What Does Faith Look Like?

Faith is defined differently by different people. The Apostle Paul defined it as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

The evidence of things not seen. So then, we can see faith. We can see faith at work when it hopefully, trustingly, and expectantly clutches at a God who is not seen.

Can you do that? Hope, trust, and expect from Someone you cannot even see or touch? Can you keep still and know that He is God and He is going to do something for your situation, or would you run to things, clutch at things – a practical decision, a practical way – to try to help your situation? What about in desperate situations? Or between life and death? Would you entrust your next breath to the One who gave it? Would you hope for the next heartbeat from the One who fashioned your heart inside of you?

I would! If you believe without a doubt that there is a God – omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent – then, there is an anchor to your faith and trust, an anchor steady and strong and true! The God who drew you to Him and saved and changed your life.

I lay in bed, still and struggling. I called for the carpenters who were doing the renovations in our house and who also happened to be JMCIM brethren, and requested them to praise so I could get out of my desperate situation and recover, for my husband was not yet home. Dusty with paint-stained hands and pants, they began to sing and clap and weep, worshiping and entreating God.

My husband arrived and he was surprised at the sight. He knew then it was that serious. They sang for more than half an hour, then prayed and cast out the demons of illness. And I began to recover.

Faith looks like this: eyes toward the Savior, Deliverer, Healer.

I would like to invite you to read this story I wrote about my daughter Hannah, the miracle the Lord Jesus did to her. I wrote it at my Minister of Mercy blog, a treasure trove of God’s wonders, miracles, and mighty deeds. I hope you will not miss it for the world! Please click here.

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Praise Through Trials {and an Amazing Testimony}

Meditating on Psalm 96:

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples. (Ps. 96:1-3)


Psalm 96 is a psalm of glorious praise to God. Verse upon verse, the psalmist poured out in beautiful words all His wonders among all peoples, His honor and majesty, His strength and beauty. For the God who made the heavens is great and greatly to be praised!

The Israelites of old had seen His marvellous works; shouting out His praises was the least they could do. And we do that, too, as the redeemed of the Lord, mercifully delivered by Him from the wrath to come.

But in ancient Israel, they did not only praise in victory, they also praised through the battle. King Jehoshaphat, his army, and all of Judah sang and praised their way to battle until the Lord gave them victory against their enemies. (See 2 Chronicles 20).

And you know what? This is also what has been taught us in our church, Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry, an apostolic Christian Church. Yes, we don’t only praise in triumphs, we praise through trials. We praise through sicknesses, challenges, dangers, emergencies, problems, sorrow…

There has been a lot of persecution against the Church because, instead of running to the hospital for instance, the believers just praise, worship, fast and pray for healing and deliverance.

Faith. It is our way of life.

Just last Sunday worship service, I heard beloved Sister Cecille Padilla, a member of the Jesus Finest Generation Choir, testify about another miracle in her life (the first one I hope to write about at Minister of Mercy next time). The week before that, she received a call from her sister-in-law in the province (Cabanatuan City) informing her that her mother-in-law, who was sick of leukaemia, had worsened and was brought to the hospital. (Sis. Cecille’s beloved husband works abroad). They needed to go home at once since the mother was dying.

When Sis. Cecille and her other sister-in-law arrived in the hospital, they were informed that the doctors could no longer do anything for  their mother, hence, they were instructed to bring her home.

At home, family and relatives had gathered around the sick, painfully waiting for the inevitable. The neighbors also stood outside showing their deep concern for the family. Sis. Cecille’s mother-in-law lay in bed, very sick and weak. She was coughing out blood and there were traces of dried blood at the corners of her eyes.

Who would live in that state?

But the God we serve is powerful and miraculous! He heals! The Lord Jesus heals!

Sis. Cecille did not lose heart. She had seen many miracles happening in Church and heard numerous testimonies she was not about to give up now. Together with her other sister-in-law who has also been saved, they praised and worshiped, and in between, prayed agonizingly. All through the night, they were on their knees, praising, worshiping, praying, casting out the demons of disease.

In the morning, after they had taken a short nap, they checked on their mother and, behold, she was already sitting on the bed! She started to eat and she ate well. She recovered fast in just a few days. When the neighbors saw her walking around their home, having gained weight and strength, they were all amazed. And who wouldn’t?!

The God of the universe, the God who mercifully saved a wretched like me and is also gradually healing me, is still in the business of working miracles, of healing, and doing wondrous things! Can we shout Halleluiah!?

Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Give to the Lord glory and strength.
Give to the Lord the glory due His name… (vv. 7-8)

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad!… (v. 11)

I’m linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

“The Wrestlings” Discussion {Chapter One}

It’s been a week since I published my new ebook The Wrestlings Along the Narrow Path and offered it free to all my blog subscribers. I thank everyone who signed up and my old subscribers who messaged me requesting for a copy. Every time I send a copy to someone, I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve. It feels like serving a piece of bread and a portion of fish to anyone who wants to partake and it is a blessing! Thank you for letting me serve you!

As you have found out, this ebook is just short, and maybe, some of you feel that it leaves much to be desired. I didn’t want to stretch it on my own, beyond what the Holy Spirit had inspired me. But today and every middle of the week, we will try to discuss each chapter here (and maybe you can also share your reactions? :)).

Below is an excerpt from Chapter One and it’s what we’re going to talk about today (for those who have read this part, you may not read it again here):

“A Testimony

In late-2003 through 2005, Illness bound me in bed. In the mornings after prayer and difficult breakfast, I sat on the bed and looked out the window to the garden of our neighbor, a young family like we were. The family was always happy, laughing robustly, eating meals together, the kids carousing in the garden. Ours was barely living according to the world’s standards: husband struggling with the management of our company which he just took over from me because I was too sick and weak to carry on, daughter in pre- school experiencing depression because of her very sick mom, family not eating, laughing, or going out together.

I gazed longingly out the window and my heart was overcome by great sorrow. And envy. Tears flowing down my face, my soul hungered endlessly for things to be better, but it remained unsatisfied. I looked long at the mother who was about my age. How does it feel to sit there in her place, exhaling all that fresh air, watching her kids play, and feeling well and happy?

How I longed to be in her place! Envy was painful. The Lord Jesus Christ must then be my everything to survive.

I would turn to my songbook and sing praises to God until all my grief was poured out. I would plunge myself at His feet and beg, beg Him to make everything alright for me and my family.

Then, envy and hunger became too much to bear I wanted to go away. I must escape it all. It was too painful to look and listen.

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Mat. 5:29 NKJV)

But, despite our efforts to look for a new home, it was the Lord’s good will for us to stay where we were. Our family focused on serving the Lord faithfully, trustingly following Him wherever He led us, ever looking to Him for strength, light, and hope.

With 2006 came gradual, sweet healing from the Lord. This brought me and my family to Church’s crusades in different parts of the country and we were cruising through life victoriously! In 2007, though not fully well and strong, I became pregnant with our second child, a son. Our neighbor had now been a year away from their beautiful home and garden and had chosen to live near their kids’ schools instead. Heavy with child, I received a call from this neighbor who was offering us to sell the garden portion of their home. They were not coming back and they were selling their property.

We bought their garden, brought down our wall and our masters’ bedroom’s wall, and built french doors and patio opening to the garden.

Now, our garden is a constant witness to our celebrations of God’s goodness and faithfulness in our life. “

Discussion:

It may appear to some that I might have secretly coveted our neighbor’s property and of course, that is a great sin. I cannot deny the fact that I did covet, but not their property, for we have our own and we were willing to find another home, somewhere quieter and more spacious maybe, where I could be happy. I know deep within my heart that I coveted what they had which we didn’t have then: their family’s happiness and celebration, their joy. I wanted our family to bask in those, too. Which, I believe, was not a bad thing.

A sister in Christ, an elder in Church, when she came to visit before and I told her about our having acquired our neighbor’s garden, even kidded me that maybe I cast them out. God forbid! I will never do such a thing!

But what I really want us to glean here is how the Lord had richly blessed us, giving all the desires of our hearts. When we, as a family, surrendered our life to Him, yielding ourselves to the suffering and hardships and following Him willingly and humbly wherever He led us despite of the trials we were going through, He blessed us. When we humbly obeyed and trusted, casting all our cares upon Him, He saw it all. This is a manifestation of the Lord’s promise in Matthew 6:33:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mat. 6:33)

Maybe you have heard this too many times it seems it hast lost its power and meaning to you. But God’s words and promises will never pass away (Mat. 24:35). When we single-mindedly sought His kingdom by fervently worshiping Him, bountifully giving to His work, faithfully supporting crusades, and immersing ourselves to His Word, prayer, fasting, praising, He added all these things to us, and more: healing, happiness, peace, joy, rejoicing!

So, what is the important lesson here?

When He is first in our lives, He will not hesitate to bless us according to our hearts’ desires.

I’m linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

God’s Power and Majesty

Meditating on Psalm 93:

The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord is clothed,
He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting. (Ps. 93:1-2)

I had written a series about Faith and how to fully trust in God and I knew within myself that many would have a hard time accepting it. But as I had replied to one of the comments, in our Church and lives, it is the kind of faith we practice everyday.

Christ believers and followers would easily sing praises about God’s unequaled power and majesty, but rarely would they all EXPECT to see these at work in their lives, in other Christians’ lives, and even in their own churches. We read about God’s mighty deeds and miracles in the Bible and we believe them without a doubt, but I have observed that many would doubt them actually happening, now, in this present age. We declare our testimonies to all people, some would marvel and believe, and are therefore converted, but many would doubt or not believe at all. Indeed, it would be so hard to be in this place of doubt and unbelief, as the Lord had said in Matthew 13:15:

For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should[a] heal them.’ 

But there are those blessed people who have believed and received the testimonies, their spiritual eyes being opened to this higher wisdom, as the Lord had spoken about them.

“Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; 24 for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” (Luke 10:23-24)

God’s wonders, miracles, and mighty deeds are not only sung and read but experienced.

And that only happens when we believe and trust Him and EXPECT them happening in our lives. It takes faith, really. Reading Psalm 93 brings to mind the testimony I heard last Sunday of a captain of a cargo ship.

Bro. Nick Ignao was blessed by the Lord and promoted him to be a captain of a huge cargo ship carrying thousands of brand-new cars. One time, they needed to dock at a very narrow strait in Alexandria, Egypt. Because of the difficulty of the maneuver, they needed to hire a pilot to do the job, one who is adept at directing the ship effortlessly into the narrow strait.

Bro. Nick and his team got everything ready. But he didn’t anticipate that the pilot might commit a mistake, or might not be ready, or might even have too much to drink. The unthinkable happened: the huge ship, while entering the narrow strait, bumped its side on the bank and immediately tilted. Bro. Nick saw everything that happened and he was too stunned to think straight for a few moments. The ship was very huge and carrying a very heavy load, he knew there was no chance that they could make it upright fast enough before it sinks.

Instantly, many things wedged their way into Bro. Nick’s mind making him the more frozen where he was standing. Foremost, he was expecting that any moment, the ship will continue its tilt and that would be the end of it. But Bro. Nick came back to his senses and the very first thing that he thought of doing was to raise his hands towards heaven and shouted his prayers to God and rebuked the mishap over and over again, “Halleluiah! Help us, Oh God!”

And to his amazement, the ship stopped tilting and slowly returned to its original position and became upright again. Bro. Nick could only throw himself at the Lord’s feet, overwhelmed with awe and thanksgiving! Afterwards, they investigated the damage done. Indeed, there was a big damage, and though the engine room was safe, water had entered into another compartment of the ship and there was a lot of work and repairs to be done.

Later on, Bro, Nick and his team were called for the official report and investigation. He was expecting that he would lose his job and pay for the damage. He knew that although it was not his mistake, the whole ship was his sole responsibility being the captain. But before this, he and his chief engineer had a conference, and his chief engineer testified how, when the ship bumped and began to tilt, that he saw a big hand hold the ship and stopped it from tilting, and then slowly moved it back up. The chief engineer said that he was too astounded from his position. He said it wasn’t him who recovered the ship from its precarious position for he couldn’t control it anymore, but there was a huge hand that held it!

Bro. Nick was not held liable for the accident and he kept his job with the company.

Halleluiah! To God be the glory! Please take a few moments to ponder on the following verses of Psalm 93:

The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
The floods have lifted up their voice;
The floods lift up their waves.
4 The Lord on high is mightier
Than the noise of many waters,
Than the mighty waves of the sea.

Your testimonies are very sure;
Holiness adorns Your house,
O Lord, forever. (vv. 3-5)

Very related testimony: The Hand of God: Miracle in the Life of Sis. Mary-Ann Bongo

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Healed Mind {A Testimony}

Last week, Hannah and I read 1 John 4:18 in our Bible reading and discussion. I was reminded by the great trial that the Lord had mercifully seen me through, and I told her about that. In this case, I can say that the opposite of love is not hate but fear.

For a long time, I didn’t know peace, mental strength, and brilliant inspiration. There was a long winter in my saved life that peace eluded me and a disquieted mind was all I had as a companion all day. Years ago, I read books about people who went through long and tortuous episodes of depression and/or mental illness. Two of these books that I read, the authors of which were both accomplished female medical doctors. But even with dosages of strong pills, they couldn’t triumph over what was ailing them: an unquiet mind.

What did I have? I wouldn’t really call it depression, because I gained much comfort from soaking in the Word. Maybe it is more apt to call it extreme fearfulness and nervousness. This dreadful affliction enveloped me for a long time: two years, while I was at the same time grasping for relief and healing from my debilitating illness that brought me much physical suffering. It was gone when I became pregnant with Tim, but it came back months after I delivered him.

It was a kind of fear that gnawed at your brain constantly, unrelentingly. Even if you knew that what the demon of fear was whispering over and over was a lie, you were weak against it, you would listen and rebut him repeatedly, like you were really trying to persuade yourself about what you were saying. It was nervousness that tightly clung to you and couldn’t be shaken off. It attacked whenever, wherever – on the road with noisy car motors running, telephone ringing, a document on the table… It felt like your life was constantly threatened, that someone, something, was finally coming to get you and you would be helpless and miserable.

This affliction made me think about negative things throughout the day ’til night. It stole much of my sleep. I wrestled hard with it. There were only weariness, sighing, fearing, trembling, weakening. It was mental anguish that was more debilitating than any other disease. Even when there was triumph, an answered prayer, a miracle, the demon of fear, slick and sure, would sow doubts and whisper lies, “It is not true. It is not a blessing. It will turn out worse than before, you’ll see.”

I know now that it was God’s fiery trial. Remember Job? He was very sick, and yet at night when he thought he could find relief in sleep, he was frightened by night visions.

Like Job, I clung to my Redeemer, that even if He killed me, yet I would rely on Him, and believed and trusted that after He had tried me, I would shine forth as gold.

I did not resort to drugs to heal me. No medical doctor saw me or evaluated me. I went through the dark valley believing and trusting that the Lord would eventually heal me and deliver me from my afflictions. He was my strength, my light, my hope, my Healer.  

And I ate, chewed, and digested 1 John 4:18 like a miracle drug. In the midst of great fearfulness, I couldn’t fully understand it, but I believed in it, prayed it, and hoped in its power.

 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

 John knew exactly what fear was! Fear involves torment. He couldn’t be nearer the truth! So, I gave myself to studying the Word. How could I be perfected, completed in love? I knew that I had received the Lord Jesus Christ and His Spirit indwelt me, what was there left to do? I yielded myself to His will, the fiery trial, and continued to serve Him faithfully, steadfastly.

I cannot say exactly when God finally turned my captivity. Slowly, day by day, I was farther and farther away from the afflictions that had made me captive, and nearer and nearer to peace and gladness of heart.

One day, I just woke up with a healed mind, renewed and strong and bursting with inspiration! The Lord Jesus heals the body as well as the mind! If you are a child of God and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are sick, there is really no need to depend on drugs and pills to heal your sick mind or body. He casts out demons, even legions! (Mark 5:9)

If we believe that He has liberated our sin-captive souls on the day of salvation, we can also believe that He can liberate our fear-captive minds! And He will! Only His love can complete us, and if we have been completed in His perfect love, fear has no place in us. 

These words are His testimony; I don’t know of any other thing that could better prove that His Word is true and powerful, His promises He faithfully keeps, and you can rely on them with your life.

******

My gratitude list ~ the gifts I’m thankful to the Lord for:

41. Tim eating and doing well after his sickness.

42. Hannah’s joy and radiance while she shared her wonderful experiences during their class’ field trip and her beautiful photos from it!

43. Taking pictures of flowers, trees, and fruits around the neighborhood; God’s marvellous creation beautifully captured in my camera!

44. Healing, peace, joy, inspiration – all of God’s miraculous workings!

45. Tim smiling in abandon before my camera, like the sunshine itself!

46. Looking at big sister (Hannah) and little brother (Tim) holding hands going into the bookstore.

47. Fresh veggies – okra, eggplant, bitter melon – harvested from our garden.

48. Morning devotions: Scriptures, daily devotional books, praise, prayer = His Presence and Peace!

I’m linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

The Nearness of God

Meditating on Psalm 88:

O Lord, God of my salvation,
I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry. (Psalm 88:1-2)

Psalm 88 is a soul’s cry for urgent help in the midst of great suffering. If you had known physical suffering coupled with engulfing fear as I had, you can so relate with the words of this psalm. To wake up morning by morning constantly burdened by suffering and the mental anguish it brings, and the daily cries for help to Him who alone can deliver and can raise up even the one who is just about ready to go down to the grave – is a great challenge to Faith and Hope, two things that must remain and never wane.

But you know what? I know a secret. Through my sufferings, I have come to know a secret, a wonderful discovery!

This discovery I’m holding close to my bosom. I draw spiritual strength from it whenever fear comes knocking. My faith has grown sturdy upon knowing and receiving it. Just by thinking about it brings me peace that passes all understanding and joy that inspires and sees me through the challenges and rigors of the day.

This is my secret:

I called in faith, this name that also saved me, and believed with all my being that He is a God who hears and comes urgently to help. Even when my whole body was numb, the signs of death, my mind connected to Him in faith:

I must believe! You are near! You will help! You see me now as I lie here alone and helpless even if I can’t see You.

I must believe that You will come now and won’t delay. Without doubts I believe in You! You are real!

(The body slowly acquiesces to  death – numb, weak, and cold – but the soul cries out loudly. Faith is alive and powerful!)

And in the midst of panic, in that thin line that divided life and death, He came! He came with His light and peace that bathed my whole being and assured me of life! How can one think about life when the body is numb and cold because the blood in the veins lacks oxygen? But His peace is powerful, more powerful than any threats of death!

I have seen His light that brings life and assurance. I have basked in this light and my body responded to it for healing. Our God dwells in the light (James 1:17).

We were taught that Heaven is His dwelling place but He also dwells in them whom He has redeemed. He comes rushing to help upon our urgent cries.

Our God lives. He is real and He hears. Believe me, He will come. He will help. Our God is near! I answer verses 10-12 so that they read like this:

You work wonders for the dying,
So that the one who is just ready to die will arise and praise You!
And Your lovingkindness will be declared in the land of the living;
Your faithfulness in the place of healing.
Your glorious light will shine in the dark,
And Your righteousness will be known throughout the land!

I’m linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Moments of Healing

After much consideration, I finally decided to share with you our family’s afternoon out two Saturdays ago. But who would be interested to know about our afternoon outing when most families go out on weekends and do more exciting things? But ours, I believe, is quite unique – another testimony of God’s astounding mercy and undying faithfulness. Yes, we went out to eat, the four of us, after almost 4 years or so of not being able to do so. For most, this is just a very ordinary thing to do – it happens everywhere, everyday. But for someone who has been raised up from the sick bed that was just about to turn into a death bed, this thing was a miracle.

Inasmuch as this blog is about healing in all aspects of our being, I will share with you our story.

Two Saturdays ago, I desired to go out with the family and eat in a simple restaurant just near our place. I wanted to step out in faith once again after recovering for years after I gave birth to my son. I wanted to mark the act and celebrate all God’s goodness. (Could there be “bigger” a word than “goodness” that could contain ALL of God’s goodness? For really, these words, they are just not enough to declare how merciful our God is!). So, we went to this restaurant and the kids couldn’t contain their joy. Their mommy was going out with them, finally! For years, they went out without me – attended birthday parties, school events, Church services (I watch our Church’s services via live webcast from home), gone to outings, etc. – but now, their Mom who used to be so sick and weak and dying was with them and joining in the rejoicing.

New Year’s Day of 2010, while I was still recovering from past illness and childbirth, my breathing felt like it was coming from a deep pit inside of me that I had to muster strength just to complete one breath, and still, it wasn’t enough. Thus, began another walk through the shadow of the valley of death. What did it feel like to walk through the valley of the shadow of death? It felt like the next breath may not be yours anymore. It felt dark, scary, uncertain, and steeped with suffering. Suffering that is all over you. It is there in your sleeping and waking.

The valley of the shadow of death is sitting in bed at a late hour and your soul shouts to God to grant the body rest and let the glorious light of heaven envelope you and everything will be alright, but when you see your kids sleeping innocently, your lips utter a different cry, a cry to be shown His great mercy, a cry to be raised up from all the sickness and dying. A cry to be able to nurture these young, innocent children your body had birthed.

I am amazed at the mercy and power of God to heal and raise up a sick person like me. I never doubt His unequalled power to save, to heal, to work wonders and mighty deeds, but to be shown His great mercy? My pleadings be heard and honored? This is what it means to be BLESSED! Blessed beyond measure. For how could one measure His love and mercy? They are deeper than the ocean, higher than the heavens, wider than the Milky Way, bigger than the universe He created.

Are these just ramblings, some song lyrics that I have put together? NOT.AT.ALLl! For I know how it felt like to die, but I have also known how to be raised up by the powerful hands of God!

 Indeed we count them BLESSED who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful(James 5:11, emphasis added)

I am His witness. Yes, He saves! Yes, He heals! Yes, He delivers! Yes, He protects!

For all the promises of God in [Jesus] are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Cor. 1:20)

Jesus our Lord came to bring salvation, peace, and healing. All of heaven rejoiced at His birth, for it was God’s manifestation of His love. It pleased Him to fulfil His promise. It pleased Him to do us good, bringing us these good tidings of great joy, peace, and goodwill  which were to all people (Luke 2).

Shall we close our eyes and remember that day when God visited His people, when multitudes of angels singing accompanied the greatest and most important birth story. Yes, God loves us. I pray this will not be obliterated by numbness, by overstimulation by worldly things.

A note to my email subscribers: After publishing 2 new posts after the transfer, I found out that my new email subscription service plugin wasn’t live, that’s the reason why you, my precious, faithful subscribers, did not receive them. I already reinstalled my old subscription service. These are the posts you missed: He makes All Things New: Reflections on Change and When God is Silent.

Please check my link-ups list here.

Journey with Jesus,

Sanctuary

Meditating on Psalm 84

How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
(Psalm 84:1-2)

One of the many things that I love about our Church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY, is its offering of a 24/7 sanctuary. That is, a sanctuary for the weary soul and the sick body.

All over the country, there are outreach stations, pastoral houses and fasting houses where one could take refuge. These are not towering cathedrals, no, they are far from such. In fact, some outreach stations could be so bare with only curtains for walls, but these could be havens for anyone looking for rest, both for the soul and the flesh.

In these houses, the workers of the Lord’s vineyard praise and worship night and day, with fasting and prayers. Their soulful singing and worship invite the glory of the Lord, hence, though the place is not built with marble and hardwood or gilded columns, God’s anointing descends and imbues the worshipers with power from on high.

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah 
(v. 4)

I was one who ran to God’s sanctuary often. When my body was so sick and couldn’t seem to find the way to heal, I ran to this sanctuary. In fact, our whole family lived there for a season, in Pampanga Fasting House. I found great comfort in plunging myself at the feet of Jesus in His sanctuary, completely yielding myself to His mercy. I believed in His existence. I believed He sees and knows and moves among the children of men. I believed He heals. I had to believe and I did, with all my being. That’s why one afternoon when I thought I was breathing my last, I signalled for the one caring for me to call for the prayer warriors who were praying and fasting to pray for me. And even when I knew it could be my last breath, I was believing and surrendering, and He proved to me that He is real and true, faithful and unfailing.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 
(v. 5)

They go from strength to strength… (v. 7)

One can trust God in His sanctuary which is filled with His anointing and power. One can run into this place, not to gaze at the magnificent paintings and murals on the ceilings and walls for these are only found in cathedrals and basilicas, but to find solace for the soul and healing for the body.

This is what sanctuary really means.

It was where Sis. Dina and her dying daughter ran to when the doctors in the hospital could no longer do anything for Janna. They ran to the fasting house in Sauyo, Novaliches in Quezon City where praying and fasting sisters awaited them. And Sis. Dina, the fraught mother, found solace to her soul, and Janna found healing to her body.

When Sis. Sarah was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and she was told by the doctor that only surgery could prolong her life, she refused it but instead travelled to the same fasting house to find strength and solace there. And when her tumor broke open while she was travelling in public transport and blood leaked out of her blouse, she was determined to reach God’s sanctuary. And she arrived there where sisters in Christ ministered to her.

Like what I did in 2004 when I lived in Pampanga Fasting House, comforted day and night by constant praising and strengthened by prayers with fasting, so did Sis. Sarah. She lived in God’s sanctuary until the day the Lord brought down His healing upon her, and she rose up from her sick bed.

And there are still many who run to God’s sanctuary to take refuge there, at any time of day or night. This is declared in their testimonies. I can’t possibly mention each one.

God is real and He makes known His power among men. The kingdom of God has come near to [us] (Luke 10:9). It is manifested through His amazing testimonies.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
(v. 11)

Read in full the testimonies mentioned above:

To read more of God’s amazing testimonies, click here.

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God Causes Them to Know Him

Meditating on Psalm 83

Psalm 83 speaks of Israel’s prayer to God to confound those who conspire against her. But how can we apply some of the verses of Psalm 83 in our present-day lives? We’ll consider this:

So pursue them with Your tempest,
And frighten them with Your storm.
16 Fill their faces with shame,
That they may seek Your name, O Lord.  

That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth. 
(Psalm 83:15,16,18)

I would like to use these verses in a positive way: that God pursues them whose evil deeds have multiplied and overflowed. That He pursues them with the “tempest” of His purposes and frightens them with the “storm” of His punishment. That He is determined to frustrate their schemes and confound their evil plans, that they may be put to shame and be greatly dismayed. So that they will know Him and turn to Him.

On the other hand, we know also that the thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10:10a), and God may allow him to carry out his work, then use it for His purposes and turn it into victory in the end. So that, behind the calamity, we might find life and have it to the full (John10:10b).

Such is the moving story of Bro. Eric Fajardo, a former policeman who lived in depravity, but there came a time that he reaped what he had sown. The day he thought he would be honored in a town’s important occasion where he was the guest speaker turned out to be the darkest day of his life. He brought along his family for he wanted them to witness this special event in his life. But before he could even set foot on stage, there was a bomb blast followed by indiscriminate firing. When the smoke subsided and Bro. Eric could see clearly, he saw his whole family sprawled on the ground, bloodied and lifeless.

Read more of Bro. Eric Fajardo’s testimony here.

I believe that God causes us to cease from committing evil by allowing calamities (maybe in the form of illnesses, suffering, heart-wrenching problems, etc.) to come upon us so “that [we] may know that [He], whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” (v. 18) and turn to Him and surrender our lives to Him.

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Inside the Enemy’s Camp {A Mission That’s Worth a Thousand Crusades}

Meditating on Psalm 77

We’re in Psalm 77 in our Journey Through the Psalms Friday, and how very timely to be discussing about it now that our Church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY, had just celebrated the 12th Mindanao Peace Mission Anniversary last October 7.

This is all I could remember about it. I was resting comfortably on our new bed in our new townhouse watching the evening news. I caressed my bulging tummy; I was about 5 months pregnant with our first baby. I saw in the news how these emaciated prayer warriors together with their beloved pastor were battling and struggling against all the hardships they were in as their stay in the Abu Sayyaf camp was prolonged indefinitely. What little I can remember of it (because I didn’t really focus my attention, there were other things in my mind then that were more exciting – how selfish I had been!) was that, those Christian men were staying strong in their faith amidst all the perils around them. I remember thinking, “Why would anyone want to go to that hellish place?”

It would be three years later when my memory would be refreshed about that news, when I was brought to the feet of Jesus at JMCIM, dying and shaking from unexplainable fear. It would be months later, as we continued to serve the Lord and hope for His healing, that I learned that the Church where the Lord had mercifully brought us to was the one who bravely entered the Abu Sayyaf camp to pray for the 21 Sipadan hostages and help with their release.

Every year as the Church celebrated this victorious peace mission in Talipao, Jolo, Sulu in the island of Mindanao, I would hear about the amazing – A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! – testimonies of the 12 prayer warriors who had experienced the horrors of that place in the presence of the fierce Abu Sayyaf. Just a few weeks prior to JMCIM’s entrance to the camp, a Catholic priest, Fr. Gallardo, was captured by them. They extracted all his nails and plucked out his eyes before they brutally chopped off his head.

I cannot now write all the testimonies of God’s mighty deliverance during their three-month ordeal inside the enemy’s camp and the military assault that followed. How could Bible-wielding, weak and emaciated (from daily fasting up in the cruel mountains of Jolo, Sulu) Christian men escape the fierceness of the Abu Sayyaf and later on, the canons and bombs from military planes (for the government had declared an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf but they (Abu Sayyaf) insisted that the JMCIM Christians would stay close to them)?

I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted. 
(Psalm 77: 1-2)

The bombs would drop from the military planes, cutting off trees and spattering the earth. The Abu Sayyaf would be fleeing to wherever they could escape, but the faith-full Christian men, always anticipating God’s mighty deliverance, would be on their knees, arms raised up to heaven, yielding their bodies to God’s protection WHICH.NEVER.FAILED. (Sobbing now).

And God delivered them triumphantly, all thirteen of them. They were not hurt by the Abu Sayyaf nor the bombs and canons of the military assault. HALLELUIAH!

But the beloved pastor suffered much. Due to prolonged fasting (he had fasted 40 days and 40 nights before entering the Abu Sayyaf camp and continued it during much of their stay in the mountains), his body weakened so much that he could hardly walk and talk. He is still recovering until now. I remember the apostle Paul’s words: I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (Gal. 6:17).

As the years passed and the Church continued to wait for the beloved pastor’s full recovery and as it travailed still in heartbreaking trials (the passing away of the beloved assistant pastor, Lina C. Almeda, among other trials of faith), some despaired (I was one of them) if the Lord’s eyes and miracles were still on His Church, JMCIM. But we were wrong in even letting that thought enter the mind. For God again showed His amazing miracles – healings, lives changed, deliverance – and let His powerful presence felt in the congregation every worship service.

I read Asaph’s laments and I can imagine the beloved pastor (and the beloved brethren) awake in the night, meditating on God and His wondrous works.

You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.

Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah (vv. 4-9)

I hold these precious words close to my heart. They serve as lamp in the dark, wisdom in weakness and confusion.

Last Sunday, October 7, the whole Church gathered together again to remember God’s goodness and celebrate His mighty deeds that He has shown. Once again, brethren, specially the prayer warriors of the victorious Talipao peace mission, shouted out their praise, testimonies, and celebratory messages in the pulpit. Human strength is not enough to shout out God’s wondrous works to the ends of the earth.

And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples. 
(vv. 10-14)

Below, I share with you photos of this blessed event. I pray these will be a blessing to you.

Congregational singing – joyful. These were those on the grounds.

The beloved brethren with their umbrellas to fend off the heat of the sun.

The Children’s Choir

Youngsters in worship (Children’s Choir)

The Adults’ Choir (brothers’ side)

Youth and Singles’ Choirs combined. Those on their knees were being filled by the Holy Spirit.

The musicians

A sister worshiping.

Beloved workers in the vineyard of the Lord (preachers, prayer warriors, pastoral workers).

The Jesus Finest Generation Choir

Up close

Hands in praise

The beloved JMCIM mimers

The Adults’ Choir (sisters’ side)

Our dearly beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde E. Almeda in the pulpit. He was in the verge of tears remembering how God had mightily delivered him and the 12 prayer warriors.

The altar call

Endnotes:

  • I thank beloved Bro. Edu Cortez of ExtremeDetails for providing the beautiful photos. God bless you so much more, Bro. Edu! (Lord willing, I hope to get some photography lessons from you in the coming days :)).
  • I was blessed to have browsed the manuscript of the book written about the Talipao peace mission by an American (CIA) who had studied and followed through the whole event. I hope and pray that it will be published soon.
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Journey with Jesus,