Kingdom Living

I came to know kingdom living the moment I set foot on the worship service of Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry. It was a midweek service and even before the car doors were opened, I could hear the powerful reverberation of a whole stadium-size congregation worshiping in one accord. It overwhelmed my very sick and weak self. When I was brought at the very heart of the grandstand, I saw people in white clothes gripped in worship, as if they were entirely on a different realm. (Just a few hours before I left home, I had lain in bed, ashen and weak, the sound of voices around me seemed like it was coming from under the earth; it was death coming to fetch me. But I prayed for deliverance and salvation). Still in that dazed condition when we arrived at JMCIM worship service, I thought I had died and was caught up somewhere between heaven and earth.

kingdom living

Later on as I continued to attend worship services three times a week, heard a barrage of amazing testimonies (in a spiritually powerful way), and began to read the Bible, I understood that the Church the Lord brought me to lived like the early apostles and believers found in the Book of Acts. The stories I heard were replete with God’s power and nothing short of miraculous. It both encouraged and scared me. My hope was greatly strengthened for I knew that only God’s miracle could heal my broken body. And yet, the boldness and courage of those witnesses to trust God instead of doctors, specialists, hospitals, and drugs terrified me.

One testimony I heard which brought a bright hope to my soul as well as trepidation was the testimony of a brother whose wife was sick of breast cancer. He left home to offer prayer and fasting. When he came back after a 5-day fasting, he laid his hands on his sick wife and cast out the demons of cancer. Instantly, the tumor ruptured and the cancer flowed out of his wife’s body. I wanted that! Oh, how I wanted that kind of faith and miracle!

Through my continued reading of the Bible with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I knew and believed that the kingdom of God has come upon this Church.

But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:20)

The faith and confidence of the Church to heal and cast out demons of diseases, vices, and addictions were hinged upon the mighty power of God through His Spirit and promises.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

Kingdom living is living victoriously in all areas of life, fully utilizing the resources of God’s kingdom in the here and now which are available to the children of God through the power of His Holy Spirit.

It requires a sturdy, unwavering faith in God. Faith that takes action. Faith that makes that first step. Faith that is confident and trusts completely.

Faith is a verb.

But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20)

During those first months after being saved, I was scared to face the truth: Do I have that kind of faith? Do I have what it takes to receive the miraculous?

It is true that trusting God completely with our very life is frightening when we have been taught to trust in man and his inventions. But the miraculous only happens in faith. And in obedience. In taking that first step to believe and trust. Didn’t the Lord Jesus Christ say many times, “Thy faith hath made thee whole”?

Kingdom living is believing and trusting in this power that Apostle Paul strained to describe and prayed that all followers of Christ would come to know:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.(Eph. 1:17-19)

Exceeding.

Greatness.

Power.

Working.

Mighty.

It is as if the apostle couldn’t quite express God’s magnificent power in words. And indeed, words fail to describe it.

We know it. We believe it. And yet, we don’t always trust it or live it.

It is only by God’s grace and our willingness to surrender our doubts and unbeliefs and stepping out into faith that this exceeding great power will be at work mightily in our lives. The Lord Jesus will meet us in our cry for help,

“Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

We have varying measures of faith; He will honor what little we may have. He said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed…” What could be tinier than a mustard seed? He has sown the seed of faith. He is the author of it. He will also perfect it (see Heb. 12:2).

We must bear the fruits of faith where He has placed us. When He puts us in front of our Red Seas or burning fiery furnaces or lion’ dens, He will also provide the faith and courage we need to step right into them. He promised:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you. (Is. 43:2)

One night in 2006, Hannah, then 5 years old, was very sick. She had a high fever and was hallucinating. As red as a cooked crab and her eyes wild with fear, she was so terrified with the things she saw (she was screaming that there were horrifying monsters come to get her). She clung to me, trembling in fear. I straddled her as I waved my Holy Bible in the air, at the same time casting out the demons with all my strength. She would calm down and fall asleep, but after a while, she would open her eyes wide again and the same thing would be repeated.

Felix was in Pampanga then, praying and fasting. In our time of great crisis, he was in the best place for a miracle. Bringing Hannah to the hospital was not what I wanted. I couldn’t drive anyway. Still awaiting healing myself, I couldn’t even walk more than a few steps.

Our two Christian helpers and I sang praises to God, but at some length, one of them said that we needed to call the Pastoral House for help. At past midnight, two workers arrived. Together, we praised and worshiped, then they prayed over Hannah and cast out the demons. Hannah immediately fell asleep. We were all exhausted, too, so we all went to sleep. I implored the two workers to stay the night in the guest room.

It was 11 in the morning when Hannah and I woke up. We had a very restful sleep! She smiled at me, the sweetest smile I ever saw and will never forget. She then got up and ran to the kitchen. She said she was parched and wanted to drink. She was completely healed! Hallelujah!

But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:20, emphasis mine)

But miracles don’t happen everyday. What, then, does kingdom living look in the everyday? It’s righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (see Rom. 14:17). Nothing less.

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The Pull of the World

In September last year when my husband arrived from a three-day prayer and fasting in our church’s fasting house in Pampanga, I asked why he didn’t go straight to work which he was wont to do in years past. In the earlier years after our salvation, whenever he came back from the fasting house, he never failed to visit the office on the same day. Except that time when he fasted for 15 days, he always came home radiant and showing perfect health and strength, like he didn’t abstain from food for three days. That last time, however, I noticed him looking emaciated and tired.

pull of the world

“I’m still feeling weak,” he answered. He just confirmed what I’d been suspecting. I told him about my observations of his fastings in previous years and the recent ones and he acknowledged that yes, it was different now. I was emboldened to tell him why it was so.

Months before he finally decided to leave for the fasting house, I was fervently praying that the Lord would speak to him and prod him to go back to his first works. And every time I did, I felt a resistance to my prayer, a struggle. The Lord was telling me that we had gone so far away from the spiritual zeal that we used to have. The gradual shift from our burning spirituality to one which was affected by secularism in recent years has somehow weakened our confidence and watered down the faith that can move mountains we used to have. I knew that and I could feel that deep within me. Because of this, I prayed the more urgently and passionately, acknowledging our faults and failings.

I put the blame on this: When we opened our doors to the Internet and social media, our focus began to shift. Ever so gradually, but it happened.

The years following our salvation, our world revolved around Church, morning and evening praise and worship, prayers, regular 3-day prayer and fasting for my husband, Bible reading (I only read the Holy Bible then, many times a day), and crusades during summer. It was rather a closed world, hedged by God’s Holy Spirit.

Then social media came to our life. In late 2010, I created my very first: Twitter. I shared encouraging tweets and verses everyday. A few months later, I created my blog, Minister of Mercy, where I wrote and shared the many amazing testimonies in our Church. Later on, I felt I wanted to write some more and share my life in the Lord and His Word to the world. So, I created Our Healing Moments and began to write in earnest. Both were gifts from heaven. My territory expanded outside the boundaries of our home. The world opened up before my eyes as the Internet broke down barriers between continents and I was introduced to the community of Christian bloggers. It was a gradual but very rewarding process. It was a time of stepping out into the world again, albeit virtually.

It was much later that I entered Facebook for the sole purpose of creating a page for my blogs and be able to share to a wider readership. There was a certain degree of apprehension on my part at first. Although I was already into blogging, I didn’t want to totally break down the walls around my private world of only God, Church, family, and a few choice neighbors. I had become used to that world, a far cry from my years of career and business. Being ill and weak, I felt safe and secure in that world.

But in the end, I had my FB account and to make the story short, I was again in the world through social media. Not long afterwards, Felix created his own FB account. Gradually (and I really observed this closely), members from our Church, from the least to the greatest, joined in. My FB community has burgeoned into proportions I didn’t quite expect. The opportunity to share my writings through my blogs has gradually increased and continues to do so. I’m really thankful for that. But somehow, we have changed, and that change is largely influenced by FB.

I now lament that instead of being soaked up with the things of God, to some degree, we are being drenched with secular things, just by lingering on that seemingly endless FB newsfeed. It is not as much as spending too much precious time there that should have been wisely spent in Bible reading and meditation, prayer and worship as it is an influencer of one’s mindset, affections, and desires.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom. 8:6 ESV)

I told my husband that our immersion in social media has diluted the anointing, the density of our spirituality, and has somehow doused our fiery faith. He could only agree. In the past, he offered prayer and fasting every three months. Now, eight months had passed before the last one. The Lord warns us:

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. (Rev. 2:4-5)

At the end of our conversation, my husband and I both agreed that complete and steadfast obedience to God and His will is always the most excellent way, for us to be in His perpetual remembrance and favor. We both saw the benefit of laying up treasures in heaven and investing on future needs being met and God’s blessings in general through fervent, faithful, intentional, and unceasing prayers now.

The Lord Jesus said that we are salt and light.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Mat. 5:13)

Our saltiness will lose its potency when we adopt the ways of the world instead of being a light to it. When that happens, the Master will find no use for us. But it’s never too late to purge ourselves of the pollution of this world. Apostle Paul encourages us:

 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Tim. 2:21)

The chameleon’s color changes according to its environment. When we linger too long in the world, like the chameleon, we will adapt its color. But when we faithfully abide in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be conformed to His image as God has predestined us to be (see Rom. 8:29).

That night, I lay in bed in our already dim and quiet room as I listened to praise music. I still can’t sing, my diaphragm being weak. But when I don’t enter the presence of the Lord through worship, the more that weaknesses catch up on me.

We only realize how hungry we are of God when we are already being filled by Him through worship. We realize that all those times spent fretting and worrying would have been prevented by intentionally abiding in His glorious presence.

Something miraculous happens in praise and worship. Even when we are just listening and not able to sing, when we put our all into it, the Lord transforms us from inside out.

So I lay still and just let the Lord love on me, whisper words of comfort and courage, strengthen me, expand my heart and mind, feed my soul. Heaven drew near and the love of Jesus was a tangible thing. Tears escaped from the corner of my eye.

(Photo credit: Jose Luis Casti via Flickr).

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The Fruits of Praise

One night a few weeks ago, during those rare occasions when I could listen to the sound of music without it interfering with my breathing and heartbeat, I listened to songs of praise which I had missed so much. I upped the volume and let my whole being be enveloped by heavenly music and lyrics that bring much delight to the God of the universe. One of my all-time favorites, In the Name of the Lord, played and my spirit soared as the song crescendoed. The floodgates of my heart opened and though I couldn’t vocalize just yet, my diaphragm being weak, my love and adoration for the Lord Jesus Christ poured out. This was the silent cry of my worshiping heart: I love You, Lord, with more than ALL of me!

ps134

Worship tears down all barriers between our hungering spirit and the Spirit of God. When our spirit is caught up in the whirlwind of praise and spontaneously cries out words of worship — we have entered the glorious presence of God. And in His presence is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). The worshiping heart transcends all pain, sorrow, disappointments, discontent, and any other negative emotion that tries to bring the spirit down.

Months after I received my salvation 12 years ago, I stayed in one of the bedrooms upstairs which overlooked the neighbor’s spacious garden. This was where the young family like ours usually ate on weekend mornings. They were a happy family. In contrast to ours, we were newly-mended and although the Savior’s stitching job was secure, we were still scattered as my husband focused on learning the intricacies of our business which I had relinquished to him as I battled with my illness. It was very rare that we ate together as a family since I often ate in bed. That and the suffering and uncertainty my illness brought made me wallow in sorrow and self-pity. In one of those times that I looked out the window and was overwhelmed with such emotions, I raised my hands and poured out my anguish to the Lord by means of soulful songs of praise.

Immediately, I felt like I was wrapped in a comforting embrace and my trembling and sorrowing heart was held and soothed by an unseen hand.

Worship is surrender of all that we hold, positive or negative, tangible or otherwise. And in that surrender is complete acceptance by the Lord, a sweet relief that equals no other. A liberation.

(In 2007 while I was heavily pregnant with Tim, the family next door sold their garden lot to us, let out the house to another, and left to live somewhere nearer their kids’ schools. We tore down the wall and built our own patio, attaching it to our newly-acquired garden. Since then, it has long been a witness to our family’s celebrations).

I don’t know of any other Church who is as devoted to praise & worship and prayer & fasting as The Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry through the leadership of our Beloved Pastor Evangelist Wilde Almeda. Worship services are held three times a week and last for hours. Friday overnight service is from 8:30pm to 4:30am of Saturday. Two hours are allotted to congregational singing at the start of the service. Different choirs sing in between testimonies. Their anointed singing fills one’s soul to overflowing.

In 2004, a year after I received my salvation, our family stayed in one of the fasting houses of our church. This one had a spacious chapel, quarters for praying and fasting brethren, and the compound was surrounded by trees. My soul desired to stay there as my illness raged on, accompanied by constant fears and nervousness that seemed to engulf me. I found great comfort ensconced in the house of God where my ailing and weak body and trembling heart were drenched with the morning and evening praise. This saw me through to another day and to another day after that and so on.

Workers and brethren alike sing praises from the rising of the sun to 3 in the afternoon. Then, the workers break their fast and eat a modest meal. They will then either rest, assist in Bible Studies elsewhere, or are called upon to visit the sick. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the sick receive healing and recover after being prayed over and laid hands on.

At home, we adopted this spiritual discipline early on and worshiped the Lord in the morning and evening. One night as Felix sang a solemn song, his knees rooted to the floor beside the bed (I was lying in bed trying to concentrate while going through physical discomforts), when a powerful force suddenly took him and shook him so hard he was moved from his place to a few feet away, all the time uttering words of worship non-stop while tears cascaded down his face. I had just witnessed his baptism of the Holy Spirit and it was awesome! Hallelujah! When it was over, he felt spent but said that he had never felt anything like it before. He was empowered!

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Later on, I had regained enough strength to have my own little private worship in the mornings and evenings. I would sing a few songs, striving to invite the presence of the Lord. And even in between those times, when my spirit was thirsty and my heart needed uplifting, I would run straight to His arms through praise. When the tears had run their course — my whole being was awash in a holy cleansing and my heart was released from whatever held it captive.

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

But there were seasons, too, when I became sicker and my abdomen was too weak to sing a single stanza. I would then listen to praise music non-stop or sing silently in my heart during rests. Then there came a time when my heartbeat and labored breathing would inhibit even the sound of music. I then began the practice of inhaling and exhaling the word Hallelujah in a melody that was soothing to my heartbeat. I always recovered in the end. This was rather at the bottom rung of the ladder of praise and worship, but still, it goes the same direction: heavenward. This reminds me of Revelations 4:8: They do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty…”

I believe without a doubt that praise and worship, besides prayers and fasting, has contributed greatly to my life’s continuance. 

Some years ago during a Finest Choir singing, the Holy Spirit moved so powerfully and touched both the choir and congregants. The mighty sound of His moving echoed through the stadium as singing and speaking of tongues prevailed. Then one of the choir members who was filled with the Holy Spirit shouted “I love You, My children!” over and over. I stirred from where I was sitting and whispered, “Dearest Jesus, is that You speaking?” I thought, “Am I hearing it correctly?” I looked at my companions but they didn’t seem to hear or understand the prophetic message.

The message was repeated a few times, I couldn’t be mistaken. I raised my hands and face toward heaven and uttered, “It is You! It is really You! And You love us so!” I was drenched with my own tears as I wept in the glory of the moment. It is awesome to hear our Savior’s love.

Worship creates intimacy with God that no other thing can. The things we can’t express through prayer are spontaneously expressed through worship as our spirit becomes one with the Spirit of God.

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Resurrection Power

Whoever said we can’t feast on Good Friday? Last Friday, the Lord prepared a banquet in Amoranto Stadium where our church, Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry, holds services, and all who came were in for an 8-hour long of feasting. I anticipated the event, coming in and bringing nothing but a huge appetite. It’s been quite a long time that I eagerly looked forward to spiritual feasting. You know, being in that place of complacency and not realizing that the fire in the spirit is already slowly fading. Over a decade of illness and suffering, waiting and hoping, and doing all you can to gain God’s favor can sometimes discourage you or numb you and drive you into lukewarmness. Of course, there is a warning voice saying —

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Gal. 6:9)

“We ought always to pray and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1)

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love”. (Rev. 2:4)

But sometimes, we choose to ignore them, thinking that we are just fine: we still pray and read the Bible regularly, still talk and write about the Word. But we know deep inside that we are not ablaze.

I wanted to stir up my faith and hope of healing, really desiring and believing for a miracle for me to walk and travel again. So, before the Friday overnight service, I decided to take note of the testimonies, to really listen and absorb every word. I worked up an appetite for all of God. You see, listening to testimonies upon testimonies of God’s miracles and wondrous works for many years can also make us take them for granted. Here are just some of the testimonies I took note of:

Sister Joy Casio was healed from rotting eardrum. There was a hole in her eardrum, was infected and puss oozed from it. No cure from the meds she took but when she joined in the mass healing of JMCIM on TV, she was instantly healed and, eventually, saved.

Sister Maria Fe Lebli  thanked the Lord for a blessed 14 days fasting (a miraculous feat!). She was healed from the work of witchcraft which put numerous cysts around her neck, blood and puss oozing from them.

Sister Agnes just finished 14 days fasting. Years before when she received the Lord Jesus Christ, she was delivered from her addiction to gambling. (The Lord changes people and gives them new life!)

Brother Dennis Cerilo was healed from kidney disease and stones also during mass healing on JMCIM TV program which paved the way to his salvation. His young son was bitten by a dog. The child became very sick with high fever. The dog died after a few days. But the child recovered after prayers and laying on of hands. His daughter graduated valedictorian from high school  receiving 9 medals and 10 awards. His wife is a house help. When her employer leaned that her daughter was a valedictorian, she gave new clothes for the whole family and money for food to celebrate.

Can we say Hallelujah!?

During the foot washing, the selected members of the Jesus Finest Generation Choir made their formation on the platform, opened each of their folders and began to sing the first song from their repertoire. As brethren took turns in washing and wiping feet, the choir sang beautiful praise songs. I was caught up in the glory of it all and though my abdomen was weak, that didn’t stop me from singing a few. Tears flowed as the Lord rekindled my love and desire to serve Him.

I was wide awake as the preachers began the 7 Last Words of Jesus at around past 2AM. I devoured everything. Even before the final “Amen” was uttered at the end of Friday’s overnight service at around past 4AM, I was filled to the brim. The resurrection power of God was wrought upon me, what better way to observe Lent?

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)

For this is the promise we cling upon:

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom. 8:11)

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Walk in Faith

Tuesday early evening, I had an unexpected visitor. Our household was in a flurry – my sister and her family arrived from the states and we were preparing for a welcome dinner at home. Our other siblings and their families were also arriving and I was still in the bedroom waiting for strength to come to be able to fix my face and hair (to look presentable at least!). Then, this sister in Christ, an elder if I will consider her age and length of time in serving the Lord, arrived unannounced with her own set of problems. I welcomed her into our bedroom.

I hadn’t seen her for a long time since I haven’t been attending services since 2009 being unable to travel (I only watch the live webcast of our church’s worship services at home). So, she laid out her problem: a financial need but not an emergency. I didn’t see any impossibility in it. I didn’t see a dead-end situation. I discerned that she was just impatient to wait on the Lord. She was focusing on the problem and the obstacles to the solution. It appeared that she had forgotten to give it all to the Lord and trust Him to work on it.

As I listened to her, I wondered whatever happened to the strong declarations of faith that I continuously hear in the pulpit from “on-fire” Christians? That is how we’ve been diligently taught: to have strong faith in God in whatever situation, even (and more so) in impossible situations. Every week, I hear of beloved brethren, victorious Christians, shouting their praise and thanksgiving to God as they testify of His mighty and wondrous works in their lives. Even for those who seem to have no hope, they run to the fasting houses and give themselves to prayer and fasting. And more often than not, they receive what they earnestly ask for.

Our faith weakens when we slacken our grip on the Lord Jesus Christ, when we walk more like the world. The more time we spend in the world – performing our jobs, doing chores, planning and prospering our businesses, meandering in leisures – and the lesser time we spend in the presence of the Lord, the more our faith weakens until we can’t get to trust God anymore. This happens because of our own negligence.

This got me to thinking that I, too, sometimes get complacent with my faith. Sometimes we forget to bravely stand up and proclaim our strong faith in God that He can do great things for us and we need not stay in that place of lack or mediocrity. Sometimes we just accept things as they are, thinking that they will never change. But we forget that God can. We only need to affirm our faith and unceasingly pray in faith.

These definitely hinder God’s work in our lives: negligence in prayer, complacency, and growing faint and giving in to weariness.

Walking in faith means we believe and trust God that He works in our lives every step we take. There is no forgetting, neglecting, doubting, and growing weary.

For in it [the gospel of Christ] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17, annotation mine)

“Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Heb. 10:38)

The righteousness [goodness] of God is revealed from faith to faith. We see and receive God’s favor by living and walking from faith to faith. Not from faith to weakness and doubt and back again like a pendulum, getting nowhere.

I promised the sister that I would help her pray. And that’s what I’ve been doing by the grace of God.

(Photo courtesy of my friend Perla Frisberg).

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Behind the Armor

I would like to pursue the topic on the armor of God for I myself need to be daily reminded by what it really means to be donned in full battle gear, especially when we do find ourselves in the heat of the battle. Are we prepared to go out to the battlefield? Or what if we suddenly find ourselves helplessly plunged into the midst of it? Are we vulnerable or impenetrable?

(image source)

I’ve found the answer to that during a recent crisis in our family. After one whole week of fever, cough, and colds, Tim was finally able to go back to school for a full week. After that, he was down with the severe cough again and this time, it was worse. He was really struggling. I had to take care of him myself because my husband left for the fasting house to offer three days prayer with fasting. You can’t imagine the wrestlings I went through as I, an ailing person myself, rallied all my strength and faith to storm heaven for my son’s healing.

Why do we need the armor? To withstand the devil and to stand.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:13)

A close look at the whole armor:

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6: 11-17)

Truth
Righteousness
Gospel of peace
Faith
Salvation
Word of God

Truth

It is very important to be protected by the truth. God’s truth. We learn the truth from the Bible and from the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (John 16:13)

It is important to be established in the truth, for Satan is in the business of twisting it, using all manners of deception – new philosophies and strange teachings, false doctrines – to dissuade Christians from the truth and away from God.

Righteousness

We guard our hearts from everything that defiles for “God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (1 Thess. 4:7). When Satan sees that we are compromising holiness in our lives, he takes the opportunity and swoops down to devour his prey: tempting and pushing his victim deeper to do that which is unrighteous and unholy.

Gospel of Peace

Why shod our feet with the Gospel of peace? I think this is symbolical. Isaiah 52:7 comes to mind: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation…” When we go and preach the Gospel of salvation to all men, near (our neighbours, friends, colleagues) or far, the enemy is threatened, defeated, while we become victorious doing the will of God.

Faith and the Word of God

These two were what held me in the heat of the battle as I wrestled against the havoc the devil wreaked in our family the past days: my husband was away fasting, I was ill while I took care of my sick son, and all the emotional, mental and spiritual upheavals that came with the fight. I could have easily unravelled (I was on the verge!) and lost it and poured out my complaints against heaven, giving in to the devil’s desire. The weariness and weakness were so overpowering I wanted to question God. But I did not. In the day of evil, my faith and God’s Word which I hold closely to my heart, held me together. They came through for me and I was able to stand.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Ps. 119:11)

I also prayed back to the Lord His own Word, as I, like Jacob, wrestled for His blessing.

Salvation 

This is what prods us to stand against the devil, for we want to protect our salvation with our very lives until we see our Lord again.

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

For Giving to the Lord

Something wondrous happened on Friday overnight worship service. A brother in Christ, a young man, testified in the pulpit that before he and his family received the Lord Jesus Christ, they were so poor back in the province that their meal often consisted of boiled rice eaten with sugared water. But he said that when they embraced the Lord and served Him, they began to receive His abundant blessings. He and his other siblings were able to go to school. He was thanking the Lord that he has now finished college, then went on to offer a special song for Him.

(image from Google)

And that was what touched a chord in me once again. He sang Thank You for Giving to the Lord. While I listened, I was biting my lip and trying my best not to sob (for I was then having difficulty breathing). The song brought me back to Pampanga Fasting House, precious memories of over eight years ago.

I was lying on my cot in my corner in the chapel (I had written about this corner before in one of my posts, but I will tell it again here). You see, when our family went to stay there to beg God for my healing, we also brought with us a single foldable bed. The plan was for me to stay in one corner of the chapel so I could listen to beloved brethren singing, praising, worshiping, and praying. These were fasting brethren. My cot was placed at the left corner beside the chapel entrance. Some sister-workers draped curtains around it so I could have some privacy.

The morning praise and worship ended at 2 in the afternoon, during which all the fasting brethren and workers went to their quarters to rest. I was always left alone in the chapel with only the utter quiet inside and the sound of the gentle breeze coming from the windows as company. But one afternoon, one of the workers played a song in the sound system and set it to repeat endlessly, then he left.

Thank You for Giving to the Lord (I didn’t know it then, it was my first time to hear it) played over and over. I liked the song at once. And it blessed me. So much.

How can I forget those days of suffering interspersed with the Lord’s blessings and miracles?

The true Church of the living God is beautiful. It is the Body of Christ. Everyone has a role to play, a gift to offer back. Everyone has something to give – rich and poor, young and old, male and female, students, professionals, businessmen, and even those who have not attained education. These all give for the kingdom of God.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in ourministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Rom. 12:6-8)

I always think that if not for the Body of Christ which prays and fasts and gives, where would I be now?

So, I thank the Lord for them who have given their lives selflessly for the Gospel, prayed and fasted day and night for the salvation of souls: our dearly beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde E. Almeda and Asst. Pastor Lina C. Almeda.

I thank Him for the many men and women, with their families, who followed the footsteps of our beloved spiritual parents and they, too, answered the Lord’s calling and forsook the life this world offers and became workers in the Lord’s vineyard.

I thank Him for those faithful brethren who give, so that the Gospel will spread to all corners of the earth: by foot, by all means of transportation, by radio, by TV, by the Internet.

Those who stand before rebels on the mountains, before patients (some very sick and dying) in hospital wards, before prisoners in jails, before believers of the Quran in a foreign land, before harried people in the marketplace, before skeptics in the workplace, etc. (This is not just a general list, but real stories and testimonies of brethren who go the distance to bring the Gospel to all people).

Those who give of their resources, talents, time, energy, wisdom, selfless love. For we cannot love without giving.

Thank you for giving to the Lord!

For those who are reading this in email, click here to view the music video.

My gratitude list ~ the things I’m thankful to the Lord for. Continuing to count the gifts:

66. For all those who subscribed to my blog via email and those who contacted me requesting for a copy of The Wrestlings along the Narrow Path– every time I send a copy I count it a blessing!

67. For finishing 8 days of extended whole morning fast

68. For the testimonies I heard during Sunday service – the Lord Jesus raising up a mother dying of leukaemia! And one other miracle which I hope to write about at Minister of Mercy and share it here later this week.

69. For the powerful message of an elder in Church who came from America.

70. For one of the kids’ young rabbits darting here and there in the garden, his energy inspires me; now we call him Dart.

71. For the exquisite gifts sent by a former classmate and good friend from Tallahassee, FL.

72. For my new inspirational books and cook books.

73. The Lord opening my spiritual eyes WIDER to His truth and to the knowledge of Him; I hope this will stay forever.

 74. For a new iPod (my first!) and speaker dock – now I can listen to praise music non-stop!

75. Listening to Hannah play Beauty and the Beast and one other happy tune.

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Learn to Number Our Days

Meditating on Psalm 90

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12).

Psalm 90 is a prayer for wisdom for God’s children to be able to realize the judgments and goodness of God and that they will learn to turn away from their strayings and return to Him.

Just a few nights ago after my husband offered three days absolute fasting (absolutely no food and water) in Pampanga Fasting House, we were talking about beloved brethren in Church who are so fervent in offering prayers with fasting. My husband was complaining of a kind of discomfort he suffers whenever he fasts and prays which makes him lose much sleep. I pointed out to him that I don’t usually hear such kinds of problems from other brethren when they thank the Lord in the pulpit for being able to offer up long prayers with fasting. Fact is, most of them are always on fire serving the Lord, and offering prayers with fastings regularly brings them so much joy.

I reminded my husband that in the early years of serving the Lord, he used to be so fervent in praising and worshiping at home in the mornings and evenings. He also prayed and fasted for days on end every three months or so. He willingly and gladly yielded himself to serving the Lord this way. And during those years, he didn’t complain of having any discomforts while fasting. I mentioned that, sometimes, we get so immersed in our affairs in the world – work, projects, plans, acquisitions, family, pleasures, and even problems in the home and in the workplace – that we don’t realize we are slowly veering farther away from our service to God.

Such are the common troubles of Christians whose priorities are those of the things of the world and not of God. I am always in awe listening to beloved brethren in Church, especially the elder women and men who are zealous in their service to God. They fast and pray often and they accomplish it in a breeze. Why? Because their joy in abandoning themselves to the will of God serves as the wind in their sails, propelling them to cruise through the ocean of faith towards eternal life!

Just like the words of Psalm 90, Christians sometimes find themselves sailing in dire straits because they choose to put more of their attention, time, and energy to the world and be entangled therein, and less in knowing God and growing in His grace. Psalm 90 teaches us that wherever we’ve gone, however successful we have become in the world, whatever plans we have for the future, there is an end to our days, our life is short (v. 10) and therefore, we must learn to turn to God and serve Him with all our hearts, minds, souls, and might, and the end – eternal life!

We finish our years like a sigh.
10 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. (vv. 9-12)

Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. This should be our constant prayer to turn us away from our follies and we focus instead on the Lord Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, the finisher of our faith.

I’m linking up with these lovely blogs.

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.

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

Journey with Jesus,

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

Journey with Jesus,