Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daily Digest #241

Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10

I love comfortable silences, especially between the closest friends. For me, it signifies transparency and security. There's no hint of doubt or panic that the other might be like this, or might be thinking that. It's like a conversation without words, finding a common sanctuary for both individuals.

I, too, believe that it is during those quiet times that we commune with the Higher Power. It is not only about what goes on inside our heads, but also about hearing the calls of our heart. If we try to assess it, we'll find bits and pieces of information that answer some of our most personal questions. Amazing, isn't it? We may not notice, but I believe God truly talks to us and answers our questions in this intimate way.
For this, let us pray. May we make room for quiet time every day. May we look forward to conversing with God each day, and be willing to listen to what He has to say. May we gain wisdom from the Words we say, read or hear. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #240

Let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. —Malachi 2:15

I can only think of two articles upon reading today's reflection. Quite long, but I guarantee you, it's worth the read. I'm sure I posted these before, but I think they would serve as appropriate and timely reminders for all of us, especially those who are trapped in a marital haze, or those who simply need hope and encouragement in love. May we ask for faith and wisdom, and let God put words into our mouths, and tenderness in our hands. Pray always.

Perfect Love
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone
To have a deep soul relationship with another
Be loved thoroughly, and exclusively.
But God, to a Christian, says:
I want you to be satisfied, fulfilled, and content
With being loved by Me alone
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship
With Me alone.
Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the best human relationship
That I have planned for you.
I want you to be united with another after you are united with Me
Exclusive of anyone or anything else,
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, stop wishing,
And allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing
One that you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best
Please allow Me to bring it to you.
You just keep watching Me, trusting Me
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.
Keep listening and learning the things I tell you.
You just wait.
That's all.
Don't be anxious.
Don't worry.
Don't look around at the things
Others have gotten or that I've given them.
Don't look at the things you think you want.
You just keep looking off and up to Me,
Or you'll miss what I want to show you.
And then, when you're ready, I'll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than any you would dream of.
You see, until you are ready and until the one I have for you is ready,
(I am working even at this moment
to have both of you ready at the same time),
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me
and the life I prepared for you,
You won't be able to experience the love
that exemplifies your relationship with me.
And this is the perfect love.
And dear one, I want you to have the most wonderful love.
I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me,
And to enjoy materially and concretely
the everlasting union of beauty, perfection, and love
That I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love you utterly.
I am GOD. Believe and be satisfied.

by Eduardo Jose E. Calasanz

I have never met a man who didn't want to be loved. But I have seldom met a man who didn't fear marriage. Something about the closure seems constricting, not enabling. Marriage seems easier to understand for what it cuts out of our lives than for what it makes possible within our lives.

When I was younger this fear immobilized me. I did not want to make a mistake. I saw my friends get married for reasons of social acceptability, or sexual fever, or just because they thought it was the logical thing to do. Then I watched, as they and their partners became embittered and petty in their dealings with each other. I looked at older couples and saw, at best, mutual toleration of each other. I imagined a lifetime of loveless nights and bickering and could not imagine subjecting myself or someone else to such a fate.

And yet, on rare occasions, I would see old couples who somehow seemed to glow in each other's presence. They seemed really in love, not just dependent upon each other and tolerant of each other's foibles. It was an astounding sight, and it seemed impossible. How, I asked myself, can they have survived so many years of sameness, so much irritation at the other's habits?

What keeps love alive in them, when most of us seem unable to even stay together, much less love each other? The central secret seems to be in choosing well. There is something to the claim of fundamental compatibility. Good people can create a bad relationship, even though they both dearly want the relationship to succeed. It is important to find someone with whom you can create a good relationship from the outset. Unfortunately, it is hard to see clearly in the early stages.

Sexual hunger draws you to each other and colors the way you see yourselves together. It blinds you to the thousands of little things by which relationships eventually survive or fail. You need to find a way to see beyond this initial overwhelming sexual fascination. Some people choose to involve themselves sexually and ride out the most heated period of sexual attraction in order to see what is on the other side.

This can work, but it can also leave a trail of wounded hearts. Others deny the sexual side altogether in an attempt to get to know each other apart from their sexuality. But they cannot see clearly, because the presence of unfulfilled sexual desire looms so large that it keeps them from having any normal perception of what life would be like together. The truly lucky people are the ones who manage to become long-time friends before they realize they are attracted to each other. They get to know each other's laughs, passions, sadness, and fears. They see each other at their worst and at their best. They share time together before they get swept into the entangling intimacy of their sexuality.

This is the ideal, but not often possible. If you fall under the spell of your sexual attraction immediately, you need to look beyond it for other keys to compatibility. One of these is laughter.

Laughter tells you how much you will enjoy each other's company over the long term. If your laughter together is good and healthy, and not at the expense of others, then you have a healthy relationship to the world. Laughter is the child of surprise. If you can make each other laugh, you can always surprise each other. And if you can always surprise each other, you can always keep the world around you new. Beware of a relationship in which there is no laughter. Even the most intimate relationships based only on seriousness have a tendency to turn sour. Over time, sharing a common serious viewpoint on the world tends to turn you against those who do not share the same viewpoint, and your relationship can become based on being critical together.

After laughter, look for a partner who deals with the world in a way you respect. When two people first get together, they tend to see their relationship as existing only in the space between the two of them. They find each other endlessly fascinating, and the overwhelming power of the emotions they are sharing obscures the outside world. As the relationship ages and grows, the outside world becomes important again. If your partner treats people or circumstances in a way you can't accept, you will inevitably come to grief. Look at the way she cares for others and deals with the daily affairs of life. If that makes you love her more, your love will grow. If it does not, be careful. If you do not respect the way you each deal with the world around you, eventually the two of you will not respect each other.

Look also at how your partner confronts the mysteries of life. We live on the cusp of poetry and practicality, and the real life of the heart resides in the poetic. If one of you is deeply affected by the mystery of the unseen in life and relationships, while the other is drawn only to the literal and the practical, you must take care that the distance doesn't become an unbridgeable gap that leaves you each feeling isolated and misunderstood.

There are many other keys, but you must find them by our self. We all have unchangeable parts of our hearts that we will not betray and private commitments to a vision of life that we will not deny. If you fall in love with someone who cannot nourish those inviolable parts of you, or if you cannot nourish them in her, you will find yourselves growing further apart until you live in separate worlds where you share the business of life, but never touch each other where the heart lives and dreams. From there it is only a small leap to the cataloging of petty hurts and daily failures that leaves so many couples bitter and unsatisfied with their mates.

So choose carefully and well. If you do, you will have chosen a partner with whom you can grow, and then the real miracle of marriage can take place in your hearts. I pick my words carefully when I speak of a miracle. But I think it is not too strong a word. There is a miracle in marriage. It is called transformation. Transformation is one of the most common events of nature. The seed becomes the flower. The cocoon becomes the butterfly. Winter becomes spring and love becomes a child. We never question these, because we see them around us every day. To us they are not miracles, though if we did not know them they would be impossible to believe. Marriage is a transformation we choose to make. Our love is planted like a seed, and in time it begins to flower. We cannot know the flower that will blossom, but we can be sure that a bloom will come. If you have chosen carefully and wisely, the bloom will be good. If you have chosen poorly or for the wrong reason, the bloom will be flawed. We are quite willing to accept the reality of negative transformation in a marriage. It was negative transformation that always had me terrified of the bitter marriages that I feared when I was younger. It never occurred to me to question the dark miracle that transformed love into harshness and bitterness. Yet I was unable to accept the possibility that the first heat of love could be transformed into something positive that was actually deeper and more meaningful than the heat of fresh passion. All I could believe in was the power of this passion and the fear that when it cooled I would be left with something lesser and bitter. But there is positive transformation as well. Like negative transformation, it results from a slow accretion of little things. But instead of death by a thousand blows, it is growth by a thousand touches of love. Two histories intermingle. Two separate beings, two separate presence, two separate consciousnesses come together and share a view of life that passes before them. They remain separate, but they also become one. There is an expansion of awareness, not a closure and a constriction, as I had once feared. This is not to say that there is not tension and there are not traps. Tension and traps are part of every choice of life, from celibate to monogamous to having multiple lovers. Each choice contains within it the lingering doubt that the road not taken somehow more fruitful and exciting, and each becomes dulled to the richness that it alone contains. But only marriage allows life to deepen and expand and be leavened by the knowledge that two have chosen, against all odds, to become one. Those who live together without marriage can know the pleasure of shared company, but there is a specific gravity in the marriage commitment that deepens that experience into something richer and more complex.

So do not fear marriage, just as you should not rush into it for the wrong reasons. It is an act of faith and it contains within it the power of transformation.

If you believe in your heart that you have found someone with whom you are able to grow, if you have sufficient faith that you can resist the endless attraction of the road not taken and the partner not chosen, if you have the strength of heart to embrace the cycles and seasons that your love will experience, then you may be ready to seek the miracle that marriage offers. If not, then wait. The easy grace of a marriage well made is worth your patience. When the time comes, a thousand flowers will bloom... endlessly.

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Daily Digest #239

[Jesus] put out His hand and touched [the leper]. —Luke 5:13

Helping has rarely been a problem to me. But I have this attitude of choosing who to help. I am very much irritated by tactless people, and those who ask for help as if they were bossing you around. Some people just don't know how to ask politely. I just had that encounter early this morning.

The ironic thing is, I woke up with such a good mood, swearing under my breath that even a bird's turd landing on my head won't ruin this day (I was at the balcony that time hehehe). But the reading today opened my mind a little bit wider. It has made me realize a sense of responsibility to correct when necessary, but STILL give a helping hand. Sometimes, we forget the "how" gives a whole different meaning to the "what". I usually keep my mouth shut just to avoid myself from blowing up. Anyway, it always helps to keep one's calm.

It is still a beautiful day ahead, and I have decided to make sure of it :D Please join me in prayer. May He open our eyes to all opportunities to love and to help today. May we offer a helping hand to those in need, irregardless of how they ask. May we develop a deeper understanding for others, because some people simply do not know how to ask for help (the same with those who love but cannot express it) or too proud or shy to say thank you. May we serve others as if we're serving God, expecting nothing in return. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #238

Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me? —Ruth 1:21

I count myself fortunate enough to have heard numerous testimonies on how God worked in people's lives through everything that seemed to be burdensome. Just last weekend, one of my community sisters narrated how her family surpassed many tragic losses in a span of 1 year -- their home, and her father. It made all my worries so minute, compared to the sufferings others are experiencing. And the best thing is, the glory of God is realized at the end of each battle. Many may not see or feel it, but there are those who choose to believe and see.

For this, let us pray. May we grow an unfaltering faith. May we learn to look up to the Lord no matter what situation we're in. May we realize God's purpose in every battle or difficulty we encounter, and praise and thank Him for He truly knows best. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #237

First the blade, then the head, after that the full grain . . . . The harvest has come. —Mark 4:28-29

Over the weekend, I learned that when one is too available, others tend to take him/her for granted.... :D

I belong to a Christian community where we are grouped into households and have meetings every week. A few months ago, I was given the privilege to lead one group. Before I took the post, I prayed deeply to God that He may bless whoever He sends in my midst, and that He may let us grow together. I felt excited, but scared, of the big responsibility that was being entrusted to me. I assessed myself if I were ready for such a task. Many times did I doubt my capabilities as a leader or a medium of encouragement to others. I feared that I would be self-righteous or intolerable, knowing how I usually was. Then this group of people was finally introduced to me, and I thought, "my sisters".

From the moment we had our first household meeting, I cannot deny the fact that I was both scared and happy. I imagined we would do great things together, but doubted if we would ever overcome the obstacles – mismatched priorities and commitment. Nevertheless, armed with hope and prayer, I kept going. I looked forward to every household meeting. I longed to spend time with my sisters because they were God-given, and therefore, important to me. I longed for fellowship. I longed for a common cause. I longed to share what I was going through, what I learned recently, and witness my sisters do the same. I longed for real communication, where both parties are willing to take turns in talking and listening. I knew in my heart that I needed them, and hoped they needed me, too.

They say that to be a leader, someone has to follow. Then I thought, maybe I was not being one. Or maybe I was putting too much pressure on being one when all I could actually do was be a friend. I asked myself several questions: was I too serious? Boring? Have I become blind? Deaf? Insensitive? Was I trying too hard? Or were my efforts not enough? These musings could go on and on, but the answers would only surface if I were willing to patiently wait and listen.

Then one night, God answered my prayer. And he only said one thing: PRAY. At first, I prepared myself for debate. I even opened the Bible to look for passages on responsibility and leadership. Then I came across this: It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be shattered (1 Samuel 2:9-10). King David succeeded because God chose him for the job, and because he persistently turned to God for his direction, just as Jesus did. The best leadership, ultimately, belongs to God. I figured, I was taking a post that was not mine at all. I can only follow His command and pray.

I take commitment and responsibility quite seriously. But I learned that no matter how serious and committed you are in any task or in any relationship, you can never force things to go your way. I figured, when one simply does something with all her heart, duty becomes a form of dedication. One gives out all her best, and does not expect anything in return – only hope that it is savored, accomplished, and realized.

When one is too available, people tend to take him/her for granted. Well, God is always available, and we often take Him for granted, but we never hear Him whine about it, or see Him turn His back on us. Maybe that's what He's trying to tell each of us – to pray unceasingly, to be honest and open, to never give up on others, and to continue to be available to those in need no matter what.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Daily Digest #236

You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. —Deuteronomy 24:18

It is truly humbling to be reminded of where we came from. We usually forget this when we reach some level of success. We forget that we were once poor -- financially, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We judge and look down at others who at the present are experiencing our past, instead of understanding or helping or showing compassion. We claim to age with grace and wisdom, but fail to examine ourselves if we really do act on the knowledge and experience we have gathered.

The rule of reciprocity a.k.a. "Golden Rule" states: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." May this serve as a reminder when we are tempted to judge, or to do mean things to others. May we start developing wisdom by fearing the Lord. May we remember that he sees and knows everything, and He stands as the ultimate judge. May we learn to humble ourselves and look back where we came from. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #235

Why are you cast down, O my soul? . . . Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. —Psalm 42:5

Special occasions every year either get us excited, or make us run for the hills :D Times like Christmas and Valentine's Day leave most of us feeling like crap when we do not have a special "someone" in our lives. But when we do feel bad about them, or sulk into self-pity, we're missing the whole point of these occasions. We've reduced their meanings to society's standards which are basically for commercial purposes. We forget to focus on the virtues that are highlighted in them... LOVE, GRATEFULNESS, GENEROSITY, FORGIVENESS and KINDNESS, to name a few. And we always have family and loyal friends to celebrate them with. Honestly, do we need to wait for these occasions (and take note, each one happens only once a year!) to actually exercise these virtues? Aren't we given the chance to do that every single day? Let us assess our attitude towards them. What are we truly celebrating?

For this, let us pray. May we learn to celebrate life. May we value each blessing and give thanks. May we not allow society to dictate our values and principles, and learn to abide by God's standards instead. Let's make every day a Love Day. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #234

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. —Ephesians 5:19

It is said that a happy heart can cause ripples throughout a number of people, just as much as a negative attitude does. We may not realize it, but we touch other lives in many ways. We may be imparting wisdom through a few words we have uttered, or a line in a song we suddenly find ourselves singing, or a simple act of kindness or love or faith. Each of us has a role to play everyday. And we have the power to choose -- to act in love and kindness, or not.

For this, let us pray. May we allow ourselves to be the source of positive energy today. May we develop a different perspective of things, looking more into what's good rather than the bad. May we also thank God for sending us people who give out good vibes, those who inspire us to do the same. May God continue to bless these angels.

I'm posting the words of a song I'm listening to at the moment. May it help pour out hope, gratefulness and faith into our hearts. Pray always.

Desert Song
Words and Music by Brooke Fraser © Hillsong

This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've received I will sow....

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Daily Digest #233

You also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. —Matthew 24:44

Most of us take the passage above as a scary warning that we tend to ignore and live our lives the way we feel is right -- carefree and comfortable. We get ourselves confused with reality and truth. We may even think it's ridiculous, even those who claim to believe Jesus and death and resurrection. Some of us constantly doubt, thinking no one really knows what lies ahead... Well, having said that, I think the main point of the passage is simply to do the best we can in every waking day: to allow Him to mold us, learning and growing from every encounter with different people or circumstances; and to allow ourselves to be closer to Him, humbly submitting to His will.

God is trying to build a bridge between Him and each of us. I think the only question is, are we willing to meet Him halfway?

For this, let us pray. May we take faith and courage to make this decision today: to commit to building our bridge with the Lord. Should that day come when Jesus shows us His face, may our bridges be complete and strong enough for the crossing. You have a wonderful day ahead. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #232

Beloved, now we are children of God. —1 John 3:2

Last week, my mom's YM status caught my attention. It's by Benjamin Disraeli which read "The secret of success is constancy to purpose." This got me into thinking: what's my purpose?

Society has created many definitions of "success". It is usually focused on wealth and fame and honor these days. This got us into planning and worrying about the future, dreaming of what we'd turn out to be, which has often led us to taking each day for granted. We forget that what we have at the moment matters to the future we're trying to build. God is constantly reminding us of how it is always fine to have dreams and wishes, but we ought to find and act on our purpose in each blessed day, irregardless of status.

Anyway, I was reminded by my mom's quote of what I'm supposed to be doing every day: to appreciate every single thing that I have, or is happening, in my life at the moment, to serve the best way I can, and to love. I believe that is how I can find contentment and happiness in my life. Well, mind you, I still have wishes and dreams like everyone else. But I can only hope and pray that the desires of my heart are according to His.

For this, please join me in prayer. May we count each day as a blessing. May we learn more about God and what He has done, and is constantly doing, for us. May we find joy, contentment and peace of mind. May we exercise love in every chance we get. May His will be done on us. Pray always.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Daily Digest #231

[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. —1 Corinthians 13:7

I hope you're all fine, and not bothering yourself with thoughts of "bad luck" today hehehe. By the way, let me greet you a Happy Valentine's Day! I was thinking of sending a separate email with 1 Corinthians 13 for Valentine, but it's already in today's reflection, so lucky me :D I do hope we celebrate love everyday, and not only on special occasions. We are all in search and in need of affection, so let's invite love into our lives.

Love, love, love. Many quotes, songs and poems have been written to express what it means, but rarely does it come close to God's definition. We are so overwhelmed by "romance" that we only soar and appreciate it at good times, and crash when it fades. We can be fair-weather girl friends, boy friends or friends sometimes. We are often confused between mere feeling and the action that results from love which involves commitment to love.

I've witnessed how love transforms over time. Long, lasting relationships that managed to stay after years of trials and fights are testimonies of commitment to love. Not only can they be seen in old married couples, but also among friends who remained close despite of age and distance. In my life, I have had relationships that grew and withered over time. And I have learned one thing about relationships: that it takes 2 to make it work, and just 1 to destroy it.

Tests can either strengthen, or tear our relationship apart. May we make a choice to commit to love. May we remind ourselves of our individual roles in our relationships. May we ask God to bless our relationships and bring both people closer to Him. Enjoy your day. Pray always!

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Daily Digest #230

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. —Proverbs 3:6

I think everybody has been in a situation where he/she stepped forward, blindfolded, not knowing what lies ahead, only armed with faith. Two people getting into marriage with everything uncertain but the love they have for each other and the oath they have taken in the eyes of God. A single parent who faithfully keeps a job and a household, night and day, believing that all the sacrifice will be worth it. A foreigner trying to make a living in a faraway country, hopeful that he/she could get by, learn, meet new people, adapt to the culture, and be able to provide for his/her family back home. A passenger unconsciously trusting the driver with his/her life until he/she gets to his/her destination. A new graduate full of hope despite of the worldwide recession.

The future is truly uncertain. But like the hardworking farmer who patiently waits for the rain, we are assured that God's help and guidance will come, and the harvest will be plenty. With this, how can anyone be afraid? We are constantly reminded to lift our burdens and cares to God, and he will take care of the rest. All we need is a little faith. Without faith, we cannot hope. And hope is a very valuable thing, especially at times like this.

Let us pray. May we hope in the Lord and trust in His ways. May we do our part as faithful servants every day -- to love, to share God's story by the way we live, so others too may believe. May we remain prayerful, and never forget to count our blessings. May His will be done. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #229

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. —James 4:10

May we make time to review and reflect on today's passage....

Psalm 131

A song of ascents. Of David.

1 My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.

I love the closing paragraph on the given reflection: "The path to humility is twofold. It involves knowing who we are—having a proper self-esteem rather than thinking too highly of self. But most important, it requires knowing who God is—holding Him in highest esteem and trusting Him for His best in His time." Sometimes, even when we know who we are, we forget the latter, which still makes us proud and not notice. We are also often confused between having a healthy self-esteem and thinking too highly of ourselves. We become too self-conscious of our abilities, our gifts, our fortunes, that we tend to brag and not know it. We are used to stating the obvious sometimes. We forget that there are things that are better left unsaid, and much better left for other people to see and speak of. For me, that is humility.

There are things that are indeed praise-worthy, and there is nothing wrong in receiving sincere compliments. Should it be an ability, successful completion of a task or mere character, may we learn to divert the thanks and praise to God who made these things possible. May we be less conscious of our talents, abilities, wealth and/or beautiful looks, and be more concerned on what we can do with them for the glory of God. May we always remember that we have blessings so we may also be a blessing to others. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #228

It came to pass . . . that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." —Genesis 22:1

I was able to reflect on Abraham's story a few weeks ago. We taught the kids in Sunday school the same story, and it got me into thinking... "what would i give up for Him? or rather, "what would He make me give up?" Honestly, it made me nervous. It made me think about the things that I am, or most likely to be, attached to -- my family, my closest friends, the love of my life, or my kids. But then, like Abraham, it was all a test, and God knew that his faith would not falter.

God wants each of us to strengthen our faith in Him, to trust His ways and believe He has reasons beyond our comprehension. He doesn't want us to settle and cling onto things, because everything in this world is temporary. We are only given the time to build, enjoy and enrich our relationships with each other, and to hone our characters. Everything is but a test. It is our choice to act on every opportunity to serve and love God, or not. He wants us to remain faithful, patient and prayerful. He reveals His plans His way, and in His time.

For this, let us pray. May we strengthen our relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ. May we never forget to pray, from the moment we wake up, until we lay ourselves to sleep. May we truly love God and trust His ways. May we count our blessings, and be grateful. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #227

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance. —Proverbs 15:13

A good mood can always do wonders, not only for ourselves, but for others around us, too. I remember how people at work used to "cringe" when I was in a bad mood. And when I was having a good day, I could sense that the tension was less, and I seemed to be more approachable. I learned to put on a smile, even at times I was not feeling so well. I figured how my moods were affecting others, which in turn affected me. Much more when I learned about God, and how He is alive within us through the Holy Spirit -- He made it easier for me to smile without pretense, and really show that I was happy inside, despite of the circumstances. Little by little, I learned to recognize and accept my emotions. I am still not very good at mastering them, but with God's help, I can only hope and pray that I get by without being mean or insensitive to others.

For this, let us pray. May we learn to assess our actions toward others. May we be more sensible and kind, irregardless of our position -- superior or subordinate. May we learn to control our moods and pray whenever we struggle. May we show God's love and glory in the way we live. Pray always.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Heaven and Hell

by Paulo Coelho

A man, his horse and his dog were traveling down a road. When they were passing by a gigantic tree, a bolt of lightning struck and they all fell dead on the spot.

But the man did not realize that he had already left this world, so he went on walking with his two animals; sometimes the dead take time to understand their new condition...

The journey was very long, uphill, the sun was strong and they were covered in sweat and very thirsty. They were desperately in need of water. At a bend in the road they spotted a magnificent gateway, all in marble, which led to a square paved with blocks of gold and with a fountain in the center that spouted forth crystalline water.

The traveler went up to the man guarding the gate.

"Good morning."

"Good morning," answered the man.

"What is this beautiful place?"

"This is heaven."

"How good to have reached heaven, we're ever so thirsty."

"You can come in and drink all you want."

And the guard pointed to the fountain.

"My horse and my dog are thirsty too."

"So sorry, but animals aren't allowed in here."

The man was very disappointed because his thirst was great, but he could not drink alone; he thanked the man and went on his way. After traveling a lot, they arrived exhausted at a farm whose entrance was marked with an old doorway that opened onto a tree-lined dirt road.

A man was lying down in the shadow of one of the trees, his head covered with a hat, perhaps asleep.

"Good morning," said the traveler.

The man nodded his head.

"We are very thirsty - me, my horse and my dog."

"There is a spring over in those stones," said the man, pointing to the spot. "Drink as much as you like."

The man, the horse and the dog went to the spring and quenched their thirst. Then the traveler went back to thank the man.

"By the way, what's this place called?"


"Heaven? But the guard at the marble gate back there said that was heaven!"

"That's not heaven, that's hell."

The traveler was puzzled.

"You've got to stop this! All this false information must cause enormous confusion!"

The man smiled:

"Not at all. As a matter of fact they do us a great favor. Because over there stay all those who are even capable of abandoning their best friends..."

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Daily Digest #226

You, being dead in your trespasses, . . . He has made alive together with Him. —Colossians 2:13

I was trying to look for a poem I posted ages ago in my blog, about how God turns every negative thing around, but found this instead (read below).

May we make time to reflect on hope today... Let us pray for those, especially among us, who are or have grown emotionally, spiritually, mentally or physically weak. May we find strength and hope in the Lord at all times. May we not hesitate to tell Him about our struggles, and believe that He will make a way. Pray always.

Victory Over Depression
by Joyce Meyer

Does your happiness depend on everything in your life being just right? If you think you can't be happy until all your circumstances are right, you will never be happy. We all experience times in life when we feel down for various reasons, but we can't allow our circumstances to control our emotions. Satan seeks to fill our minds with negative thoughts and emotions that cause us to feel down. He is a discourager, and he pulls us down emotionally, spiritually, financially, and in every way he can. But Jesus is our Encourager, and He came to lift us up. He came to give us righteousness, peace and joy, and all these things cause us to feel up!

Everyone experiences times of frustration and distress over unfulfilled hopes and dreams. When things don't go according to our plans, it is normal to feel disappointment. But we must be careful how we deal with that feeling, because disappointment is the beginning stage of depression. If we remain in a state of disappointment for too long, it can turn into discouragement, despair, and finally depression. Psalm 30:5 tells us that ...Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Things may make us feel sad temporarily, but we must not stay sad. Just as we cannot afford to stay mad very long, neither can we stay sad very long. If we do, Satan takes advantage of the open door and pushes his way further into our lives, bringing more serious problems with him.


Our number one enemy is emotions. We tend to be led by how we feel, but we must realize that feelings are fickle; they change from day to day! We should be careful not to follow every thought that comes to our mind because our thoughts and feelings don't dictate truth to us. For many years of my life, I experienced regular depression. I would awaken many mornings with a little voice in my head saying, "I feel depressed." I believed this was my own thought, not realizing that it was Satan making suggestions to me through my mind. Later, when God drew me into a closer walk with Him and I began seriously studying His Word, I learned that I didn't have to follow every feeling and thought that I had. I began to speak aloud and say, "I will not be depressed." I learned to put on the garment of praise spoken of in Isaiah 61:3. We may not always feel like praising, but a victorious person does not have the luxury of living by feelings.

I've learned that staying disappointed can cause me to start feeling discouraged, which is a deeper problem than disappointment. But I've also learned that you can't be hopeful and discouraged at the same time. So as soon as the devil attacks us with disappointment and we start feeling discouraged, we need to turn to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to fill us with hope. A brief period of discouragement may not have a devastating effect, but long-term discouragement can lead to depression—a very serious problem.


Depression is defined in part as "a hollow; being in a low state; a state of sadness; dejection." The real cause of depression is not where we are, but our attitude about where we find ourselves. It is possible to learn to live on the other side of your feelings. We will always have feelings; they will never go away, but we can make our feelings line up with our decisions. That's why God gives us the fruit of self-control. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil, and we must also resist depression, and anything that resembles it, because it is of the devil. Philippians 4:4 says, Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! If we stay filled with the right thing, the wrong thing has no place.

If you don't let the devil impress you with what he does, then he can't oppress you; and if he can't oppress you, then he can't depress you. So choose to be led by the Holy Spirit and you can have victory over depression. We can choose to keep a hopeful attitude by renewing our minds with the promises found in God's Word. We can claim the promises as our own and stand in faith, believing God to help us overcome our feelings and move forward into better things. We can't control all of our circumstances, but we don't have to let what happens today ruin tomorrow. We can actually turn things around by making a decision to let go of the situations that caused the disappointment and discouragement, and move toward the good things God has planned for our future.

Many people are depressed because they can't face truth, but the Holy Spirit came to reveal truth to us. We can't get past depression until we quit making excuses and blaming everyone else. We must face the truth and take responsibility for our actions. When we do that and ask God to help us, the spirit of heaviness leaves us and we feel light and free. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:30, ...My burden is light and easy to be borne. Being depressed about circumstances does not change them, and it is a total waste of time and a thief of joy. So we must stop letting our feelings, mind, body, and past experiences rule us and allow God to give us a fresh plan, a new idea, a new goal! You can experience victory over your emotions by being led, guided, controlled, and ruled by the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to us as our Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby to remain with us forever (see John 14:16). Thank God, we don't have to be disappointed, discouraged, despondent, depressed, or in despair. Jesus is not only the Way, but He is also the way out! Jesus is our healer, our glory, and the lifter of our heads.

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Daily Digest #225

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds. —Philippians 4:7

Let me share this personal prayer with you: Lord, grant me peace of heart and mind. May I look up to You in moments of difficulty, confusion, doubt or fear. Give me the strength to do my part in building and keeping a healthy body, spirit, heart and mind, and avoid the things that pull us apart. May I choose to seek comfort, joy and wisdom in You always. Amen.


God doesn't give you the people you want, He gives you the people you need - to help you, to hurt you, to leave you, to love you and to make you into the person you were meant to be.

Dear God, the person reading this is beautiful, faithful and strong. Help him/her to live his/her life to the fullest. Please promote him/her and cause him/her to excel above his/her expectations. Help him/her to shine in the darkest places where it is impossible to love. Protect him/her at all times, lift him/her up when he/she needs You the most, and let him/her know when he/she walks with YOU, he/she will always be safe. Amen.

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Daily Digest #224

Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them. —Matthew 13:34

I love Jesus' parables. Even now, there are stories that have still not sunken in... and I pray for the day that I may understand them fully in my life. I want to share to you one of my favorites, Jesus' parable of the sower.

The Parable of the Sower

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown."

When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, " 'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.

"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

What's the point of this story? It is for the those who hear His words, in many different forms -- in the Bible, in readings, songs, even wise words from a friend or a stranger. And there are different ways of accepting God's word, just as they produce different kinds of results.

I, for instance, have accepted God's words in different ways. I have to admit that I have allowed myself to switch from path to path. There were times when I was a prejudiced hearer, when I chose to be unteachable and blind. I diverted myself to judging people instead, especially those who uttered or taught the Words, but acted otherwise. Later on, I became a shallow hearer. I listened, I read, but I failed to think things out or think them through. Though I had been touched emotionally, when it wore off, my mind wandered somewhere else. It was like simply getting a spiritual/emotional high. Then came many interests and worries, which made me choose not to listen or understand what was truly important. Though I knew what was the right thing to do, I chose to put my own interests at the top of my priorities. And they all brought me nothing but dryness -- a long, pointless wandering to the land of nowhere.

The parable teaches us how we should have an open mind -- willing to listen, learn and understand -- at ALL TIMES. God's word has power to change and transform us into the likeness of His son. God gives grace to those who hunger for His word that they may understand His will and have the strength and freedom to live according to it.

For this, let us pray. May we never be too proud or too busy to learn and understand His word. May God's word take deep root in our hearts that we may grow strong in love and live in the hope of joining His family forever. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #223

You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live. —Exodus 33:20

Psalm 23
A psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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Daily Digest #222

We have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed. —2 Peter 1:19

I would like to share to you 3 articles from the Purpose Driven Life (I've merged them already; they're all under the same title, just divided into 3 parts). Let us hope and pray that our faith is strengthened. May we overcome our doubts and fears, and learn to come to God and submit to His will. May we truly believe that He knows everything. May we keep an alert mind and be cautious of the things that keep us away from God. Pray always.


What Does God Know about You?
January 28-30, 2009

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13 (NIV)

*** *** *** ***

One night I was standing in front of the refrigerator. I'd gotten out of bed to make a midnight refrigerator raid even though I was on a diet. And I stood there with the refrigerator door open, thinking, "Just one bite …."

You know how it goes. You get into a debate with yourself: "Go ahead; it won't hurt this one time." "No, I'm on this diet."

It's in moments like these that Satan feeds us a devilish excuse, "No one will ever know."

You may not be standing in front of the refrigerator. You may be at work, or filling out your income tax form, or some place your parents wouldn't want you to be. But you go ahead and do something questionable because we all can get caught in the false belief that "no one will ever know."

But God already knows!

The Bible says nothing in creation is hidden from God (Psalm 147:5) and that God knows everything about you (Psalm 139). This means there's no question God cannot answer, no problem that confuses him. He's never surprised. He's never shocked. He never says, "Oh, really?!" God knows everything; it's something theologians call the omniscience of God.

The fact that God knows everything about you is good news, not bad, and today we will look at two of five specific areas where knowing this will make a difference in your life.

1. God know your faults and failures.
I find it uncomfortable to realize I don't have any secrets from God, because there are things about me I'd rather God not know. But the Bible says, "My sins, O God, are not hidden from you; you know how foolish I have been" (Psalm 69:5 GNT). So we're foolish when we do something wrong and then try to sneak it past God, to stuff it in a closet and lock the door. God knows what's behind the locked door (Proverbs 5:21). Everything you think, everything you see, everything you do, everything you feel, God knows all about it. He already knows all you've done wrong and he still loves you! You're not fooling God when you keep your sins hidden (1 John 1:8). He's not shocked by your sin; and when you admit it to him, it doesn't ever, will never, change the way he feels about you. He loves you unconditionally, and that means you don't have to fake it, you don't have to pretend.

2. God knows your feelings and frustrations.
Some of you think, "Nobody knows what I'm going through, nobody feels the pain I'm experiencing. " God knows. He knows your feelings and frustrations. He's seen the crisis in your soul. There's no hurt that goes unnoticed by God. Psalm 56:8 says, "You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears" (GNT). Often when we're hurting, we feel very isolated and lonely. Maybe there's been a death in the family, a divorce, maybe we've gotten fired, and we start to think, "Nobody understands the way I feel; nobody feels the pain." But God knows, and "The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him" (Psalm 103:13 NLT). God not only sees, he cares. He knows the causes, the reasons, the things that brought you to this point. He understands because he made you, and he sees the hurt in your heart like nobody else can. Because God knows our frustrations and despair, we can give those feelings to him: "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you" (1 Peter 5:7 NLT). Cast them all permanently on God, once and for all. Don't take them back. God knows everything about your faults and failures, and your feelings and frustrations, and he also knows what your tomorrow holds.

3. God knows your future.
We're all interested in the future. It's interesting to me the things people will use to try to figure out what's going to happen next: astrology, horoscopes, reading tea leaves, consulting with people, bio-rhythms. But they're going to the wrong source because the only one who knows what's going to happen next is God. The Bible says, even before you were born, God knew all of your future (Psalm 139:16, Jeremiah 29:11). This means God sees your tomorrow, today. He already sees the things you'll face. The fact is, God is not limited by time. He's able to be in the past, the present, and the future all at the same time. Think of it like this: if you were in the Goodyear Blimp looking down on the Rose Parade, you could see the beginning of the parade and the end of the parade all at the same time. God, from his perspective, can see past, present, and future all at once. That should give us great confidence in God. It's comforting to me that he knows everything that is going to happen in my life. He not only knows about the future, he's there in the future. He not only walks with us day-by-day, he can also walk in our future. God is already prepared for everything you're going to face – tomorrow, next week, or next month. What the future holds may surprise us, but it doesn't surprise God. Nothing ever catches him by surprise, or makes him say, "Oh, really?!" Next month or next year you may be faced with a crisis, and you may ask, "What's happening? Where is God?" God's been there all along, preparing. He's already in your future and he's prepared for everything. If I know that God knows all my tomorrows, today, then I should ask him for advice. He knows what's going to happen: "Call to me and I will answer you. I'll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own" (Jeremiah 33:3 MSG). The things you don't know, God can tell you about. He's not going to lay out your whole life all at once, telling you everything that will happen in your life. If he did, you'd likely get very discouraged or prideful or both. Instead, he gives it to you a little bit at a time. It's like this, when you're driving up a mountain on a curving road and you're caught behind a slow car, you may think, "If I could just see around the curve, I'd go ahead and pass this guy." If there were a helicopter above, the pilot could let you know if there was another car around the curve. From his perspective, he could help you out. The same is true with God: from his perspective, he knows everything that's going to happen, so you can ask him for advice. Here's what I'd suggest, when you get up in the morning, go over your schedule with the Lord. Pray, "Father, you've already seen this day that I'm about to experience. You know ahead of time every interruption I'm going to face, every cranky person in the office, every flat tire, every traffic jam, every missed plane, when I'm going to spill the coffee on my suit. You've already seen it all. Would you, right now, give me the strength to cope through this day, the strength that I need for today." We have looked at God's omniscience – that he knows everything, specifically everything about you and your life. We have been examining God's presence in your life by breaking it down into five areas. Now, we'll look at the final two.

4. God knows your fears.
God knows everything that gets you stressed out. For instance, many of us today are concerned about the economy, and so we have financial fears. And then we act as if God is unaware of our bills. "Don't you see, God? I'm going under! I'm not going to make it!" We're trying to stretch and make ends meet. We get uptight, upset, and we worry. But worry is the result of not realizing the omniscience of God. When we think that God doesn't know what's going on in our lives, then we think we have to take matters into our own hands. In effect, we're saying, "I'll be God." Worrying is taking responsibility for things God never intended you to have. The truth is God is aware of all your needs. Prayer is never giving information to God. The Bible says, "… Your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:8 NIV). He's aware of every single need you have: financial needs, spiritual needs, sexual needs, social needs, emotional needs.
5. God knows your faithfulness.
Here's another benefit from the truth that God knows everything: He sees everything you do that is good and right. Every time you choose not to sin, every time you resist temptation, every time you take a stand because of God's Truth, he sees your faithfulness to him. The Bible says every good deed will be rewarded, no matter how insignificant and regardless of whether anybody else on earth sees it. Every encouragement you give to other people, every kind word you give to your children, every time you do a thoughtful act for your husband, every time you pick up around the office when it's not your job, every time you set up chairs in church or stuff bulletins, every act of courtesy, every time you refuse to gossip, every time you're positive instead of negative – God sees it all, no matter how small (Matthew 10:40-42). Imagine yourself on a giant stage and you're the only person on that stage. You're acting out your life. In the audience there is only one person and it's God. He's out there clapping and saying, "I see that good thing you just did. Keep on going! Nobody else saw it, but I did. I know that thought you just had and I know it was a positive good thought. I saw it." So what should be my response? If God sees all the good things that I do and he's out there cheering me on, then my response should be, "Don't Be Discouraged! " Some of you may be saying, "I've been trying to do the right thing in my marriage. I don't see any results. I've been trying to be the right kind of person and respond correctly with my kids or to my parents. I've been trying to do the right thing at work or at school. And I don't know if it's paying off. I don't see it making any difference in anybody's life." God says, "I see it and it doesn't matter who else sees it." Nothing good we ever do is ever done in vain: "So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up" (Galatians 6:9 HCSB). Knowing the truth – that God knows everything in your life, can either be very disturbing or very comforting. It depends on your relationship to him, whether you're trying to fool him or not.

Have you been acting as if God is totally unaware of your life in any of these five areas? · God know your faults and failures, but he still loves you unconditionally. · God knows your feelings and frustrations, and he sees your hurt more than anyone else can. · God knows your future, so he can tell what you need to know. · God knows your fears, and he wants you to hand your worries over to him. · God knows your faithfulness because he sees every good thing you do. The fact that God knows everything is a tremendous motivator for me to live a godly life. I realize that nothing in my life is in secret; nothing I face will hinder his ability to help me; nothing that is to come will catch him by surprise; nothing I fear will be too big for God's strength; and nothing I do in his name is ever done in vain. God says, "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for" (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG).

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