The Gift {giveaway}

We had been waiting for over a month, and as the expected day of arrival drew near, we had become more excited, especially the kids. And when we finally heard a delivery van stop in front of the house, the kids screamed in total excitement. How could one contain the joy of receiving the big box and finally opening it? If I couldn’t, how much more the kids?

Ever since I couldn’t go to the malls and shop for our clothing and things needed in the house, I have begun the practice of shopping online. We shop at online stores, mostly based in the U.S. like Old Navy for our clothes, DaySpring for home and my blog giveaways, Barnes and Noble for children’s books, Christianbook for my Bibles and other Christian books and devotionals, Amazon for electronics and bed products, and many others. (I don’t receive ad fees here! :)). All our orders are delivered to my sister’s address in San Diego, CA, and she, in turn, puts them all in a big box with used clothing, books, shoes, toys, chocolates, etc. thrown in, and sends it to us via door-to-door courier.

I don’t know why but it is inherent in man to be excited to open gifts. As little children, we grew up looking forward to Christmas Eve where after the midnight mass, we were allowed to open our gifts. We felt like we would burst with excitement as we anticipated that much-awaited moment. And naturally, our kids are exactly like that. Almost everyday, they would sit near the Christmas tree and review their gifts.

I remember when I was a kid their age that I would hold my gifts tenderly and gaze at my name written on each of them. It always felt wonderful that someone loved me and cared enough for me that they would remember to wrap me a gift and put my name on it. I felt – special.

If we know how to give gifts to our children to show how much we love and care for them, how much more our loving Father in heaven? He put this love in our hearts, He it is who taught us how to give. He gives to all life (Acts 17:25); He gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17); and gives to all men liberally (James 1:5).

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

He sent His gift to all mankind wrapped in swaddling cloth. He came to give light to those who live in darkness. He came to bring salvation and the promise of eternal life. God’s gift is the greatest gift we can ever receive in this life. I have received this gift – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friend, if you haven’t, I urge you to receive Him in your life, to surrender your heart, your life, to Him. There is no other gift as great and as precious as the Lord Jesus. Take your gift, your name is engraved on it – it’s the handwriting of God Himself. He has specially prepared it for you. Aren’t you just so excited to unwrap your gift? Receive the gift of salvation today and begin celebrating Christmas – Christ – everyday.

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Series:

Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}
Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}
Day 3: The Goodness of the Lord
Day 4: Yes and Amen!
Day 5: The Way to the Manger
Day 6: The Widow and the Fatherless
Day 7: “I Must Decrease”
Day 8: Thankfulness
Day 9: Just a Journey
Day 10: Vessels

GIVEAWAY!

Christian journal from Dayspring (USA); hardcover, with Bible verse in each page.

How to join:

  • Leave your comment to this post and you’re automatically entered in the giveaway.
  • For additional entries:

~ you may share this post on Facebook through the FB button below.

~ you may like, share, comment on the link I will put on Facebook.

  • Giveaway open to Philippine residents only.
  • Giveaway closes on Dec. 30, 6PM.

Linked to Sharing His Beauty, Titus 2sday, Proverbs14verse1, Women Living Well, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday

Just a Journey

There are only a few days remaining before the whole world celebrates Christmas. But while the world is busy preparing for that day, many of the people in our country, families after families, are busy burying their dead. Saturday, December 17, Typhoon “Sendong” hit the southern part of the Philippines, mainly, cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, leaving hundreds dead in the massive landslide caused by it.

As most people around the world are busy shopping in posh malls, trying on clothes and shoes, wrapping gifts, dining with family and friends, there are hundreds of typhoon victims in our land who are busy collecting clean water from leaking pipe, queuing up in a long  line with the hope to get food packed in styro, all the time trying to blot the horror of it all – seeing their loved ones washed away by the rushing muddy floodwaters.

(source)

(Above photos from Yahoo News, Phils.)

(source: Philippine News)

The earth is sighing, groaning, weeping. And what is the Lord thinking or feeling about all this? What is the meaning of all this? What is our life?

But this is not our home. We don’t belong here. We are just passing through. If we have put all our hope in this life only, then we are truly a most pitiable people!

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1 Cor. 15:19)

Life on earth is very fleeting. Compared to eternity, lifetime becomes negligible. If we think only of this life, then life, really, is devoid of meaning. But if we make it a pilgrimage, a journey, then we, as pilgrims, have hope beyond this life – a bright, shining future – in Christ Jesus our Lord.

But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Heb. 11:16 NLT)

The three wise men traveled far from the East to go and worship the King that was born. They journeyed with only the star as their light and guide, each bearing precious gift for the Messiah. They set out for this pilgrimage full of hope that they are going to see the King, and they persevered. At the end of their journey, they saw Him and rejoiced greatly.

We must be like the three wise men, setting out on a pilgrimage, closely following His light, persevering, hoping, and expecting that at the end, we will see Him face-to-face and great will be our joy! For this King that was born in a humble manger came to bring us hope and the promise of eternal life.

The Lord Jesus Christ is calling, “I am your salvation”. Let’s heed His voice.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. (Rev. 21:4 NLT)

Also in this series:

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 3: The Goodness of the Lord
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 4: Yes and Amen!
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 5: The Way to the Manger
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 6: The Widow and the Fatherless
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 7: “I Must Decrease”
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 8: Thankfulness
 

This is linked to Walk With Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Spiritual Sundays

Thankfulness

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(source: Google images)

I have learned that thankfulness could be manifested in different ways depending on a person’s circumstance. For someone who is being showered by God’s wonderful blessings – good health, wealth, and spiritual prosperity – it would be completely normal to see him/her leaping, bounding, and singing praises to God in overflowing thanksgiving. But to one who is suffering physically or living in utter poverty, how does one give thanks?

In such circumstances, it is still possible to live in daily thanksgiving. I have learned to live this way through these years of hard trials. I have developed the practice of running to Jesus my Savior whenever I feel sorrowful and a heavy load weighs down on me. A friend’s actions have hurt me or a loved one’s words have wounded my heart – I run to Him for comfort, healing, and grace to forgive. I have always found solace throwing myself at His feet, totally abandoned and weeping like the child He cherishes. It is a great privilege.

But there are days when I feel that the very One I depend on is the one who I feel is holding back the deep desires of my heart. There are days, while I go through difficult physical discomforts and suffering, that I think that I get exactly the opposite answers to the very prayers I cry out. That my fervent dreams and longings which I beg the Lord for – I see them being realized and lived by other people.

(I have been fervently praying that I would be strong enough to travel to Canyon Woods this Christmas season where we have a property and our family could have at least a mini vacation. But as the days go by, I feel that my dream is far from being realized and instead of receiving answer to it, I was given some papers by my husband which needed my signature. They are authorization letter and vouchers that our employees need to be able to spend a night in Canyon Woods this December).

As I have told my beloved husband, I have gone through all these emotional afflictions before – being unable to carry my baby and see him being held and carried by a nanny, being unable to be in my daughter’s school events, and a whole lot more – and though they have cut deep into my heart, I have always chosen to give thanks.

But there are some days that all the lessons I have stored, or the verses I have taken to heart, or the many articles I have written to encourage, cannot seem to reach deep into my sorrow, and for a moment I am spiritually paralyzed.

How does one give thanks then? In the hard trials, in the difficult moments, in the presence of anguish – how does one rise and lift up a praise of thanksgiving?

There are moments that I don’t seem to know the answer. But I know that these, too, shall pass. That when the heaviness is lifted up and the eyes are able to see this lovely face of an innocent child, how his eyes grow large and dance as he shows me something wonderful to him; how this young girl speaks to me with that persistence of hers, face squarish and full cheeks flushed from outdoor activities, and how she is so unaware of what’s going through her beloved Mom’s heart and mind  – I know then that there are many things I should be thankful for.

Though I do not leap and bound and shout for joy (for my physical condition constrains me), when relief floods my soul and warmth spreads throughout my heart, I thank the Lord Jesus Christ then – sincerely, deeply, and reverently. For all this is grace.

So I am compelled again to look hard at the manger. Why did the Lord choose such austere surroundings?

Because He’s radically teaching us that what are seen by the eyes are not the ones that really matter in this life, but those that are unseen – love, compassion, humility… These are the things He teaches me and wants me to treasure. And for that I am forever grateful.

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Also in this series:

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 3: The Goodness of the Lord
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 4: Yes and Amen!
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 5: The Way to the Manger
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 6: The Widow and the Fatherless
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 7: “I Must Decrease”

This is linked to Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Walk With Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, Proverbs14verse1

“I Must Decrease”

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(source: Google images)

Bible reading: Luke 3

Hannah and I settle for our nightly Bible reading and discussion, and I read this part of Luke 3:

“I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”  (Luke 3:16-17)

One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. I read the powerful words and shivers run through my body. I feel deep within me the great awe and reverence John the Baptist had for the Lord Jesus Christ.

I read the words again, slowly, and I explain them in depth to my daughter. And as I do, I am actually telling myself, too, and I am learning from the words the Holy Spirit puts into my heart and mouth.

John didn’t count himself worthy to get down on his knees and unloose the strap of the Lord’s sandals. He knew that the Lord is above all while he, John, was of the earth. He maintained that humble posture before the King of whose way he was sent to prepare.

I wish I were always like John, never forgetting the reason why I was born, why God created me. To always remember that God created me for His glory and never for mine, that He made me worthy to be used by Him for His purposes and never for fame and people’s admiration of me. For my earthly thinking and desires sometimes get entangled with God’s thoughts and ways, and I get it all askew.

John always knew that he was born to prepare the way of the Lord and he managed to be out of the spotlight throughout his life. For even while the people were coming to him, repenting and being baptized by him, he never failed to tell of the coming Messiah and introduce Him to them. His delight was giving glory to God and seeing the Lord Jesus increase more and more in greatness.

He must increase, but I must decrease. (Luke 3:30)

He must become greater; I must become less. (Luke 3:30 NIV)

It was never John’s desire to steal the Lord’s glory and covet His greatness. I’m afraid that the earthly feelings I sometimes have – feeling hurt when I don’t get many comments on my posts, or being secretly delighted with people’s admiration, and also with the real motives behind the things I do –  might make me guilty of unconsciously stealing God’s glory and coveting people’s admiration that is supposedly for God and God alone.

I never desired or intentionally thought of stealing or coveting the Lord’s glory (God forbid!), but if I feel hurt and disappointed to people’s lack of reaction to the things that He does through me (like my writing), then I’m taking it personally, as if it were all about me. I need to always remember that IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM AND FOR HIS GLORY. Never about me.

Oh, that I would always take John’s posture – humble, unassuming, never being centered to himself, but always pointing to the One who appointed him! Then my joy would be multiplied!

And of course, never forgetting the greatest act of humility that was ever shown to mankind: the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ – King of kings and Lord of lords – chose to be born and laid in a manger with hay as covering and swaddling cloth to wrap Him, because His ways are not the world’s ways, and His thoughts are never the world’s thoughts. For just like heaven is higher than the earth, so are His ways and thoughts are higher than the world’s – ours. For He is above all.

Related article: Spiritually-minded

Also in this series:

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 3: The Goodness of the Lord
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 4: Yes and Amen!
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 5: The Way to the Manger
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 6: The Widow and the Fatherless
 

Gratitude List: I’m thankful for

~ very anointed preaching on Sunday service that empowered me and strengthened my walk with the Lord

~ my beloved husband’s birthday celebration, celebrating golden age

~ God who never ceases to inspire

~ old-time friends’ warmth of friendship

~ the beauty that God brings to daily life

~ my two canvases from Patsy now hanging on our walls: Hold on to Hope and John 1:51

~ all the material blessings God continues to shower upon us

~ the hearts to give and share

This post is linked to Multitudes on MondaySharing His Beauty, Domestically Divine, Titus 2sday, < Women Living Well, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays

The Widow and the Fatherless

She received my letter with great joy and without delay, she  came, traveling 12 hours by bus with her little girl in her arms. They arrived in the early evening going straight to the Friday overnight worship service of our main church.

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Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)

That night, I saw her testify in the pulpit clothed in white long sleeves blouse and long skirt, and one wouldn’t think that she just got off the bus. She had fresh testimonies of God’s healing miracles in their outreach – a far-flung barrio in San Andres, Quezon Province. She testified that she was fetched by other brethren-in-Chirst to go to an island and pray for a woman who was greatly suffering from witchcraft. There was nobody to leave her almost three-years-old baby girl for her two older boys were still in school, so she brought her baby along.

She testified that huge waves would cover their banca (a small boat) as they navigated the turbulent sea but they never stopped praying and rebuking the wind and the waves. At this, I remember the very first time I heard her testify. It was almost the same situation – a very dangerous boat ride to an island where they would have a Bible Study. I was amazed then at her stories, her testimonies of great faith in the midst of seemingly impossible situations.

I had wanted to meet her then (over six years ago) and requested her to pray for my healing. And thus, our friendship blossomed.

Sister Isabel is a faithful worker in the Lord’s vineyard. She fasts and prays regularly. She has a small hut near the outreach’s chapel. She visits sick people and prays for them, as taught by our dearly beloved pastor and assistant pastor. She had fully surrendered her life in service to the Lord while her beloved husband worked for the family as a security guard in another province.

But in late-2008, three months before she would deliver her youngest child, just a few weeks before Christmas, her beloved husband suddenly died of a heart attack.

Sis. Isabel and her baby Rain with my 2 kids Hannah and Tim.

Sunday after the worship service, she comes to our home, with her little girl in her arms. The widow and the fatherless. We talk and I can see her strength, that quiet strength that only comes from a very intimate walk with Jesus.

I ask again the name of her little girl, and she tells me. And I think, “Did she name her daughter Princess Reign? Like a reigning princess?” I’m not sure so I ask her to spell it. And she says, “R-A-I-N.”

“I named her Princess Rain because tears poured out like rain when I was carrying her.” And I see beads of crystals threatening to spill out of meek eyes.

I ask about her boys. The eldest is in grade 6 and the younger is in grade 3. I ask some more. They live by her beloved husband’s SSS pension which is P3,0oo plus (about $80) per month. I tell her we will sponsor John Mark’s (her eldest) schooling until he graduates from high school. At this, those pools in her eyes spill over and run down her face freely. She wipes them with her palm as she expresses her gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ.

She goes back home to the province with cartons of canned goods and noodles, packs of juice powder and biscuits, a box of used clothes, and cash for 2 sacks of rice – and a very grateful heart to the One who deserves all thanksgiving. These will be distributed to the beloved brethren there – the poor who are rich in faith.

And she tells me that this will be a joyous Christmas for all of them. “Ang Diyos ay mabuti!” (God is good!), she utters solemnly.

Through our own afflictions, the Lord Jesus draws us nearer to the afflicted, so that we would learn love – and we would learn Him.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35)

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 3: The Goodness of the Lord
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 4: Yes and Amen!
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 5: The Way to the Manger
 

This post is linked to Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty, Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Walk With Him Wednesday, Proverbs14verse1, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays

Journey with Jesus,

The Way to the Manger

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(photo source)

Bible reading: Luke 2: 1-20

The shepherds gather together again tonight on the hill, just like the night before and the one before that, dutifully watching over their flock. The coolness of the night makes them huddle close together as they tell stories to one another to keep the eyelids from drooping. There have been many nights that they have become weary with their work, but it is their only livelihood, and their families depend on them, so night after night they go out to the fields to pasture their flock.

But tonight would be a different one, for the Lord has something huge in store for them: they would be the first to receive the good tidings about the birth of the King! They would be the first to see Him!

(Above is my interpretation of the shepherds’ story).

We ask, where does the glory of God shine? That night that the Messiah was born, the glory of God shone not on the streets of the city, but onto the field where the shepherds worked through the night. The angel who brought the glad tidings did not announce The Birth in the city where the people were, but chose a small cluster of shepherds to break the good news to. The glory of God shone around them!

For God operates in the exact opposite the world operates. The God Incarnate chose to be born in a humble manger covered with hay and chose a few poor shepherds to know and proclaim about His birth, because the love of God wants to show that before honor is humility. That love, really, is not about self, but always about beyond self. That pride in the heart brings low, but humility ushers in grace and lifts up.

The poor shepherds, blessed with humble spirits, received the good tidings joyfully and hurried off to see the King that was born. And they saw Him and they left rejoicing and glorifying God, spreading the great news to the people.

For the way to the manger is the way of humility and obedience. The way to the Savior is to just follow the star – His light.

That was the true Light which, coming into the world, gives light to every man. (John 1:9 NKJV)

The way to the manger is to leave the darkness where we dwell and follow as His light leads us. His light leads us to Himself.

Friend, are you weary from all your labors and sleepless nights? Weary of always trying to do it right on your own and always ending up doing it all wrong? Just as what the shepherds did – leave everything behind and just follow the Lord’s light. It will bring you to Himself and to life.

For the way to the manger is the way to life. And the way to life is really death to self.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:4 NIV)

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 3: The Goodness of the Lord
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 4: Yes and Amen!

This post is linked to Titus 2sdays, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Walk with Him Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty

Yes and Amen!

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(source: Google images)

Sabel’s husband left shortly after she gave birth to their youngest child. He left and didn’t look back nor go back to the family he left behind, ever since. The family learned later that he had started a new family with another woman in another province far from where they live.

The years that followed would prove for Sabel the most trying times of her life. They would live in painful poverty day in and day out. The children wouldn’t be able to go to school and would often go to bed at night crying in hunger. Sabel herself would get seriously sick and at one point, would lose her sanity.*

Who wouldn’t? Without the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, who would not get sick in mind, body and soul?

It is because of ALL these: shattered homes, rent hearts,  broken bodies, that the Messiah has come – to save, to heal, and to restore. To give new lives.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

What the enemy has stolen – our joy and peace, health and strength – the Lord Jesus came to restore.

When the angel Gabriel brought the most important message for humankind to Mary, Mary had bravely faced this heavenly being who stands in the presence of God and had listened intently to each word spoken. Mary, the young betrothed woman blessed by God, had unflinchingly said “Yes!”

Yes to God’s will! Yes to God’s plan for salvation! Yes to Jesus!

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. (2 Cor. 1:20 NLT)

For it was the Lord who first said “Yes!” He said yes to mercy, yes to love that knows no bounds, yes to coming in the flesh to be laid in a manger covered with hay, yes to swaddling clothes to cover Him in place of regal robes, yes to walking with sinners, with the sick and the diseased, with the poor and the downtrodden, for it was for them that He had come. Yes to being spit upon, mocked, struck, scourged. Yes to death on the cross.

For the Lord Jesus Christ, it was “Yes! Yes! Yes!” And it will always be “Yes and Amen!”

But it’s truly saddening that there are still many people who keep on saying “No”. No to Jesus, no to His love, no to His proffered hand, no to His light, no to His righteousness, no to His presence, no to His will.

If we examine our hearts and reach deeper inside, have we been saying a resounding “Yes and Amen!” to Him? Or have we been hesitating, faltering, stalling, and stammering an “I don’t know…er… maybe…we’ll see..” Or maybe we have been fearing, doubting, unbelieving?

But for true Christ-followers, it’s always “Yes and Amen!” Yes we’ll go share the Gospel, yes we’ll go testify, yes we’ll go visit the sick and the suffering, the poor, the widow, the fatherless, the lost, the brokenhearted, the sorrowing. Yes we’ll give of ourselves and of what we have, yes we’ll show His love, mercy and peace!

Because it was the Lord who first gave.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

I want to share with you this beautiful song which I have recently learned to sing to the Lord: Becoming by Shannon Wexelberg from her album I Have a Song. It’s only an audio because there’s no available music video of it in YouTube. You will find the beautiful lyrics here.

Who am I becoming?
Would a stranger find You here?
Could they recognize You in my life?
Would my love for You be clear?
Do I treasure all that’s dear to You
See the world through mercy’s eyes?
Who am I becoming?
Can they see Your face in mine? 

~ from Becoming by Shannon Wexelberg

http://ourhealingmoments.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/08-becoming.m4a

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 3: The Goodness of the Lord

Endnote: *To read more of Sabel’s story, click here.

Related post: Quiet Strength

GIVEAWAYS!!!


I’m giving away 2 tickets to Better Than Life Gospel and Christmas Concert 2011 to be held at Cuneta Astrodome, Pasay City, on 20th December, 7:00PM.

Mechanics:

  • Just leave your comment to this post and you’re automatically entered in the giveaway.
  • For additional entries, you may do the ff:

~ share this post on Facebook

~ like, share, or comment on the link I’ll be posting on Facebook

(Each thing you do will be additional entry)

  • One winner (winning 2 tickets) will be drawn via random.org
  • For NCR and surrounding provinces (Philippines) residents only
  • Giveaways close on Thursday, December 15th, 6:00PM

This post is linked to Sharing His Beauty, Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Raising HomemakersWalk with Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays

The Goodness of the Lord

Dusk is fast falling; the cool breeze seeps through layers of Mary’s clothing. She pulls her cloak tighter as she instinctively caresses her swollen tummy. She feels the happy movement of the Baby in her blessed womb, and she is encouraged. Weary from traveling, she needs so much to rest and lay her tired body on a decent bed, but there is no room at the inn. Then the labor pains begin. Mary clutches hard at her tummy as spasms rock her small frame. Joseph frantically looks for a place for them, for his young, beloved wife who is in labor. Oh, God, let there be a place!

She and Joseph are welcomed to someone’s barn; the space is cozy enough for Mary to lie down and give birth to her son.

The angel Gabriel himself was the one who brought her the good tidings months before: she is to carry the Messiah in her womb, she is to give birth to the King, the Savior of the world. But now, she lies on the floor of a barn covered with hay, laboring, with only her beloved Joseph to assist her. Has God who promised left her?

No, I believe Mary did not dwell on fear, nor questions or doubts entered her heart and mind. She knew that the Lord was with her, strengthening her, breathing on her. As Mary trusted in the Lord, multitudes of angels assembled above, ready to sing,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14)

The Messiah – Immanuel – is born. God with us. And Mary gently and lovingly wraps Him in swaddling clothes, tears stealing their way down her flushed cheeks.

…the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD! (Psalm 33:5, exclamation mine)

(The above narration is how I imagine the nativity scene).

As my little Tim celebrates his birthday in this Christmas season, I remember four years ago how an unwell mother (that’s me) was saved by the Lord from a dangerous delivery, for I still had not fully recovered from the illness that made me suffer so much. Although that illness was not thoroughly diagnosed, it affected my autonomic nervous system: cardio, digestive, and respiratory.

But just as the Lord was with Mary in that humble barn more than two thousand years ago, He was with me as I struggled in that lighted O.R. As my mouth and throat dried up like a cardboard and my heart was beating painfully, I know that He was looking down on me, breathing on me that first breath of life He gave when He created me.

For all birth moments are precious in the eyes of God.

Oh, the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord!

Below is a beautiful Christmas song that I love listening to. Savior of the World by Hillsong.

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}

New testimony post:

Eight years after Bro. Bong Lorente survived a tragic bus accident where 7 passengers instantly died, he was diagnosed to have an internal bone infection which if the affected bone wasn’t immediately removed, it could develop into a malignant bone cancer. When he was told of the amount needed for the surgery – 1.2 million pesos (around $28,000) – he felt like the world came crashing down on him. He couldn’t afford even 10% of it, so he and his wife went home totally dejected. At home, suffering from pain and unable to walk, he counted the passing of days in utter hopelessness…

Read full testimony here.

This post is linked to Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty, Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday

What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}

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(photo source: Google images)

When they were in great need, they would write, relating in detail the devastation a typhoon had brought – wiping out their homes and livelihood. They write, not that they are dependent on other people’s support, for they do not come short in prayer and even with fasting, but that they would like to share their hardships, the trials they encounter. And it dawns on me, that they need to “share” their poverty so we could learn to share our prosperity.

They would write, how their small, beloved chapel had been blown away by the storm, and they pray to get even just a small donation to repair the roof and to buy cloth to sew into curtains to serve as covering in the place of walls. These are believers who praise and worship God in spirit and in truth, who are filled with the Holy Spirit and prays for the sick with power from on high – for the glory of God dwells in a humble manger covered with hay where the Savior lay – just like He dwells in their hearts and in their “ramshackle” chapel.

(Photos from JMCIM Davao Outreach; no available photos from San Andres, Quezon Outreach)

This outreach of our Church is in a far-flung barrio of San Andres town in the province of Quezon, a 12-hour bus ride from Manila. Their livelihood comes mainly from fishing for it is near the sea, and during hard times, they would make do with corn as a staple, for rice would be too expensive for them. But they are rich in faith. Those who live high up on the mountains would trek a 5-hour descent going to the worship service, then back again afterwards. They need to start early, even before the dawn breaks.

(photos above from jmcim.org; Tiaong, Quezon crusade)

We had given some financial support to these faithful believers, but there hadn’t been any communication this year, so this time, I’m writing them. I write to tell them that the Lord has accumulated their blessings and has not forfeited them.

For isn’t this our fervent prayer that during the time of His silence, we hope that He is accumulating all the blessings intended for us and will heap them on us in His perfect time?

(There are other outreach stations of our Church who may be poor in material wealth, but truly rich in faith and for that, I glorify God).

So, what’s stuffed in your sock this Christmas? Maybe sacks of rice and cartons of canned goods, bread, noodles, milk, etc. to fill our brothers and sisters in Christ? Or, maybe blankets to ward off the cold at night? Or, not-so-expensive quilts (we found ones which cost about P350 or about $7) to cover the cold bamboo slats or concrete floor where they lay themselves to rest and sleep? Or, clothes that they could wear when they go to worship the Lord? Whatever we give, may these warm their hearts and homes this Christmas.

There’s so much need around us: empty stomachs wanting to be filled, children dreaming to be clothed and to be warm at night. May we be the hands of Christ helping to fill this need.

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This post is linked to Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday, Walk with Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sunday, Sharing His Beauty

Also participating with:

Blog Hop:

Raising Mighty ArrowsGrowing HomeLittle Natural CottageAn Original BelleLove Being a Mom

What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}

A poor family of seven is being featured in the TV program that I am watching. Hannah comes near and I pat the place beside me, inviting her to join me. We watch as the kids, aging somewhere between 8 years old and a barely 2-year old baby, eat some instant noodles with rice, right there on the floor of their 6′ x 6′ or so shanty. I look at Hannah who is intently watching and I tell her softly, “You realize how blessed we are. I want you to appreciate that and be thankful always.”

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We watch some more, then gently tell her this, “Would you want to save up all your allowance from now ’til Christmas and donate the sum to UNICEF in your name?”

After our Bible study a week ago where she lay on my lap silently crying, we had agreed that she will be sharing some of her clothes, toys, books, shoes and bags to poor children this Christmas. We had arranged that she would be collecting them, including Tim’s, into a big box. We had also discussed that she would be buying food from the grocery store to add to their box. She had excitedly agreed to the arrangement.

Now, I remind her again to donate all her saved allowance to UNICEF (the organization I have been ardently supporting even before I got married), together with my Christmas gift to the children supported by them, separate from the regular quarterly donation. And she nods “yes”. What she can save and share from her allowance is not much. It’s like a drop in the ocean – a few pesos to help a country with widespread poverty. But my purpose is this: I want to open my child’s eyes and heart to the poor in this country where we live. I want her to develop deep compassion for them.

In our country, one doesn’t have to walk too far to see them scattered everywhere, in squatter colonies in the city, and mostly in rural areas. And since this is almost a common sight, one could easily develop a familiarity that could lead to plain indifference.

(photo source: Philippine Institute of Development Studies)

So, what’s stuffed in your stocking this Christmas? Maybe the gift of education for one poor child who is dreaming for a bright future?  

(above 2 photos from UNICEF)

In the UNICEF 2011 diary, we read this:

Opening doors through education

How UNICEF inspires life-long change

[Education] ends generational cycles of poverty and disease, encourages young people to adopt healthy lifestyles and provides a foundation for sustainable development.

For UNICEF, education is a fundamental, non-negotiable goal:

  • Education is a human right.
  • Education enhances lives.
  • Education paves the way to a successful future.

With your help, UNICEF will work tirelessly to provide a high-quality education – not just for some children, but for all.

 Quality education is the right of every child. However, in the Philippines, 3 million school-age children are still not attending school.

The gift of education can make a world of difference for children. Be a UNICEF champion for children today.

Did you know that you can send 8 children back to school, each with a school bag and supplies for only PhP 500 monthly donation? Or, you can help provide 1 classroom of day care pupils with educational toys and storybooks for only PhP 750 monthly donation? To find out more on how UNICEF works to achieve quality education for children and how you can help, visit www.unicef.ph.

It is easy not to really see even when we look upon them. It is easy to turn the deaf ear. But there is a priceless gift that comes with giving. When one gives meaning to a child’s life, one gains a meaningful life in return.

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For more news on poverty in the Philippines, click here (site of Philippine Institute of Development Studies).

Related posts: Why I’m a UNICEF Champion for Children, Proclaiming or Denying Christ?, Incorruptible, A Holy Place

This post is linked to Sharing His Beauty, Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Raising Homemakers, Walk with Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Spiritual Sunday

Also participating with:

Blog Hop: Raising Mighty ArrowsGrowing HomeLittle Natural CottageAn Original BelleLove Being a Mom

Journey with Jesus,