sheep - wool, baa, stupidity and all!

I happen to delve a little closer on why God likened us to sheep. Of all the animals we could be likened to in the bible, it's the very silly sheep that was picked. Not a lion, with it's loud and proud, mighty roar. Not a  stallion, swift and strong. Not even a bear, wise and fearless! "All we like sheep..." Ugh! I've heard only of notoriously silly stories about them. So I sought out online what it was to be like sheep and let me share to you what I found out about them. (And about us, really...)

SHEEP - our white, black or off-white wooly friends out on the field. They seem to be sweet, gentle animals that graze on hills of green all day long. Here are the distinguishing characteristics of these cuddly friends:

1- Sheep are docile in nature (meaning, easily controlled). Okay, it is convincingly true. We all are easily controlled. Like sheep, we tend to go where someone would lead us. We easily yield to whatever leading the world does to all of us. Whatever community raises up as a trend, we all fall for it - hook, line and sinker. We tend to absorb it eventually as a norm for us. Sadly, even the leading of Satan to sin is so much a part of our being docile.

2 - Sheep are highly timid. Timidity simply means they lack the confidence, the boldness, the conviction. The last definition probably is the strongest one to become the reason why we're likened to them. No conviction. Probably the very reason why we're easily controlled. Unless we encounter the Truth and allow it to change us, our innate nature (like sheep) would lead us to follow the world - just follow even if it means destruction in the end.

3 - Sheep exhibit strong flocking behavior. They tend to follow one another in just about everything. If a flock of sheep would see one stupid sheep jump off a cliff, (believe me it's in the news ) the rest of them follow. A sheep can't be isolated either because it would cause them anxiety! Hmmm... sounds so much like us, don't you think?

4 - Protection from predators is important. Okay, stupid question - Why? Because sheep can't "Baaa" a wolf away. They just don't have any fighting skills or something! I have yet to see a sheep attacking a wolf, instead of vice versa. Are we like this at all? Well... we are so like sheep huh? We need protection from a lot of predators out there, predators that don't tear on our flesh but on our spirit. We just can't fight them, we need protection from somebody stronger... somebody like a Shepherd.

5 - Sheep can get their heads and legs trapped in an inappropriate fence. Hahaha... this really humor me to the bones! Curiosity kills the cat? I'd say the sheep too, eventually! Aren't we like sheep, really?  Where have you stuck your head into? Remember the many times you thought "Eeek! I shouldn't have done that." Well, there you go sheep... baaaa....

6 - Sheep may overeat, causing illness or even death. It's really getting so warm now. Look around you. Look at you and me... aren't we like sheep? Oh, we like sheep!

7 - Sheep are frightened by loud, sudden noises. That is why the handler should speak in a quite, calm voice. Do you know that sheep know the familiar voice of their handler? And like them, Jesus' quite and calm voice speaking into our hearts will become familiar when we are His. I guess there is an urgent need for us to stop the busyness of our lives and try to just keep silent to hear the quite voice of our Shepherd.

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27)

I guess now I shouldn't really argue about being likened to sheep, huh? They are so much like us... or should I say we are so much like them. Fortunately for us, though, God has given us this to rejoice about:

"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under HIS CARE." (Psalm 95: 6-7) 

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Brook of Besor...

As a believer, I have always convinced myself that for as long as I would have Christ with me I will never tire, I will never be exhausted in my journey. I have always been told and have always believed that Christ will be the source of my strength every time I take a step through the fiery furnace. So when I watched myself spiral into depression, feeling so exhausted from all the struggles and battles I've been through, I began to play with the thoughts that I have failed to become a testimony of my Jesus Christ.
The moment I decided to raise up my hands in surrender, to stop and rest, the entire world raised the question "How could I?" Well, okay, it's not really the entire world but there were some who questioned my decision and some condemned it. How could I quit my job so suddenly when I knew that my family in the Philippines needed money for their expenses? How could I quit my job and decide to give myself a little vacation when I know the financial stability back home is a crucial factor to consider? How could I quit my job so suddenly, as a christian at that, just because I have felt too exhausted? How could I not have given it one more push for the sake of my family? All these things were probably among the questions raised at the back of the minds of people who knew about my situation. As I started to question my decision and feeling guilty about it too, God reached out to me so quickly and introduced me to a new light of the time spent by some of David's men at the brook of Besor.
The story in 1 Samuel 30 was such a timely one for me as God reminded me that it's okay to feel exhausted, much more to take some rest. 200 men stayed behind the brook called Besor when David and the rest went on a rescue mission against the Amalekites to bring their kidnapped families back to them. When they succeeded with the mission and came back to brook Besor, David did not condemn the 200 for staying behind. He understood that they were already too exhausted since all of them were weeping so loudly until they could no longer weep because of what happened. David didn't agree with those who said that the 200 shouldn't get any other share of the plunder except to receive back their wives and children. David still considered the 200 exhausted men who stayed relaxed by the brook of Besor as part of the victory they had over the Amalekites. It didn't matter if David fought for their wives and children while they were resting comfortably by the brook. He knew the importance of times of refreshing.
Jesus is like that for us too. He allows us times of refreshing. When we get to a point in life when we're too exhausted to move on because of the many things that have distressed us and we'd rather stay behind at the brook of Besor, Christ will not condemn us for doing so. He will lovingly allow us to stay behind and he will fight the battle for us!
God has led me to my brook of Besor at this time. He has led me to an uncle's house whose family opened up their doors to allow me to rest with them. They've been so blessed by God in their lives and God allowed them to share it with me at this time. I just stand amazed at how awesome God works in our lives. He does allow us to break in exhaustion but He also leads us to a brook to rest while He goes to fight our battles for us. So, if you are in that very state of exhaustion and you feel like you no longer have that "one more" ounce of energy to go on, don't despair. Let God lead you to the brook of Besor and enjoy rest there while He takes care of the rest. God is good all the time...
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Becoming a giant slayer...

If I haven't raised up my arms and surrendered everything to my God, I wouldn't be where I am right now. The past few weeks I spiraled into depression as my circumstances grew dimmer by the day. I honestly have lost focus on the ability of my God to take care of me and my family and thus have allowed myself to focus on the giants in my life instead. Yet, sometimes God allows us to face giants in this life alone and feeling helpless so as to give us victory not from our might but from His.

I have yet to see a day when I don't stand in awe of the greatness and goodness of God in our lives. Every single time we pass through the deserts of our lives, God will always be there to help us if we just let Him. God is able to get us through the fiery furnace unharmed just as he did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The only factor that is important whenever we want victory in our lives over our grim situations is to put our trust in the promises of Him who sits on the throne in heaven! He who was able to give David victory over Goliath is as ready to make us into giant slayers in this life! All we need to do is blow him up so big in the picture of our circumstances that as He becomes so big, everything else - every problem, every need, every concern, becomes so puny before the able and mighty God.

I am putting up a little contest at this time. I want to share a blessing in the midst of tribulations. I have with me a book entitled "Facing your Giants" by Max Lucado and I'm giving it away to someone by the end of this contest. The last day for submission will be on September 4, 2009. I want you to write me your story of trials and tribulations in your life and where you are right now in your battle with them. I want you to submit it as an email and send it to The winner will receive the pre-owned (pre-loved) book, which is in mint condition, that will definitely help change your outlook and your circumstance in life! It will be a reward you give yourself in this time of tribulation. A reward to help you face your giants. It will be the reward that will lead you to become a giant slayer in the end. So, what are you waiting for? Send your entry now!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Beauty Spa for the Soul

We all need revitalizing, pampering and rejuvinating activities that will work to give us a sense of well being. We tend to afford ourselves with activities that help purge stress out of our lives. The most common haven of relaxation we usually run to is the spa. 
In these places of tranquility, we get transported to another place. This place is where all physical pain melts away as we spoil ourselves with all indulgences their packages can offer. An experience at the spa will let you sink into a place where your body  receive the professional care it can get that leaves you feeling rejuvinated and refreshed as you walk out the door. Not only that, some of the spa you get into will offer services that will help restore beauty. From zen facials to cleansing foot baths, from blissful body scrubs to a complete spa pedicure & manicure, these services rendered to us leave us with the feeling of enhanced beauty. 
I'm opening up a virtual spa, but no, not that kind of spa. The spa I'm opening up is also going to offer the services for revitalizing, pampering and rejuvinating, as well as restoring and enhancing your beauty, but not of your external body but of your soul. Because, wouldn't it be nice to have a spa like these for the soul as well? Our spirits, just like our bodies, need refreshing too. It would be a treat to give ourselves a break and allow our souls to be enriched. We'd have our vitality renewed, as well as the experience of restoring our soul's health and good looks! 
I invite you then to the grand opening of my spa called the "Beauty Spa for the Soul". I hope to see you there as well. Give your soul a time of refreshing, rejuvinating, restoring, and replenishing as the spa offer you services you cannot resist! =) 
Visit us HERE.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mender of our soul...

In times of tribulations I know that my Father is able to hide me under His wings. My God is able to provide allowing me to be still. I came across The Katinas' song "You are God" in youtube and this has blessed me so much these days. I'd like to share this one with all of you who are downcast, troubled, distressed, weak and broken...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hope that is not...

"For in this hope we were saved. Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (Romans 8:24-25)

It's not everyday that you encounter God so clearly in your experience. When you receive a certain word from Him the very moment you asked for it you cannot help but stop and think with your heart. It is 11:25PM already of 08-17-09. My mind had been in distress lately and as I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, I uttered a little prayer in my heart. "Lord, please speak to me. Please let me hear your word." 

My roommate was already asleep as I stepped out of the bathroom. I grabbed my earphones from the dresser and walked silently out of the bedroom to stay on the couch again tonight. I was gonna turn off my macbook right then until I saw my roommate's devotional book on the couch. It had caught my attention because I knew she placed it there on purpose. God made her do it for me. God reminded me that He hears sincere prayers of the heart and that He answers. I looked at the Devotional book cracked open to a certain page with a pen. My heart slowed down as I opened the page and read on the topic there. "Pessimism is intellectual poison. Negativity can harm your heart and impair your life if you let it." Every single word I read on the page jumped out at me to stab my heart. "Train yourself to HOPE IN HIM and to look forward to all the wonderful ways His promises will be fulfilled in your life. Persistent pessimism can rob you of the energy you need to accomplish the most important tasks on your to-do list. Wait patiently for the blessings God has promised to those who hope in Him." (Hugs Daily Inspirations: Words of Promise, August 12) I am so guilty of pessimism these past few days and have found myself physically manifesting this intellectual poison. My Lord rebuked my proud heart as I read through the page of the devotional. I have been very, very guilty.

The past week was a tumultuous one for me. I've been spiraling into depression and had to decide to make an emergency bail out by leaving Tyler, TX and going over to an uncle of mine in Houston before it will be too late. I honestly focused too much on negativity and I allowed its poison to seep into every vein in my body. I felt drained, even though I tried to fight it by focusing on posting blogs on the greatness of God to bring victory in our lives. I was carrying with me all this time this poison of despondency and glumness which eventually impaired my life for a moment. I was so ashamed of myself before God because I know I am so guilty of the sin of impatience. I was bitter for not seeing any results of the prayers I've said. I was angry for still having the same scene played over and over and over again in my life. I was discouraged because I'm still complaining of the same things and a change of perspective on either myself or the other person was just impossible to come to pass. 

I have been praying for healing of a personal aspect in my life and had convinced myself that I've surrendered it all to God already. I have been telling myself that God will do the rest. I was actually trying to put my hope in God but turned out to have placed it on my own self-righteousness. Job, in the bible,  taught us to put our hope in God. He, of all the people, has really all the right to say and know what it is to really hope in God. Job, as we know, has amazingly gone through every single afflictive and grievous situation that could ever befall a man on this earth! And yet he still had the strength to say "Put your hope in God."

I believe my pessimism stemmed from the fact that I really didn't understand the real, honest-to-goodness meaning of HOPE, much more HOPING IN GOD. I guess it's been one of those words we all tend to use, overuse and abuse in this lifetime that we no longer come to appreciate it's real weight as we just allow it to float on the shallow waters of our minds. HOPE as defined alone and without a subject that it points to is merely to feel that something we desire MAY happen. Apart from putting our Hope into something, it is merely an anticipation of what is yet to come. However, as we move to define Hope with an object in a sentence, we are actually going to see an interesting difference between the two definitions. Hope that is focused on an object is actually to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence. Let me put it this way... When we say "I hope for a nice winter," we are only looking forward to what MAY happen in that future time. But when we say "I hope my artwork is going to make 1st prize," we look forward to with desire and A REASONABLE CONFIDENCE that this particular scenario will take place. We are allowed a reasonable, acceptable, "makes-sense-to-me" confidence or assurance on the thing we hope for! An assurance is an affirmation or the declaration of the TRUTH of something! Now let's put HOPE and GOD together and what do we get? It is the assurance, the confidence, that declares all of God's Truths! Who HE is and what HE is doing in our lives will become so clear to us and as assurance will be defined, it gives a relief of our doubts. 

This is what God has given me tonight... an assurance, as I put all my Hope in Him, that relieved all of my fears and all of my doubts. I am confident that even if I DO NOT SEE what I was asking Him for, and I DO NOT SEE what will happen tomorrow or the next day, He is faithful to keep His promises to me. I know this and have confidence in this because GOD IS FAITHFUL - it's one truth about Him I read over and over in the bible! And He will let all things fall into it's right place WHEN He wills it... His time not mine... His conditions not mine... I hope (in GOD) for what I do not see... and I will be at peace and with this new found hope, I will be able to practice Patience, knowing that God will make ALL things work for good for those who are called according to HIS purpose.

My One True Love

This is a poem I made as I sat on the couch @ 2AM in the morning of August 17, '09. I pondered on feeling lonely at times and God just reminded me that I need not seek love and approval from anywhere else, I just need to see how much my Jesus Christ loves me! =) Hope you'll like it...

I sit at the feet of my Lord

I look up to his face and I see
the only face that calms the tempest in me
the face that calms a raging sea

I listen as he speaks my name
so beautiful a sound in my ear
the only sound that brings me joy abundantly
the sound that sets my soul so free

My Lord is holding my frail, rough hand in his
I feel the comfort of his grace
the grace that takes away all fright, you see
the grace he gives to me so freely

"Beloved" is what he calls me
it didn't matter if I was broken and ugly
"I bought you with a price," He says to me
"You're mine from now and 'til eternity"

There hasn't been a love so strong as this
I never had a love this true and deep
No more yearnings for approval of man
My Lord has loved me ever since the world began

O, how I love to stay with him
to give my time, all energy, all strength within
My whole entire life I offer thee,
My Lord, My Savior - Jesus Christ is He.

God of the Impossible: A king & his GOD

Unlike David and Gideon, not many of you probably know this next fellow I will be sharing about. His story is not one of those we usually find in popular bible stories and children's bedtime storybooks. In fact, I never knew he existed until I came to meet him in 2 Chronicles one day while preparing for my CGFNS exam. 

There are many victory stories in the bible that are so popular to all of us aside from the 2 I have already ranked in my top 3. There's the story of Joshua, of Moses, of Abraham & Esther. These are just some of the many popular and familiar characters we know in the bible. I have to tell you, though, the top 1 victory story I have on my list is not about a popular character that most of us knew since we were kids. This is the story of a king whose victory story was unlike Gideon's or even David's. Let me introduce you to king Jehoshaphat's victory.

(2 Chronicles 20)

It was another day in the life of king Jehoshaphat. As king of Judah, he had just finished another round of religious and judicial reforms in his kingdom. He himself had joined his officials and Levites (priests) in going out among his people to teach them the Law of the Lord and bring them back to the Lord, the God of their fathers.

Three generations had passed after the reign of Solomon and this man named Jehoshaphat reigned as king of Judah. He was the ruler of Judah who walked in the ways of the Lord. He did not practice idolatry and calling out to many other gods, but he sought the God of his forefather David and walked in God's ways, and not according to the practices of Israel. The bible informs us that the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, and the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. He was a king not only with great riches but was also great with honor. The bible considered him as having a heart courageous in the ways of the Lord. 

One day, while king Jehoshaphat was in his courts, some men came and told him of an alliance of the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites against him. This alliance has formed a great army, a multitude, that would wage war against Jehoshaphat. The king became afraid of this. He knew that his army will be powerless against this great horde. Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resorted into doing what he has always been known for - he assembled his people to seek help from the Lord.

It is very interesting to imagine seeing king Jehoshaphat standing before the assembly of people from all the cities of Judah and Jerusalem. He was a leader to his people not only on the legal and civil aspect of it but of the spiritual as well. You might be wondering right now what he was saying to his people. Let me give it to you, then. The king himself led his people IN PRAYER because of this vast army coming up against them. Listen in to his prayer as he stood in the house of the Lord before the new court:

“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not  God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy—behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

All the people there stood before the Lord in humble request for deliverance against this great enemy. Big and small were standing as their king prayed and as he finished, everyone was silent. Every heartbeat was felt... Lubb Dubb! Lubb Dubb! "What will we do, Lord? What will happen to our families? Our children? Please help us!" a mother prayed under her breath as she stood there holding her 3-year-old son's hand with her right hand and feeling her husband's grip tighten on her left. And then as the great crowd of people stood there, Jahaziel, son of a Levite spoke by the Spirit of the Lord. His voice loud and clear over the entire assembly, he prophesied, "Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the battle is not yours but God's. You will not need to fight this battle. Stand firm, go up and hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you!"

Jehoshaphat's eyes were closed as he listened carefully to the Lord's reply. Every single word that came out of Jahaziel's mouth is from the God Almighty! "I worship you my Lord. I praise you, my King. Your love for us is steadfast. Thank you! Thank you, my God!" his heart praying. Jehoshaphat could no longer contain what he had felt for the Lord at this moment that he just went ahead and bowed his head and touched his face to the ground! Seeing the king bow down in worship to the Lord, the entire inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem fell down and worshipped. 

Jehoshaphat never knew what exactly it is that God is going to do to make them win this war. But the Lord has already spoken. God has calmed his fears. He will lead his people to the battlefield in the morning as God has commanded them to do. The Lord said to just go up there and stand their ground. "O Lord, I don't know what you're going to do tomorrow but I trust in your awesome power. You are our God and we are your people. Let your mighty hand deliver us tomorrow from our enemies, Lord. Let your people see your power & might!" Jehoshaphat's heart continued to pray as he lay in his bed awaiting the morning after. 

The sky was still dark as Jehoshaphat arose the next day. Servants were scurrying around him the moment he stepped out of his room preparing him for battle. "Gather the Levites to sing praises unto the Lord. Let them praise him in holy attire as we go out into the wilderness of Tekoa as the Lord instructed. Command the army to stay behind the worshippers. The Lord our God will deliver us today! Believe in Him!" The king did not waste any time and as he and his people started out towards battle early that morning, the praises of his people rang into the crisp early morning air. They praised and sang to the Lord marching towards the place where the vast army of their enemies were. Not one of them knowing what God will do to help them win this war, every heart and soul just trusted in the Lord's promise to all of them... "See my salvation on your behalf."

Some of Jehoshaphat's army were probably imagining how they are going to fight against the alliance that's waiting for them, but they trusted the Lord with his word. 
The people continued to sing to the Lord, shouting their praises up to him, raising their voices. They drew nearer and nearer to where the vast army was said to have encamped. Their voices loud and resonating through the desert. Jehoshaphat and his people finally arrived at the watchtower of the wilderness and as their eyes fell upon the swarm of army before them the shouts and the singing stopped. Every face a mix of emotions as they saw the Lord's deliverance - lo and behold! there were only dead bodies lying on the ground. Not a single body was moving, none had escaped. The entire vast army of the alliance of the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites DEAD!!!

Now can you see why Jehoshaphat's story is my number 1? God is awesome, isn't He? He is all powerful! He is the Lord Almighty! He is a deliverer! He is a refuge! He is a strong tower we can lean on! He is able! He is GOD! 

Let me show you what happened to the enemy so you will see how powerful the hand of the Lord is when He takes care of our circumstances according to His will...

"And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another." (2 Chronicles 20: 22-23)

Are you facing a vast army right now? Do you feel that your problems have formed alliance with each other and are out to destroy you completely? Let us learn from Jehoshaphat's ways then. SING UNTO THE LORD PRAISES DUE HIS NAME! Do nothing else but praise and worship the Lord in times of distress! Don't think about your problems. Don't think about how you'll solve them. Don't think about what you are going to do tomorrow as you face them. Remember that sometimes, we do not need to fight in the battle. We just need to stand firm and hold our position.  Believe in the Lord and His awesome power! Praise God and all the wonders of His holy name! THEN, you will see the deliverance of your God.

Monday, August 17, 2009

God of the Impossible: David & his sling

Sometimes in our lives we reach a wall that would seem impossible to climb. There are moments in our lives when we find ourselves facing a humongous feat before us and there's no way we can conquer it. There's that one moment in time when everything around us just fades into the picture as we stand face to (thighs?) the giant of a problem standing before us. We feel so small, so inadequate, so helpless, so exposed, so weak. 

Whatever insurmountable situation or circumstance we are facing today, let us try to go over a very familiar story in the bible of a young boy who stood against a towering giant and be reminded that our God is mighty and able to save His own. This is the No. 2 in my list of victory stories in the bible.

#2 - DAVID and His sling
(1 Samuel 17)

David must have been excited as his father called him and gave him the task of bringing food over to his older brothers who were in the battlefield against the notorious Philistines. "Don't ever take your eyes off any of them, and if a lion or a bear comes, don't be afraid to fight it!" He must have hastily left a reminder for the young lad he left his father's sheep with as he went hurriedly in excitement to the place called the Valley of Elah where all the men of Israel gathered to fight against the Philistines.

It has been 40 days since his brothers left for this war, as all capable men were summoned to fight for Israel. "See how your brothers are doing and bring back some assurance from them." His father, Jesse's, words echoed in his head as he headed out towards the camp with the grain and ten loaves of bread in a bag. "Don't worry, father. I know God is taking care of my brothers over there as He is taking care of us here!" He reassured his old man as he set out for the trail to the camp very early that morning. Now David had been serving King Saul already since the day he was summoned to his court to play the harp for him. Saul had been tormented by an evil spirit and it was only David's playing of his harp that calmed him. David had been used to going back and forth from Saul's home in Gibeah and back to tend his father's sheep in Bethlehem. He was used to traveling probably about 6-8 miles north to Gibeah if Saul needs him to play for him in his court. But as wartime came about, his 3 older brothers followed Saul wherever the battle was - the reason why he had to set out for a longer journey this time to check on them and bring back some proof to his father that they are still alive.

From afar, David could already hear the loud voices of men shouting out the war cry as they were going out to the battle line. As it was with battles in biblical and ancient times, the opposing armies will draw up their battle lines to meet with each other. A champion from either army will come forward to challenge the other's to a man-to-man fight! The victor's side then, will partake of his victory. As David reached the camp, his brothers were already on the battle line. So excited was he that he left the things he brought with him with the supplies-keeper and ran towards his brothers in the battle line! His timing, though, was perfect. As he greeted his brothers there, the Philistine's champion named Goliath came forward and for the umpteenth time gave out his challenge to the Israelites army.

"Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us." (1 Samuel 17: 8-9)

Now Goliath, as a champion, was unlike any other Philistine army in the ranks behind him. The bible stated that he was from Gaza. In Joshua 11:22, Gaza had been mentioned to be one of the few places left in the land where "Anakites" lived.  Numbers 13: 32-33 gives us a picture of what these Anakites were like. Ten out of the twelve spies sent out to Canaan gave a discouraging report to the Israelites about it as they were engulfed with their fear and lack of faith in God's provision of the promised land.  They described the inhabitants they saw as taller and stronger than the Israelites, and moreover the sons of Anak dwell in the land, and that they felt like grasshoppers in their presence. Goliath was a literal giant, probably descendants of the Nephilim, one of the kind of people mentioned in the bible that dwelled on earth. (Google them up if you want more study on them.) This champion of a Goliath was literally considered as a 'super-human', the villain of villains! No wonder the Israelites army was described to be "dismayed and terrified". Who wouldn't be? I mean, think about standing there on the battlefield holding your position in the battle line and there came forward from the enemy's camp (thank you, very much) a man who's more than nine feet tall with full armor and that goodness-me-humongous spear! I mean, his armor was honestly heavier than I am. It was described to be 125 lbs heavy! I'm only 115 lbs for crying out loud! Whew! I could picture myself shaking in my armor by the sight of him (or maybe they already yelled "Medic!!!" as I flop to the ground faint).

But David, the boy, didn't really consider him for his size. He wasn't focused at all by how big his HELMET was, or how HIGH that shield was, or how TALL that spear he had in his hand was, or how impenetrably tough that bronze ARMOR he's wearing must be! He didn't see that at all. What did David focus on? Listen to his very words:

"Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." (1 Samuel 17:36-37)

David was courageous enough to fight against this giant because He knew who he belongs to. He knew who this Philistine was in the sight of God, and this Goliath is nothing else but an enemy of God. I'm sure David knew very well that if God is for us, who can be against us?! No-one will stand against the living God, not even this giant! To cut the story short, Saul agreed to have David fight for them (what a cowardly king, don't you think?). Saul even had David use his battle gear thinking it might make a difference! But David didn't use it and he instead came forth to face Goliath just as he was - puny, defenseless, frail. It was his usual get-up, and his only weapon was his old, sturdy, dependable sling. 

Now this handsome boy took his staff in his hand... "The Lord watches over the way of the righteous..." He chose five smooth stones from the stream, "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble...", he placed them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag, "Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I love you, O Lord, my strength." He held his sling in his hand... "It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." The valley was silent as David approached Goliath... "In you, O Lord I have taken refuge, let me not be put to shame." Goliath gave his surprised and despising speech to David with his voice booming in the valley, "Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?! Come here and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!" But David was unshakeable for he knew EXACTLY, in faith, what is going to happen as he cried back in his loud, young voice, "All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's and he will give you all into our hands." 

With that reply, Goliath the giant was stirred probably in anger and moved closer to attack David. David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him, "Summon your power, O God, show us your strength as you have done before..." reached into his bag and took out a stone, "The Lord reigns let the nations tremble," slung it and whackkkk! then THUDDD!!! The stone sank into Goliath's forehead and he fell facedown on the ground. The battle truly is the Lord's and he will give ANY enemy, any GIANT into our hands!

The end of the story is this. David ran and stood over Goliath, took hold of the Philistine's sword (must have been one heck of a sword!) and cut off his head! What a victory that was! All of the Philistines army must have peed in their pants as they saw Goliath's head roll off on the ground! Oh! I could hear the shout that the Israelites gave as they surged and pursued the Philistines who were running away. The valley must have literally shook that day from their voices and their thunderous running after the enemy!

Are you facing a gigantic, humongous, gargantuan, immense trial in your life right now and you feel like you're so puny, helpless and incapable of winning over it? Listen, the battle is the LORD's! Know who your God is and know who you belong to. Don't focus on how BIG the enemy or the trial is, but focus on the GREATNESS & the POWER of GOD Himself! Giants will fall before your very eyes with just a sling and a stone.  


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