Reflections: February 29

Verse of the Day (c/o YouVersion):

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. – Romans 4:7

Dear self, stop hiding from God when you sin. Just run to His open arms in humility, confess in all honesty, and enjoy His forgiveness fully. You’re too hard on yourself, that Satan is using it to drive a wedge between you and God.

The Essential Jesus:

Matthew 21:18-22 tells of the Jesus’ encounter with the fig tree, which He commanded not to have any fruit grow on it ever again–which happened as He spoke it. It was a puzzling anecdote to me, as I didn’t get what the point of doing it was. Did Jesus want to show that He can cause us to lose our life on earth whenever He pleases? Well, to silly little me, the answer is apparently in the next verses, as Jesus tells the disciples that it was a showcase of how one’s faith can make things happen. If we believe and do not doubt, what we claim in Jesus’ name shall be granted–of course as aligned with His will. This is a major thing to me right now ’cause I have been discovering that I have been operating with so little faith. I think I may trust in myself more than I trust in God. So, self-check!

Morning and Evening:

Morning–

Jeremiah 31:3

“With lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

The thunders of the law and the terrors of judgment are all used to bring us to Christ; but the final victory is effected by lovingkindness. The prodigal set out to his father’s house from a sense of need; but his father saw him a great way off, and ran to meet him; so that the last steps he took towards his father’s house were with the kiss still warm upon his cheek, and the welcome still musical in his ears. “Law and terrors do but harden All the while they work alone; But a sense of blood-bought pardon Will dissolve a heart of stone.” The Master came one night to the door, and knocked with the iron hand of the law; the door shook and trembled upon its hinges; but the man piled every piece of furniture which he could find against the door, for he said, “I will not admit the man.” The Master turned away, but by-and-bye he came back, and with his own soft hand, using most that part where the nail had penetrated, he knocked again–oh, so softly and tenderly. This time the door did not shake, but, strange to say, it opened, and there upon his knees the once unwilling host was found rejoicing to receive his guest. “Come in, come in; thou hast so knocked that my bowels are moved for thee. I could not think of thy pierced hand leaving its blood-mark on my door, and of thy going away houseless, ‘Thy head filled with dew, and thy locks with the drops of the night.’ I yield, I yield, thy love has won my heart.” So in every case: lovingkindness wins the day. What Moses with the tablets of stone could never do, Christ does with his pierced hand. Such is the doctrine of effectual calling. Do I understand it experimentally? Can I say, “He drew me, and I followed on, glad to confess the voice divine?” If so, may he continue to draw me, till at last I shall sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

We’ve been sought by religion with fear and law and admonition, but Jesus has pursued us with His everlasting love. When I think about it, all my legalistic and snobby pretenses crumble. May I be an instrument of God’s love to the world, just like how I have experienced His love in my life.

Reflections: February 25

Verse of the Day (c/o YouVersion):

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10
Like what I reflected on during the Spurgeon devotion, in the Lord can I find refuge and strength. How awesome is this!! He is a strong tower and when we run to Him, we are safe! No other human or thing or experience can provide the same security that God. This is why we should run to Him for any concern that we have, just like how a child would run to her father for safety. Thank You God for this assurance and reminder! Love you so much!

The Essential Jesus:

John 2:1-11 tells of Jesus’ first public miracle, and it happens to be a story I like so much. It speaks of the wedding in Cana that Jesus, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples were attending. The wedding ran out of wine, and Mary came to Jesus with this dilemma. Jesus initially seemingly brushed off the inquiry/request because it was “not yet His time”, but Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. Jesus asks the servants to fill the huge waterpots with water, then take a glass from it and serve it to the master of the feast. True enough, it got turned into wine–and it was the best-tasting that was served in the wedding. This started the signs that Jesus manifested, and the disciples believed in Him.

In this passage, I have found some stuff that are applicable to life:

  • Mary coming to Jesus first when the situation arose is something we can also do with our daily lives. There was no mention of complaining, but coming from an event planner, I’m pretty sure the guests and feast-master were getting problematic with the lack of wine. Yet here we have Mary, who knew who Jesus was, coming to Him first and asking for His help. May it be as such in my life–that I not look to others or complain, but come to Jesus when I am in need.
  • “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Yes, even if His command is difficult–like putting water into huge pots, which I assume is in NO WAY easy–just obey. Obedience really comes with some ‘weight’, but let us just trust that Jesus knows what is best for us for out of our struggle in following Him can come out something tasty and beautiful (like the wine, get it?) 🙂
  • The disciples, I would think, believed in Jesus even before the miracle, but it sure nailed their belief in stone when they experience this water-to-wine moment first-hand. I got to reflect about my life. There are MANY instances that I’ve experienced God work in my life. May I always look back to those experiences and have my faith strengthened.

Morning and Evening:

Morning–

Matthew 3:7

“The wrath to come.”

It is pleasant to pass over a country after a storm has spent itself; to smell the freshness of the herbs after the rain has passed away, and to note the drops while they glisten like purest diamonds in the sunlight. That is the position of a Christian. He is going through a land where the storm has spent itself upon his Saviour’s head, and if there be a few drops of sorrow falling, they distil from clouds of mercy, and Jesus cheers him by the assurance that they are not for his destruction. But how terrible is it to witness the approach of a tempest: to note the forewarnings of the storm; to mark the birds of heaven as they droop their wings; to see the cattle as they lay their heads low in terror; to discern the face of the sky as it groweth black, and look to the sun which shineth not, and the heavens which are angry and frowning! How terrible to await the dread advance of a hurricane–such as occurs, sometimes, in the tropics–to wait in terrible apprehension till the wind shall rush forth in fury, tearing up trees from their roots, forcing rocks from their pedestals, and hurling down all the dwelling-places of man! And yet, sinner, this is your present position. No hot drops have as yet fallen, but a shower of fire is coming. No terrible winds howl around you, but God’s tempest is gathering its dread artillery. As yet the water-floods are dammed up by mercy, but the flood-gates shall soon be opened: the thunderbolts of God are yet in his storehouse, but lo! the tempest hastens, and how awful shall that moment be when God, robed in vengeance, shall march forth in fury! Where, where, where, O sinner, wilt thou hide thy head, or whither wilt thou flee? O that the hand of mercy may now lead you to Christ! He is freely set before you in the gospel: his riven side is the rock of shelter. Thou knowest thy need of him; believe in him, cast thyself upon him, and then the fury shall be overpast forever.

It’s so easy to forget about the wrath of God that shall come from His just and holy nature. We want to keep that in mind, not so much because we want to be afraid of God. Remembering the judgment that shall come at the end of days brings me to the cross. I realize that I am an unworthy sinner, and that only in Jesus can I find shelter and salvation from eternal damnation.

Evening–

Jonah 1:3

“But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa.”

Instead of going to Nineveh to preach the Word, as God bade him, Jonah disliked the work, and went down to Joppa to escape from it. There are occasions when God’s servants shrink from duty. But what is the consequence? What did Jonah lose by his conduct? He lost the presence and comfortable enjoyment of God’s love. When we serve our Lord Jesus as believers should do, our God is with us; and though we have the whole world against us, if we have God with us, what does it matter? But the moment we start back, and seek our own inventions, we are at sea without a pilot. Then may we bitterly lament and groan out, “O my God, where hast thou gone? How could I have been so foolish as to shun thy service, and in this way to lose all the bright shinings of thy face? This is a price too high. Let me return to my allegiance, that I may rejoice in thy presence.” In the next place, Jonah lost all peace of mind. Sin soon destroys a believer’s comfort. It is the poisonous upas tree, from whose leaves distil deadly drops which destroy the life of joy and peace. Jonah lost everything upon which he might have drawn for comfort in any other case. He could not plead the promise of divine protection, for he was not in God’s ways; he could not say, “Lord, I meet with these difficulties in the discharge of my duty, therefore help me through them.” He was reaping his own deeds; he was filled with his own ways. Christian, do not play the Jonah, unless you wish to have all the waves and the billows rolling over your head. You will find in the long run that it is far harder to shun the work and will of God than to at once yield yourself to it. Jonah lost his time, for he had to go to Nineveh after all. It is hard to contend with God; let us yield ourselves at once.

So so so true. When we build our own roadmap and ignore God’s calling, we just end up in a worse state and outside of God’s ‘circle of blessings’. In such a state, you can’t even call your hardships as “persecutions” because it was your own deeds that brought you to that state. What’s funny is that in the end, God’s will shall still prevail. In short, pinahirapan mo lang sarili mo. So, sunod na lang diretso kay Lord–kahit na napakahirap paminsan.

Reflections: February 22

Verse of the Day (c/o YouVersion):

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1

I agree, especially with the boom of social media, it’s so easy to put out there our personal takes on faith. While some might be aligned with God’s Word, there are some that completely malign truth. The call today is to DISCERN and not easily believe whatever we read. Sift and filter it whatever you see or read using God’s Word, and then you will know which are false. Top off mind right now, I am thinking of Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel and Joseph Prince’s hypergrace. While these look so legit at first, delving into the details will expose some nasty truths.

This to me is also a reminder to be responsible myself with the stuff I put online, as what I say may be the closest thing to reading a Bible that some might get. If I screw things up or state them not in accordance to the Word, then I just screwed up someone’s life.

The Essential Jesus:

Matthew 25:1-46 speak of three main things:

  • The Parable of the Ten Virgins – Compared to other parables, this is one that has easy recall for me because we used to stage this in our old church. It speaks of ten women who are awaiting the bridegroom. Half of them were wise and came prepared with oil for their lamps, while the rest didn’t. (They are actually shown in our skit to be women who were so busy with the concerns of the world–career, housekeeping, etc.) True enough, it took some time before the bridegroom was ready to meet with the virgins, and those who did not bring oil with them had their lamps put out. They asked for some from those who came ready, but they weren’t given any, lest the “ready” girls also end up without light. This parable speaks to me of our preparation while we waiting for Jesus’ coming. Some of us get so enthralled with activities of the world that when Jesus comes unexpectedly, they’d end up unprepared spiritually. On the other hand, this is a reminder to us that we always ought to be ready for whenever jesus comes.
  • The Parable of the Talents – Ahh, another parable with an easy recall for me. It speaks of a master who gave talents to His servants–five, two, and one–and he went away for a bit. The person with 5, during the wait, gained 5 more. The person with 2 gained two more. And the person with one just buried it into ground. This parable to me speaks of stewardship of what we have. It’s interesting to first note that God gives to us accordingly to our personality and ability. It’s never helpful to compare because the Omnipotent God has a plan for each and everything. What matters is what we do with what we’ve given. Are we using it to bless God’s Kingdom more? Or are we just keeping it to ourselves? When Jesus comes back, I want to be told that I am a good and faithful servant–for it is the only approval that matters.
  • The last part speaks of Jesus’ judgment to the nations–that He will separate the sheep from the goat during the end of age. To His sheep, those in His right hand, He will say that they can come into the Father’s glory because they fed Him when hungry, gave Him a drink when thirsty, took Him in as a stranger, visited Him in prison or when sick. The people listening wondered when this all happened–for surely they haven’t seen Jesus in the same situation. And Jesus tells them that what they do for the least of the brethren (those in need), they also do towards Jesus. And it applies the other way around. What we don’t do to those in need, we don’t do to Jesus. I got affected by this part of the passage because it got me thinking if I have indeed walked like a true Christian–with love, mercy and fighting for justice. While it is hard to influence the entire world, I think I should start with myself and my immediate surroundings and be more generous and loving to those who may seem unlovable.

Morning and Evening:

Morning–

Genesis 49:24

“His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.”

That strength which God gives to his Josephs is real strength; it is not a boasted valour, a fiction, a thing of which men talk, but which ends in smoke; it is true–divine strength. Why does Joseph stand against temptation? Because God gives him aid. There is nought that we can do without the power of God. All true strength comes from “the mighty God of Jacob.” Notice in what a blessedly familiar way God gives this strength to Joseph–“The arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” Thus God is represented as putting his hands on Joseph’s hands, placing his arms on Joseph’s arms. Like as a father teaches his children, so the Lord teaches them that fear him. He puts his arms upon them. Marvellous condescension! God Almighty, Eternal, Omnipotent, stoops from his throne and lays his hand upon the child’s hand, stretching his arm upon the arm of Joseph, that he may be made strong! This strength was also covenant strength, for it is ascribed to “the mighty God of Jacob.” Now, wherever you read of the God of Jacob in the Bible, you should remember the covenant with Jacob. Christians love to think of God’s covenant. All the power, all the grace, all the blessings, all the mercies, all the comforts, all the things we have, flow to us from the well-head, through the covenant. If there were no covenant, then we should fail indeed; for all grace proceeds from it, as light and heat from the sun. No angels ascend or descend, save upon that ladder which Jacob saw, at the top of which stood a covenant God. Christian, it may be that the archers have sorely grieved you, and shot at you, and wounded you, but still your bow abides in strength; be sure, then, to ascribe all the glory to Jacob’s God.

I was feeling weak until yesterday, and actually until today, because of all the responsibilities and tasks at hand. It’s kinda crazy and overwhelming. I thank God for this reminder that I don’t need to rely on my own strength as it is God’s strength that shall enable me to accomplish what He wills me to accomplish. I like the reference to a bow–it reminds me of Katniss :p It is not only our arms that God strengthens but also even our “tools” and “weapons”. Praises to our Mighty God!

Evening–

Nahum 1:3

“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power.”

Jehovah “is slow to anger.” When mercy cometh into the world she driveth winged steeds; the axles of her chariot-wheels are red hot with speed; but when wrath goeth forth, it toileth on with tardy footsteps, for God taketh no pleasure in the sinner’s death. God’s rod of mercy is ever in his hands outstretched; his sword of justice is in its scabbard, held down by that pierced hand of love which bled for the sins of men. “The Lord is slow to anger,” because he is great in power. He is truly great in power who hath power over himself. When God’s power doth restrain himself, then it is power indeed: the power that binds omnipotence is omnipotence surpassed. A man who has a strong mind can bear to be insulted long, and only resents the wrong when a sense of right demands his action. The weak mind is irritated at a little: the strong mind bears it like a rock which moveth not, though a thousand breakers dash upon it, and cast their pitiful malice in spray upon its summit. God marketh his enemies, and yet he bestirs not himself, but holdeth in his anger. If he were less divine than he is, he would long ere this have sent forth the whole of his thunders, and emptied the magazines of heaven; he would long ere this have blasted the earth with the wondrous fires of its lower regions, and man would have been utterly destroyed; but the greatness of his power brings us mercy. Dear reader, what is your state this evening? Can you by humble faith look to Jesus, and say, “My substitute, thou art my rock, my trust”? Then, beloved, be not afraid of God’s power; for by faith you have fled to Christ for refuge, the power of God need no more terrify you, than the shield and sword of the warrior need terrify those whom he loves. Rather rejoice that he who is “great in power” is your Father and Friend.

My key takeaway: I am SO THANKFUL to God that He is slow to anger. Else, I would’ve been struck by lightning every moment of every day because of my evilness.

Reflections: February 21

Verse of the Day (c/o YouVersion):

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. – Ephesians 4:26-27

This is coming to me at the right time. I was angry yesterday (Saturday) hehehehehe. I am so rebuked. When I’m angry, I often (if not always) sin with my words and deeds. And what’s even suckier is that I get angry because of petty things vs actually being angry at sin or injustice or something noble. Back to my story, I got angry (or actually more of frustrated) yesterday and ended up wanting an escape or some form of rebellion. Thank God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I was stopped just when I was about to make plans to intentionally do evil. Indeed, the devil finds a way to attack me when I’m mad. I really thank God for the presence of mind to not allow Satan to have an edge and take over my life.

PS: This verse is also applicable to Christians who speak with so much hate that it is bordering on sin because of the whole Manny Pacquiao issue. As Christians, let us remember that they will know us by our love.

The Essential Jesus:

Matthew 20:1-16 speaks of the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, which is one that does not easily come to mind unless highlighted. It tells of the story of a landowner who hires some workers for the vineyard and agrees to may them 1 denarius for the work. After a few hours, he finds some more people who are idle, and get them as workers as well with the same agreement. The same thing happens two more times further into the day. At the end of the day, the workers line up and receive 1 denarius each, starting with those who were recruited last. Those who got recruited first expect that they would get more because they “worked more” but they also receive the same amount as agreed. The landowner responds to their complaints saying: Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?

This parable comes to me at a perfect time as a form of rebuke. I am getting a little burdened with ministry nowadays, and I get a sense of things being “unfair” every now and then. I do all the work, and I end up getting the same amount of “blessings” as with other people, or sometimes, I get even less. To be honest, this is a struggle up to now. I guess my mentality of being rewarded for “performance” is still ingrained in me and needs to be replaced by the concept of grace. Jesus’ form of mercy and grace is given to all–regardless of sin, regardless of effort. I confess that I do get envious most of the time for the grace being shown by God to those who don’t work as hard as I do. Thank God for today’s reminder that my attitude should be of rejoicing–because it is a joy that others are able to experience God’s love in wonderful ways.

Morning and Evening:

Morning–

Hebrews 13:5

“He hath said.”

If we can only grasp these words by faith, we have an all-conquering weapon in our hand. What doubt will not be slain by this two-edged sword? What fear is there which shall not fall smitten with a deadly wound before this arrow from the bow of God’s covenant? Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death; will not the corruptions within, and the snares without; will not the trials from above, and the temptations from beneath, all seem but light afflictions, when we can hide ourselves beneath the bulwark of “He hath said”? Yes; whether for delight in our quietude, or for strength in our conflict, “He hath said” must be our daily resort. And this may teach us the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you may not know of it, and therefore you miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it, you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is so near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great pharmacopoeia of Scripture, and you may yet continue sick unless you will examine and search the Scriptures to discover what “He hath said.” Should you not, besides reading the Bible, store your memories richly with the promises of God? You can recollect the sayings of great men; you treasure up the verses of renowned poets; ought you not to be profound in your knowledge of the words of God, so that you may be able to quote them readily when you would solve a difficulty, or overthrow a doubt? Since “He hath said” is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort, let it dwell in you richly, as “A well of water, springing up unto everlasting life.” So shall you grow healthy, strong, and happy in the divine life.

I have found this to be true. It is in those moments when I am so so deep in the Word that I am most joyful. In God’s Word, I find the comfort, peace, and love that I need.

Evening–

Acts 8:30

“Understandest thou what thou readest?”

We should be abler teachers of others, and less liable to be carried about by every wind of doctrine, if we sought to have a more intelligent understanding of the Word of God. As the Holy Ghost, the Author of the Scriptures is he who alone can enlighten us rightly to understand them, we should constantly ask his teaching, and his guidance into all truth. When the prophet Daniel would interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, what did he do? He set himself to earnest prayer that God would open up the vision. The apostle John, in his vision at Patmos, saw a book sealed with seven seals which none was found worthy to open, or so much as to look upon. The book was afterwards opened by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who had prevailed to open it; but it is written first–“I wept much.” The tears of John, which were his liquid prayers, were, so far as he was concerned, the sacred keys by which the folded book was opened. Therefore, if, for your own and others’ profiting, you desire to be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,” remember that prayer is your best means of study: like Daniel, you shall understand the dream, and the interpretation thereof, when you have sought unto God; and like John you shall see the seven seals of precious truth unloosed, after you have wept much. Stones are not broken, except by an earnest use of the hammer; and the stone-breaker must go down on his knees. Use the hammer of diligence, and let the knee of prayer be exercised, and there is not a stony doctrine in revelation which is useful for you to understand, which will not fly into shivers under the exercise of prayer and faith. You may force your way through anything with the leverage of prayer. Thoughts and reasonings are like the steel wedges which give a hold upon truth; but prayer is the lever, the prise which forces open the iron chest of sacred mystery, that we may get the treasure hidden within.

I am taking note of this because I experience this most of the time–I get so deep in the truth through thought and reasoning but fail to truly pry it open with prayer. May I prayerfully reflect on God’s Word that it be electrified to cut through my heart and retain God’s promises.

Reflections: February 20

Verse of the Day (c/o YouVersion):

Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! – Psalm 119:2
It is true that we can be happy and blessed as we obey God and seek Him. We do not just keep His testimonies and follow like a robot or a soldier devout of feeling and just merely passive. Some find Christianity boring because they think that it’s all no vices, no drinking, no smoking, no sex, no drugs, no adultery, no envy, etc. It becomes to them a rulebook of what we ought to not do. Yet, truly following God involves not just avoiding to do the bad stuff but actually intending to go and do good! Seeking Him with our whole heart means being ACTIVE in our pursuit of God! We are the seekers! We look for God in every way that we can, and that involves doing His commands that involve action. We go out and love God and love others, which is NEVER boring at all. Maybe what happens is that our meaning of happiness changes–which to me is more important because when we expect to be “happy” in the standards of the world, then Christianity would really not be a blessed thing to us. When we understand it, happiness now means finding our eternal purpose–which God graciously gives to us when we seek Him.
I pray that the Lord would help me today (and evermore) to follow His commands and seek Him always–keeping in mind that in it, I will find joy beyond what the world can offer.

The Essential Jesus:

Matthew 13:1-58 is quite a lengthy chapter, but has overarching themes across the different passages (wow, like a Bible scholar). It contains many parables and stories such as the following —

  • The Purpose of Parables – Jesus tells the disciples that He speaks in parables because the people’s hearts have hardened–seeing they do not see, hearing they do not hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. It was a fulfillment of the prophecy that the Messiah shall speak in parables. Yet the disciples are blessed because they are able to see and hear what Jesus wants to say.
  • The Parable of the Sower – Alas, one of my favorite parables. I remember this vividly because it was taught in church and got stuck in my mind because of the video we showed after the sermon. The parable speaks of the different responses that we have towards hearing the Word of God. Some have the devil just taking the Word away, some receive with joy but do not endure, some get distracted by the cares and riches of the world, and some receive and bear even more fruit! This parable always makes me reflect about how I receive the Word. I think my spiritual growth has gotten me to each “stage”. I remember not listening to the Word, I remember hearing but enduring, I remember being distracted, and I know now that God is helping me to keep His Word in my heart and bear fruit because of it. Praise God!
  • The Parable of the Wheat and Tares – This parable talks about the end times, when God will separate the tares (those “planted” by the enemy) from the wheat (those “planted” by God). This somehow sheds some light to me as to why there is evil in the world (No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them…). But more importantly, it tells us about what God will do at the end of age. We have hope in Christ because we trust that He will follow through with the promise of salvation to us who have been made children of God.
  • The Parable of the Dragnet – This also seems to have a same theme as the one on the Wheat and Tares as it speaks of separating the good and the bad harvest.
  • The Parable of the Mustard Seed and of the Leaven – These parable talk about a small mustard seed that grows so big and becomes shelter for creatures, and a woman adding leaven to flour that it grows. I tried to do some research and this seems to speak of the Kingdom of God and how despite its small beginnings, it shall grow (and it indeed has grown!) and becomes a source of rest and shelter to people. This is both a blessing and a burden (in a sorta good way) because, of course, with a bigger reach there is bigger influence. There is also a bigger threat of spoilage or predating that we have to be cautious with.
  • The Parable of the Hidden Treasure and of the Pearl of Great Price – These parables both speak of how when people find something of great value, they can sacrifice everything else just to have it. This to me speaks of finding God. When we have that encounter and we really are able to grasp and its grandeur, beauty and value, it will be no issue for us to deny ourselves of everything else that may hinder us from that spiritual possession. That really is my prayer–that I become so captured with finding God in all things that I become focused on eternity and not get allured by the world and my flesh. Each day, I think, is a decision between the two: do I invest in my walk with God or do I invest in my temporary home? May it be a wise (though surely not too easy) decision for me everyday.

Morning and Evening:

2 Corinthians 7:6

“God, that comforteth those that are cast down.”

And who comforteth like him? Go to some poor, melancholy, distressed child of God; tell him sweet promises, and whisper in his ear choice words of comfort; he is like the deaf adder, he listens not to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. He is drinking gall and wormwood, and comfort him as you may, it will be only a note or two of mournful resignation that you will get from him; you will bring forth no psalms of praise, no hallelujahs, no joyful sonnets. But let God come to his child, let him lift up his countenance, and the mourner’s eyes glisten with hope. Do you not hear him sing– “‘Tis paradise, if thou art here; If thou depart, ’tis hell?”

You could not have cheered him: but the Lord has done it; “He is the God of all comfort.” There is no balm in Gilead, but there is balm in God. There is no physician among the creatures, but the Creator is Jehovah-rophi. It is marvellous how one sweet word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the gold beater, and can hammer that promise out for whole weeks. So, then, poor Christian, thou needest not sit down in despair. Go to the Comforter, and ask him to give thee consolation. Thou art a poor dry well. You have heard it said, that when a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first of all, and then you will get water, and so, Christian, when thou art dry, go to God, ask him to shed abroad his joy in thy heart, and then thy joy shall be full. Do not go to earthly acquaintances, for you will find them Job’s comforters after all; but go first and foremost to thy “God, that comforteth those that are cast down,” and you will soon say, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”

“In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.” I just had to re-type that ’cause it means so much to me. There was a time when I’d quickly turn to other people whenever I am feeling disturbed or worried–and yup, it did NOT help. It may have, but the fix was temporary. I still have that tendency every now and then, but I am learning to lean upon the Lord FIRST, and alas, I find great comfort in Him. I remember last night–I was overwhelmed with lots of tasks and was rambling to some officemates. I just felt worse afterwards. When I was left alone in the office, I uttered a short prayer and there rushed in a flood of comfort. My God is so good.

Reflections: February 19

Verse of the Day (c/o YouVersion):

Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.  – Proverbs 16:3
Aaaaah I remember writing about this before! I got so interested with what “commit” here means. Here’s what I discovered:

I tried to do some research on it as I wanted to understand what the word ‘commit’ meant in this verse. Was it just dedicating something to the Lord?

According to the Hebrew version, it means to ‘roll unto the Lord’–which literally means to transfer the burden from one’s own back to one stronger and better able to bear it.

How beautiful is that! The Lord wants to take on our burdens and give us a yoke that is light. When we surrender to Him, that’s when we succeed.

 Takeaway reminder of the day: My burdens are light to the Lord. Lift them up to Him! He’s got this! (Okay, this is kind of consistent all throughout my 3 devotionals today…Got it, Lord.)

The Essential Jesus:

Luke 18:1-14 speaks of two awesome parables:

  • The Parable of the Persistent Window: This parable speaks of how a judge who does not fear God or man gets constantly “bugged” by a widow for him to help her get justice for her situation. The judge, despite his disregard of God and man, eventually caves in due to her persistence. What more shall it be then for God, who is just and loving? We are reminded here that as a trustworthy Father, God will listen to those who cry to him and day and night, and avenge them speedily. Kinda awesome how this is somehow related to the Morning devotion from Spurgeon. God just wants us to cry out to Him and lift up our concerns to Him as a sign of our trust and faith. To be honest, I have not been doing that for some things in my life recently that I think I can handle. I remember being burdened by one aspect of my life, and my initial thought was, “Okay, what is my action plan to fix this?” It would’ve been a LOT more helpful had I prayed first and told God of my concerns.
  • The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector: This parable speaks of two men who went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee thanks God that he is not like other “sinful men” and humblebrags that he regularly fasts and gives his tithes in full. The Tax Collector, on the other hand, couldn’t even look up and just humbly asks God to have mercy on him as he is a sinner. Jesus says that in this scenario, the TC was more justified that the Pharisee. SO APPLICABLE TO THE ISSUES IN OUR COUNTRY NOWADAYS, REALLY. My main takeaway here is that we should stop with our self-righteousness and bigotry, looking down at other people and thinking that we’re better off. (I am speaking to both sides of the issue, by the way.) Let us just look at the speck in our eye and acknowledge our sinfulness. Then, God will lift us up. People nowadays are so bent on proving a point and showing the world that they are more “honorable” that we forget to inspect ourselves and just bring down others. Oh, Lord. Please help us to #LoveMore2016.

Morning and Evening:

Morning–

Ezekiel 36:37

“Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.”

Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favour, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you. When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much, and earnestly interceding with God that he would remove your doubts, and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles, and mighty helps in great dangers, you have been able to say, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing’s shadow. When the sunlight of God’s mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, he himself shines behind them, and he casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy. Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly. “Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw; Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw; Gives exercise to faith and love; Brings every blessing from above.”

My prayer life has evolved from merely being 3-second or 5-minute moments into an open-ended whole-day conversation. And I agree–most of the amazing things that God has done in my life were preceded by prayer. Doesn’t He say in His Word that He will give when we ask? I’ve learned even in my normal life that givers appreciate being asked because it becomes a practice of faith, trust, and an expression of one’s understanding of the giver’s love. I desire today to have an active prayer life, always bringing and lifting my concerns up to the Lord in whatever circumstance, especially despite my being “busy” with the stuff of the world.

Evening–

John 1:41

“He first findeth his own brother Simon.”

This case is an excellent pattern of all cases where spiritual life is vigorous. As soon as a man has found Christ, he begins to find others. I will not believe that thou hast tasted of the honey of the gospel if thou canst eat it all thyself. True grace puts an end to all spiritual monopoly. Andrew first found his own brother Simon, and then others. Relationship has a very strong demand upon our first individual efforts. Andrew, thou didst well to begin with Simon. I doubt whether there are not some Christians giving away tracts at other people’s houses who would do well to give away a tract at their own–whether there are not some engaged in works of usefulness abroad who are neglecting their special sphere of usefulness at home. Thou mayst or thou mayst not be called to evangelize the people in any particular locality, but certainly thou art called to see after thine own servants, thine own kinsfolk and acquaintance. Let thy religion begin at home. Many tradesmen export their best commodities–the Christian should not. He should have all his conversation everywhere of the best savour; but let him have a care to put forth the sweetest fruit of spiritual life and testimony in his own family. When Andrew went to find his brother, he little imagined how eminent Simon would become. Simon Peter was worth ten Andrews so far as we can gather from sacred history, and yet Andrew was instrumental in bringing him to Jesus. You may be very deficient in talent yourself, and yet you may be the means of drawing to Christ one who shall become eminent in grace and service. Ah! dear friend, you little know the possibilities which are in you. You may but speak a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian church in years to come. Andrew has only two talents, but he finds Peter. Go thou and do likewise.

I could not relate so much about sharing the Gospel with one’s family as I grew up in a Christian home. (I thank my dad, though, for introducing me to Jesus.) But the last part of this devotional just strikes me so much. One’s service to God may be THAT bringing of people to Jesus. I remember the song that goes, “Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am life that was changed.” The verses of those song echo the same sentiment. Our tiny deeds of sharing Jesus to others may be seeds that could grow great fruits. I’m gonna end this by sharing those verses ’cause they are just so inspiring —

And he said, “Friend you may not know me now.”
And then he said, “But wait,
You used to teach my Sunday School
When I was only eight.
And every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer,
I asked Jesus in my heart.”

Then another man stood before you
And said, “Remember the time
A missionary came to your church
And his pictures made you cry.
You didn’t have much money,
But you gave it anyway.
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today.”

One by one they came
Far as the eye could see.
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity.
Little things that you had done,
Sacrifices made,
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven, now proclaimed.

And I know up in heaven
You’re not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure
There were tears in your eyes.
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord.
He said, “My child, look around you.
Great is your reward.”

Reflections: February 18

Verse of the Day (c/o YouVersion):

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

When I read this verse, I had the exact same question as that of the accompanying prayer. What does it really mean to live for Christ? My late father’s supposed tombstone engraving is that passage–that to live is Christ and to die is gain. What is living for Christ? Is it enough that I regularly go to church, that I have my ministry, that I do my quiet time regularly, that I don’t drink or smoke or have sex? I got reminded today through this devotion that doing all these “religious things” != living for Christ. (For non-coders, that means “not equal”.) When we die to ourselves and live for Christ, we are “born again”. I am born again. I am supposed to be a NEW CREATURE. That’s the key, I guess. Living for Christ means I am not just influenced by His life and teachings but I am TRANSFORMED. I AM CHANGED. I live life not just having God as an addition but with God as the center of everything. I sometimes think to myself if I indeed have been changed. It gets discouraging at times ’cause I don’t really have the major life shift (e.g. drug addict to pastor, prostitute to pastor’s wife, etc) but when I think about the little things (e.g. my patience, my anger, my love, etc) I realize that He has been changing me from glory to glory everyday. Thank you Jesus for the metanoia.

The Essential Jesus:

Luke 15:1-32 speaks of a general theme of the lost being found. Jesus shares the three parables–the one of the Lost Sheep, the one of the Lost Coin, and the one of the Prodigal Son–to tell the people how there is so much joy in finding one that is lost! There is more joy and celebration in the heavens when one sinner is saved over the many that do not anymore need repentance. My first reaction to these parables in the past was how unfair it is to those who are not “missing”. I could somehow relate with the older brother of the prodigal son as ever since I was born, I have been raised in a Christian home, grew up knowing Bible stories, etc. I felt that it was unfair that God would lavish so much love on those sinners who are doing those crazy things in life that I sometimes wish to do (out of rebellion) but do not do.

That was until I encountered the lesson on the prodigal son through our substitute Theo prof, Bobby Guev. We feel envy and hatred as the “older brother” sometimes, when in fact, we should share in our father’s love because a sinner returning to God is like having someone from our family come home after being gone for so long. The trials and worldly stuff they’ve gone through may sound so “exciting” from our perspective but there is nothing better than being at home and having the luxury of being with your father. Better yet, I learned that maybe we should think of ourselves as being a prodigal son as well. We’ve all been lost–I’ve been lost! It’s so self-righteous of me when I refute that thought. I’ve been there. Despite my seemingly “Christian” upbringing, I’ve been lost and lived a life on sin, yet God has welcomed me back! Not only did He wait for me to return, He also LOOKED FOR ME as with the sheep and the coin. What am I called to do them? Humble yourself, come back home, ask for forgiveness, and change–live like a son of the Most High!

Morning and Evening:

Morning–

Job 10:2

“Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.”

Perhaps, O tried soul, the Lord is doing this to develop thy graces. There are some of thy graces which would never be discovered if it were not for thy trials. Dost thou not know that thy faith never looks so grand in summer weather as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glow-worm, showing but little light except it be in the midst of surrounding darkness. Hope itself is like a star–not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. Afflictions are often the black foils in which God doth set the jewels of his children’s graces, to make them shine the better. It was but a little while ago that on thy knees thou wast saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith: let me know that I have faith.” Was not this really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials?–for how canst thou know that thou hast faith until thy faith is exercised? Depend upon it, God often sends us trials that our graces may be discovered, and that we may be certified of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery, real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials. God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains his soldiers, not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. Well, Christian, may not this account for the troubles through which thou art passing? Is not the Lord bringing out your graces, and making them grow? Is not this the reason why he is contending with you? “Trials make the promise sweet; Trials give new life to prayer; Trials bring me to his feet, Lay me low, and keep me there.”

I remember praying just a few weeks back to have more moments of faith and “God space” in my life. Truly, when we pray for such, we do not get poured with an instant feeling of more trust in God; instead, it comes in the form of more troubles. The amount of things that disturb me is beyond what my hands can count. I usually just don’t show it on the outside (’cause I am a tough and independent woman, supposedly) but I have trials that I just wish I could fast-forward from. Yet, as today’s reading reminds, these are opportunities used by God to mold us and form us. And we will never experience God the way that we do in prosperity as we do when we’re in trouble.

Evening–

Luke 15:18

“Father, I have sinned.”

It is quite certain that those whom Christ has washed in his precious blood need not make a confession of sin, as culprits or criminals, before God the Judge, for Christ has forever taken away all their sins in a legal sense, so that they no longer stand where they can be condemned, but are once for all accepted in the Beloved; but having become children, and offending as children, ought they not every day to go before their heavenly Father and confess their sin, and acknowledge their iniquity in that character? Nature teaches that it is the duty of erring children to make a confession to their earthly father, and the grace of God in the heart teaches us that we, as Christians, owe the same duty to our heavenly Father. We daily offend, and ought not to rest without daily pardon. For, supposing that my trespasses against my Father are not at once taken to him to be washed away by the cleansing power of the Lord Jesus, what will be the consequence? If I have not sought forgiveness and been washed from these offences against my Father, I shall feel at a distance from him; I shall doubt his love to me; I shall tremble at him; I shall be afraid to pray to him: I shall grow like the prodigal, who, although still a child, was yet far off from his father. But if, with a child’s sorrow at offending so gracious and loving a Parent, I go to him and tell him all, and rest not till I realize that I am forgiven, then I shall feel a holy love to my Father, and shall go through my Christian career, not only as saved, but as one enjoying present peace in God through Jesus Christ my Lord. There is a wide distinction between confessing sin as a culprit, and confessing sin as a child. The Father’s bosom is the place for penitent confessions. We have been cleansed once for all, but our feet still need to be washed from the defilement of our daily walk as children of God.

Kinda creepy (in a good way) with how I am being bombarded by texts on the Prodigal Son today. I love how this reading reminded me first and foremost of my status in Christ–that I am already forgiven. That said, it really is very important to daily confess one’s sins to God. I can relate to what Spurgeon said about the consequences of not confessing. When I let my sin stay “stagnant”, I truly feel a certain distance from God–probably out of shame or fear. To be honest, what’s helping me get through certain temptations in my life nowadays is that I don’t want to break the sweet fellowship that I already have with Jesus right now. Yet, as a human being, I still fall prey to certain sins. What a great reminder to ask for forgiveness!

Reflections: February 17

Verse of the Day (c/o YouVersion):

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. – Matthew 18:20

Ahhh, the importance of community. This is a topic I like so much because I love being with fellow believers. Yet, there are still some times when I’d rather ditch them out of inis and spite. When I am stumbled because of someone’s behavior, or discouraged by the non-presence of some, it just causes me to stay away from certain groups. Yet, the importance of community lies beyond comfort. It is in such settings that we are sharpened (iron sharpens iron) and we learn of love, grace and mercy as we have to apply it to our brethren. What’s awesome though is the assurance of God being in our midst when we gather in His name. What else could be a better encouragement to join a community than that?

The Essential Jesus:

Luke 14:1-24 is such a tough read, not because it’s difficult but because it’s full of so much rebuke. I can only imagine what I’d feel if I were the host who invited Jesus to dinner. I’d probably be all don’t raid on my parade, please. Anyway, this passage speaks of four main topics:

  • Jesus heals a man who was sick as He went into the house of one the rulers of the Pharisees. I have a feeling that this is a “trap” of some sort, because the people were watching Him, as if waiting to see how He will react to the sick person. True to His loving nature, Jesus heals the man–just showing how He comes with love and grace and mercy over law. And indeed, can we not relate with the Pharisees? There are moments when I value rules and regulations over showing mercy. We miss out on opportunities to do good to others because of our holier-than-thou stance.
  • Jesus rebukes those who choose the best places and seats, and says instead that we should pick the most lowly seat and allow others to bring us to higher places instead. I think this is Jesus’ way of telling everyone that they’re all mayabang :p True enough, I am like that sometimes, too. I like being the center of attention and I like being treated like I’m special. Yet, God reminds us that if we exalt ourselves, we will be humbled. So may it be otherwise.
  • Jesus also directly comments on the dinner host that he should invite not those who are rich and famous, but those who are needy, poor and sick. To do good to those who can repay you is easy, but to do good to those who cannot is mercy–and your reward shall be in heaven. Another #dartsaheart moment for me in this one. If you know me (or actually if you just visit my Facebook page), you’ll know that I’m such a fangirl. If faced with an option to feed Alden Richards or feed someone poor, I’m cringing as I say it but I’d probably pick Alden. And I’m not proud of that. It’s really an area of my life that I’m still allowing the Lord to address since I have elitist tendencies. My prayer is that I may be molded to become a woman for others.
  • Jesus tells the parable of the Great Supper, where all who were originally invited declined because of their other occupations. Because of that, the host asked his servants to instead invite those who are in the streets–the lame, the poor, the sick. i think this speaks of how the privileged take their opportunity for granted, and how God has a heart for those who are in need. I tried to check some commentaries, and this also seems to talk about how the Jews were not receptive to God’s love originally, so the invitation of salvation was extended even to the Gentiles.

Morning and Evening:

Morning–

Genesis 25:11

“Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.”

Hagar had once found deliverance there and Ishmael had drank from the water so graciously revealed by the God who liveth and seeth the sons of men; but this was a merely casual visit, such as worldlings pay to the Lord in times of need, when it serves their turn. They cry to him in trouble, but forsake him in prosperity. Isaac dwelt there, and made the well of the living and all-seeing God his constant source of supply. The usual tenor of a man’s life, the dwelling of his soul, is the true test of his state. Perhaps the providential visitation experienced by Hagar struck Isaac’s mind, and led him to revere the place; its mystical name endeared it to him; his frequent musings by its brim at eventide made him familiar with the well; his meeting Rebecca there had made his spirit feel at home near the spot; but best of all, the fact that he there enjoyed fellowship with the living God, had made him select that hallowed ground for his dwelling. Let us learn to live in the presence of the living God; let us pray the Holy Spirit that this day, and every other day, we may feel, “Thou God seest me.” May the Lord Jehovah be as a well to us, delightful, comforting, unfailing, springing up unto eternal life. The bottle of the creature cracks and dries up, but the well of the Creator never fails; happy is he who dwells at the well, and so has abundant and constant supplies near at hand. The Lord has been a sure helper to others: his name is Shaddai, God All-sufficient; our hearts have often had most delightful intercourse with him; through him our soul has found her glorious Husband, the Lord Jesus; and in him this day we live, and move, and have our being; let us, then, dwell in closest fellowship with him. Glorious Lord, constrain us that we may never leave thee, but dwell by the well of the living God.

Dwell by the well! May I do such in my life. I can relate to the devotional’s example of people who just leisurely drop by and visit God whenever they need something. My prayer is that I would have close and constant fellowship with Him, and that I’d realize that I have all the supplication that I need in God’s well.

Evening–

Ezekiel 35:10

“Whereas the Lord was there.”

Edom’s princes saw the whole country left desolate, and counted upon its easy conquest; but there was one great difficulty in their way–quite unknown to them–“The Lord was there;” and in his presence lay the special security of the chosen land. Whatever may be the machinations and devices of the enemies of God’s people, there is still the same effectual barrier to thwart their design. The saints are God’s heritage, and he is in the midst of them, and will protect his own. What comfort this assurance yields us in our troubles and spiritual conflicts! We are constantly opposed, and yet perpetually preserved! How often Satan shoots his arrows against our faith, but our faith defies the power of hell’s fiery darts; they are not only turned aside, but they are quenched upon its shield, for “the Lord is there.” Our good works are the subjects of Satan’s attacks. A saint never yet had a virtue or a grace which was not the target for hellish bullets: whether it was hope bright and sparkling, or love warm and fervent, or patience all-enduring, or zeal flaming like coals of fire, the old enemy of everything that is good has tried to destroy it. The only reason why anything virtuous or lovely survives in us is this, “the Lord is there.”

If the Lord be with us through life, we need not fear for our dying confidence; for when we come to die, we shall find that “the Lord is there;” where the billows are most tempestuous, and the water is most chill, we shall feel the bottom, and know that it is good: our feet shall stand upon the Rock of Ages when time is passing away. Beloved, from the first of a Christian’s life to the last, the only reason why he does not perish is because “the Lord is there.” When the God of everlasting love shall change and leave his elect to perish, then may the Church of God be destroyed; but not till then, because it is written, Jehovah Shammah, “The Lord is there.”

So true. So so so true. Through everything that I have gone through, I know that the only key to being able to surpass each trial (big or small) is because GOD IS THERE. The enemy attacks and forms weapons against us, but he does not prosper for we are with the Lord. What a great assurance! May I be in constant awareness of Jehovah Shammah.

Reflections: February 16

Verse of the Day (c/o YouVersion):

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

Sidenote: It’s Steph Curry daaaaay! Not really. It’s just that I associate this verse with him and his shoes.

IMG_8877-copy

Photo from Slam Online

Today’s Abide devotional mentions that we are called to do difficult things for God’s glory, and these are the situations that require God’s extraordinary providence towards us. I may have used this verse in the past thinking that it applies to things that will just bring me the glory being matters of personal success. Yet, it is good to put this into proper context. “All things” here mean things that are in accordance to God’s purpose for us. In short, if I was not meant to be a basketball superstar like Steph, no matter how many times I quote this verse, I will not gain the same prestige.

What’s cool to note actually is that it can apply to seemingly trivial matters. Things I can think of are:

  • Being content (in relation to today’s other readings)
  • Being more patient
  • Being more loving
  • Being forgiving
  • Caring more for our bodies
  • Resisting temptation
  • etc

In those situations, we can believe that we can do it, despite what our flesh might dictate, because God is on our side in our quest to be more like Jesus.

I also liked how the passage highlights 2 actions: we do, and God strengthens & gives what we need. This is not a passive activity of us just doing and doing, or God just giving and giving while we just sit back and relax. It is a partnership. God strengthens, and we put it into action.

In my life, as I relate this to today’s readings in my 2 other devotionals, I really need more strength to be content. It’s common for me to get envious of others and always compare, and I almost want to pass it off as “human nature” but I trust that I CAN BE CONTENT through Christ who strengthens me 🙂

The Essential Jesus:

The parable in Luke 12:13-21 does not easily come to mind for me. Yet, today, it came at a perfect time. The passage tells of a person who asks Jesus to make his brother share his inheritance with him. Jesus responds and cautions them to take heed of covetousness for life is beyond what we possess. He then tells of the parable of the rich man who stored up lots of crops for himself, confident that when he was lots, he can just lay back, eat, drink and be merry. Yet, on that evening, he is to die–and he is asked who then shall own all of his possessions. Jesus ends the parable by noting that it is foolish for one to lay treasures for himself and not be rich towards God.

Just last night, my mom, sister and I were discussing about money matters. I don’t know why, but they seem to have a notion that I’m a millionaire, and that I earn hundreds of thousands every month. Both are not true. I told them that I am only able to save just enough because of the school expenses that I shouldered (that totals to about 300-350 thousand pesos) and my random treat-outs for other people, etc. I got a knot in my throat and a push in my heart that maybe I need to save more money for my future. I started thinking of the “givings” that I need cut down on. Actually, up until before this devotion, I was so disturbed with the idea of not being able to save enough. Yet, indeed I am moved by today’s reading–as if it was hand-picked just for me. There’s no use in storing too much for myself. It is more long-lasting and eternal to invest in the lives of other people and in the Kingdom. MAY I PUT THIS TO HEART AND TRULY BELIEVE IT. It’s so tough. Huhuhu. Monies.

Morning and Evening:

Morning–

Philippians 4:11

“I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.”

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. “Ill weeds grow apace.” Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. Paul says, “I have learned … to be content;” as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave–a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome. We might well be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain unto his good degree. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented without learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Content.

I am naturally a complainer. And I mean, really. I complain about all that I can complain about. I pray for help and guidance as I try to hush the murmurs and be more content–regardless of the situation. The no complaining habit starts now!

Evening–

Nehemiah 9:20

“Thy good Spirit.”

Common, too common is the sin of forgetting the Holy Spirit. This is folly and ingratitude. He deserves well at our hands, for he is good, supremely good. As God, he is good essentially. He shares in the threefold ascription of Holy, holy, holy, which ascends to the Triune Jehovah. Unmixed purity and truth, and grace is he. He is good benevolently, tenderly bearing with our waywardness, striving with our rebellious wills; quickening us from our death in sin, and then training us for the skies as a loving nurse fosters her child. How generous, forgiving, and tender is this patient Spirit of God. He is good operatively. All his works are good in the most eminent degree: he suggests good thoughts, prompts good actions, reveals good truths, applies good promises, assists in good attainments, and leads to good results. There is no spiritual good in all the world of which he is not the author and sustainer, and heaven itself will owe the perfect character of its redeemed inhabitants to his work. He is good officially; whether as Comforter, Instructor, Guide, Sanctifier, Quickener, or Intercessor, he fulfils his office well, and each work is fraught with the highest good to the church of God. They who yield to his influences become good, they who obey his impulses do good, they who live under his power receive good. Let us then act towards so good a person according to the dictates of gratitude. Let us revere his person, and adore him as God over all, blessed forever; let us own his power, and our need of him by waiting upon him in all our holy enterprises; let us hourly seek his aid, and never grieve him; and let us speak to his praise whenever occasion occurs. The church will never prosper until more reverently it believes in the Holy Ghost. He is so good and kind, that it is sad indeed that he should be grieved by slights and negligences.

May I learn to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and treat Him as He is–a person of God.

Reflections: February 15

Verse of the Day (c/o YouVersion):

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. – John 15:13

Chocolates, flowers, hugs, kisses, and dates…all these are sweet. Yet today, I am reminded that the truest love comes with sacrifice. And there is no greater act of love than what Jesus did on the cross for us. Jesus has shown His love towards us by stepping off His throne to come into our kagulo world and live among us, and to sacrifice His life to pay for our sins despite His being sinless. Ahhh, this love! How can I seek for love from anyone else when I’ve received this from the Lord?

I am reminded of this song:

The Essential Jesus:

Matthew 23:1-39 is pretty intense. I read through it and scrolled back up to realize that it was Jesus who was saying this. No wonder the Pharisees disliked Him. He was honest and straight-to-the-point in His rebuke, showing how much He loved people yet hated sin.

This chapter tells of the observations and rebukes towards the Pharisees and the scribes (P&S, for this blog post):

  • Jesus tells the people to follow what the P&S teach, but not what they do because they don’t walk their talk.
  • P&S but heavy burdens on people and do not do anything to help alleviate them–probably through obliging them to follow rituals and traditions and the law to an extreme extent.
  • P&S do their works to be seen by men. They enhance their garments, they choose the best seats, and love being called ‘Rabbi’ by men. In short, they love being prestigious.
  • Jesus tells the people that the only One deserving of such prestigious treatment is God.
  • Jesus tells the people that whoever exalts himself shall be brought down and humbled, but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted by God.
  • P&S make it difficult for people to “enter” the Kingdom of heaven, including themselves.
  • P&S take advantage of widows, show off with long prayers, and try to win strangers with much fervor but just end up making them worse off than they were.
  • P&S give more value to the gold in the temple over the temple, and the offerings in the altar over the altar.
  • P&S pay their tithes but forget justice, mercy and faith. Jesus tells the people that these three should be practiced alongside our giving.
  • P&S focus so much on cleaning the outside while inside they are rotten and decaying. Change is focused on just what others see and not on matters of the heart, which is why they are called hypocrites.
  • P&S wash their hands when it comes to the death of God’s people brought about by the people. They think they are so much better than their forefathers–that if they had lived earlier, they would listen to the prophets and honor them. This was a form of self-righteousness, instead of just confessing one’s wrongs.
  • The chapter ends with Jesus telling the people that God wants to gather them up and protect them like a hen does to her chicks, but the people weren’t willing–and this is why their house is desolate and why God seems distant to them.

It’s kinda intense to learn about what the P&S did during these times. We’re quick to pass off judgment and chastise them for the way they live. Yet, if we truly look deep into ourselves, we can see that there are parts of us that are so much alike with the P&S. I myself know that there are times when I tend to be a people-pleaser, to be more into ‘religion’ than faith, to be a hypocrite, etc. I believe that Jesus teaches this lesson not so much to just put the P&S to shame, but to use it as an example for us to assess our wrongdoings and not do them again. It’s so easy to say that we’re “better” than the P&S, but the attitude that God is looking for is humility–that is admitting that we are sometimes like the P&S but we can’t change on our own but need God’s guidance to walk in righteousness.

Morning and Evening:

Morning–

2 Peter 3:18

“To him be glory both now and forever.”

Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus. Eternity! thine unnumbered years shall speed their everlasting course, but forever and forever, “to him be glory.” Is he not a “Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek?” “To him be glory.” Is he not king forever?–King of kings and Lord of lords, the everlasting Father? “To him be glory forever.” Never shall his praises cease. That which was bought with blood deserves to last while immortality endures. The glory of the cross must never be eclipsed; the lustre of the grave and of the resurrection must never be dimmed. O Jesus! thou shalt be praised forever. Long as immortal spirits live–long as the Father’s throne endures–forever, forever, unto thee shall be glory. Believer, you are anticipating the time when you shall join the saints above in ascribing all glory to Jesus; but are you glorifying him now? The apostle’s words are, “To him be glory both now and forever.” Will you not this day make it your prayer? “Lord, help me to glorify thee; I am poor; help me to glorify thee by contentment; I am sick; help me to give thee honour by patience; I have talents; help me to extol thee by spending them for thee; I have time; Lord, help me to redeem it, that I may serve thee; I have a heart to feel; Lord, let that heart feel no love but thine, and glow with no flame but affection for thee; I have a head to think; Lord, help me to think of thee and for thee; thou hast put me in this world for something; Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose: I cannot do much; but as the widow put in her two mites, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and eternity too into thy treasury; I am all thine; take me, and enable me to glorify thee now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have.”

When I think about glorifying the Lord, the image that comes to mind is me in my glorified body, worshipping Him non-stop in heaven with the congregation of believers. I guess what kicks in is “forever”. Yet, the statement says, “To him be glory both NOW and forever” and indeed I am challenged if I give Him the glory He deserves now. The devotional tells it so beautifully. Whatever we have right now, let us use all of it for glorifying God–be it skills, limitations, time, our hearts, and our minds. Let God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven by living out eternity now.