Sunday, May 31, 2009

If Only


The only abilities of those that we don’t have are rewind and fast forward. Those options really would change the game entirely. Can you imagine? So many things…

Who would we be if we could redo our pasts and jump ahead to our futures at will? Would those people we choose to meet and reach out to in our lives choose to keep memories and connections with us? If we erase and avoid past traumas, will we find ourselves and the places and people we otherwise get to?

And what if everyone had telepathy, as well as being empathic, and absolutely truthful? If everyone could hear each others’ thoughts, feel each others’ emotions, always spoke the truth. Who would we be if everyone could see/hear exactly what we think and feel all the time? The world would be Amazing? Terrible? Inconceivably different.

Can’t relive or change the past. Can’t fast forward to the future. Can’t hear or fully trust everyone’s thoughts, feelings, and words.

But marvel at what we have: the abilities to choose, communicate, learn, comprehend, apologize, feel, consider, pause, compose our words and actions — we can compose our words and actions! We can make the choices to be who we are and do what we do, rather than being subject purely to our impulses, bare feelings and exposed thoughts. We can remember, we can change our paths, our minds; we can reach out as we choose and close away too. And no one can take our past and no one can change our future because no one has those buttons; we’re all in this together.

Adapted from Ferrydust

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Daily Digest #297

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. —Ephesians 6:11

Here are the topics discussed in the article "Free In The Spirit", p.30:

Q1: If we keep falling, will God keep forgiving us?
Ans: Yes, because He doesn't see us as we see ourselves.

Q2: Can we stop doing what we don't want to do?
Ans: Yes, if we learn to rely on the Spirit.

Q3: Can we be sure God won't give up on us?
Ans: Yes, because He loves us as His children.

Q4: Is there a way out of this awful struggle?
Ans: Yes, if we find ultimate hope in the life to come.

Q5: Will God help us overcome the failures we experience every day?
Ans: Yes, He has promised to help and intervene in our daily lives.

Q6: Can anything separate us from the love of God?
Ans: No, nothing can change God's love for us.

The only way we can use God's armor is when we recognize His love and power over our lives. May we make time to assess ourselves, our principles, our priorities -- are they according to God's will or ours alone? Do we consult Him when making plans? Do we ask Him to guide us in our journey?

For this, let us pray. May we find courage, strength and comfort in God. May we trust that His love for us will never change or die. May we believe that He is with us in our battles. May we allow him to use our weaknesses as His strength to overcome our doubts and fears. Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #296

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me . . . to the end of the earth. —Acts 1:8

A common misconception of the word "evangelize" is that one has to be a priest, a licensed preacher, or a nun in order to do this. What we do not realize is that evangelization simply means "spreading the Word". We may mistake God's Word for religious practices that we ourselves do not even practice or understand, those that could take time and deep understanding to be truly followed. But if we focus on God alone -- who He is in our lives, what His love has done for us, and our sincere desire to please and glorify His name -- without forgetting our place as sinners who need His salvation, then I believe anyone of us can be an effective "evangelizer".

God's message come in many forms, through different instruments, including ourselves. Our life's testimonies are living proofs of God's love and power over our lives. They may mean little to some, but so much to someone else that he/she may be drawn closer to God.

Each of us has a responsibility to share. In what way? Let us assess our gifts, our talents our skills, our availability, and open ourselves for opportunities to serve and to show Christ to the world. With prayer and God's help and guidance, let us tell others how God has put meaning and direction to our lives.

Before you read the article "How Can I Share My Faith Without An Argument", allow me to share a POWER acrostic that I found from another reading which will help us remember the essential elements of our own spiritual progress:

Pray. The Christian who wants to grow, communicates with God through prayer. He expresses his gratitude to Him, confesses His sins, and comes to Him with his requests for himself and for others. God promises to be near to all who come to Him in prayer. (Ps. 145:18).

Obey. In John 14, Jesus said that our obedience to His commands is an indicator of our love for Him (vv. 15, 21, 23). We can't do it in our own strength, however. That's one of the reasons He gave us the Holy Spirit (vv. 16-17). As we yield to Him, the Spirit provides the power to walk in obedience (Gal. 5:16-25).

Worship. A Christian's devotion to God is to be continuous. Privately, he should worship God in his thoughts and prayers (Ps. 34:1). Publicly, he should unite with fellow believers in a local assembly to brign praise to God (Ps. 111.1; Heb. 10:24-25).

E
vangelize.
The good news of the gospel is to be shared. As we tell others what Christ has done for us, we will find ourselves growing by spiritual leaps and bounds (Mt. 28:24-25).

Read. The most direct source of a Christian's spiritual growth is the Bible. It must be read regularly because it is his milk and strong meat (1 Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:12-14). It tells us how to live (Ps. 119:105). It is God's word to us today.

For this, let us pray. Lord, thank You for the gift of salvation. Please give us the courage to testify of Your power in our lives so others may see and know You. May we bring light to others just as others had been a light to us. Amen.

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Daily Digest #295

Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. —Matthew 25:40

Allow me to share another excerpt from the article, "Why Is Life So Unfair" [based on Psalms 73 and 82], pp. 19-20:

Where Did Asaph Find Answers?

Life is filled with questions -- where do we turn for answers? One of the most enduring TV home-repair programs, This Old House, recently added a new segment called, "Ask This Old House." People are encouraged to write or e-mail their questions to the program's experts about plumbing, gardening, carpentry, or any other projects. The solutions are then demonstrated on the show. My wife and I are currently involved in the process of renovating out own "old house", so this is the kind of help that is of special interest to us right now.

But there are other questions by the media and its army of experts. Sometimes, we don't find the answers we need until we find ourselves in the presence of God Himself. This was Asaph's experienxe. He said he continued to struggle....Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood.. . (v.17).

The quality of the answers we receive depends on where we turn for those answers.

Our Need For Sanctuary

The agonizing cry of the hunchback of the hunchback of Notre Dame, "Sanctuary, sanctuary!" becomes the cry of all those who are suffering. Quasimodo saw the sanctuary as a place of refuge and protection. But Asaph discovered it to be the place where he would find the answers.

The word sanctuary appears throughout the Old Testament. Sometimes it's used to speak of the tabernacle, the tent of meeting that was the place of worship for Israel prior to the building of the temple in Jerusalem (Ex. 25:8; 36:1,6). Other times it appears to refer to the temple itself (1 Ki. 6).

Sometimes the word sanctuary doesn't refer to a physical location but to an idea -- the idea of abiding in the presence of God (Isa. 8:14). It is what David longed for in Psalm 23 when he anticipated "still waters" (v.2) where the Lord -- his Shepherd -- would restore his soul. It's what Christ Himself sought when, as a man, He frequently moved away from the crowds, the work, and the disciples and went to a mountain alone to spend time with His Father.
Sanctuary suggests the idea of a place set apart for spiritual protection, rest and renewal. Everyone of us needs such a place -- a spiritual hiding place where our hearts are restored and strengthened for the struggles today and the challenges tomorrow.

I guess the whole point is to learn to establish a deep communication and strong relationship with the Lord so we may see as He sees, hear as He hears and walk His way. Because only in this way can we allow love to fill our hearts, and reflect it in our thoughts, word and actions toward others. Our love will be unconditional that no matter how another person treats us, we never cease to care and pray for him/her because everything we do is rooted in God. We will learn to oversee the flaws, and practice patience, compassion and forgiveness more because we have realized how God has been patient, merciful and forgiving to us. We learn to leave justice in His hands, and simply do our utmost for the time given to us.

Indeed, the world we live in is so messed up that hope for change seems impossible. But the good Lord wants us to make the inner change first. He wants us to gain His perspective so we may see His blessings rather than our misfortunes, and focus on the purpose He has instilled in each of us.

May we make time to talk intimately with God every day no matter how busy we are. Let us pray: Lord, thank You for your unconditional love. We long to develop a deep personal relationship with You. Many times, we may be afraid to ask You; please help us overcome our doubts and fears. Please be patient with us at times when we refuse to hear or ignore Your answers. Teach us more about love so we may practice love in our lives. May the knowledge we have turn into wisdom. Amen.

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Daily Digest #294

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil! —Isaiah 5:20

Last night, I just had the same conversation: about confusing good and evil from right and wrong, and righteous from morally upright. Since we are all people of opinions, we make our own definitions and standards of right and wrong that we confuse right with good, and wrong with evil. As the short poem states above, evil does wear a mask sometimes. We think we are being led to God through a set of laws that we tend to forget that Jesus already put that same set of laws in one word: LOVE. That anything WITHOUT love is worth NOTHING. Doing everything with love sets us free because rules are useless that no matter what others say, the one who loves is courageous and faithful enough to follow his/heart, therefore, is working for the greater good.

The next issue is: what is our definition of LOVE? The Bible clearly states what real love is. Let me share excerpts from the article, "What Is Real Love", p.31:

Real love is a survivor. Because it finds its source and life in God, real love can endure anything.

Paul made it clear that other things (prophecy, tongues, knowledge) are temporary, incomplete, and unreliable. But not love. By the strength and grace of God, it can survive anything. Real love can survive betrayal and distrust. It can survive disappointment and moral failure. It can rise above the insults and envy of people who consider us their enemy. It can survive criminal trial and imprisonment.


Even when the nature of our relationships change due to unfortunate human choices,
the love of God can cause us to pray and, where possible, to act in behalf of another person.

It is the love that reflects the heart of Christ and reveals the wonderful change that only He can make in a life. It is real love.

For this, let us pray. Lord, we pray for discernment. Please guide our thoughts, our words and our actions. Please shower us with your wisdom to know the Truth. May we not be so quick to judge. May we trust that You are always here, watching over us. May we truly believe that we are loved by You unconditionally, and learn to practice love in our lives. Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #293

We have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us. —1 John 1:2

I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with the SFC family here in Bangkok. We had a Discovery Weekend where we spent 2 days pondering on purpose, passion, pain, pleasure and power. It was very enlightening. Not only did we gain more knowledge, but we also got to see God working through our brothers and sisters. We got glimpses of His wisdom and hope in the words of our speakers, and inspiration brought by Jesus from our sharers. We saw Jesus' face in others.

Indeed, the more we love Jesus, the more we'll talk about Him. The more we count our blessings than our misfortunes. The more we endure in our pain and see the brighter side of it. The more we help rather than waiting for others to help us. The more we listen rather than be heard. The more our weaknesses become His strength.

For this, join me in prayer: Thank You, Lord, for all the blessings -- our families, our friends, our jobs, our talents, our passions, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and opportunities to serve You. Thank You for letting us experience Your love in many ways so we may also practice love in our lives. Lord, help us love the unlove-ables, or what our tito termed as "extra grace required (EGR)" people. We ask for forgiveness for all our sins and shortcomings. Please give us courage and strength to face the day with a smile in our hearts. May we always look up to You, especially when our character is being tried, or our faith being persecuted. We ask these, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Have a great week ahead! :D Pray always. God bless!

Note: The term "unloved" or "extra grace required (EGR)" was used while we were discussing passion (meaning "endurance"). It led us to talking about struggles in loving others. That term is NOT meant to mock others but to address that certain personal issue, which is having that unloving feeling towards another person. Meaning, the term is never intended to highlight the 'unloved' person, but the one having that unloving feeling/s for another. And that's the reason for that prayer: "help us (each of us) love the unlove-ables, or what our tito termed as "extra grace required (EGR)" people". Some of you might have gathered the self-righteous interpretation of the term ;-) Certainly, it is unacceptable to use the term to mock others.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Purpose

Last week, I found myself in a mesh of doubt and fear as I was laying out my 1-year plans. I felt I was being drawn strongly towards studying. But I had yet to decide if I would really go back to school or not. I carefully weighed the pros and cons of my schooling, and found that the greatest consequence would be my lack of time for (1) Sunday school, (2) whole-day weekend activities in SFC, and (3) sudden trips back home. My household would be moved to another day and a later time. I was beginning to worry about the consequences of my plans and choices now. I even consulted a reading entitled “How to Know What God Wants Me to Do”. I grew tired of thinking that I suddenly gave up worrying and asked God, “What do you want me to do?” But the answer came a few days later….

For 6 years, I have been blessed with a job that involves a lot of time with the internet. It’s been over a year since I first spent my free time writing daily reflections, and sharing them to others. Like any other daily reflections, I am being guided by Scripture verses. Through writing, I’ve learned a lot about God and about myself. But why all these worries and doubts when everyday I’m being fed with God’s Words? So, in my search for answer and purpose, I browsed through all 288 entries I’ve written. Then I found out that I have pondered and written about purpose already these past few months! Let me share some excerpts:

On March 13, I shared entries from the Purpose Driven Life online entitled “When the Future Seems Uncertain”. It quoted Jeremiah 29:11, 13: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans… to give you a future and a hope… You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest.” The Bible suggests three timeless principles for facing an uncertain future: (1) Set goals according to God’s direction; (2) Live one day at a time; and (3) Don’t procrastinate.

On May 6, I wrote: When I was taking my 2-week holiday in Bicol last April, I had the privilege of hearing my parents' story on how they started with our family and how they managed to keep their marriage after 34 years. They had gone through a lot, and every decision they made went hand-in-hand with different consequences. All they could hold on to was their commitment to each other and our family. They went with the flow, learned from their mistakes, grew from the lessons, and kept the family intact. If it weren't for the ultimate decision to be with each other, our family wouldn't exist. And I wouldn't be here right now, sharing my reflections to you! :D How amazing has one simple decision taken us all! And all because it was written in God's master plan.

Somehow, I felt fortunate to be still single – not because of the freedom, but because of the TIME He’s still giving me to find wholeness in Him. I believe I am given more time to find myself and establish His place in my life. So when He calls me into taking a different course, I will be well-prepared, that no amount of negative influence or circumstance can even shake my very core.


"There's a time for everything" (Ecclesiastes 3) is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. When I look back, things always make more sense to me, when I had no idea then where I was being led. If I decided to stay home after graduation, I wouldn't have discovered my passion for kids and teaching. I wouldn't have met people in Thailand who shaped my life. I wouldn’t have been part of this community – this family in Thailand. I wouldn't have developed a habit of praying and reading the Bible. I wouldn’t have known God this way. I wouldn't have been many things.


On February 16, I wrote: My mom's YM status just 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?

I was reminded of what I'm supposed to be doing every single day: to appreciate the things that I have, or are happening in my life, 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.

Yes, they were all written a few weeks or months before! Indeed, God has a reason and time for everything. I never imagined that my previous thoughts and writings would make way for another purpose, which is to share them to you today. It’s seems like He has really prepared me for this occasion. And through this, I got my answer to what He wants me to do…. He said, “Stop pressuring yourself. Focus on the task at hand!

I have been blessed no matter how tiny my faith is. The thought of pleasing and glorifying God in whatever I do has become my source of wisdom, hope and enthusiasm in every waking day. The days that used to be empty suddenly became a haven of opportunities to bear fruit. My priorities have shifted. I have finally recognized what truly matters in my life – my relationship with God and my relationship with others. Finding purpose in God is truly a blessing.

We may be called to be a sharer today, a listener tomorrow, or an encourager or messenger the day after. He may even allow us to wander, taking us in the middle of nowhere just so we can find exactly where we’re going. Either way, God is faithful to walk with us as our journey continues. He just wants us to include Him in our plans and decisions so He may guide us accordingly. He wants to let us know that we matter to Him.

I know that my choices now have consequences in the days to come. Many of the steps I’ll take, I’ll make either out of careful analysis or mere faith. But He continuously reminds me that wherever I go, my purpose stands. There will be more people to meet, to know, to share Christ with, and to love.

So I looked at my 1-year plans again and asked God, “Do these plans please you?” It dawned on me that He was guiding my choices all along. It was overwhelming to see the blessings unfold one by one. My bosses at work supported my plan to study. There will be a semester break in October, meaning I could participate in the annual CFC/SFC retreat or seminar. And I can still join the CCD team for the same month. My household members have been supportive and understanding enough to agree on a weekly schedule that would not conflict with my schooling. And my parents will be coming to Bangkok instead of me coming home later this year. He simply took my worries away and blessed me with solutions! Though He allowed me to use my intellect to weigh my options, He fueled my heart with His wisdom. And so, armed with prayer and God’s love, I said yes to schooling. I’m starting on the 13th of June :D

I always end my reflections with a prayer. Let us bow our heads, close our eyes and pray: Lord, thank You for leading us where we are now, and for allowing us to become who we really are. May we consult You in every decision we make. May we take courage in pursuing our passions in life. May we trust in Your will and Your time always. We pray for those who are struggling to find their purpose in life. Shower us with Your wisdom as we learn to focus on the task at hand. May our days start with a smile and end with peace of mind. We May our lives be pleasing to You. And may we Love above all. Amen.

*Sharing at the Singles Discovery Weekend, dated 23 May 2009.

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Answering God's Call

SOME PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK that answering God’s call means turning their back on what they truly enjoy, but I believe God puts our passions within us to energize us and lead us toward what we are meant to do with our lives. … I have come to believe that the deep desires of our heart, the ones deep within us that stay year after year and do not go away, are put there by God. Our passions and desires are part of who God made us to be, and paying attention to them can help us discover and define our mission.

- Mary Lou Redding
The Power of a Focused Heart: 8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes

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Daily Digest #292

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. —Luke 6:37

I believe that our judgment is relative to our level of patience. We usually insist on being right, yet we sometimes forget to assess if our "right" is indeed based on the truth or just because our our own selfish reasons. Allow me to share some excerpts the reading "What Does the Bible Say About Patience?", pp. 23-30:

The Consequences of Impatience

[We are] left with the impression that patience is a great and a noble virtue that is needed only in the most extreme and difficult times of our lives. But the truth is that patience is a practical everyday virtue -- one we're required to practice mostly in small, almost unnoticed ways. Sadly, the meaning of simple patience is often dramatically demonstrated by our acts of impatience. Nearly all of us have grieved over acts of impatience that had dire consequences. Maybe if we ask ourselves what our impatience means, we'll have a better handle on patience. Looking at my own life, I can see my acts of impatience motivated by these selfish thoughts:
  • "My time is more important that your time."
  • "Don't you realize that your slowness is irritating me?!"
  • "Come on, I have things to do." In other words, "My activities are more important that yours."
  • "If I don't hurry, I'm going to miss something important to me."
  • "I don't have time to deal with your problem."
  • "This waiting is inconvenient for me."
  • "You're keeping me from doing something I want to do."
  • "I have to do this quickly because there's something else I want to do."
  • "God's work must be done now, and I'm the only one to do it."
At its heart, impatience is one of the chief traits of self-centeredness. And self-centeredness is a mark of immaturity. We are not surprised that children want what they want when they want it, but we expect grown-ups to have matured to the point where they're willing to wait and to give of their time to meet the needs of others. Unfortunately, we live in a society that all too often doesn't know how to wait. Our generations has become the "I Want It Now" generation. We've become so accustomed to immediate self-gratification that we have lost our appreciation for the gift of patience. Here's a list of common condequences of impatience that can no doubt be readily added to by others who have suffered under its impetuous control:
  • Untimely death
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Broken dreams
  • Troubles personal relationships
  • Stunted character growth
  • Compromised integrity
  • God's displeasure
  • Missing the best of Christlike love
  • Loss of the ultimate best in pursuit of an immediate pleasure

The Rewards of Patience

Because patience is such a valued attribute for the servant of God, it is found throughout the Scriptures. Sometimes we see it in failures and loss created by human impatience. But most commonly we find it marked by its rewards. Consider the following:

Patience leads to earthly benefits. "The Lord restored Job's lossess when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10).

Patience provides us a better end than the present. "The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better that the proud spirit" (Eccl. 7:8). "[God] will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality" (Rom. 2:6-7).

Patience allows us to bear fruit from seeds of faith. "The [seeds] that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience" (Lk. 8:15).

Patience wins the approval of God. "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry" (Ps. 40:1). "Wha credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendanle to God" (1 Pet. 2:20).

Patience perfects our character. "Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (Jas. 1:4).

Patience provides health for our souls. "By your patinece possess your souls" (Lk. 21:19).

Patience gives us hope. "Whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might hope" (Rom. 15:4)

Patience provides us with God's power. "Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of Godl strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy" (Col. 1:10).

Patience enables us to inherit God's promises. "We desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Heb. 6:11-12).

For this, let us pray. May God bless us with a patient heart. May we practice kindness, mercy and love in our lives. Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #291

Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. —Acts 3:6

Allow me to share a portion of the reading "Jesus' Parables About Money", pp. 9-11:

Jesus Presents the Alternatives
(re: The Parable of the Rich Fool)

Financial questions loom large. If I say goodbye to all my possessions, will the Lord really meet my needs? My head assures me that He will, but my heart is not quite so certain. The writer of Proverbs put it this way: "An anxious heart weighs a man down" (Prov. 12:25). Physically, this is so. As someone has observed, people get ulcers not so much from what they eat as from what eats them. Anxiety also steals emotional peace and removes spiritual assurance.

Telling us not to worry isn't helpful. People who tell us that usually seem either unrealistic, uninformed, or patronizing. The Lord forces us to think about why we are not to worry. First, He said that worry is foolish (Lk. 12:22-24). It is falling into a folly of the rich fool who believed that his life consisted of his possessions. But life is more that food and clothes, and God has promised us that He will care for us, much more so than He does for His creatures, the birds. To worry is foolishly to forget that we are God's valued children and He is our loving Father.

Second, worry is futile (12:25-28). Worry can shorten life, but it can't lengthen it -- and God who gives beauty to the fields will not strip us bare. Anxiety denies the care of God -- and all to no effect. So the alternative is not to be "care-less" but "trust-full". A little bit of reflection helps us to recognize that most worry is about things that can't be changed (the past), things that can't be controlled (the present), or things that might NOT happen (the future). How much better to entrust ourselves to our God!

Third, worry is faithless (12:29-31). To be absorbed with physical and personal needs is ultimately to be captured by unbelief. If the gospel is really true, our lives should be different qualitatively from the lives of pagans.

In this book Run Today's Race, Oswald Chambers observes that "all of our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God." Worry is the product of an inadequate understanding of our Father. He is the One who knows, cares, and acts. The way we look at God determines the way we will look at life, and this will determine what we worry about.

Our great need is to worry about the right thing. What is that? "Seek His kingdom." We do not refrain from worrying. We replace concern about secondary things with concern about the primary thing. Only His Kingdom us worthy of our ultimate concern.

The Siamese twin of anxiety is fear, and the Lord addressed fear in verses 32-34. He told us to take drastic action with our financial resources and possessions. We are not to grasp them or trust them. We are rather to dispose of them by investing them eternally. In fact, the only way we can truly protect our treasure is to invest them in heaven. Our hearts follow our treasure, and if our treasure is in heaven, so will our hearts be. As David Gooding writes, "Heaven is scarcely a reality to a man who is not prepared to invest hard cash in it and in its interests; but by the same token it becomes more of a reality to the man who is" (According to Luke, p.241).

The crucial issue in life is not the amount of our treasure but the location of it. The rich man's treasures were on earth. He was a fool because he built his life around what couldn't last and what really didn't matter. Our call as a disciple is to be rich toward God and to have a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted. D.L. Moody once said, "It does not take long to tell where a man's treasure is. In a 15-minute conversation with most men, you can tell wether their treasures are on earth or in heaven."

No one wants to be called a fool by God. How do we make sure that doesn't happen? We can choose limits, not luxury, so our treasure can be invested in heaven. We can cultivate compassion, not greed. Most of all, we can pursue confidenc in God, not money.

The slogan "In God We Trust" is printed on the American currency. Fine words -- but do we trust God on our money or with our money? Writing of his slim financial resources in a time of escalating needs, a friend said, "If we find ourselves sinking, we will not cry 'uncle.' Instead, we will cry our 'Father' to the One who knows all our needs and possesses all resources." Such a person has learned the wisdom of God. End.

I wish I could continue typing, but I decided to share just the part that made the most impact in me. I hope that you read on. The reading presents 3 parables about money, and I have gained deeper understanding since I last read the Scripture passages myself. May we make time to reflect on our lives, assess our priorities and be blessed with wisdom to know what truly matters. Have a worry-free and fruitful day. Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #290

The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. —Psalm 119:130

For me, spiritually blindness happens when one doubts and does not hear or choose to listen to the answers to his/her questions, or one is experiencing so much pain to the point of unbelief. Then one would tend to listen to his/her own "wise" counsel. Reality would become one cruel joke, without a trace of hope, leaving one choice: to take full charge. But for every unfortunate twist or ending, the blame is thrown back to God.

Allow me to share a bit of the reading "Why Christians Doubt", p. 32:


The Cycle of Faith and Doubt

All areas of life have their cycles. A vocation, a marriage, and a relationship to Jesus generally begin with a honeymoon period, then enter a time during which the realities of life gradually replace the early building stage. This often leads into a time marked by varying degrees of disillusionment and discontent. It is at this point that crucial decisions must be made. At work, one can quit, continue as a disgruntled worker, or see the problems through. In marriage, one can escape by divorce, continue in a lackluster relationship, or set about to mend the marriage. In the Christian life, one can drop out, continue as an unhappy and defeated believer, or determine to work through the difficulties. Going the full cycle often brings on a new level of satisfaction in the workplace, lifts honeymoon love to the level of mature mutually-enriching love, and transforms the euphoric faith with which we began into confident trust. Even then, struggles will continue. As long as we are imperfect people living in this fallen world, we will confront doubts. But Jesus promised, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (Jn. 8:12). Because of our human frailty, we will sometimes step off His path into darkness. But if we follow the hymn writer's admonition to trust and obey, we will soon be back on His path. The light of Christ, not the darkness, will be our home. End.

For this, let us pray. May we learn to trust in the Lord. May we build a deep and open relationship with Him so we may pour out all our emotions, doubts and fears to Him freely, and listen to His answers. May we see and follow the light of Christ. Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #289

War broke out in heaven . . . . [And Satan] was cast to the earth. —Revelation 12:7-9

Allow me to share excerpts from the reading "What In The World Is Satan Doing?", pp. 29-32:

The Only Answer To Satan's Lie

Just as Satan successfully tempted Adam and Eve to sin, he still tempts each of us today. His lies don't change. Satan still tells us, "You can't trust God. He isn't concerned about your happiness. There is no danger in disobeying His laws. He knows that you can be equal to Him. You know what is best for you."

Satan's lie that God cannot be fully trusted can be countered only by the gospel with its doctrine of incarnation. Man cannot answer the devil's lie with an appeal to nature or human experience. These can present mixed messages, sometimes giving the impression that God is good and other times implying just the opposite. The natural world is merciless, offering horrible spectacles of terror and suffering. Catastrophes such as storms, floods, and earthquakes claim thousands of innocent lives, and scores of terrible diseases spread death and despair. The natural man is easily convinced that any evidences of God's love, goodness and mercy are only a cruel joke in light of the real world -- the world ruled by the law of fang and claw.

Each of us has had his own experience of ruthless realities of a fallen world. Disease and accidents have unexpectedly crippled and killed family members or friends. Many of us have been hardened and disillusioned by betrayal at the hands of people we trusted. To harden the pain of further disappointed and betrayal, we have become like actors in an old-fashioned melodrama.

We conceal our true faces behind masks, driven by fear to play a role rather than to allow others to see us as we really are.

God understood the effects of our fears on our darkened minds. He knew that we were not capable of resisting Satan's lies -- that our personal experiences of life in a fallen worlds would cause us to have insurmountable doubts about His goodness and love. Only a supreme act of grace could overcome the deep impression made by natural evil and satanic lies. This is one of the reasons God became a man.

By entering our dimension of time and space, God allowed us to see a reality far above that our fallen world. In the person of Jesus Christ, the holy light of God's love shone brightly in the midst of our world's darkness, dispelling Satan's power to deceive us (Jn 1:9-10; Heb. 2-14-15).

God knows the earthly sorrows of His creatures. He embraced us in our sin and weakness -- personally sharing our experience of fear, alienation and death. The apostle Paul wrote:

God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).

When we believe what God says in His Word about Christ, we will be delivered from doubt about His goodness. We will also be freed from the fear that He in His holiness will condemn us. Instead of trying to flee from Him into philosophies that deny His existence, we can approach Him. We can be realistic about our sinfulness and yet be confident in His forgiving grace.


How Can We Defeat Satan?

On the basis of the salvation God has provided for us, the Scriptures lay out practical guidelines by which we can defeat Satan.

  • Have Confidence In God. The first decision we must make to be freed from Satan's power is to choose to trust God. We must acknowledge our helplessness, sinfulness, and lost condition. Then we must accept the free gift of salvation He has offered us in Christ and stand before God clothed in His Son's righteousness (Phil. 3:1-9; Ti. 3:5).
  • Submit To God and Resist Satan. Although Christ has given us authority over Satan (1 Jn. 4:4), we can exercise it only as we submit ourselves to God and resist the enemy (Eph. 6:11; Jan. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9).
  • Be Aware Of Satan's Strategies. Satan can take advantage of us if we are "ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:11). For example, by harboring anger, we "give place to the devil" (Eph. 4:27); by depriving our marriage partner of sexual intimacy, we give Satan an opportunity to tempt us (1 Cor. 7:5); by placing an unqualified man in a position of leadership in church, we take the chance of making him vulnerable to pride and to "fall into the same condemnation as the devil" and "the snare of the devil" (1 Tim. 3:6-7).
  • Put On The Armor Of God. Using the metaphor of a well-equipped Roman soldier, Paul told how we can be prepared for spiritual welfare (Eph. 6:11-18).
    • The belt of truth. Since Satan depends on deceit to maintain his power, our first line of defense is to be truthful. We must never distort or misinterpret the truth, regardless of any advantage we might gain in doing so.
    • The breastplate of righteousness. Any sin in our life leaves us open to Satan's attack. Even though we are given the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21), we must still continually put on the protection of holy living.
    • The shoes of the gospel of peace. With our feet firmly planted on the truth that we are at peace with God and that He is on our side, we can stand firmly against Satan's attacks.
    • The shield of faith. In order to quench the "fiery darts" of Satan's temptations, we must trust and believe what God has said about every area of our life.
    • The helmet of salvation. This is the confidence that there is coming in the future a great victory celebration. It's also referred to as the "hope and salvation" (1 Th. 5:8). This helmet protects us against Satan's two-edged sword of discouragement and doubt.
    • The sword of the Spirit. Since the Word of God is the basis of our faith, we need to learn how to wield it with authority. Scripture is our best offensive weapon against the devil (Mt. 4:1-11).

After he described the armor, Paul said that we are to be in constant prayer. Prayer expresses our dependence on God. We can fight against Satan only "in the [strength of the] Lord and in the power of His might" (Eph. 6:10). In the power of Christ with the armor of the Spirit we will be victors. End.

I wouldn't type all these if I didn't think it's worth reading. I pray that we make time to assess ourselves, our values, our priorities, our choices. May we admit our weaknesses and lift them all to God, together with our fears. May we trust that He is with us, battling evil, keeping us strong in faith, hope and love. Pray always.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Daily Digest #288

We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages. —1 Corinthians 2:7

We usually want diversion when we struggle. We tend to ignore problems to avoid ruining our day. We fear reality sometimes that we want to escape, to have even just a day of happiness. Then we'll realize that the problem is still there. The pain hasn't gone away. We're back with the same old crap.

The Bible teaches us how to face our fears and weaknesses, how to endure and persevere. This may sound masochistic to some, but it only does when we focus too much on the problem rather than the solution. We often refuse to take time to assess ourselves, our character, our principles, our priorities, that we lose our way. We ignore that soft whisper in our hearts, "why am i here?" It is the lack of purpose that makes us go astray. We are all in search of happiness, but we often mistake this for something temporary. Then we wonder, how can someone be happy all the time? :D

I used to have a co-worker who always smiled. For some reason, it irritated me. In my head I said, "how can she be happy everyday? That's just not possible." But the joke was on me. I realized that I was unhappy, and I couldn't accept the fact that others were really happy. It seemed unfair. But I figured the only problem was the way I saw things. I rarely counted my blessings. I complained a lot. I didn't value my relationships very much. Until it dawned on me that I needed to change from within. I needed a different perspective. With God's love and guidance, I began to notice how I was looking at the same things, but seeing them differently :D And that has brought me inner happiness everyday.

For this, let us pray. May we seek His wisdom and apply it in our lives. May we humble ourselves and admit our flaws. May we ask for courage to change. May we see as God sees. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #287

[Jesus] said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” —Matthew 4:19

Allow me to share 2 old articles from the Purpose Driven Life online.... They they enlighten us, especially those who thirst for wisdom. With God's love and guidance, may we find our purpose in life. Pray always.


Created to Become Like Christ
"God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son … We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him" (Romans 8:29 MSG).

From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like his Son, Jesus. God announced this intention at Creation: “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26 NCV).

In all of creation, only human beings are made “in God’s image.” This is a great privilege and gives us dignity. We don’t know all that this phrase covers, but we do know some of the aspects it includes. Like God, we are spiritual beings—our spirits are immortal and will outlast our earthly bodies. Like God, we are intellectual— we can think, reason, and solve problems. Like God, we are relational—we can give and receive real love. And like God, we have a moral consciousness— we can discern right from wrong, which makes us accountable to God.

The Bible says that all people, not just believers, possess part of the image of God; that is why murder and abortion are wrong (Genesis 6:9, Psalm 139:13-16, James 3:9).

But the image of God within us is incomplete and has been damaged and distorted by sin. So God sent Jesus on a mission to restore the full image that we have lost.

What does the full “image and likeness” of God look like? It looks like Jesus Christ! The Bible says Jesus is “the exact likeness of God,” “the visible image of the invisible God,” and “the exact representation of his being” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT, Colossians 1:15 NLT, Hebrews 1:3 NIV).

People often use the phrase “like father, like son” to refer to family resemblance. When people see my likeness in my kids, it pleases me. God wants his children to bear his image and likeness, too. The Bible says, “You were … created to be like God, truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:24 GW).


Becoming Like Jesus Is A Slow Process

“This will continue until we are . . . mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him” (Ephesians 4:13 CEV).

Becoming like Christ is a long, slow process of growth. Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic; it is a gradual, progressive development that will take the rest of your life.

You are a work in progress. Your spiritual transformation in developing the character of Jesus will take the rest of your life, and even then it won’t be completed here on earth. It will only be finished when you get to heaven or when Jesus returns.

At that point, whatever unfinished work on your character is left will be wrapped up. The Bible says that when we are finally able to see Jesus perfectly, we will become perfectly like him: “We can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is” (1 John 3:2 NLT).

Much confusion in the Christian life comes from ignoring the simple truth that God is far more interested in building your character than he is anything else. We worry when God seems silent on specific issues such as “What career should I choose?”

The truth is, there are many different careers that could be in God’s will for your life. What God cares about most is that whatever you do, you do in a Christlike manner (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Corinthians 16:14; Colossians 3:17,23).

God is far more interested in who you are than in what you do. We are human beings, not human doings. God is much more concerned about your character than your career, because you will take your character, not your career, into eternity.

The Bible warns, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. . . . Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Romans 12:2 MSG).

You must make a counterculture decision to focus on becoming more like Jesus. Otherwise, other forces like peers, parents, co-workers, and culture will try to mold you into their image.

Sadly, a quick review of many popular Christian books reveals that many believers have abandoned living for God’s great purposes and settled for personal fulfillment and emotional stability. That is narcissism, not discipleship.

Jesus did not die on the cross just so we could live comfortable, well-adjusted lives. His purpose is far deeper: he wants to make us like himself before he takes us to heaven. This is our greatest privilege, our immediate responsibility, and our ultimate destiny.

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Daily Digest #286

I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner. —2 Corinthians 7:9

I love how this line was put: Repentance means hating sin enough to turn from it. I, myself, am used to saying sorry but not really being one. I know this because I keep doing some of the things I was sorry for before. I realize how sin can develop into addiction. Sometimes, even when we know one thing is wrong, we allow ourselves to be stubborn, creating many excuses or allowances to legitimize our sinful words or actions. Until such time that we get ourselves hooked and we can't turn away from it anymore.

I think the difference between sincere repentance and mere apology is the recognition of sin. Most of us could not, or would not, distinguish sin from modern norms. But God's truth never changes. What offends God? If we love Him enough, we would thirst for His wisdom, seek His guidance, and transform from within. Change rarely happens overnight, but with God's help and love, each of us can. If we are willing.

For this, let us pray. May we develop a heart of repentance. May we recognize good and evil, and choose to demonstrate our love for God in our thoughts, words and actions. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #285

I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. —Philippians 1:23

I remember the House M.D. episode I was watching the other week. It was about a rape victim who was willing to live on, greatly because of her beliefs and principles. Dr. House, an antisocial maverick doctor who specializes in diagnostic medicine, was trying to convince her of the nonexistence of the afterlife and that what we have now in this material world is all there is to this life.

At one point, House argued, "They're out there, doctors, lawyers postal workers some of them doing great, some of them doing lousy. Are you going to base your whole life on who you got stuck in a room with?"

The woman replied, "I'm going to base this moment on who I'm stuck in a room with. It's what life is. It's a series of rooms and who we get stuck in those rooms with adds up to what our lives are."

I personally applaud the rape victim's character for pointing out how our actions and choices in this world can have eternal consequences. That if this life was all there is, without purpose, it's not worth living. Despite her unfortunate circumstances, she chose not only to carry on with her life, but to be an instrument to an unbeliever, that he suddenly opens up and talks to her without his mask of sarcasm and bitterness (which was his usual attitude towards everything). And I found that very powerful.

Our belief in Jesus Christ and His resurrection makes us look forward to something much more than what we have now. We are reminded yet again that everything in this life is temporary and that every moment counts. Our hardships will pass, our successes will cease.... but it is in how we react to the circumstances that we learn, share the wisdom and carry the lesson forever. Our positive attitude towards life not only enriches our own, but also causes a chain reaction, touching the lives of those who lack hope and courage and faith.

For this, let us pray. May we serve as light to others. May we trust that our flame will be also be rekindled, should it grow dim. May we see as God sees. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #284

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. —John 13:35

I am always reminded to pray whenever I feel uncomfortable or anxious about my plans or decisions. Lately, I felt I was being drawn towards studying. I just decided to go back to school for a year to gain units in education. I will be studying Saturdays and Sundays only for a year. I carefully studied both advantages and disadvantages of my schooling, and found that the greatest consequence would be my lack of time for Sunday school and whole-day weekend activities in our Christian community. But as a friend told me, there would be many opportunities to meet other people, make new friends and introduce Jesus into their lives by the way I live or how I treat them.

Our choices now have consequences in the days to come. Many of the steps we make, we make either out of careful analysis or mere faith. But wherever our paths lead us to, I believe there is a purpose in every chance we take and every person we meet along the way. Let us include God in every plan and every decision so we may be guided accordingly.

For this, let us pray. May we ask for His guidance and wisdom in everything that we do. Armed with prayer, may we take courage in pursuing our passions in life. Pray always.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Love Is....

.... A CHOICE

“…That you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 30:20 NIV).

Love is a choice and a commitment. You choose to love or you choose not to love.

Today we’ve bought into this myth that love is uncontrollable, that it’s something that just happens to us; it’s not something we control. In fact, even the language we use implies the uncontrollability of love. We say, “I fell in love,” as if love is some kind of a ditch. It’s like I’m walking along one day and bam!—I fell in love. I couldn’t help myself.

But I have to tell you the truth: that’s not love. Love doesn’t just happen to you. Love is a choice and it represents a commitment.

There’s no doubt about it, attraction is uncontrollable and arousal is uncontrollable. But attraction and arousal are not love. They can lead to love, but they are not love. Love is a choice.

You must choose to love God; He won’t force you to love him (Deuteronomy 30:20). You can thumb your nose at God and go a totally different way. You can destroy your life if you choose to do that. God still won’t force you to love Him. Because He knows love can’t be forced.

And this same principle is true about your relationships: you can choose to love others, but God won’t force you to love anyone.


.... AN ACTION

“Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions” (1 John 3:18 NLT).

Love is something you do. Do you really love someone? Let’s see how you act toward that person. You show love by what you do, not just by what you feel.

Love is more than attraction and more than arousal. It’s also more than sentimentality, like so many of today’s songs suggest. By this standard, is love dead when the emotion is gone? No, not at all, because love is an action; love is a behavior.

Over and over again in the Bible, God commands us to love each other. And you can’t command an emotion. If I told you to “Be sad!” right now, you couldn’t be sad on cue. Just like an actor, you can fake it, but you’re not wired for your emotions to change on command. Have you ever told a little kid, “Be happy!” I’m trying, daddy!

If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do; it can produce emotion, but love is an action.

The Bible says, “Let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions” (1 John 3:18 NLT). We can talk a good act: “I love people.” But do we really love them? Our love is revealed in how we act toward them.


... A SKILL
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7 NLT).

Love is a skill that can be learned. In other words, it’s something you can get good at and that means you get better at love by practicing love.

You may think you’re a good lover, but God wants you to become a great lover, a skilled lover, a master lover. You can become an expert at relationships.

Wouldn’t you like to become known as a person of extraordinary love? When people speak of you they might say: “He doesn’t care who you are or what you look like.” “She doesn’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done or where you’re from.”

The only way you get skilled at something is to practice. You do it over and over. The first time you do it, it feels awkward, but the more you do it, the better you become.

The same is true with love (1 John 4:7). Let’s practice loving each other. As the Bible says, “Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15 HCSB).


.... A HABIT

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them” (Luke 6:32 NIV).

If you only love on and off like a light switch, you do not love others like God wants you to love. Jesus said, “If you only love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” (Luke 6:32 NIV).

His point is this: anybody can love those who love them in return. Becoming a master lover means you learn to love the unlovable. It’s when you love people who don’t love you, when you love people who irritate you, when you love people who stab you in the back or gossip about you.

This may seem like an impossible task and it is. That’s why we need God’s love in us, so we can then love others: “We know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16 NIV).

When you realize how much God loves you—with an extravagant, irresistible, unconditional love—then his love will change your entire focus on life. If we don’t receive God’s love for us, we’ll have a hard time loving other people. I’m talking about loving the unlovely, loving the difficult, loving the irritable, loving people who are different or demanding.

You can’t do that until you have God’s love coming through you. You need to know God’s love so it can overflow out of your life into others.

Love must become your lifestyle, the habit of your life. But it starts with a decision. Are you ready?

Your life is worth far more than you think, and by learning to love others with the love God gives you, you will have an influence far greater than you could ever imagine. If you will commit to this, you will experience love as God means it to be, filled with hope, energy, and joy.

My prayer for you is “that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love…” (Philippians 1:9 NCV).

Indeed, LOVE is

. . . . a choice

. . . . an action

. . . . a skill

. . . . and a habit.

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Daily Digest #283

Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. —2 Kings 5:15

We're all familiar with the term "blessing in disguise". There was once a story about a pianist who had her contract terminated at a 5-star hotel only to find herself in a much better job as a flight attendant at a world-class airline company. Before she realized her blessings, she was worried about her the fate of her career. She focused on the things that she was about to lose and it deeply saddened her. She found it so difficult to let go of all the things she was used of having. Eventually, she learned to let go of her comfort zone, and went on to an unfamiliar place, only armored with faith and hope to get a more stable job. What she didn't realize was that her journey would not only have her dream job granted, but would soon bring her face to face with the man she's supposed to marry :D And it all came clear to her, when she finally got engaged.

Wonderful story huh? It's real :D Well, for those of you who know me well, you know who I'm speaking of hehehe. And it's been a blessing for me also to have witnessed these surprises unravel, and mysteries unfold. It has inspired me to have faith and trust in the Lord, and believe that He is truly leading us to where we're supposed to be. It makes me trust His will and time more. I can only pray that my impatience does not lead me to making bad choices, only because I was unwilling to endure or wait some more.

For this, join me in prayer. May God bless us with hope, patience and wisdom. May we gain a positive outlook in every bad thing that is happening to and around us. May we learn to trust His ways and time, and do our utmost for the time that has been given to us. May we learn to put Love above all else. Pray always.

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Daily Digest #282

The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God. —Revelation 8:4

Many of us do not realize the power of prayer. When I was in college, I only prayed before a major exam. At home, I only "prayed" before meals, simply uttering the standard "Bless us, oh Lord, and these Thy gifts..." I only prayed when I needed something for myself.

But when I knew more about God and what He has done for us, I realized it's such a shame to be complaining when others are suffering more, or asking for more when we have enough, or more than enough, or to remember God only at rough times but fail to thank Him when things are running smoothly. I believe prayer develops humility. A sincere prayer, though involves one's own concerns, trusts that God knows his/her needs and that He will provide. A sincere prayer is conscious about others' struggles and their need for prayer. A sincere prayer speaks of God and for God, and trusts that He will answer. Our prayer's sincerity is usually confirmed by being answered, but it is the humble heart that discovers when and how His answers come.

For this, let us pray. May we remember Him at all times. May we pray for one another, drawing each other closer to God. May we believe and witness how prayers can truly move mountains. Pray always.


Power of Prayer

Power Of Prayer - How powerful is it?

The power of prayer should not be underestimated. James 5:16-18 declares, "…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." God most definitely listens to prayers, answers prayers, and moves in response to prayers.

Jesus taught, "…I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20). 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us, "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." The Bible urges us, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18).

Power Of Prayer - How do I tap into it?

The power of prayer is not the result of the person praying. Rather, the power resides in the God who is being prayed to. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." No matter the person praying, the passion behind the prayer, or the purpose of the prayer - God answers prayers that are in agreement with His will. His answers are not always yes, but are always in our best interest. When our desires line up with His will, we will come to understand that in time. When we pray passionately and purposefully, according to God's will, God responds powerfully!

We cannot access powerful prayer by using "magic formulas." Our prayers being answered is not based on the eloquence of our prayers. We don't have to use certain words or phrases to get God to answer our prayers. In fact, Jesus rebukes those who pray using repetitions, "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:7-8). Prayer is communicating with God. All you have to do is ask God for His help. Psalm 107:28-30 reminds us, "Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven." There is power in prayer!

Power Of Prayer - For what kind of things should I pray?

God's help through the power of prayer is available for all kinds of requests and issues. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." If you need an example of a prayer, read Matthew 6:9-13. These verses are known as the Lord's prayer. The Lord's prayer is not a prayer we are supposed to memorize and simply recite to God. It is only an example of how to pray and the things that should go into a prayer - worship, trust in God, requests, confession, protection, etc. Pray for these kinds of things, but speak to God using your own words.

The Word of God is full of accounts describing the power of prayer in various situations. The power of prayer has overcome enemies (Psalm 6:9-10), conquered death (2 Kings 4:3-36), brought healing (James 5:14-15), and defeated demons (Mark 9:29). God, through prayer, opens eyes, changes hearts, heals wounds, and grants wisdom (James 1:5). The power of prayer should never be underestimated because it draws on the glory and might of the infinitely powerful God of the universe! Daniel 4:35 proclaims, "All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?'"

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Daily Digest #281

When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son. —Galatians 4:4

"There's a time for everything" (Ecclesiastes 3) is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. When I look back, things always make more sense to me, when back then I had no idea where I was being led. If I decided to stay home after graduation, I wouldn't have discovered my passion for kids and teaching. I wouldn't have extended my network of friends to Thailand. I wouldn't have developed an interest in different cultures. I wouldn't have witnessed unimaginable opportunities open right in front of me. I wouldn't have developed a habit of praying and reading the Bible. I wouldn't have been many things. And the journey goes on, and the destination of every turn is still unknown. It scares and excites me all at the same time.

When I was taking my 2-week holiday in Bicol, I had the privilege of hearing my parents' story on how they started with our family and how they managed to keep their marriage after 34 years. They had gone through a lot, and every decision they made went hand-in-hand with different consequences. All they could hold on to was their commitment to each other and our family. They went with the flow, learned from their mistakes, grew from the lessons, and kept the family intact. If it weren't for the ultimate decision to be with each other, our family wouldn't exist. And I wouldn't be here right now, sharing my reflections to you! :D How amazing has one simple decision taken us! And all because it was written in God's master plan.

For this, let us pray. May we learn to trust God's plans for us. May we consult Him in every decision we make and pray that He guides our every step. May we believe that there truly is a time for everything, and that everything always works out for the best in the end. May we also thank Him for leading us where we are now, and for allowing us to become who we really are. Pray always.

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