Hope for the New Year

Hello, dear ones! I trust that you had a wonderful and blessed celebration of our Savior’s birth with family and friends. Our family was so blessed to have a quiet Christmas at home. I was strong and inspired enough to plan and do a few last-minute decorations and table settings with the help of the kids and our two househelps. Did you feel like our to-do lists are way bigger than our capacities and time allotments? I did but didn’t dwell too much on it. There were things that were not done on time but it didn’t really matter. To be a slave of tasks and time is one thing I can’t subject my frail self to.

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So, the cold Christmas season has brought fresh perspective and inspiration to my heart and soul as I await the coming year (a big “thank you” to all who leave me messages of love, hope, and kindness that really encourage me). Yes, my heart is filled with abundant hope, even amid my existing health situation. The Lord is faithful to let our hearts and hopes go on and on and on. He is the One who walks with us and sees us through every season. Even when we are weak and don’t seem to know how to fire up our faith, He remains faithful all throughout. Hallelujah!

I am so inspired to meet the new year with plans for more of the things that would bring purpose and meaning to my life. No, not more tasks that I wouldn’t be able to complete anyway, but more motivation, more determination, more focus, more purpose, more intentionality, more dedication, more heart, more discipline, more courage. <Exhale>. That is humongous, but you know what? Before Christmas, I found enough courage to let myself into projects that, though they might tire my body, will bring more life, more vibrancy into my ailing and weak self. What I’m saying is that, I don’t want my illnesses and sufferings and fears to be sovereign over my life. I want God to be.

This coming year, by God’s unceasing grace, I would like to focus more on the ff.:

More Purposeful (More Living)

I had written a while back about living just a fraction of a normal life, what with sickness, suffering, and a fraction of a person’s normal strength. My days are dotted with long pauses (rests) to recover from hard bouts of suffering. Often they stretch to an hour or two, a few times a day. Sometimes, I don’t have appetite or determination left to rise up at all and do something productive. At other times, I just want to defy them (the difficulties) and rise up even if I haven’t fully recovered and do something fulfilling, like watercolor painting.

I realized that’s exactly the problem: I’m not consistent. Sometimes, I muster enough courage to stand up against the nasty bullying of my sickness and suffering, sometimes I give in piteously and accomplish nothing.

Now, I’m inspired enough to plan my days and pursue that which will bring color and fulfilment to my days and life with determination. I’m praying that I will be able to follow it through.

More Fruitful

Our fruitfulness is what we can show for our salvation. It’s what the Lord requires.

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:8)

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit shouldremain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:16)

It can’t be that we are followers of Christ and yet, there are no fruits of it in our lives that others may see. We may soak ourselves in prayer and the Word everyday, we may attend church religiously, but if change is not seen on the outside, what good is it? Our internal transformation should flow over the surface. The way we live life (our motives, words and actions) are the fruits of our faith and love for Jesus.

Just the peace and joy we have inside and are etched on our faces and seen in our eyes is already a solid proof, the fruit of living by and walking in the Spirit. They are infectious and affect others.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

So, for me, more of joy, thankfulness, patience, grace and kindness for 2018 and beyond. Grace is love beyond self, shown in choosing humility over pride and forgiving readily.

It’s growing in grace (see 2 Pet. 3:18). When we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we bear much fruit. There can’t be bearing without first growing.

More brave

I never imagined that fear and courage could exist at the same place and at the same time. My illness and suffering brings me indescribable fear that I will never get used to. The attacks scare me so much that sometimes I tremble inside in utter fear of how in the world I could come through each one alive. But it is the same illness and suffering that has made me so brave and courageous to fully trust in God in the midst of it all. I myself marvel at how I could be so brave through it all, for it’s a pure, unwavering trust – naked and raw.

To trust God with nothing but our faith, His Word and His testimonies to hold onto is scary. We can’t see or touch anything. Everything is invisible. But that is faith.

I am not brave outside of my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my brave, my courage, my strength. So, if I want to be more brave, I need more of Jesus in my life. More of Him, His Word, His teachings and promises. You see, my physical sufferings have brought trauma in my life. It is this trauma that makes me afraid to step out of my comfort zone.

When the disciples were scared because of the winds and waves that buffeted their boat while the Lord slept soundly, He said to them, “Where is your faith?”

He’s saying that, if we have complete faith in God, we should not be afraid. (I wish I could tell my heart and nerves that when suffering attacks, or when I’m anxious or worried).

I pray for more vibrant life and purpose, more fruitfulness in the Spirit, and more courage to step out in faith for all of us this new year.

Sharing with you some of our Christmas photos:

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The Principle of True Freedom

In the latter part of Luke 9, the Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples entered a village of the Samaritans, but they did not receive Him because He was set to journey to Jerusalem. Because of this, His disciples, James an John said, “’Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.'” (Luke 9:54-55)

When I read this recently, I knew it wasn’t only for James and John. I felt myself being sharply rebuked, too. Indeed, we do not know what manner of spirit we are of sometimes. Just because Jesus and His disciples weren’t received in a certain village, it was enough reason for the two disciples to want to command fire from heaven and consume them. That is rather extreme, don’t you think so? I got to thinking – sometimes in life, we get so offended that our initial (could be unconscious) reaction is an ill will (wish or desire) against the offender. When we are hurt, we want to hurt back. Sometimes, deep inside our hearts, we want to take revenge against those who have deeply hurt us. We know the Lord’s teachings but we can’t seem to find peace because of the anger that seems to overpower us.

While meditating on the Lord’s rebuke to James and John, it dawned on me that, in truth, all of Jesus’ teachings point toward our true liberation. This was an awesome epiphany. The most common, yet I believe the most powerful, things that can take us captive are anger and fear. When we’re consumed with anger we can’t get ourselves to forgive. The same dark imprisonment is offered by crippling fear.

When we finally realize Jesus’ teachings for what they truly are, it’s amazing how they work for our true freedom. Sometimes we feel burdened by His commandments, thinking that they are outrageously hard to follow and carry out. But, oh — when we see what the Holy Spirit has wanted us to see all along, they are what we really need to experience a kind of life-giving, peace-keeping, joy-multiplying FREEDOM!

When the Bible says, do not take revenge, God is freeing us from the misery anger brings! Look at what Apostle Paul says:

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Rom. 12:19)

God is commanding us not to avenge ourselves for He will do it for us!

When the Lord commands us to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”, He isn’t doing it to favor our enemies (or those who have hurt us or treated us badly). He is commanding us to do it for our own good! Always for our own good. You see, if we satisfy our desires upon our enemies to the full – we hate, we curse, we wish ill will – the negative emotions become our own poison! It’s like cancer that poisons our cells or a wound that festers. So, when the Lord commands us to love our enemies (forgive them, pray for them, bless them , do good to them), He is actually giving us a way to be free! To live in peace and joy!

Sometimes, we insist our own way. We want to stay in anger, self-pity, ill will, hurts, wanting to believe that we are giving our emotions release, and that, the Lord’s commandments are just too much to swallow, let alone do. But true release of all that imprisons us is His Word, His commandments! In the Lord Jesus Christ we find true freedom. He is the One who lays before us the primordial principle of becoming truly free.

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)

Amen and Amen!

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Journey with Jesus,