Friday, June 26, 2009

Love VS Infatuation

Infatuation is instant desire, one set of glands calling to another.

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It takes root and grows, one day at a time.

Infatuation is marked by a feeling of insecurity. You are excited and eager, but not genuinely happy. There are nagging doubts, unanswered questions, little bits pieces about your beloved that you would just as soon examine too closely. It might spoil the dream.

Love is the quiet understanding and mature acceptance of imperfection. It is real. It gives you strength and grows beyond you, to bolster your beloved. You are warmed by his presence,even when he is away. Miles do not separate you. You want him near. But near or far, you know he is yours and you can wait.

Infatuation says, "We must get married right away. I can't risk losing him."

Love says, "Be patient. He is yours. Plan your future with confidence."

Infatuation has an element of sexual excitement. Whenever you are in one another's company you are hoping it will end in intimacy.

Love is the maturation of friendship. You must be friends before you can be lovers.

Infatuation lacks confidence. When he's away, you wonder if he's cheating. Sometimes you check.

Love means trust. You are calm, secure, and unthreatened. He feels your trust and it makes him even more trustworthy.

Infatuation might lead you to do things you'll regret later, but love never will.

Love lifts you up. It makes you look up. It makes you think up. It makes you a better person than you were before.


Daily Digest #310

How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? —Genesis 39:9

I had the same discussion about temptation ages ago. While I thought I had to run away from temptation, the others thought they should simply fight it. But we do not have the same strengths and weaknesses. No matter how confident we are with our strengths or how discouraged we are with our weaknesses, when we do not ask for God's wisdom and guidance, we will fall into temptation. I think we are being reminded here that whatever we do, we can only emerge victoriously when we draw strength from God.

For this, let us pray. Lord, thank You for Your wisdom and guidance. We ask for courage and strength today. May we face temptations just as Your Son had. May our weaknesses become Your strength. These we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Daily Digest #309

When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, . . . they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. —Acts 4:13

To be a true ambassador of Christ is a real challenge to most Christians. Lucky are we to witness people with passion in what they do. For me, a person with passion is someone who delights in what he/she does, uncomplaining and very much motivated no matter what the circumstances are.

At work, it's sometimes very hard to do this. There may be bosses who always seem to piss you off, colleagues who gossip or are so full of themselves, or subordinates who idle around instead of work. But Jesus teaches us to work, not for man, but for Him. This is what I always forget. I personally either get so much into what I do that I tend to push others around, frown at every bit of injustice or discomfort, or make kids cry (heheh).

The reading today has taught me a very valuable lesson. Just this morning, I was greeted by work that was supposedly done and over with late yesterday. I realized that when I'm pissed, it's so obvious that people around tend to shut up or taunt more. But I also realized that it may have to do with what I really feel inside. Why do I even snap? I do love my job, but I don't seem to love the people at work enough. I realized that my problem is focus. I lose it at the slightest nuisance. And God is teaching me today to practice patience more, and pray more. There are things that I just can't control, but I can always control my own words and actions.

And so, I try to gather a smile on my face as I type this reflection. I look again at the blessings that come along this new day -- more opportunities to love and to serve, to care, and to be a reflection of God's love. For this, join me in prayer. Lord, thank You for this day and for all the things that lie ahead. Thank You for the lessons that You teach us for they help us grow more into Your likeness. Thank You for the people we encounter daily for they are Your instruments to help us understand, feel and love You more. Please forgive us for our shortcomings as Your ambassadors. We ask for Your guidance today. May we do our tasks with love, as if doing them for You. These we ask in the name of Jesus, Your Son. Amen.

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Daily Digest #308

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. —Proverbs 3:27

While reading the above reflection, I could only think of 1 question: how do you love (or care for) the proud? It took me back to past hurts (which are yet to be resolved) and realized how I've struggled with letting go.

I wish to quote a friend who shared his insight on this moral dilemma: "I'll just say 'God bless you' and then I let go." What I learned from this about myself is that I have unconsciously (or subconsciously) set expectations on people that I got frustrated and hurt in the end. I blamed others for several unfavorable outcomes, which were solely brought by my own clouded perception or decision. And I realized how letting go can release someone of his/her own pains and worries, and actually live a full life.

I have gone through pain and grief many times. There might be opportunities for those people who hurt us to come up and try to rebuild a broken relationship. The question is, how would we respond? Would we simply welcome them with open arms even when we're not ready? Or would we have the courage to tell the person "I'm not ready yet" and allow healing?

Oswald Chambers has a profound say on this: "Even the weakest saint can experience the power of the deity of the Son of God, when he is willing to 'let go.' But any effort to 'hang on' to the least bit of our own power will only diminish the life of Jesus in us. We have to keep letting go, and slowly, but surely, the great full life of God will invade us, penetrating every part. Then Jesus will have complete and effective dominion in us, and people will take notice that we have been with Him."

For this, let us pray. Lord, thank you for the gift of forgiveness and unconditional love. May we learn to love and forgive, just as you have. Please help us deal with our pains and realize each lesson behind. Lord, please give us the courage to walk Your way no matter how difficult it is to accept the truth. We pray for our friends, families and loved ones, as well as our enemies. We lift up all our relationships to you -- may You be in the middle of everything. We ask these through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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Daily Digest #307

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. —Colossians 3:21

I can say I have a loving relationship with my father. Though he's not perfect, he has strongly instilled the importance of family in my heart. And I only realized this very recently. Maybe because of the distance we have away from each other that makes us miss one another hehehehe. I remember asking Papa last time what his best memory was in his 34 years of marriage with Mama, and he quickly responded, "our family being complete, spending time together". I was deeply moved by his reply. I looked back when I was growing up and learned how much he has sacrificed for the family, although many of us do not really realize them.

I have this memory when I was 3-4yrs old that we always went out of the city (beach, mountain) on weekends. And I remember Him letting me hold the stirring wheel while I sat on his lap back then. He also taught me Math in gradeschool, i remember so well how he wrote numbers and signs (fat and bold heheh). I remember him taking us to the pool near the house so early in the morning to swim in the newly changed (but highly chlorinated) water. I remember him guarding us till morning while we slept in the tent at our own backyard (or our grandparents' frontyard). I remember him attending a parent-teacher meeting which he rarely did, and even agreed to become the president (or vice president) of the PTA. I remember him watching me in high school when I was going through the drills for corps commander selection. I remember him teaching me how to drive a car (and I almost got us straight towards the rice field haha). I remember him picking me up at the freshmen dorm with his company van back then, and encouraged me to come with him to Bicol, which meant, I'd miss 2 or 3 days of school, which turned out really great :D My sister, who was in Vietnam that time, called and was surprised that I was home in the middle of the semester! I remember Papa teaching me how to swing a golf club in our little garden at home. I remember him trying to teach me play tennis (all my siblings can play except me) but I just couldn't hit the freakin' ball (ironically, I play tabletennis fairly well). I remember him teaching me how to cook and cut the veggies and meat. I remember our roadtrips together for hours, and didn't really care if our bums hurt (we took the motorbike). He also taught me how to ride the motorbike recently.

There's a lot more wonderful, and sad, memories, but I think I have shared enough. They may seem little to some, but reminiscing about them now makes them mean a lot more to me. I believe Papa has offered himself (time, effort, experiences) as a father, a friend and a teacher. I know my sisters and brother have their own set of memories about my father, and I'd be very much excited to hear about them.

Let us honor our fathers, not only on Father's Day, but for always. Let us honor both our parents. I always have this thought that there will come a time that my parents will not be here anymore (knock on wood), and I wish to spend as much quality time with them whenever we're together and establish any kind of communication with them everyday as much as possible. What I learned from others' stories and experiences, children tend to do this only when their parents are too old to do anything. And I do not want that with my parents. They're still young and strong, but I wish that they have more wonderful memories with us even as they grow older.

For this, let us pray. Lord, thank You for our parents. Thank You for letting us experience love and joy at home. We know our parents are not perfect, but we have faith that they are doing their utmost. Lord, we know that they have had mistakes and shortcomings, too. Please help us forgive them for any pain that they have caused in our lives, and also remember that You have allowed these things to happen for a reason. Lord, give us the strength and courage to express our gratitude to our parents who have chosen life for us, no matter how our childhood has turned out. Please bless each member of our families. We pray that we are all safe and living this day for Your purpose. Amen.

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Daily Digest #306

I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure. —Psalm 119:162

God sends out His message through different messengers, through His words and within our hearts to help us cope from day to day. We cannot rely on one's experience of enlightenment alone (this often leads to idolizing the person rather than understanding the message and applying it into our lives), or mere heightened feelings. God calls each of us to develop a relationship with Him. He wants us to know Him, just as much as He knows each of us. He freely offers His Words, if only we make time and effort to read (myself included for I allow stubbornness sometimes, and God just made me realize last night how dangerous it is to allow idleness in one's spiritual life). He wants us to discover that the Bible is indeed the story of our lives.

Before we can even share His Word to others (through words and the way we live), we ought to read and understand the Bible ourselves. Allow me to quote some testimonies from the attached reading ("How Can I Understand The Bible", pp.30-31):

The Bible Is Ours

Many people feel they won't be able to understand the Bible, no matter how hard they try. Bill and Gwen Petroski felt that way -- till something happened that opened God's way for them. Here's their story:

"One of the greatest blessings in our lives has been the discovery that we can read and understand the Bible for ourselves. You see, both of us were raised in a religion that did not emphasize the Bible.

"After we were married, we began a spiritual quest. We felt vaguely dissatisfied. We wanted our children to know God and to have Christian values. So we began to search.

"Then the day came when both of us received Jesus Christ as personal Savior. We began attending a Bible-preaching church and hearing the Word of God proclaimed. Gradually we realized that the Bible is ours and that we can read and study it for ourselves."

Gwen: "I still remember vividly the first time I read the book of Hebrews. One Sunday morning I read it through in one sitting. Tears flowed then, and still do now as I realize that all barriers between God and me are broken down, and that I have access to God."

Bill: "When I first read Ephesians 2:8-9 and understood salvation by grace through faith alone, I was filled with gratitude to God. This passage will always be one of my favorites.

"We know that the Bible is ours. As we continue to read and study It, It means more to us than ever before. We are trying to put its teachings into practice so that our four girls will see that it can be real to them."

These testimonies of Bill and Gwen highlight the thrill of discovering rich spiritual truth through persona Bible study. The Holy Spirit ministers to believers in a special way through the Word, but He also brings understanding to non-Christians who read it with a sincere desire to know God.

Carl Armerding told about an Australian sheepherder and his wife who came to know Christ this way. They began reading the book of Romans out of the old family Bible just to while away evening hours. After some time, the man said, "Wife, if this book is right, we are guilty sinners before God. We are condemned." As the conclusion of their reading a few days later, he exclaimed, "Wife, if this book is right, we need not remain condemned. A man called Jesus Christ took our punishment by dying for us. He's alive again, and He wants us to believe on Him."

Although these people had very little education, they were able to gather from the Scriptures the basic truths necessary for salvation. When they began reading the Bible, they found that it was for them.

The Bible is for you -- it's for everyone.

For this, let us pray. Lord, thank you for the gift of knowledge. We pray that our knowledge turns to wisdom. Please bless our prayer and Bible-reading times. Please help us discover the truth. Please guide our thoughts towards what is pleasing to You. We also pray for those who struggle to know You; may they witness Your love and grace in their lives -- in Your will and time. We ask these through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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Daily Digest #305

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. —Colossians 4:6

I had the opportunity to share some words of wisdom for my friend the other day. There was a debate going on in her Facebook wall about a Bible verse. But somehow, a bit of my comment sparked more issues on others and the discussion went on and on. Honestly, somewhere in the middle of it all, I thought of how to win my brothers. But I realized it was never about winning. Finally, a wise brother commented: "It's a matter of choice for everyone.... . I have chosen God... Imagine when nothing works for me and I have a Person (GOD) to rely on... GOD gives hope..... I think GOD helps in uplifting me.... What if I had no one to go to..... It's not about commenting or debating, it's all about an experience. Perhaps some have experienced GOD's love....." That certainly shut everyone up for good hahaha.

That experience taught me a very important lesson. I realized how we should never allow anything to stir our focus away from glorifying God. There are matters that are better left unsaid, especially when people do not speak the same language. There is also an opportunity to show compassion and patience towards others who simply want to voice out their opinions so that no divisions can ever emerge.

What would Jesus do in this situation? I think He would express love for His brothers no matter what. He's always focused on glorifying and giving pleasure to His Heavenly Father. Anyway, He certainly used an instrument to take away what seemed to be dividing us.
For this, let us pray. Lord, thank You for teaching us about kindness, patience and compassion. May we practice them in our lives. May we learn to ask "what would Jesus do?" for every challenge or trial. May we also learn to assess our intention, our own character, instead of hastily judging others for their words and actions. Forgive us for being self-righteous at times. Lord, help us grow a loving and humble heart. Amen.

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Daily Digest #304

I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken. —Psalm 37:25

I wonder how, at such a young age, I can have these moments of emptiness and dryness inside. There are times when I feel old, when I just wish I were in another place and time, when nothing in this world makes sense anymore. But what I learned from this recurring phase is that I can always go to Him and ask Him, even if they were the same questions. And I hear the same answers, which seem to make more sense each time! He always reminds me to focus on the time and blessings He has given me every day, and that the things I worry about have either come to pass, are out of my hands, or are non-existent. And It is also during those times when He persistently reminds me to pray and read more about Him.

Reading today's Bible verse and reflection is a blessing to me. I was down when I woke today (probably because of the films I watched last night, which instilled neither hope nor realism). But this led me to read more on God's promises today, which I am about to share to you (see attached). Here's part of the introduction ("How Does God Keep His Promises", pp.2-5):

What Is A Promise?

The way some people use the term, a promise is nothing more than a good intention -- easily discarded if it gets in the way. They see a promise as something that is made to be broken. But when God makes a promise, He's doing more than just expressing wishful thinking. He is giving His absolutely trustworthy word!

The original language of the Old Testament does not have a specific word for the concept of promise, but that doesn't mean the idea isn't there. The Hebrew words (amar, dabar) that are translated by the English word promise have the meaning of "to say" or "to speak". When God and others in the Bible speak about what they will do in the future, the word promise fits well. In each case, the speaker's word, honor, and integrity are at stake.

The New Testament follows the same pattern as the Old. God stands behind what He says. Therefore the idea comes naturally from the Greek word angelia, which means "an announcement" or "a message".

The promises of God are the heart of the Bible. Everything God has spoken, every announcement, every message, is really a promise based on God's perfect, good, and trustworthy character.

Why is there confusion about the way God keeps His promises?

At times, a gap develops between what we think God has said He would do and what we see happening in our everyday experience. This gap, however, says more about our failure to understand than about God's ability to remain true. Our confusion can be due to any one (or several) of the following factors.

1. Faulty expectations. At times we may fall into the trap of thinking that God will keep His promises in the way we expect. We might assume that He will do it in ways that are immediately obvious rather than in a manner that becomes apparent only in time. We may expect Him to change our external circumstances and environment when what He really wants us to see is that His promises can be fullfilles through inner changes in us.

We tend to be shortsighted. God is into long-range planning. We see only the surface, here-and-now events, and we do not know how God is working behind the scenes to fit the pieces together to form an overall pattern. The ways God has acted in the past, though, show that He fullfills some promises in stages or in unexpected ways.

2. Faulty interpretations and applications. We may simply miss the point of what God has said. Or we may understand a Biblical promise accurately but fail to see that God gave the promise to someone else in a particular situation.

A small book of collected Biblical promises states in the introduction: "Take each promise to mean just exactly what it says. Don't try to interpret it or add to it or read between the lines." That may sound goog. We certainly must avoid reading "between the lines" of Scripture, but it is dangerous to say that we should not try to interpret the promises. That can be a huge mistake. Failure to understand a promise in its context can lead to some very bad conclusions. Too many people go around quoting Bible verses as promises to them as individuals when in fact the promises were given to specific Biblical characters, a nation, or only to people of a certain time period.

3. Faulty feelings. Our emotions have a way of taking over the driver's seat of our lives. Wrong emotions can overrule right thinking. As a result, if we have been hurt, we blame God for not doing what we think He promised. The death of a loved one can cause us to lose perspective if we allow our feelings to override the truth about God. A failed romance or a marriage on the rocks can trigger doubts. Personal rejection, failure, loss of a job, physical pain, or injustice can stir up feelings against God that become stronger than any force of reason.

4. Faulty memory. When it comes to remembering, we can all be like an absent-minded professor who forgets how to get home. We can get so wrapped up in the details of everyday life that we forget more than just anniversaries, birthdays, phone calls, groceries, and appointments. We even forget what should mean the most to us -- the evidence of God's faithfulness in our lives and how He has fullfilled His promises to us in the past. As a result, we lose confidence in His ability to be faithful in the future.

So now what do we do? How do we bring our expectations and feelings in line with God's plans and truths? How do we live a fullfilling life by faith in God's promises? That's what the following pages will try to resolve....

I hope we all make time to read on. I guess the whole point is for us to build a deeper relationship with the Lord so we ourselves can understand His promises and purpose for us. He is clearly encouraging us to learn more about Him, and to develop a regular communication with Him so we may practice trusting His will and time.

For this, let us pray... Lord, thank You for your deep love and concern for each of us. Thank You for reminding us in many ways to pray to You and trust You. Lord, forgive us in moments of unbelief and distrust. We pray that You strengthen the little faith that we have. Help us overcome our unbelief. We ask these through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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Daily Digest #303

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. —1 Peter 5:6

I have another reading for self-esteem, and it discusses issues on pride as measured by human standards and heaven's standards. Here are some excerpts ("Self-Esteem", pp.7-9,27):

How Should We Feel About Ourselves?

There is an interesting comment about self-esteem in the ancient apocryphal book of Sirach. In the New American Bible we find these words:

My son, with humility have self-esteem; prize yourself as you deserve. Who will acquit him who condemns himself? Who will honor him who discredits himself? (Sirach 10:27-28).

For some people, this statement will resonate with practical wisdom. Many have found that if they don't believe in themselves, other people are not likely to believe in them either. The book of Sirach, however, while included in some versions of the Bible, is not recognized by the whole church as inspired and authoritative.

We therefore need to do with this quote what we do with other thoughts and ideas. We need to see whether the rest of the Bible supports the idea that it is good to have self-esteem with humility.

As we might expect, teachings about humility are not hard to find in Scripture. At first look, the Bible seems to be more concerned about those who have an excessively high opinion of themselves that with those who struggle with a low self-image. For instance, in his letter to the Romans the apostle Paul wrote:

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (12:3).

But what did Paul mean when he said we are "to think soberly [about ourselves] as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith"? To answer that question, it's important to see the meaning of those words in their original context. When we read on we find, first of all, that Paul wanted his readers to think of themselves as people who were mutually reliant on one another's strengths (12:4-8).

Second, when Paul used the word soberly he was discouraging his readers from believing that they could do anything they wanted to do, or that they could be anything they wanted to be. Instead, Paul encouraged them to have sobriety about themselves that was rooted in realism and self-control.

Third, even though Paul advocated self-control, he asked his readers to think of themselves as people who understood their dependence on one another and God.

In another letter, Paul showed by his own example that, in matters beyond his understanding, he put his confidence in God. With the conviction that God alone understands the purpose and character of our lives, Paul wrote:

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise... For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends (2Cor.10:12, 18 NIV).

When these words are read in context, they draw a picture of an apostle who wrote with both humility and the dignity of self-respect. While being committed to be gentle and helpful toward others (10:1), he also saw himself as being able to do whatever God wanted him to do (10:2-6). Paul's confidence was in God, not in himself or in the opinion of others.

Can We Be Anything We Want To Be?

It is sometimes said that what the mind can believe, the mind can achieve. Just as often, we hear it said that we can be anything we want to be. We just have to believe in ourselves. We just have to overcome those obstacles to self-esteem that can keep us from realizing our dreams. But allowing for the importance of a positive mental attitude, and allowing for the importance of being able to dream and see "things which do not exist as though they did" (Rom. 4:17), much of this thinking is not realistic.

On the other hand, the person who has a relationship with Christ has an enormous basis for good self-esteem. That person can say, "As I walk with Christ and surrender to Him, I can by His Spirit be anything He wants me to be. I can do anything He wants me to do. I can say anything He wants me to say. As I depend on Him for my life, I can overcome obstacles that He wants me to overcome. I can resist temptation and avoid pitfalls."

What this also recognizes, however, is that it is just as true that we will not be able to do anything the Lord doesn't permit us to do. The sky is not the limit -- the will of God is. We no more have tomorrow in our back pocket than we do the next 20 years.

The need, then, is for self-esteem with humility -- the kind of rightmindedness that, ironically, can give us the confidence that will enable us to do anything God wants us to do!

Let us pray. Lord, may we grow a humble heart. Help us practice humility in our lives. May we learn when and when not to speak, and seek Your wisdom when we doubt our thoughts, before we even put them into words and actions. May we think less of ourselves, and more of others. These, we ask through Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.

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Daily Digest #302

That we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. —2 Corinthians 1:4

I believe that each of us has experienced some form of loss in our lives. Maybe we have gone through it, or still dealing with it now. Allow me to share another insightful article entitled "How Can I Live With My Loss" (pp. 12-13). I am also including an excerpt which I can relate to the most (pp. 25-26). I hope that you can read the whole article in your free time, it is truly enlightening.

What is the Process of Dealing With Loss?

We must all learn for ourselves that grieving is a confusing and disorienting process that takes time. It is something we get over, but rather it is something we get through. Noted author C.S. Lewis wrote about his experience with the process of grief after the death of his wife to cancer: "For in grief, nothing 'stays put'. One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats." (A Grief Observed, p. 67).

The Bible tells us that there is a pathway through difficult times in our lives to higher ground. The experience may indeed be life-threatening, or at least it feels that way. It is the perilous path of the valley of the shadow of death that David spoke of in Psalm 23:4, "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." David was talking about the times when God walks with us through our dark valley experiences. Grief is one of those formidable valley experiences.

In the valley of grief, where the way is treacherous and we are so unsure of ourselves, we learn to trust God. After all, what better option is there? Trust enables us to maintain perspective by walking "by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7) as we go through the valley. Otherwise we will lose our way and get hopelessly lost in despair.

We need a trusted guide to lead us when we've lost sight of where we're headed. Only one Guide is reliable enough to lead us. That Guide is Jesus Christ. He really is "the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn. 14:6).

...Reinvest in Love

The return of the desire to love again is the best indicator that the stages of grief have been completed well. Refusal to love again is an indication that we're afraid of losing someone else. No one enjoys the pain of loss. But a deepening faith in the One who will never abandon us will enable us to risk loving again.

Trusting God's enduring love is the only thing that will sustain us in the tough times of grief. John Brantner writes, "Only people who avoid love can avoid grief. The point is to learn from it and remain vulnerable to love."

It is in this final stage of grief that mourners are able to regard their loss as a growth-promoting experience that has made them better people in the process. It changes their whole outlook in life. This deepening awareness of the fragility of life and their place in it gives birth to a richer appreciation for the beauty and importance of life.

For this, let us pray. Heavenly Father, thank You for sending us Your Son to show us how to live -- how to follow Your will, how to trust in Your time, and how to cope with all the trials in this world. Thank You for Your words of wisdom that have awaken us and strengthened us over time. Please continue to guide us today. Bless our thoughts, our choices, our actions and our words. Amen.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Daily Digest #301

Put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness. —Colossians 3:5

I never knew my "adopted" status until I read about Jesus. I knew what He had gone through but never really cared to understand why He did them. But when I learned about His purpose of saving us, and actually making us His co-heirs in His Father's kingdom, I couldn't help but wonder how The King could sacrifice so much.

Allow me to share another article with you ("Why Did Christ Have To Die", pp. 9,10,27,29) to get a glimpse of Christ's life and purpose. I believe it can enlighten anybody -- believers and unbelievers alike. I really hope that you make time to read the attachment. No matter how many readings and chapters in the Bible any of us have read, this could open a fresh perspective in our faith and love for Christ and our Father. Here are some excerpts:

The Resolution of the Cross

When Adam and Eve sinned, God could have struck them dead instantly. And He would have been just in doing so, because His holy nature demands that disobedience be punished by death.

Yet, because God is love, He did not forsake our first parents dead. Instead, He sought them out, provided them with a covering of animal skins, and gave to them a wonderful promise (Gen. 3:15). At that point, God announced the good news. Yes, the good news is that God Himself resolved the dilemma -- His holiness is counter-balanced by His love! Love found a way. Love found another tree, the cross (Rom. 5:6). God is His wisdom provided a way to undo the terrible damage done to man at that first tree.

The tree in the Garden of Eden has now given way to the cross. And on that tree of humiliation, goodness triumphed over evil. Mercy triumphed over justice. The rescue completed. The mission was accomplished. The dilemma was resolved.

The Words of the Cross

Even in dying, Christ was teaching us how to live. The seven recorded statements from the cross give us seven profound lessons on life.

1 "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do" (Lk. 23:34). Forgiveness is better than revenge.

2 "Assurely, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Lk. 23:43). Faith is rewarded with promise.

3 "Woman, behold your son! ... Behold your mother!" (Jn. 19:26-27). Our own needs should not overshadow the needs of others.

4 "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Mk. 15:34). Anything that could jeopardize our relatioship with God should produce anguish.

5 "I thirst" (Jn. 19:28). These words, spoken to fullfill prophecy, remind us of the authority of Scripture.

6 "It is finished" (Jn. 19:30). Do not let yourslef lose sight of your goal of doing God's will.

7 "Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk. 23:26). In your suffering, entrust yourslef to God.

The Call of the Cross

Look again at the cross. Look at the One dying there. He never sinned, yet He is on the cross to bear the penalty for the sins of the whole world. He's dying there on your behalf. That should be you on that cross.

It's an ugly scene, isn't it? It shows us how terrible sin really is, and what a horrible price had to be paid to set us free from it. If you are a Chirstian, coming one more time to the cross should fill your heart with gratitude for what Christ did for you there. As your sacrifice and substitute, He made it possible for you to be forgiven and to be saved from your sin. Why don't you give Him your thanks right now? Then determine to walk in obedience to God.

If you are not a Christian, won't you trust Him as your Savior? Your sin is real. You cannot do anything at all about it -- except to trust in Jesus Christ. Don't wait. Tell Him that you believe in Him as your personal Savior. Ask Him to save you. He will, because it was for you that He died on that excruciating cross. He was your sacrifice. He paid the penalty for your sin. Trust Him now!

I wouldn't mind typing this long if I didn't believe it was worth reading. One thing we rarely realize is that we all have something in common -- sin. Like the article stated, there's nothing we can do about it. We're born that way. But we can die another way. A better way -- in Christ, and united with the Father. Let us ask ourselves, "Do I trust Jesus as my Savior?" Let us make the choice NOW.

Let us pray. Thank You, Father, for loving us this much. Thank You, Jesus, for saving us from our sins. And thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who guides our choices, and fills our hearts with love and joy. Please bless our workplaces, homes and our relationships. May we follow Your will today. Amen.

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Daily Digest #300

If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. —1 John 2:1

I can only think of one song for today's reflection. Here are the words (with mp3 attached):

At the Cross

Oh Lord You've searched me
You know my way
Even when I fail You
I know You love me

Your holy presence
Surrounding me
In every season
I know You love me
I know You love me

At the cross I bow my knee
Where Your blood was shed for me
There's no greater love than this
You have overcome the grave
Your glory fills the highest place
What can separate me now

You go before me
You shield my way
Your hand upholds me
I know You love me

You tore the veil
You made a way
When You said that it is done

And when the earth fades
Falls from my eyes
And You stand before me
I know You love me
I know You love me

Let us pray. Lord, thank You for another day to witness and receive Your love and mercy, and be instruments of Your grace. We seek comfort and peace in You. Help us live this day to its fullness. May we put our hearts in everything that we do today and find joy. Lord, help us overcome our fears. We ask that you turn our weaknesses into Your strength. May we listen to, and trust, Your will always. Amen.

Have a fabulous day ahead! Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #299

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. —Psalm 90:2

We often think of time as a race. We think this would give us happiness that we try to accomplish everything so fast and miss the wonderful details in our journey. And sometimes when we realize we're rushing our lives, we suddenly resort to idleness, thinking that might where our happiness would be, only to find ourselves craving for the busy life again. But we see that the only issue is how we use the time that is given to us. So instead of asking for more or less time, we might want to learn instead how to understand or accept that there are things that can't be changed and/or can't be controlled, and that we only need to focus on the task at hand.

I remember one of Paulo Coelho's stories in the Warrior of Light. Let me share it to you:

The Two Drops of Oil

Standing above the little town of Tarifa is an old fort built by the Moors. I remember sitting here with my wife, Christina, in 1982, and for the first time looking at a continent from across a narrow stretch of water: Africa. At that time I could not dream that such a lazy moment in the late afternoon would inspire a scene in my best-known book, “The Alchemist”. Nor could I have dreamed that the story that follows, heard in the car, would serve as an excellent example for all of us who are searching for some balance between discipline and compassion.

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

With considerable patience, he listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.

“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handing the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.

Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.End. (Issue n175: The two drops of oil)

Let us pray. Lord, thank You for the time that You have given us. Thank You for another day of opportunities to love and to serve. We ask that You guide our choices today. May our words, thoughts and actions reflect Your love and grace in our lives. May we bring pleasure and glory to You today. Please bless our workplaces and homes as we go through the day. These we ask, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Have a wonderful day ahead of you! Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #298

I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. —John 13:15

You know, a few years ago, I found myself crying in the bathroom and praying, "Lord, please don't let this love in my heart run dry". I felt like I was about to burst. I had so much love in my heart but no one to give it to. What I didn't know then was that I understood "love" differently. I thought it was just a set of emotions, and something I could give to one special person :D Although Jesus did give me one person, I realized how He was actually telling me, "this is how much I love you". Although I didn't understand His love before, He made me feel it in a level that I understood.

But then I learned that His love was much deeper than that. He opened my eyes and heart to knowing what His love was all about. This led me to reading more about Him, overwhelmed by the thought of this Guy loving someone like me -- sinful and very conditional when it comes to loving and being kind. He made me realize how much of His love He has given to other people -- my family, my closest friends and the kindest strangers I came across with -- so that I could feel His touch, His hugs, His kisses, His pats on my back to calm me down, and comfort through others. He has been using them so that I could see and feel the physical expression of His love. And I'm sure, many times, He has used me as His instrument, too, just like He has used you :D

Let us pray together: Lord, thank You for loving us just the way we are. Thank you for showing us Your love in many ways, and for teaching us about love. We are sorry for the times when we chose to hate, to judge, or to put our own comfort first. We trust that You are molding us into Your likeness. May we practice love in our lives. Amen.

We Love Because God Loves Us

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV).

The reason God wants us to love is because He is love, and He created us to be like him—to love. The only reason we’re able to love is because God loves us: “Love comes from God…because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8 NIV).

We were created in God’s image to do two things on earth: Learn to love God, and learn to love other people. Life is all about love.

But love all started with God. He loved us first and that gives us the ability to love others (1 John 4:19). The only reason you can love God or love anybody else is because God first loved you. And He showed that love by sending Jesus Christ to earth to die for you. He showed that love by creating you. He showed that love by everything you have in life; it’s all a gift of God’s love.

In order to love others and to become great lovers, we first need to understand and feel how much God loves us. We don’t want to just talk about love, read about love, or discuss love; we need to experience the love of God.

We need to reach a day when we finally, fully understand how God loves us completely and unconditionally. We need to become secure in the truth that we cannot make God stop loving us.

Once we’re secure inside God’s unconditional love, we’ll start cutting people a lot of slack. We won’t be as angry as we’ve been. We’ll be more patient. We’ll be more forgiving. We’ll be more merciful. We’ll give others grace.

But you cannot give to others what you have not received yourself, and so my hope is that, as you learn how much God loves you, you’ll also let Him heal your heart so that His love can flow freely through you. It’s impossible to love others until you really feel loved yourself.

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