Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Praying Boldly

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16, KJV)


Prayer is the lifeline of every believer. It allows us to approach the Father's throne of Grace. It allows us to come boldly before Him to plead our case. 

Prayer is our way to communicate with God directly and pour out all of our heart before His majesty and sovereignty. It is through praying that we bring Him praise and adoration, worship and thanksgiving as we spend intimate moments with the Lord our Savior.

I have always known that as a child of God I can come boldly with my petitions and lay them down before His feet. I regularly bring requests before Him knowing that He listens to every plea. However, it wasn't until recently that God taught me about a more intimate level of praying and petitioning. 

I was reading from the book of Psalm tonight and God reached out to show me and teach me more about praying. You see, for years I have been used to praying and bringing my general petition to God. Yes, I bring my heartaches and my tears, and of course my joys and my victories before Him, but I never really learned how to honestly lay bare my heart before Him. It seems like I wasn't really honest about what I feel in my heart and what thoughts I have running through my mind. 

I have come to realize that most of my petitions were somewhat "guarded". I never heard myself cry out to God about something and asking Him to intervene in very specific ways! But when I read the words and the emotions that flow through the Psalms of David, I realized that his heart was totally exposed before the Lord.

He wasn't holding back any requests for vengeance on his enemies, for example. His words weren't sugar-coated to make them sound "safe" and "godly." Some of the words in David's Psalms even sounded like praying a curse over the ones that bothered him! I have to admit, I have never been THAT honest with the Lord.

I admit I used to feel uncomfortable and feel guilty if I find myself or anyone else praying in a manner that would say "let them be condemned!" But that's exactly what David asked from God when he came before him in troublesome times. David, the man after God's own heart, was very honest with the way he felt about his enemies that he was able to write down the transparent, unsugar-coated Psalm 109. 

Maybe that was what God acknowledged when He called David as a man after His own heart. David's total honesty and transparency before the Lord allowed his relationship with Him to be more than just the formal God-Man relationship. David's many psalms show the very wonderful, intimate, honest and open relationship he had with His Maker. His words flowed from a heart that knows exactly WHO HE HAS IN HEAVEN! His words were the words of a heart of one who truly comes boldly before the Lord, not thinking about what God might judge him to be, but confident that God understands every single weighty issue brought before His very throne of Grace!

It doesn't necessarily mean that when we are troubled by something or someone that we will go ahead and ask God to send fire and brimstone upon those causing us grief or concern. That is not my point at all. What I learned is the fact that when we do pray, we must realize that coming boldly before the throne of God is an invitation to present our heart's cry with all honesty and transparency. No matter how ridiculous, how stupid, how unrealistic we feel our petitions may be, our hearts should learn to lay EVERYTHING DOWN before the Lord Jesus' feet.

God's will always prevails, and praying honestly doesn't necessarily mean that we get what we want. But it does mean that when we rely FULLY upon the Grace of God, for Him to look upon our circumstances with love and compassion, we know that HE will work out everything for our good in the end. God doesn't want us to hold back anything when we approach His throne of Grace. He wants to have EVERYTHING laid down before His feet. May we not cower and prevent ourselves from turning our relationships with God into the deeper, more intimate one that He so wants us to have with Him!

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 
(James 5:13)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Feast That Will Go Down The Fiery "Pit"

Excerpt from Walking Away from Rome, Chapter 8 - A Mystical Faith:

I watched her kneel, dressed in white all over, in front of the altar. Her long, black curls covered most of her shoulders as she bowed and prayed. The adults in the family were told beforehand that she would need to pray before the Santo Niño would grant us the dance. 

The statue she was invoking that day was a large image in the middle of the altar. It was carved out of wood and was formed as a little child with curly hair. One would immediately notice its dress of white and a red velvet cape adorned with gold trimmings. It was the dress of royalty. Golden embroidery was elegantly sewn all over.
Ornate decorations also adorned the statue. A little metal crown was sitting on its head. Likened to a king’s crown, miniature jewels were attached to it. A gilded chain was suspended around its neck with a little pendant. A little scepter hung from its right wrist looking like a gold staff, its right hand raised as a gesture of blessing. 

There was a little golden ball, the replica of the world, topped with a miniature cross on its left hand. Its shoes were of shiny metal made to look like little golden boots. Everything about the Santo Niño was elegant and very regal.

It was crafted to look that way and was finished off with its own round pedestal. It stood there on the altar with the grandeur of a king on his throne—bold and requiring honor.

The Santo Niño became one of the well-loved figures in Filipino culture. Its initial arrival on Philippine soil dates back to 1521 when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan bequeathed the
wooden image to the wife of Rajah Humabon, Cebu’s chieftain, during his arrival. It became an emblem of friendship with and allegiance to Spain, as well as a symbol of the natives’ conversion to
Devotion to the Santo Niño didn’t spread until its re-discovery in 1565 by the mariner, Juan de Camus. He arrived in the Philippines under the second generation of the Spanish colonial campaign of Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and he found the image of the unscathed Santo Niño inside a pine box. When Camus presented the image to Legazpi, who was a devotee of the Child Jesus; and to the Augustinian priests, they were so humbled by the significance of the finding, that
they solemnly carried the image in a procession to a tentative chapel. Legazpi later ordered the creation of the Confraternity of the Santo Niño de Cebu and installed a festivity to commemorate the finding of the Holy Image. This celebration survives today, on the Third Sunday of January.


The Sinulog festival is one of the grandest and most colorful festivals in the Philippines with a very rich history. The main festival is held each year on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City to honor the Santo Niño, or the child Jesus, who used to be the patron saint of the whole province of Cebu (since in the Catholic faith Jesus is not a saint, but God). It is essentially a dance ritual which remembers the Filipino people’s pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity.

The festival features some the country’s most colorful displays of pomp and pageantry: participants garbed in bright-colored costumes dance to the rhythm of drums, trumpets, and native gongs. The streets are usually lined with vendors and pedestrians all wanting to witness the street-dancing. Smaller versions of the festival are also held in various parts of the province, also to celebrate and honor the Santo Niño. There is also a Sinulog sa Kabataan, which is performed by the youths of Cebu a week before the Grand Parade. Source - Sinulog.ph

This festival has become more than a religious commemoration. The entire city of Cebu, Philippines becomes a rich market that brings tourists and natives together in a big shindig. It has become commercialized more than anything as street fairs, sports tournaments, cultural and art shows, as well as the extravagant street parade fill the entire month's schedule of activities.

Although this feast is a celebration of the Roman Catholic statue of the Child Jesus which Roman Catholics venerate, and although the people would shout and cry "PIT SENYOR!" as a chant calling out to the Santo Niño as the Child Jesus, this celebration is an abomination to the One True God of Heaven and Earth.

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me..." 
(Exodus 20:4-5)

 There is no excuse for breaking this commandment, nor will there be an excuse for anyone to be ignorant of the Truth in God's Word. We ought to encounter and embrace what is TRUTH in the Word of God because going against it will have us end up in the fiery pit. 

"Turn you not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God." 
(Leviticus 19:4)

"'Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God."
(Leviticus 26:1)

"Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven."
(Deuteronomy 4:15-19) 

To whom then will you liken God? or what likeness will you compare unto him? 
(Isaiah 40:18) 

 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
(Revelation 21:8)

That is pretty much the only "PIT" that people will cry about in the end.The Word of God is very clear to those who heed it's warning. There should NOT be any kind of image to represent ANYTHING that people should bow down to. God is Spirit and we only should worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (see John 4:24). Anything PAGAN that we try to Christianize is nothing but an old trick that the devil uses to deceive many. 

May we be very careful to heed the Word of the Lord God Almighty. No excuses... No buts... No compromises...

I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. (Isaiah 42:8) 


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lessons From "Where's My Water?" (Part 2)

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth (1 John 1:5-6, KJV)
The more levels you complete by getting clean water to Swampy, the more you will encounter difficult obstacles along the way. At some point in time, you will face the possibility of contaminating your clean water if you are not careful.

With one wrong move, your clean water could easily get dirty before it reaches Swampy. It is interesting to see, though, that no matter how continuously flowing the clean water is, it just doesn't make the contaminated water clean. It ALWAYS does the opposite... the clean water always gets dirty instead! You can't pretend it to be clean and allow it to reach Swampy because the alligator will cringe away from it when it flows through the shower head.

When we ponder upon it more deeply, a christian's life will reflect a similar picture. In a way, those who have been made righteous in Christ, cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb, CAN and WILL no longer have anything to do with the filth and contamination of sin in the world! There will be a need for strategies to keep away from anything that could contaminate our lives with sin.

Oftentimes we see professing Christians "talking the talk" and knowing the truths found in the Bible and yet they continue to live in darkness. They continue with habitual sins and are either adamant or totally oblivious to the new life that a new creature in Christ should have.

Many live lives mixing their perceived "Christianity" with the ways of the world! This isn't supposed to be the case for people who have been born again in Christ Jesus! We must, therefore, test ourselves to see if we are truly IN FELLOWSHIP with our Lord and Savior!

The Bible tells us that we LIE if we have convinced ourselves that we have trusted in Christ and yet we continued on with our worldly living! A person who has been made clean and new by the precious Blood of Jesus Christ CAN and WILL NO LONGER continue to live in sin!

Not that one will become sinless. But the Holy Spirit that has been deposited in one's life will now become the guide to which a person will live a life that sins less. We can never become perfect while in this corruptible body, but we can always become more than conquerors and will have the power to RESIST the devil and RESIST sin!

There is no mixing of things. The things of God are righteousness and holiness and it can NEVER be mixed with the bitterness, lasciviousness, immorality and filth of sin in this world.

Do we SAY we "love" Christ?
Do we say we "trust" in Him?
Do we SAY we believe in Him?
Do we Say we are following His footsteps?

It is very critical then that we check and measure ourselves with Scripture's rule. Because, if we say those things and STILL also enjoy drunkenness, or watching TV programs that glorify homosexuality, immorality, debauchery, and filthy language, THEN we are but LYING to ourselves!

Darkness and Light DO NOT MIX! Clean water and contamination DO NOT WORK together! Righteousness in Christ DO NOT MIX with worldliness. Therefore, TEST YOURSELVES!

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him5But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
(1 John 2:3-6, KJV)


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