Friday, April 24, 2009

Daily Digest #274

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. . . . Great is Your faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:22-23

I would like to share an article that was just forwarded to me earlier today (read below). May we understand more about God's love so we may truly believe, trust and express our faith, hope and love towards Him. Pray always.

This is Love
by Renee Swope

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10 (NIV)

I was driving my son to school one morning when out of the blue I started wondering what makes him feel loved. I assumed it was when I buy him something, or when I make his favorite food, or when I let him have a friend over. Basically, I figured he feels most loved when I give him what He wants.

I decided to ask him. "Andrew, what makes you feel loved?"

He sat there quietly, thinking. Then he blurted out a surprising answer.


"This?" I asked.

"Yeah, Mom. This. You being with me. You driving me to school and talking to me about my day. You telling me you'll be there when I get home. That makes me feel loved. Thanks, Mom. I love you, bye!" And he hopped out of the car.

This is love?

You mean I don't have to run out and buy something? Me being there for him is love? Even after I was harsh with my words yesterday prompting him to ask if I was mad about something. Still, this is love?

As I drove away, I wondered if God were to ask me what makes me feel loved, what would I say? Immediately my heart whispered, "Lord, this is love. You asking and caring. You being there. You keeping Your promises like You said You would."

This is love.

• A promise that is kept.
• A place that is certain.
• Someone who asks.
• Someone who listens.
• Someone who is present again and again.

We are loved. We don't have to wait for God to show it. He already has! He sent His Son so that we could know Him in an intimate relationship. Then promised He'd always be there for us, and He is. He is present and listening. Asking and caring. No matter what we are going through today, we can live in His love. And we can love from the overflow of being loved. We can know and rely on God's promises and presence, and be made complete in Him.

This is love.

Dear Lord, thank You that You first loved us. Remind us and embrace us and pour out on us Your perfect, completing and unfailing love today. As we think of those we love, and the ways we want to be loved, remind us that we are Yours and we are loved! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Ask your child, or someone you are c lose to, "What makes you feel loved?" Then look for simple ways to love them in that way.

What makes you feel loved by others?

What makes you feel loved by God?

It's easy to believe God's love when He gives us what we want, but God showed His love by giving us what we need, Jesus. If you've doubted God's love, tell Him today and then take time to thank Him for His immeasurable love!

Power Verses:
1 John 4:9, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (NIV)

1 John 4:16, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." (NIV)

1 John 4:17-19, "God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first ." (MSG)

© 2009 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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Daily Digest #273

These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. —Matthew 15:8

I have great respect for people who claim to believe "loving and doing good" over religion. What I don't get is the fuss we all make to determine which religion or religious sect a person belongs to know or judge his/her ways or choices, or which religion is better than the other. I have heard many times from the wise that "there is but one God", that no matter which religion we proclaim or profess, it all lies on the life that we lead. Actions do speak louder than words.

Honestly, what does it take to be called religious, or simply faithful? Only our relationship with God and our neighbors can determine where we stand in terms of our spirituality, or life itself. Let us ask ourselves these questions... Do I love? Do I forgive? Do I show mercy? What do I do with what has been given to me? How do I treat Jesus Christ in my life?

For this, let us pray. May our claim for love of God not only reflect in our words, but also in our actions. May we grow a humble and faithful heart. May we learn to truly love, and forgive. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #272

My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. —Genesis 17:4

Instead of sharing my thoughts on the verse, let me share to you a very inspiring story about a woman named Rose:

Growing Up or Growing Old
(Author Unknown)

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a Smile that lit up her entire being.She said, “Hi, handsome! My name is Rose. I’m 87 years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked. She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel.”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop.

I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her 3×5 cards on the floor.

Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order, so let me just tell you what I know.” As we laughed, she cleared her throat and began:

“We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor everyday. You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead, and they don’t even know it!” she said.

“There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn 20 years old. If I am 87 years old, and stay in bed for a year, and never do anything, I will turn 88. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability,” she added.

“The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in change. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”

She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.” She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the years end, Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.

Inspired? :D Let us pray.... May we age with grace and wisdom. May we not forgot that every moment counts, and that we ought to make the most of what has been given to us. May we always remember that we're never too old to be of use to God's purposes. May we learn to share our time, talents and skills to others, and serve them as if we're serving the Lord. May we learn from our mistakes and grow from our trials. May we learn to cherish wonderful memories. May we count our blessings everyday. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #271

The God of peace will be with you. —Philippians 4:9

I used to be very anxious. Back then, I worried about the most trivial things, especially at night before I went to bed. Instead of reflecting on and learning from what transpired throughout the day, I stopped at the thought of what I did wrong. And in the morning, I woke up feeling tired because I didn't get a good night's sleep. My body was asleep but my thoughts were keeping me awake. Then I figured how much I was trying to control things so I could either stir them to the direction I wanted, or understand them the way I wanted to. I didn't give any room for God to take over, causing more burden to myself, and arriving at no conclusions. I had wasted my time and energy on worry when all I needed to do was pray, hold on and wait.

God has given us messages of promise, hope and strength from the following verses. Let us read them one by one, and pick a verse that strikes us the most. I have already highlighted mine.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4 NKJV)

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. (Psalms 46:1-3 NKJV)

Yea, 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.” (Psalms 23:4 NKJV)

You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side. (Psalms 71:21 NKJV)

Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life. (Psalms 119:49-50 NKJV)

For the LORD will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody. (Isaiah 51:3 NKJV)

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. (Psalms 103:10-14 NKJV)

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:20-21 NKJV)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV)

Come to Me, all you 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 NKJV)

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalms 46:10 NKJV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)

And in due time you shall see the fulfillment of God’s promise to His people unfold before your eyes: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NKJV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NKJV)

Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Revelation 3:11 NKJV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20-b)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Revelation 22:21 NKJV)

Let us pray for each other, especially for those who struggle to find strength and peace of mind. May His words ignite a flame in our hearts, guide us and keep us away from worries. May we always open our hearts and minds to the wisdom He imparts us.... Pray always.

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Daily Digest #270

Beloved [Gaius], you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers. —3 John 1:5

Long-lasting relationships or partnerships seem to have each party share a common goal. From my personal observation: marriage lasts for couples who focus on their family, their kids, and the reminder of what their marriage stands for; and friendships last when both parties are focused on the good of the other. Even at work, our jobs last as long as we have good use to the company, or as long as we and our employers are both happy. When a husband or a wife suddenly focuses his/her energy on other things like wealth or success in career, then marriage and family are compromised. When friends choose pride and selfishness over the good of the other, then the relationship is strained. These choices create more room for hate, envy and insecurity. When we shift our priorities, our relationships either grow, suffer or die.

I think it's the same with the Christian family. When we focus on our common goal, which is for the love of God and the passion of following Christ, our lives become simpler. Our choices become much clearer. The more truth there is to our claim to love God, the more we are truly able to love others selflessly and unconditionally.

The way we treat others shows our priorities in life. It reflects when we choose to let God work in our thoughts, words and actions. We allow ourselves to be humbled, until there's nothing left but love. We experience harmony with others despite our individual differences, and inner peace. And we learn to perform our tasks with passion and gratefulness.

For this, let us pray. May we allow God to do His work on us. May we learn to humble ourselves, and wait patiently til we grow a Christ-like heart. May we draw strength from Him in moments of weakness, especially when we are tempted to submit to bitterness, hate or violence. Pray always.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Daily Digest #269

Be imitators of God . . . and walk in love. —Ephesians 5:1-2

We usually feel the pressure of setting a good example to people who look up to us, that we sometimes "act" righteously out of obligation. What we do not realize is that our real attitude reflects in every situation or person that we encounter, usually when we think no one is watching. When love and kindness are not natural elements in our lives, we become pretentious people-pleasers, elevating ourselves like models or saints in front of many.

For this, let us pray. May we learn to imitate Jesus instead of what society tells us to be. May we cherish relationships that bring us closer to God, those that have taught, and are continuously teaching us more about love, kindness, respect, generosity, patience and forgiveness. May others see Christ in us. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #268

The temple of God is holy, which temple you are. —1 Corinthians 3:17

Papa and I were talking about how compromise makes a relationship (esp marriage) work. He said it's easy to start a fight if one is, or both are, unwilling to give way. But one has to learn to make the choice of laying down his/her pride for the good of the other, or the relationship. From this, I realized how pride quickly snatches away the opportunity of unselfish and unconditional love. I also realized that pride is our number one enemy.

I realized how vulnerable we can really be to many powerful influences around us, especially when our egos allow them to. Though we may now have, or had before, a healthy set of ideals, a day may come when we will be distracted, or even dictated. If we do not prepare our inner selves from these possible influences that will probably deflect our opinions, words and actions towards God and everything He loves (which include people that matter to us, and our enemies), we will surely fall into a trap, and believe we have no choice but to hate and destroy. God always gives us a choice -- to love, to do good, to walk His way and do His will. It is only up to us if we would open our hearts and minds, and hear His voice. It is also a choice if we would listen and act on the purpose that He has designed for us.

There's so much I want to say, but I'm afraid it might take us farther away from the Scripture verse. The reflection simply tells each of us how we should feed our hearts with what pleases God. Because there's nothing bad for us in what pleases and glorifies God. For this, let us pray. May we tend our hearts and nurture our souls. May we build a closer relationship with God, asking Him to guide every choice we make. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #267

He must increase, but I must decrease. —John 3:30

Up until this afternoon, I thought I was having an awful day. I've witnessed many types of injustice on the road -- higher than usual fares (no ticket provided unless asked, or rather insisted), a couple of reckless turns and overtakes which could have caused major accidents -- plus several grumbling from people who seemed to have grown a habit of complaining. After the 2-hour ride, I went straight to a local resto to buy dinner to take home, but for some reason, nobody from the restaurant staff got any of the orders right, causing delays to many customers, thus, more grumbling (yes, I was one of them). I was guilty of raising my killer eyebrows to the lady at the restaurant. Honestly, it felt bad to add up to the lady's worrisome look. So I tried really hard to calm myself and gave her a smile when she handed me the takeout.

When I read the scripture verse above, I realize how timely it is, considering what I have experienced the whole day. Although many negative things happened around me (and inside my head), God never failed to show me the positive sides. He reminded me of how people might be having personal struggles which may have caused such negative words or actions. He reminded me that emotions like anger and frustration are normal, but it's what one does with these emotions that matter. He also reminded me that there are so many reasons to smile. If it weren't for these humbling reminders, I would have gone home with a frown and a heavy heart.

For this, join me in prayer. May we ask God to guide our thoughts, words and actions at all times. May we learn to master our emotions. May we learn from the life of Jesus. Pray always.

Soul Searching Prayer

Does my life please You as I live each day?
Do I glorify You, Lord, in everything I say?
Do I show others Your love in all that I do?
When others see me do they also see You?

Are my motives pure-- I know that You see?
Would I want other Christians to be just like me?
You understand my thoughts-- You're the only One Who can.
When I'm all by myself am I a God pleasing man?

I don't mean am I perfect, for without Christ I know I'm not,
But am I doing doubtful things hoping that I won't be caught?
Are there any hidden issues in the depths of my heart
That, as a Christian, I should bid to depart?

If there's any thought or action that's bringing You shame,
Help me to surrender it in Jesus' blessed Name.
I don't want to continue anything that displeases You,
And I want to do everything that You would have me do.

Dear God, in Your wisdom, You know how to keep me straight,
If You ever see me straying correct me before it's too late.
By Your grace You have saved me and forgiven all my sin,
I love You, I thank You, and I praise You.

I pray in the name of Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Daily Digest #266

God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. —Genesis 8:1

Being home once or twice a year results to homesickness sometimes. Being away from home feels like getting out of my comfort zone. But through the years, I've learned to build a new home in Thailand. I realize how God surrounded me with all sorts of people to help me grow, know myself more, and know Him better. It didn't matter where I was because He had ways of making me feel safe and loved. Wherever He took me, I realize how He had stirred passion in me so I would do things wholeheartedly. And at times when I don't feel inspired or motivated, He has ways of reminding me how blessed I am and how I should be thankful for what has been given to me: time, blessings, opportunities, friends and family.

For this, let us pray. May we also remember Him at all times. May we learn to count our blessings and thank Him. May we learn to assess ourselves and the situation before blaming others, including God, for our misfortunes. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #265

If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. . . . Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. —John 7:37-38

It's difficult to claim God's presence and love in our lives when we are flooded by worries and guilt. Some of us long to experience extraordinary spiritual high to be able to say that the Holy Spirit is with us. The truth is, the Holy Spirit has always been inside us, and we're the ones sleeping :D Whenever we hear that small voice helping us discern what's right or wrong, I believe those are moments when God is calling so He may guide our choices.

The holy week teaches us every year to celebrate God's saving grace through Jesus Christ. We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit so God may live inside us, to teach us His ways, to learn to turn to Jesus and make Him our ultimate model of living and loving. Jesus' sacrifice may not mean much to others, but the lenten season reminds us that we have been made co-heirs with Chist. It also reminds us of our need to learn to leave our burdens to Him so we may free ourselves from what keeps us away from serving and loving God. We all have jobs to perform here on earth, and it is through our relationship with God -- The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit -- that we know what we're here for.

For this, let us pray. May we develop a habit of communicating with Him in whatever we do. May seek His help when our lights grow dim, and be a light to others as well. May we truly believe and claim that Jesus IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Have a wonderful day! Pray always.

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Daily Digest #264

He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. —1 John 2:2

Let me share to you a lenten prayer that was forwarded to me earlier (read below). May we be reminded of the real purpose of Holy Week.

O Lord, my God and Savior, Jesus Christ, I keep asking You to give me the grace of conversion. Day and night I hope for only one thing: that You show Your mercy to me and let me experience Your presence in my heart. Let me come to a genuine act of repentance, to an honest humble prayer, and to a free spontaneous generosity. I see so clearly the road to follow! I understand so well what is necessary for me to come to You. I can speak and teach eloquently about life in You. But my heart hesitates, my inner and deepest self still holds back, wanting to bargain, wanting to say "Yes, but....."

O Lord, do I keep forgetting that You love me, that You are waiting for me with open arms? As a Father with tears in His eyes, You see how Your son is destroying the very life You gave him. Yet as a Father You know, too, that You cannot force me to come back to You. Only when I freely come to You, when I freely shake off the false cares and troubles and freely confess my false ways and freely pray for mercy, only then can You freely give me Your love.

Hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my plea, hear my desire to return to You. Do not leave me alone in my struggle. Save me from eternal damnation and show me the beauty of Your face. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.
-- "Lenten Prayers" (unpublished) by Fr. Henri J. M. Nouwen

You all have a great week ahead! Pray always.

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Daily Digest #263

When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed. —Luke 14:13-14

God blesses us with a new day full of opportunities to see Jesus' face in other people. Many of us might say, "what? See Jesus' face in other people? All I meet are either opportunists, or just plain mean human beings!" I, myself, struggle in showing kindness to ALL people. My love and friendship can be very exclusive, and oftentimes, I confuse them with just being kind. I guess the whole point is, whether we like the person or not, we ought to show kindness and respond in a loving way. It only becomes hard to do when we are more focused on the person or the expectation of getting something in return, rather than simply doing what's good. It has been tested how one good or bad deed causes a chain reaction. So why not choose the good side and cause a multitude of kindness and love from other people? God gives us a glimpse of heaven on earth everytime we choose to see Jesus' face. We can only hope and pray that we can be seen by others in the same way.

For this, let us pray. May our lives be a living testimony of God's love and grace . May we choose kindness over righteousness. May we develop a caring heart and a positive outlook in life. May we learn to smile everyday, and thank God for another day of blessings and opportunities. Have a great day ahead! Pray always.

We Serve God by Serving Others

“Whoever wants to be great must become a servant” (Mark 10:43 MSG).

We serve God by serving others.

The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived. In our self-serving culture with its “me first” mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.

Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status. God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you.

This is so contrary to the world’s idea of greatness that we have a hard time understanding it, much less practicing it. The disciples argued about who deserved the most prominent position, and 2,000 years later, Christian leaders still jockey for position and prominence in churches, denominations, and parachurch ministries.

Thousands of books have been written on leadership, but few on servanthood. Everyone wants to lead; no one wants to be a servant. We would rather be generals than privates. Even Christians want to be “servant-leaders,” not just plain servants. But to be like Jesus is to be a servant. That’s what he called himself.

While knowing your shape is important for serving God, having the heart of a servant is even more important. Remember, God shaped you for service, not for self-centeredness. Without a servant’s heart, you will be tempted to misuse your shape for personal gain. You will also be tempted to use it as an excuse to exempt yourself from meeting some needs.

God often tests our hearts by asking us to serve in ways we’re not shaped. If you see a man fall into a ditch, God expects you to help him out, not say, “I don’t have the gift of mercy or service.”

While you may not be gifted for a particular task, you may be called to do it if no one who is gifted at it is around. Your primary ministry should be in the area of your shape, but your secondary service is wherever you’re needed at the moment.

Your shape reveals your ministry, but your servant’s heart will reveal your maturity. No special talent or gift is required to stay after a meeting to pick up trash or stack chairs. Anyone can be a servant. All it requires is character.

It is possible to serve in church for a lifetime without ever being a servant. You must have a servant’s heart.

How can you know if you have the heart of a servant?

Jesus said, “You can tell what they are by what they do” (Matthew 7:16 CEV).

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Daily Digest #262

Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. —2 Chronicles 20:15

There comes a point when we can't help but doubt God's capacity in our lives. It makes it difficult for us to see a glimmer of hope when our problems seem too large to even fathom. But God always sends help and comfort at these trying times. He makes it possible for a person to gain a different perspective of things, and believe that things happen as they do because of a greater cause. Earlier, I heard in the news how the president granted clemency to some prisoners who commited serial crimes in the past, and apparently, the grant is irreversible. If this can stir rage and uproar to the public, what more to those families whose lives have been directly affected by these crimes? It's sad how things turn out sometimes. And many resort to blaming God for everything, or even deny His existence. "How can He let this happen?", some may ask. I cannot answer this question myself, but I do trust that He can answer each of us personally when we ask Him. So lets ;-)

Allow me to share an article from the Purpose Driven Life (read below). Let us pray for those who suffer, those who are feeling hopeless, those who feel inaccessible to help. Let us trust that in God's will and time, goodness and truth will always prevail. Let us learn to lean on Him when times are rough, look unto Jesus and learn how He endured and overcame His sufferings. Pray always.

God's Purpose in Suffering

“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” (Psalms 23:4 NIV).

Did Jesus suffer? Was Jesus sometimes lonely? Was he tempted to be discouraged? Was he misunderstood, maligned and criticized unjustly? The answer to all these questions is “Yes.”

And none of us are exempted from suffering, or loneliness, or discouragement, or unjust criticism—because God is developing within us the character of Christ, and in order to do this, he must take us through all of the circumstances in life that he took Christ through.

This means God is more interested in your character than your comfort, and he's more concerned about your holiness than your happiness. So, the question is not if you'll go through dark times in life, but when you'll go through them.

Now, does this mean God causes tragedies? No. God is good, and he will not cause evil or do evil. But God can use dark and stressful times for good; he'll use them to build a Christ-like character within us.

So, what should you do when you go through difficult times?

Refuse to be discouraged. David said, “I will fear no evil” (Psalms 23:4 NIV). His use of the word will implies a choice, an act of decision. In the final 12 hours of Christ's life, we can clearly see he made a choice to follow God's will; He made a choice to face down fear; he made a choice to ignore despair.

Remember God is with you. David said, “For you are with me” (Psalms 23:4 NIV). God not only promises his power; he promises his presence. We will never go through a dark day alone. Jesus knew he wasn't alone as he walked out his Passion.

Rely on God’s protection and guidance. David said in Psalm 23:4 that God's rod and staff comforted him. The rod and staff were basic tools a shepherd used to protect and guide the sheep. God will be with you, and he'll protect and guide you. Jesus could have called down 10,000 angels; he could have called his disciples to arms; instead he relied on God to protect and guide Him.

We all go through difficult times. The difference for those who believe in Jesus is not the absence of the shadow but the presence of the Light.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Daily Digest #261

[Abraham] waited for the city . . . whose builder and maker is God. —Hebrews 11:10

Wow, how timely, I am coming home tomorrow wooohooo! Although the reading speaks of our eternal home in heaven, I can't help but feel excited about seeing my family and friends again. If we could enjoy such feeling here on earth, what more in God's haven, right? Anyway, please pray for my safety. My posts in the following weeks will be coming from my parents' house. Yey :D

Allow me to share an article from the Purpose Driven Life online (read below). May we be enlightened as we continue our journey from this material world to our eternal home. May we value our relationship with others, and with God. May we endure and persevere with enthusiasm, and grow wiser as time goes by. Pray always.

Heaven is Waiting for You

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6 NLT).

God says, “I’ve got this great life planned for you and surely goodness and mercy will follow you through it, but that’s not all of it! I’ve got something planned at the end!”

David explains how God connects yesterday and today with tomorrow, when he says, “…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” In effect, David ends his psalm by saying, “We’re going to heaven!” With God it just keeps getting better and better; the best is yet to come.

Paul says it like this, “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies—we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT).

How long is forever going to last? Forever! Someday your body is going to die, but you aren’t! Your body is going to end but that’s not going to be the end of you. You’re going to live forever in one of two places—heaven or hell. We were made to last forever, and we will spend eternity in heaven or hell.

Why are Christians confident about the future? “We are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6,8 NLT).

You’re going to die someday and, if you’ve accepted Christ, then you’re going to go to heaven. You’ll be released from pain, from sorrow, from suffering, from depression, and from fear.

God removes all our sorrows, “…and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4 NLT).

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Daily Digest #260

Arise, go over this Jordan . . . . I will not leave you nor forsake you. —Joshua 1:2,5

I came to Thailand in October, 2002, as a graduation gift from my eldest sister. I was fresh out of college, and I had several plans on how to start my career in the Philippines. But after 2 weeks, I got offered a job in Bangkok, which didn't have anything to do with my degree. I worked at the customer service department of a financial firm. Surprisingly, I didn't feel homesick at all. I did miss my family and friends on several occasions, but not to the point of packing my bags and going back home for good. My 1-month holiday turned into 1-year stay.

During that period, I was able to spend some time with my sister's family. I remember my 2-year old niece back then, who went to my room (actually, I was squatting in hers hehe) in the morning to greet me with a kiss, and listen to my CD's. I can still remember the smells (my niece had this set of special soap, shampoo and cologne that I loved).

After some time, I moved to my 1st and very own apartment. I was so excited that I splurged my month's salary on home aesthetics (yes, it included appliances hehehe). I've never felt so independent until then :D I still saw my sister's family as often as possible. One time, I took my niece back at my apartment to spend the weekend with me. We had a morning stroll in the park, and grocery shopping in the afternoon. She also learned to eat tuna, rice and Knorr seasoning from me hehe.

My other sister later joined us, a few weeks before our eldest sister's family left for Maldives. The 3 of us, sisters, enjoyed those moments together, even for just a while. I had already met my best friend then, and she got to come with us from time to time. I consider our girl bonding moments very special indeed.
A single decision (to come to Thailand) led me to a unique path. I didn't know what laid ahead, but looking back now, I realize how blessed I've been since the day I came here. I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for that single decision. The distance drew me closer to my family in many ways. I have also met wonderful people who helped shape my life. My encounter with different people taught me many things about myself, and about life. I realize how God has taken care of me all these years, surrounding me with all sorts of people and situations that brought lessons along to be learned.

Let us reminisce on good memories today. May we thank God for making us experience and learn many things. May we learn to treasure wonderful moments, so we can simply look back when times are weary. May we ask God to bless and guide our decisions everyday.... He may just be leading us to another adventure! Pray always.

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Daily Digest #259

We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. —1 Thessalonians 2:7

It's truly remarkable to have servants of God mingle with people, and make time for the needy. Although many have chosen to be celebrities rather than friends, these great examples help us realize that the time we give away for others is like sharing a portion of our lives. Time, like words, is something that we can never take back. And every moment we spend on listening or helping others can make a difference in someone else's life.

For this, let us pray. May God create good examples out of each of us. May we remember that we are here to serve, with love. May we practice sensitivity and compassion in our lives. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #258

[Jesus] began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” —Mark 14:33-34

I could relate to the writer's experience stated on Tuesday's Daily Bread reflection, although my loss didn't include physical death. The closest people in my life had to leave consecutively in a span of 1 year. I thought I was prepared and strong enough to handle it, but I couldn't deny the feeling of grief, and the thought of abandonment crept in. But little by little, God made me understand how they happened for a reason. He reminded me again that He was in control, and that I could only play my part in what was currently at hand. He made me realize that although I felt alone or forsaken, He was always with me.

I'm thankful to have read the reflection above. I have wondered about Jesus' famous line "why have you forsaken me?" for a while now, and this has made me understand the scene better. At first, I was sympathetic, to the point of asking God the same question, but with anger. But here, I realize how Jesus simply expressed His pain and grief, without anger. He knew perfectly well that the Heavenly Father's will was being done, although He couldn't deny His own feelings. I guess one of Jesus' many remarkable characters being exhibited here was that He was a master of His emotions.

Allow me to share to you a short article a friend just forwarded to me (read below... thanks Marlou). May we grow a heart like Jesus. May we learn to master our emotions, and trust that God is in control. May His will be done. Pray always.

The Journey Goes On....

A dear sister wrote,
"Im in the middle of nowhere...that's exactly where i need to be." Our life as a missionary can be totally out of this world. Ours is a life that knows no place to really call home because every place is home. Some situations can be scary because it just takes us so far away from everything we know, but in it we find ourselves in awe of God's power working in and through us. Its so amazing how one simple conversation with a stranger and a little courageous sharing of God's victories in your life can be a life-changing, Jesus-experience for a person, especially ourselves.

"Its funny how God always takes us to the middle of nowhere just so we can find exactly where we're going..." and knowing that God is faithful to walk with us all the way...our JOURNEY continues...

"For I know the plans I have for you..." ~Jeremiah 29:11

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Daily Digest #257

Resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. —Romans 14:13

I once decorated a notebook with definitions of the words idea, thought, opinion, preference, belief, and conviction to remind myself that they do not mean the same thing. The temptation to elevate an opinion to the level of a conviction can be strong, but doing so is wrong, as we learn from Romans 14.

In the first century, religious traditions based on the law were so important to religious leaders that they failed to recognize the One who personified the law, Jesus. They were so focused on minor matters that they neglected the important ones (Matt. 23:23).

Scripture says that we need to subjugate even our beliefs and convictions to the law of love (Rom. 13:8,10; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8), for love fulfills the law and leads to peace and mutual edification.

When opinions and preferences become more important to us than what God says is valuable to Him, we have made idols out of our own beliefs. Idolatry is a serious offense because it violates the first and most important command: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3).

Let’s resolve not to elevate our own opinions above God’s, lest they become a stumbling block and keep others from knowing the love of Jesus. — Julie Ackerman Link

A Prayer
Lord, help me not to elevate my opinions and
make others follow. You are the convicter of hearts.
May others learn of Your love through me.

The greatest force on earth is not the compulsion of law
but the compassion of love.


I had to post the reflection above from Our Daily Bread last Sunday. It's very much well-written, it would be such a shame to not share it to everybody.

We can be full of opinion sometimes :D I, myself, am guilty of voicing out many of my personal opinions, disregarding compassion and truth. Not so long ago, I had a biased opinion about gay people (mainly because I have many gay friends), then suddenly turned judgmental and self-righteous upon realizing their "effect" on the community. But recently, when I watched Harvey Milk, I was made to realize that though we may make different choices, our passions determine our happiness in what we do, or who we are.

Discrimination is an option many of us take -- may it be on gays, other races, rich or poor, etc -- but according to history, it has only brought separation and uprising and war. We judge others as if we have no flaws of our own. It just so happens that what others are, or do, fall short on "society's standards". Rejects or outcasts, as we may call them.

Each of us has been made an outcast in different ways. But the popularity of such "notion" only depends on the level of attention we're getting, or the degree of the issue we're in -- again, based on society's standards. And we try hard not to be an outcast. We want acceptance badly in our lives, sometimes to the point of disregarding love and truth, just to be "in". And while some choose to be indignant, some just choose not to care, believing what a messed up world this is and there's no hope left.

But here's the good news! There's always hope in the Lord. Each of us has been made a member of Jesus' family, where everyone is loved and accepted -- unconditionally. He listens when no one else does, and speaks of love and wisdom. He broadens one's minds until one sees the way He sees, and rejoice in the beauty and goodness of life.

For this, let us pray. Instead of trying to reach human standards, may we comply with God's. May we restrain ourselves from judging others so quickly, and look at our own flaws. May we learn to practice humility and compassion in our lives. May we focus on building a relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ. Pray always.

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