The Benefits {and Birthday Giveaways}

A family that is not bound by the sanctity of marriage, albeit, love is present for the years of unholy union have borne children. Children that are hopeful for a happy and harmonious family and a bright future. But nowadays, it is becoming more apparent that there is something weightier than love. It is ambition. For a dream and an ambition, one would gamble all. And so, leaving behind a mother with a heart that’s torn and wide-eyed children whose future now looks dim – one would set out to pursue that dream. That dream would require a marriage to another, someone who could bring one to a land flowing with milk and honey. It is a marriage for convenience, people say. But in this case, the woman loves the man whose heart belongs to the mother of his children. But ambition is weightier than love…

Early-2008 photo of our family :).

This is a true story. There are others quite similar and they’re just near. The world is so broken but it can’t heal itself.

I think about these things deeply. I know that for most people of the world, this phrase has become so commonplace it has probably lost its power to them, but it is always true to me and I will not grow weary in declaring it: The Lord Jesus Christ is the only One who can turn a life around. 

What makes me think deeper is the question: How will a Christ-follower make one see that the Lord Jesus can fix a life – solve its problems and change its course? 

One hindrance that I see here is one’s belief that one is serving God from wherever one is, not knowing that one is in a place where Truth is not present. For if one were truly in the Lord, why is one still so lost? So, there is that belief that there is no difference whether one stays and serves God where one is, or seeks a more intimate relationship with Him in His Church.

My “remedy” for this is: see the benefits. There is a whole lot of difference between a life in the Lord Jesus Christ and a life that is in the world which falsely serves God (or serves a false god). Truth is, life in Him is incomparable. For how would one compare eternity with death, or heaven with hell?

The benefits of a life in Christ are summarized in this:

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:30)

Wisdom

Righteousness

Sanctification (or Holiness)

Redemption

All these things are absent in a life that is not in the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, all blessings emanate from these. One need not wrestle to try to make life right and repeatedly fail. One needs only to surrender one’s life to the Lord Jesus Christ and He will make everything alright.

Endnote: Know the Keys of Salvation here.

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Birthday Giveaways!!!

DaySpring “Blessed and Loved” mug with lid and Dayspring “Live, Love, Laugh” journal.

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • Sharing testimonies of God’s healing miracles to my sister so fervent that tears flowed freely. And the Lord touched and changed her heart.
  • Tim’s recovery from an asthma-like cough only through prayers.
  • Beloved pastoral workers coming at midnight to pray over and lay hands on him (bel. husband was away fasting and praying).
  • Bel. husband finishing three days of prayer and fasting at Pampanga Fasting House.
  • my life and the days and years He keeps adding to it
  • the love of my husband and kids – my treasure
  • our group hug as tears flowed and mingled and love is recommitted
  • laughters in the garden
  • cooking, baking, ice cream making!

My kabocha pumpkin pie.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

 

More on Giving Ourselves to Prayer

She talks of the latest evil that was done in that little town. A local government official – some kids’ father, someone’s husband, a father’s son, some man’s friend – was gunned down and everybody believes it’s politically-motivated. The father wept despairingly, wounded deep in his heart. There was indescribable hurt as well as anger that was hard to contain. The wife said, “All of my children’s hope and future have altogether crumbled and gone in an instant.”

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16)

This is the second time. Not too long ago, it was the town’s leader. He was a new one, full of promises and actions and well-loved by the townsfolk. They mourned then and were greatly shocked. And now this.

She talks how the proud and the fierce and the hungry for power threatens some more, emboldened. And there is shock and fear, and — helplessness. The one who holds on to power and hungry for more is one who is utterly powerless. Powerless against the evil that works in and through him. I stare at the Queen Anne chair and remember the words of our beloved honorable pastor, “We hate the sin, but love the sinner.” Hate the sin, love the sinner. But at this instance, I don’t know where the line between the two is drawn. It seems to me that the sin and the sinner are hopelessly intertwined and they are one, and I don’t really know what to feel.

But always, “love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth”, and I strongly denounce such evil. These things stir up anger and the proud mouth can’t be stopped, so I burst out with these words, “Hell is never full; it is never satisfied.” God knows and sees everything that is done under the sun among the children of men, and His Word, His will, His master plan will stand. He has set up a day of judgment and punishment for the wicked.

The Lord has made all for Himself,
Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.
 (Prov. 16:4)

Either that or His Gospel of salvation will be gloriously descending upon that mourning town and penetrating into the people’s hearts and they will all be humbly and hungrily accepting it. And they all will be miraculously saved and delivered from the evil one. So I tell her now, “The Lord Jesus Christ is the only hope of that town. He is the only one who can raise it up from the heaps.” I say this while deep in thought and my whole being shrouded and heavy with all this dark news. God is all-powerful. He will make a way. He will judge. He will reprove. He will punish. Or, He will turn their hearts around. And I don’t know what else He plans to do but I know He wants us to pray. Pray agonisingly, earnestly, unceasingly, unrelentingly. 

There stands at the outskirts of the beloved town a small, new house with ample yard. The dream is – this will be a house of worship of the true Church of the living God, a haven for the lost and the mourning. But the years pass – the grass grows uncontrollably, except for occasional cutting by  a hired help – and the house remains unoccupied, silent. For the workers are few and it breaks my heart. Didn’t the Lord tell us to pray for more laborers for the harvest? So, we pray. There are souls that need to be liberated – from evil works, from hatred and unforgiveness, from despair and hopelessness.

We can’t afford to be complacent, to be doing nothing. So let us “give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

Endnotes: Above photos courtesy of Bro. Edu Cortez of Extreme Details Photography; JMCIM worship services.

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • My salvation and healing which comes from just One: the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Tim greeting the whole congregation and reciting a verse before their choir – Cherubim’s Choir – sang on a Sunday service.
  • Blessed to be a blessing: making my sister’s birthday abundantly blessed.
  • healthy menu plans and food that is good and available
  • Tim enjoying my homemade dark chocolate ice cream, how he scooped up by the spoonfuls and heaped them into his mouth :).
  • an afternoon in the garden – precious moments
  • a yellow chair, a throw, and a Bible

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.
Journey with Jesus,

Becoming the Friend Like Christ

Something has been filling my heart with fresh dose of joy and inspiration lately. Something that is quite new to me and I’m revelling in its warmth. It seems like my heart has expanded and become full. Doesn’t love do all that?

I am only now rediscovering the joy real friendship brings. Before my life with the Lord Jesus Christ, I didn’t know how to keep a friend. I did all the wrong things, I guess, so that there were really just a few friendships that I was able to keep all these years. And I believe, that is because they insisted on sticking with me. I can’t begin to explain why I wasn’t the kind of person who saw friendship a necessity and something to cherish. But if I didn’t make my own family a priority before, I believe that would also explain why friendships didn’t top my list either. You could say that relationships in general didn’t top my priorities before. But my career did.

But that was all before I gave my life to Christ. Then everything changed. For love is what matters most to Him. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Gal. 5:14). For all the things we do on earth then, only those that have eternal weight and rewards are precious in His sight. For faith, hope and love shall remain; but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 134:13).

The Lord has been so gracious to bring me to that place where I no longer think only of my own and family’s welfare, but also of others’, especially when it comes to their spiritual need. The love of Christ that is in us does that: expanding us and our territory so that His love, mercy and grace will spread to others, too. This expanding of one’s territory does not only mean geographically, but more 0f expanding one’s love. Now, ain’t that a great thing?

So, the Lord has expanded mine and I’ve been forging friendships lately – reviving the old ones and deepening the new. And I don’t even need to go out or travel. I’ve only discovered now that making friendships through the love of Christ that is in us brings us a fuller life. And by the word fuller I mean life is richer and happier, like there’s a spring in your steps, your heart sings of a sweet melody, and love is just more real and tangible.

The things that used to destroy friendships like a canker – pride, insecurities, self-sufficiency, self-centredness, fear, self-serving motives, fear, competition, envy, feelings of unworthiness, inadequacies, uncertainties – are gone in the presence of the Spirit of Christ who dwells in one’s heart. The love of Christ that is extended through friendships —

– makes one confident as well as humble

– honest, without hypocrisy, and brave enough to speak the truth in love

– truly caring and careful not to push oneself

– thinks not only of one’s own good but also of the other’s

– fervently sharing the truth of the Gospel of salvation, yet honoring the other’s pace

– earnest and unrelenting in prayer for the other; carrying the other’s burden by bringing it to God in prayer

– unafraid of failure or of being hurt for the Lord is the shield and guide

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • finishing 8 days of half-day fasting
  • reconnecting with former classmates and sharing with them the true Gospel of salvation
  • the victorious 5th anniversary celebration of JMCIM-Dubai Outreach; the fervent love of the brethren there that blesses, though faced with many challenges in a Muslim land
  • my beloved mother sending me huge lobsters from the province; she doesn’t forget my all-time favourite foods
  • Hearing Tim say, “I’m so happy, Mom” as we made his favourite doughnuts; these crispy and creamy doughnuts – yum!
  • homemade ice cream using local and seasonal ingredients
  • His faithfulness and His sweet, holy presence that He never withholds in soul-deep worship

 

Journey with Jesus,

 

A Pattern for Faith

Bible reading: Jeremiah 32, 33, and 38

After the prophet Jeremiah consistently proclaimed the word of the Lord unto all Judah that the king of Babylon would come to take the city and the Chaldeans would set it on fire and burn it, the Lord commanded him to buy a field. He immediately obeyed the voice of the Lord and went and bought himself a field. But after accomplishing this, he prayed to God for understanding. Jeremiah saw the Chaldeans come to take the city; the siege mounded; the word of the Lord had come to pass, and yet, the Lord commanded him to buy a field! Even the prophet Jeremiah couldn’t understand and see God’s purpose!

But Jeremiah’s buying of the field is a sign of God’s future plan for Israel. That after He has punished the people for turning away from Him and serving other gods, He will again cause them to return from where He has driven them. This is His assurance. His covenant with David His servant will stand.

But as the siege around the city mounded, Jeremiah couldn’t see beyond it.

‘Look, the siege mounds! They have come to the city to take it; and the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword and famine and pestilence. What You have spoken has happened; there You see it! 25 And You have said to me, O Lord God, “Buy the field for money, and take witnesses”!—yet the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’” (Jer. 32:24-26)

If the prophet couldn’t see a bright future beyond the present chaos, how could have I seen through my suffering? As the onslaught of my illness raged, I could only see the present moment. As the battle with pain and suffering intensified, I could only think of the next heartbeat. But though I couldn’t envision a bright future full of God’s grace and goodness, I trusted Him with the next heartbeat, and the next. I knew and believed that He owned every breath and every heartbeat, and so I trusted. As Job had declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him” (Job 13:15), I did, too. 

And that’s what the prophet did. Though he knew that the city would be taken, he went and bought the field as the Lord commanded him.

When the Lord had started to heal me, and I could see a ray of hope into the not-so-distant future, I began to rest in His promise. About 2 years before I would give birth to my son Tim, twice I dreamed of holding a baby boy in my arms. I was still recovering from my illness then. Recovery was long and slow. When brethren in Christ interpreted the dream as me having a son in the near future, I was glad and rejoiced in the Lord, but I didn’t spend too much time imagining the future (it made me more hungry and that was painful) and didn’t try to speed up the days and weeks and months. I concentrated on my recovery, so that when the day finally came that I found out I was pregnant, we were so elated.

After I had given birth, twice I became ill again. The last one was after I had agonizingly prayed to God to completely heal and strengthen me and use me for His purposes. Instead of sending me outright to fulfil His purpose, I became very ill that each day felt like it was the last. When a praying and fasting sister in Christ came to visit and told me about her dream: she saw me high up on a tower writing on my laptop and the Lord telling her that He had given me a very important task, again I couldn’t see beyond my pain and suffering (remembering all these makes me sob).

Her dream brought gladness to my faint heart. Nevertheless, I didn’t understand it. A year later, I found myself blogging for the glory of God.

What have I learned from these experiences and from the book of Jeremiah? To believe God’s promises and strive to see beyond the suffering. As the storm of trials rages and it’s hard to see beyond the pounding rain – only believe: “buy the field” (in my case, I bought fabric for my choir uniform even when I was still sick in bed), entrust to God the realization of hopes and dreams.

This is a pattern for faith: Just as He had planned the future of Israel even before the fulfilment of her punishment, so He also has a perfect plan for us behind the trial. For even though the present situation seems hopeless, like in Jeremiah’s time, God declares:

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” 

“Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.” (Jer. 32:27; 33:6)

Endnote: (Old photo of me and Tim)

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the gracious Lord:

  • My friends in Dubai (upon my invitation) attending the worship service and 5th anniversary celebration of JMCIM-Dubai Outreach and being blessed by it.
  • The pure wonder in Tim’s eyes when he discovered the baby rabbits have finally opened their eyes. He was so excited he took a video of them and uttering in awe, “Their eyes! They have opened their eyes!” Thank You, God, for Your amazing grace – You have opened our eyes!
  • Looking at my beloved husband’s back as he left the room, body lean and erect – my heart surged with love and that old fire (wink).
  • Watching bel. hubby and kids relish the macapuno pandan ice cream I made for Saturday afternoon snacks. It’s funny how they compete for the scooper – ah, kids and kids at heart!
  • Watching the live webcast of JMCIM Sunday worship service together with our two new maids; sharing to them the testimonies of beloved brethren in Christ and telling them about the true Gospel of salvation. (This is just the start).

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,