Unbroken Fellowship

We need not hide ourselves from the presence of God when He comes walking through our midst in the cool of the day, unlike what Adam and Eve did after committing the great act of disobedience: eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the very thing that God told them not to touch. All that is past — because of what the Lord Jesus has done.

walk in the light

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph. 2:13)

We have been reconciled to God through the death of His Son (see Rom. 5:10). Because of Jesus, our fellowship with the Father has been restored. Now, we have peace with Him, basking in His love, light, peace and joy. We walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day (that is, where He has sown us) in our intertwined spirits: our spirit being one with His Spirit in worship. But it’s really more than that. Since we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, this fellowship with Him is unbroken. It doesn’t only happen when we fall on our knees, raise our hands, and sing praises to Him from the depths of our heart and soul. It is walking with Him moment by moment. An unbroken communion.

We can have it as much and as often as we want to.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Rom. 5:1-2)

But sometimes, our plans and schedules seem to have a stronger pull than our desire to meet with God in prayer and worship, especially at the start of the day. Maybe our cellphones promise more fun as we are tempted to open them first thing, checking on likes and comments on the photos we had shared, or messages and emails that came in while we were asleep. Sometimes, these worldly things, though small time, seem more attractive to us and we fall into their charms, more eager for them than to spend time in the presence of the Lord.

To maintain an unbroken fellowship with the Lord takes much more discipline than we think. The desire to draw near to Him doesn’t come out of the blue, without any effort on our part. If we want to draw near, we do just that – we take the necessary step to get closer. How can we become closer to him when our hearts and minds are far away? When they are in another place? Even when we are in the act of worship, praising and praying before Him, it may happen that our minds are already on other things, on the plans we have made for the day, perhaps anticipating the words we are going to write on our blogs, the food we are going to prepare for the family (even dinner later tonight!), that trip to the mall or the library, etc. etc.

We don’t want God to say of us:

“These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.” (Mat. 15:8)

If we want a God-honoring life, we must be mindful of the things we think, say, and do, the little decisions we have to make moment by moment. We may ask ourselves: Should I hold my gadget again and open to social media? Or is that habit or addiction already offensive to God? If it’s irritating to our family seeing us continually absorbed in our gadgets such as our cellphone, endlessly browsing that seemingly bottomless newsfeed and watching every posted video, how much more the holy God who wants all of our heart, mind, and soul?

We must give God the best time of our day, the moment we wake up in the morning. Then, as we go through our day, doing our chores, our work, and the things that make our hearts burst in happiness (writing, painting, gardening, knitting, and baking, perhaps), even in our gathering around the table and eating, telling stories and playing – we can maintain that communion with Him. We can invite Him into our activities, silently lifting up prayers, praises, and thanksgiving towards heaven. As if He is always there in our midst. And He is, as long as our hearts are ever open to Him and our minds thinking on Him, flitting from the task at hand to Him and so on.

He said so Himself:

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mat. 15:8)

For Christ followers like me who have gone through various hard trials, we know how vital it is to have an unbroken access to the throne of grace. We know how unrelenting knocking on heaven’s door, unceasing whispering of prayers and urgent requests against our pillow, endlessly mulling on and affirming and declaring the Word over our life – are so essentially important in the midst of illness and suffering.

And because of this rigid training in the crucible, this discipline in our spiritual life spills over even when the testing is over, in seasons of flourishing and fruitfulness. Gratitude flows interminably like waterfalls faithfully following its course down the mountain. It is this ever-present gratefulness that reminds us to abide in the light and love of the Lord, to shut off the noise of the world and tune in to His still, small voice and catch His words with our hands and tuck them safely in our hearts, yes, even as the laughter rings out around the table and food is being savored by everyone.

We can have that perpetual conversation with Him, bringing smiles to our lips in the middle of unsuspecting family and friends’ chatter.

Have you fostered that kind of relationship with the Lord? Are you used to thinking on Him, remembering Him, and enjoying Him even in our busyness? It is possible, because His light pouring out on us is never broken.

But if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations]. (1 John 1:7 AMP)

I cannot sing in worship because of my weak diaphragm, but I endeavor to sing even just one song in the morning and in the evening. And in that one song, I do my best to give all my mind, heart, and soul to God and reach the throne of grace until I feel His touch and tears fall. It is an unequalled power and strength.

When our hearts and minds are in the dark, confused, doubtful, tempted, weak – step into His light. Come before Him with humble, contrite hearts. We don’t need to rip our garments in deep repentance, but we can tear the layer of sin or coldness around our hearts and let Him in.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)

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Journey with Jesus,

Experiencing the Word

Living out God’s Word, that is, putting it into practice in our daily lives (e.g. “Love one another as I have loved you”), is not the same when I say, “experiencing the Word.” To experience God’s Word, for me, means that we live through it, letting it seep in and through our flesh (every pore and vein and nerve where life pulsates), our feelings (whether they be peace or fear, joy or depression, etc.), our minds (that sense and strength of reason), and our souls (that vital part of us that strains to connect with the Divine). Where “living out the Word” entails an act of obedience, “experiencing the Word” is walking through and dwelling in it in faith and letting its power work mightily in and for us.

experiencing the Word

We may do it for healing and strength, to usher in peace and unbroken hope, or to deepen  our faith. Or just simply to enter into worship.

When we set out to experience God’s Word, we are positioning ourselves to receive with open hearts and hands. Mostly for me, experiencing God’s Word is borne out of desperation.

January 2004. We had just received salvation weeks before, and amid the chaos brought about by my undiagnosed illness, the speedy and unstoppable waning of my strength and the skyrocketing of my fears and panic, we scrambled to grow and strengthen our faith. Felix was learning to worship by singing praises and I was reading the Word as if my life depended on it (and in truth, it did).

On that January morning, I had just eaten a meager breakfast and as I slowly let my weak body touch my propped up pillows, my insides trembling, my nerves humming like a motor all over my body, and my back felt like it wasn’t there, I tried to grasp strength from the praise music playing on the cassette player. Weak and dizzy, my body wanted to succumb to sleep, but I was afraid to give in to it, thinking I might not wake up again. But when I closed my eyes, the vision of the Lord Jesus coming in the clouds in all His glory played on the terrain of my mind.

There was brightness all over me there as I beheld the Lord, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass… and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength (see Rev. 1:13-16). 

The vision’s message was: Someday, whether I am asleep or awake, at the trumpet’s call, the Lord will come to take me (and all who believe in Him) and I will be forever with Him in eternity. There was nothing to fear. He has sealed me for eternal life where God shall wipe away all tears from [my] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Rev. 21:4).

That vision with its powerful message instantly calmed my flesh and fears and I went to sleep in peace and comfort. It was my first Word-experience and it brought me strength and hope for the months and years that followed.

Later that year, I lay in a cot in one corner of the chapel of our church’s fasting house in a nearby province. Living in the chapel where there were long hours of praise and worship, morning and evening, and workers and payer warriors praying and fasting brought me spiritual strength as I continued to battle my illness. I was leaning heavily on my Savior, Healer, and Comforter.

Lying there, my insides, though empty, wanting to rise up to my throat, threatening to cut the air, I played in my mind the Bible scene where Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, implored the Lord to come heal his daughter. Being in internal panic myself moment by moment, I could relate to this frantic father’s desperation.

His young, only daughter lay in bed at home, dying. Every single second was essential. He has heard of the Miracle Worker who healed the sick, made the lame walk, and opened the blind’s eyes. His daughter’s miracle was within reach. He only had to make haste. When he finally found Him, he dropped to his knees and begged Him to come.

“I will come,” was the Lord’s calm reply. They set out, but a delay was inevitable. Another desperate soul desired to be healed. It had been 12 long years of waiting and she believed, now was her time. After the brief delay, someone from Jairus’ house came to tell him that his daughter was dead.

What now? I imagined Jairus’ heart stopping for a beat or two, and his knees threatening to buckle down. But before earth and sky came crashing on him, the Lord was quick to assure him, “Be not afraid, only believe.”

Over and over as fear and illness threatened to snuff the life out of me, I played that scene in my mind. When I felt like I was losing the battle, I believed and trusted in the depths of my soul that Jesus cared for me, as much as He cared for the woman who crawled behind to touch the hem of His garment and Jairus’ dying daughter, and so, He wouldn’t fail me, too. Even at the throes of death. I clung to this with every weak heartbeat and incomplete breath: “Fear not. Only believe”,  imagining the Lord assuring me with eyes of compassion and power. (See Mark 5).

During one of those long seasons where illness and suffering defined my days, I relived the story of the hapless Syro-Phoenician mother and every time I did, hot tears spilled copiously as sob after sob, I reasoned with the Lord just as she did.

Wanting so much to be relieved of my suffering, I begged the Lord to let me pick up crumbs that fell from the children’s table. I was willing to be like a dog if that was what would move His hand to heal me. I knew that I had been made a daughter of God (John 1:12) and had access for a good seat “at the table”. Meaning, His promises had been made available to me when I received Jesus into my life, just as Apostle Peter had written: His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises (see 2 Pet. 1:3, 4).

But if it pleased the Lord that I humbled myself and showed Him how much I wanted healing and be so bold as to importune Him for it, then I would gladly do it. And so, for a season, I became that Syro-Phoenician mother begging for the crumbs of healing for the sake of my young children.

But the most beautiful reliving of the Word I have ever experienced was the story of my own salvation seen through the encounter between the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned to death and the Lord Jesus. That scene, which was taken from the movie Passion of the Christ, was used in a music video featuring the song You Raise Me Up. While I listened to it, I saw myself in filthy rags, daring to raise my face toward the Savior as He gently lifted me up from the miry clay and assuring me with so much love and mercy, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (see John 8).

Aahh! The power of that moment! It gripped me so profoundly I could only sob and praise in eternal gratitude!

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Journey with Jesus,

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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Journey with Jesus,

Power to Become a Child of God

I asked our housekeeper how her “emergency” meeting with her estranged husband went. Earlier, she asked for a half-day leave to tackle the problem her husband was creating: he wanted to sell the house she and her kids were living in and split the money. Although it was his wife who acquired the lot and financed the building of the house, he wants to claim his conjugal rights. Our housekeeper was distraught. Years ago, they separated because he kept a mistress.

I told her we would bring her husband to our Church to receive the Lord Jesus Christ.

sonship

She stopped mopping, looked at me and said, “Oh no, ma’am. Nothing more can be done to him. Nothing can change him.” She continued her work like her slim hope was hinged on the mop rod.

“No man, however sinful he is, can stand against the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to save and change a life,” I answered.

I then proceeded to tell her about the testimony of a brother in Christ I  wrote on my Minister of Mercy blog. He was a drug addict of the worst kind. He would leave his family and disappear for days to immerse himself in his vices. As if drugs weren’t enough, he also drowned himself with alcohol at the same time. When he went home, he would “play” with his children, lining them up against the wall while he threw darts at them. By the mercies of God, He always protected the little ones.

One night, he came home high on drugs. The devil was at his throat, whispering to him to kill his sleeping, emaciated, very pregnant wife to remove all obstacles to his depraved life. And so, he took a knife and poised to stab his wife.

I stopped to ask our housekeeper, “Do you think your husband is more wicked than this man?” She shook her head but said nothing. I continued my story, how the Lord Jesus brought salvation to that man’s whole household. I told her that, years ago, I invited him to our home to record his testimony for my blog and have his photo taken. (To read the whole testimony, click here).

It is almost impossible to absorb, especially for a doubtful housekeeper who saw God as small as her hope, how a man who used to be so evil is now toting a Bible and sharing the Gospel and his testimony wherever he goes. But such is the amazing grace of God.

Apostle John wrote:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

God does not simply make us His children when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but He also gives us power to be so, so that our sonship is not in name only, but is established through the manifestation of that power.

The true children of God, therefore, have power to live righteous, holy lives through the Holy Spirit that now lives in them. They cannot be born of God and still be slaves to sin, neither should they see themselves as lower and smaller than the position of a true son or daughter of God.

One night before my birthday last October 2, while I waited for sleep to come, I thought of the prayers I had fervently prayed weeks before my birthday that had remained unanswered up to that time. Among other things, I prayed that I would be able to bathe and wash my hair well more often and be able to groom myself and dress up for my birthday. But as I lay in bed that night with my hair which had become so oily due to infrequent washing and face that hadn’t been scrubbed clean to look radiant, I had a visit with self-pity.

The internal conversation started like this:

“You shouldn’t aspire to tidy up yourself and dress up to celebrate your birthday. Surely, you don’t have the nerve to pose before a camera and have your photo taken! Just hide in the shadows where no one can see you.” Maybe the pity party intensified that I just wanted to wallow in it, maybe I wanted to put myself down, even lower than what my illness had placed me, that I didn’t realize it was already the devil talking.

The voice said finally, “You are a cockroach! Thats what you are! So go hide!” (Friends, know that the devil is cruel).

The temptation to immerse myself deeper into the destructive sulking was there. A small part of me wanted to say “You’re right, I’m a cockroach!” to let God know how hurt I was that He didn’t grant my simple requests. But to do that would make me dumber than I already was at that moment.

Instead, I suddenly pulled out myself out of the senseless sulking and exclaimed inwardly in exasperation, “Oh, my goodness! Where did that come from? I am NOT a cockroach! Stop this right now, Rina. The devil is taking advantage of it.”

Sometimes, we are more of a sensual Christian than a spiritual one. We succumb to our feelings thinking that we can derive satisfaction from them. But we should have learned by now that doing such would profit us nothing. Among the devil’s many tricks, he wants us to see ourselves as the lowliest, the offscourings of the earth, so that in doing so, we bring God down with us and we sin in the process.

We were not only created in the image of God, we are being transformed in the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ. To see ourselves otherwise is to spurn God’s work in us.

But sometimes, it’s not only the devil who tries to bring us down. Even the people closest to us could affect us the same way. And when you’re unwell and suffering, that would be hard to overcome. Recently, I had one of those painful encounters with a family member. I was left feeling so discouraged I didn’t want to eat! When you’re hurt, it is not that easy to get back on your feet, dust off yourself, and move on. Yes, but your mind should rule over your emotions!

Wisdom must rule.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Wisdom is a product of a sound mind, the wisdom from above as described by Saint James:

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)

If I didn’t eat, who would suffer the more? Who was I punishing with my refusing to eat? It’s just a simple application of wisdom!

I took a huge, deep, cleansing breath, then told myself, “You’re hurt. It’s hard to swallow it. In the midst of the pain and frustration, it is even confusing. But you are a child of God. You have been given power to be so. So, act like one. You can overcome because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).” I picked up the spoon and fork and ate with peace and satisfaction, even smiling to myself for the triumph.

On my birthday, I was able to tidy up, subdue my unruly hair, and put on my new peach blouse. I dared to take a birthday selfie and was shocked to see that the face I thought would show the ravages of illness instead showed the glory of my faithful Father. Hallelujah!

(Photo credit: @zuzu365 via @heart_imprint on Instagram).

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Journey with Jesus,

Love Never Fails 2

Growing up, we learned that the opposite of love is hate. Then Joni Eareckson Tada wrote in one of her devotionals that lust is the opposite of love and went on to prove her point. But when the Lord put into my heart to write about the subject of love, this sentence hung on my mind and would not let go:

The opposite of love, agape love, is selfishness.

love never fails

In my head, I couldn’t string more than two sentences together, let alone construct a whole paragraph. I lost some sleep thinking about it. But because there was no other inspiration that came to me from the Lord, I thought He really wanted me to write about it. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I pray that you will learn from this short journey of love as much as I learned writing about it.

Agape is defined as “love as revealed in Jesus, seen as spiritual and selfless and a model for humanity.” Before the love and light of Jesus came into our lives, most if not all of us, were into all kinds of sin, not because we hated (that is, what we had known as the opposite of love), but because we were selfish. We only thought of ourselves: how to make us happy and satiated. There is no better embodiment of this than myself. Before I came into the light, I was wrapped up in my own self-love. And you know, if you only love yourself or your love for yourself is much higher than your love for others, like family, for instance, you don’t care if you shatter their hearts or ruin their lives. 

Why is there adultery, dishonesty, broken marriages and families? Is it not because we are selfish? Why  do same-sex individuals choose to couple and live together like a husband and wife and would fight to the death for their “rights”, rebelling against God’s commandment? Is it not because their love for themselves is greater than their fear of God? Materialism, covetousness, liberated lifestyle [not bound by traditional sexual and social roles] – don’t all these have their roots in selfishness?

We read the characteristics of love in the beautiful Love Chapter written by the apostle Paul:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:4-8)

A selfish person cannot always be patient and kind. He will always think about his own welfare before others’. Grumbling is his native tongue. He is never free from feelings of envy and always finds the need to brag, for he is essentially proud and wants only to believe in and admire himself. A selfish person cannot “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things,” for he will always be looking out for himself, wanting to be free of all hassles, inconveniences, and encumbrances.

There is no true freedom, or power, or victory in selfishness.

But love is entirely on a different plane. When I began to feel the tugs of guilt on the magnitude of my sin and sought the Savior’s light, He also began to strip off my selfishness. That shift from selfishness to the Lord Jesus Christ was a journey of love. A love that is wrought with power, grace, and no small miracle. We begin to learn love the moment we shift our focus from ourselves to God and others.

I believe that love is not only a verb, but it has its own mighty power that conquers. Unlike selfishness which is vain and completely futile, love is the key ingredient for a God-sized miracle. When I received Jesus in my life, I began to look into the powers of this love, His love, as the single thread that holds everything together: freedom that comes with salvation, healing, peace, joy, faith, hope. The nails, no matter how big they were, weren’t what held Jesus at the cross. This is poignantly expressed in the song What Held You on the Cross?

What held you on the cross was more than just the nails.
With all the pain and suffering and all that you have lost
Your love for me could only be what held you on the cross.

This love was so powerful it resisted to the point of shedding blood, striving against sin (Heb. 12:4). A love so encompassing it saves from the fires of hell. A love so divine it lifts the redeemed into glory.

I believe in the power of love to heal and make whole.

This was what I always implored my husband during those painful strifes between us that hurt our faith and family. And I believed, had hindered my healing. I’ve always believed that dwelling on the side of love – active, fervent love – especially so in trying times, will shift the tide of defeat into an overwhelming victory. I believe that a love that is steadfast [firmly constant, unchanging, unmovable] through all life’s seasons and vicissitudes is the kind that conquers all.

I believe that unity bound by strong cords of love could usher in a great miracle. A threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecc. 4:12). And we know that the third strand is the Lord. When He is the third party in our marriages, we can conquer all. “For where two or three are gathered together in [His] name, there [He is] in the midst of them (Mat. 18:20).

When we gather before Him in love and peace (and not in strife) as a couple or as a family and without resentments in our hearts, He will meet us. And in His mighty presence, all things are possible.

Love is greater than faith. Apostle Paul wrote, “…And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2). In another letter, he wrote, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:6 NIV). Also, Saint James challenges us with his words, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

Expressing our faith through love. Showing the evidence of our faith by our works. The parable of The Good Samaritan exemplifies best these teachings. A priest, then a Levite, both came down the road where the man who was left half-dead by thieves lay. Upon seeing him, they each passed by on the other side. The priest and the Levite have a religion but not love. But the Samaritan showed his faith in God through his mercy and love.

Love that flows from our hearts into our lips and hands has the power to bind up wounds and heal broken hearts and bodies.

Do you have a sick and suffering person in your life who needs your love and care? A hurting soul who needs healing and lifting up? God put them there for you to minister in mercy with your faith working mightily through love.

Never underestimate the power of love, the love of God [that] has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Rom. 5:5). Love never fails.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:13).

(All definitions were taken from thefreedictionary.com).

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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.

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“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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Journey with Jesus,

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!

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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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Journey with Jesus,

A Foothold

One Sunday morning, Hannah comes to me. Her hesitance gives me a hint that there’s something weighing her down. She asks me if she can take the day off from church and just stay home to watch the live webcast. She explains that the previous weeks where they had series of assessments in school had stressed her out and triggered her panic attacks. I agree to her request to rest at home for Sabbath but I probe her deeper about this recurring problem.

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She had confided this to me many months back, how she had begun to experience a kind of nervousness, and that when she Googled her symptoms, she learned she had panic attacks. I can’t be sure if what she experiences are panic attacks. I haven’t seen her act “nervous” except that she would adamantly refuse to do something she had decided not to do, like participating in piano recital last summer and refusing to go up to Youth Choir in Church. She’s already 14, but she’s still in Children’s Choir.

Hannah grew up painfully shy. Too shy that it crippled her to do even the things she would have loved to do, like joining in games in birthday parties. When we went to birthday parties when she was a little girl, she would just watch teary-eyed as other kids won prizes in games. She wanted to get those prizes, too, but she was too paralyzed by fear to make the few steps to the front. In pre-school, she memorized and practiced speeches for special events, but when the day came, she wouldn’t even dare step on the stage, let alone open her mouth to speak. She would clam up and no one could make her perform. This happened not only once or twice and it really broke my heart.

I believe that she inherited that shyness from me. It was the same for me growing up. But when I began attending school, I bravely faced my fears to be able to compete with other kids. And so, I performed in both academics and extra-curricular activities, and I performed well. But for my Hannah, although she was a good student and performed well in exams, she avoided reciting as much as possible all through grade school.

Years passed and tons of prayers lifted up and we saw our Hannah performing at the Meralco Theater for her piano recital. It was nothing short of a miracle! With the Lord’s love and mercy, my girl was finally able to perform in front of a huge crowd. For three consecutive years, she conquered both her fears and the stage. We were so proud of her triumphs.

Also, now that she is in Junior High, she’s learning to be more active and participative in school activities. She has also developed friendships with a handful of her girl classmates and has learned to become social, going out with them every now and then. (But that is after I have peppered her with the details :). I don’t fail to remind her to let her light shine especially when she’s with her friends).

But apparently, she has never really shed off her timidity completely. And now, has it developed into panic attacks?

Having grown up in Church, Hannah is not your regular teenager. She doesn’t follow the ways of the world unlike most of her secular peers. I can see her doing her best to obey the Bible’s teachings. But mothers can never be complacent. I still probed her what her faults might be, why she was having those panic attacks. I had begun to pray for her incessantly the first time she confided in me. I thought they were gone. I sent her emails, discussing verses from the Bible that I hoped would help her. This time, I pointed out some of her shortcomings that she needed to work on.

I reminded her that we had not received the spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). If she coddles those panic attacks, what kind of spirit is dwelling in her heart? I asked her. But even as I said those things, I was well aware of my own situation. I’m not a stranger to fears, nervousness, anxiety and panic attacks. I know I had accumulated them in my system because of my terrifying illness and suffering. As I had mentioned in a previous post, even if you’re a Christian doing your best to live victorious, prolonged suffering could still be traumatic. And so, I know how excruciatingly hard it is to battle fears.

I grieve both for my daughter and myself as we walk this same path, although I always keep a brave and courageous front. I believe that’s what mothers do. And even though I have my own ailing body to think about and now added to that are my daughter’s issues, I feel comforted by the fact that I can heap everything at my Lord Jesus’ feet in prayer. And more unceasing prayers at that! Even so, I won’t be discouraged, for it cannot be that He won’t listen to them.

But let’s go back to the subject as to why Christians suffer. The Bible tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ came to give us abundant life (see John 10:10). But for many of His present-day followers, the opposite is true: they live being robbed of health, strength, courage, peace, joy, and prosperity by the enemy. They are oppressed both by fears and physical suffering. Why, if Apostle Peter has written thus?

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Pet. 3-4 ESV)

Why do many of us tarry long in the wilderness and can’t seem to arrive at our Promised Lands, that place of abundant life the Lord has promised? There is just one way to that place and we know it’s Him. But we already have Him. We can say that we abide in Him and His Word abides in us. We do our best to obey Him, yes. What else must be done? These and more are questions I still wring my heart hard to try to find answers to.

What aren’t we surrendering?

The first time this question popped up in my mind, tears threatened to rise up my throat as I felt the magnitude of God’s requirements it carried. The question is loaded, like a camel saddled with burdens and clouds pregnant with rainstorm. Yet, it’s important to try to answer it for it will determine how we will live our lives on earth.

What aren’t we surrendering? God wants our all.

The fullness of our love?

Unforgiveness?

Anger?

Bitterness?

Doubts?

Pride of life?

Time?

Comfort?

Secret pleasures?

Worldly desires?

Secular pastimes?

Have we made an idol of our careers? Our pursuits? Our possessions? Our selves?

Where are we disobeying?

Maybe that piece of unsurrender in our hearts is the same space the enemy has taken up. His foothold. And that is what hinders our abundant life? That’s why Apostle Paul warns: Do not give the devil a foothold (Eph. 4:27).

God has given us His precious and very great promise — the Holy Spirit. It is through Him that we can partake of the divine nature. It is through Him that we can escape the corruption of the world because of evil desires. It is Him who empowers us to live godly lives. This then should be our daily goal: To ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Let us prepare our hearts everyday to be His sanctuary.

(Photo credit: Perla Frisberg).

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Journey with Jesus,

The Good Fight of Faith

Finally, after an hour or so of waiting out for good breathing, the suffering began to ebb until everything within me slowly settled into a comfortable rhythm. The calm after the storm. It had been one of those countless “attacks”, more intense than the others. My body succumbed to much-needed rest after the battering but my mind was pulled in different directions. One part wanted to slump in a dark corner and just let discouragement and despair take over. Another smaller part wanted to rise up in anger, to rave and rant against — what? Maybe against the powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. But a louder, more powerful voice rose up from my spirit and shouted silently, passionately, within me: Fight the good fight of faith! The voice shouted it again, silencing all other voices in my mind. And again. Until my whole being felt the victory, the sheer defiance to rise up and fight.

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It was another deliverance, both from the battering attack and from yielding to defeat and hopelessness. These small victories, they mean a lot.

After many weeks of dropping it, I picked up the book and opened it again – Possessing Your Healing. There is nothing in the book that speaks contrary to the Scriptures. It teaches powerfully about divine healing through faith, something I continually hear and witness in our own full Gospel, apostolic Church, Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry. At first, I strongly affirmed the teachings, promises, and declarations the book instructed. But when my illness didn’t show any signs of letting up and the suffering continued like a deaf demon that comprehended nothing, I lost the fire to fight. I let the devil’s lies sneak into my subconscious mind – these promises don’t work for me! – and just let life be. I was actually offended by it as it magnified the fact that those healing promises were not working fully for me. Hadn’t been these past 12 years.

But I didn’t want to continue down the path of defeat, of letting my faith take a deep sleep while the devil oppresses me. So, I opened the book again, expecting the radical teachings and affirmations to stoke the fire of hope within me to continue to stand and fight the good fight of faith. To fight for my healing. To affirm that I am entitled to it. To believe that as a child of God whom He has a covenant with, I have a right to divine health.

This is one of the passages in the book that resurrected my desire to fight with all the faith I have:

We have already been given everything we need to overcome. We don’t need to wait on God to answer our prayers; He is waiting on us to move in faith and authority, and to place a demand on what He has already accomplished on the cross. Stop behaving like a victim; I repeat, stop behaving like a victim! You are powerful because greater is He that lives in you than he that lives in the world.

One afternoon, I was scheduled to bathe. My husband was on standby as he waited for me to give the go signal. He would assist me wash. Hours passed and I continued to wait for strength and easy breathing. I was getting frustrated. Bathing for healthy people is as effortless as breathing, but for ailing and weak people like me, it is a great challenge. Anger sparked from deep within, a brewing rage that threatened to choke me. I was furious with the enemy of my soul for stealing so much from me. How dare him to incapacitate me  from doing the things I want to do, needed to do!

I shouted my frustrations and anger to the wind, expressing my utter disapproval to the devil, declaring war with him. My husband looked, brows raised. I told him I wanted to hurl things to show I was angry, that I resisted what was being done to me. He didn’t say a word. Maybe he was secretly glad to see there was still a great part of me that wanted to fight fiercely like a wounded lion. Or maybe a wounded dog. I fell silent as I ruminated on my outburst which was not the usual order of things. Healthy anger is good (or maybe holy anger?). Fight is good. I assured myself of these things.

Yes, I need not silently yield to suffering, like a cowering child in a dark corner being continually abused and battered by a monstrous adult. No, ma’am. I am a child of God and must always remember to stand and fight the good fight of faith. I must refuse to be oppressed. I must refuse to be defeated by the devil who has already been defeated by my Savior. Who has already been crushed by Him. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under [our] feet shortly. I remember the book’s counsel: I must stop behaving like a victim.

And yet, we often behave that way, don’t we? Mostly unconsciously. We don’t always have the energy, either physically or spiritually, to fight like Joshua, boldly charging in battle. In those times, it is a good thing to find ourselves at the Lord’s feet, not to blame, contend, or accept defeat, but to refuel. To be refilled by His Holy Spirit who gives us power, wisdom, and boldness.

To be discouraged to the point of despair is always a threat to the sick and suffering. I, for one, have repeatedly encountered the fear of living after healing. I desire greatly to be healed, but when I think about life on the other side of sickness and suffering, the healed life, I feel trepidation. After being ill for so long and having experienced countless horrifying “attacks”, I feel like I don’t know how to live otherwise. It’s a great irony. But even when one has been a Christ follower for many years, prolonged and intense sickness and suffering could still be traumatic.

But faith does’t and mustn’t end there. Just as there are windows of fear like what I described above, there are also windows through which we are gloriously empowered to cast out all fears, to face the future with a brave and courageous heart, like nothing can scare us or push us back. In Jesus’ name, shut those windows of fear and open wide the windows of indestructible faith and stay connected with it. Apostle Paul says it best:

…Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:10-11, 13-17)

Embrace life! Fight for the abundant life the Lord Jesus came to give – that is His will for us. Don’t give the devil a foothold; don’t let him drive us to defeat! Dear one, don’t be a grasshopper in your own eyes! God is not glorified when we think of ourselves that way – we are His children. Be courageous; believe God. Be a Joshua and a Caleb and the Lord will always be with us: going before us, fighting alongside us, giving us victory!

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My Source of Strength

My source of strength is Christ and His Word. Christ and His Word are one.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The King of kings and Lord of lords who came to dwell among us and died for our sins is called the Word of God (see Rev. 19:13). No wonder the author of Hebrews wrote:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and ofmarrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

The Word of God is living and powerful.

You may have heard and read that countless times it has lost its effect in you. But that is very wrong.

God’s Word is light, strength, and life. And because it is living, it does. It acts. It moves. Because of the Word, God is not a distant, unapproachable God. We can know Him intimately through His Word, as intimate as it can ever be, like His very life courses through our veins. We are the branch, He is the Vine. We live in the Vine, being nourished by it every single day. And the deeper we are rooted in Him, the deeper we’ll know Him, the more our faith is strengthened, and the more we become bold and courageous to face the future, although now we may be in a difficult place. But we can see past all that, because we trust in the Word – God’s promises – and we hold onto each one.

My love story with the Word began when one of the beautiful children of our beloved pastor counselled me when I was still a baby in Christ: “Immerse yourself in the Word of God”. She spoke the words with so much intensity that I nodded vigorously and resolved to immerse myself in the Word beginning that day.

There were months when I was very sick and weak that I couldn’t hold my large KJV Bible let alone read it, so I would ask one of the house helps to read for me. If they read only in Tagalog, I asked for a Tagalog Bible and it was fine with me. By reading to me everyday, one of them fell in love with the Word, too, that she asked for her own copy of the Bible and read late into the night. Later on, that nanny received the Lord Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and was baptized in water in His name

I’ve been ill for almost 12 years now and long seasons of intense sickness and suffering had come and gone. During a particularly hard year, I discovered audiobible. And it was heaven! I would listen to chapter upon chapter, even whole books, until I would fall asleep.

Then there came a time just recently, in one of those hard seasons, that even listening made my heartbeat erratic and my breathing more labored. So, it became both hard to read and listen. It had come to that. Singing audibly was the very first one to go. So, I couldn’t count on that, either. But I could still pray. I prayed God’s Word. I declared them powerfully in my heart.

 A few months ago, I uploaded an ESV Bible to my Kindle. I thought reading on Kindle would be a lot easier for me. And the Lord met me where I stepped out in faith. I could again feast on His Word using Kindle. Then, I became bolder and more inspired that I ordered an ESV journaling Bible. Immerse in the Word, remember? I was excited to start using it, but to my great dismay, the words are so tiny I could hardly read them. Hannah helped out and put a magnifier app in my cellphone. Now, I’m reading my journaling Bible like focusing a laser on the words I love. That’s what I call relentless. All by His grace.

I pour out all my faith onto the Word like a drink offering. If it wasn’t for it, I would have succumbed to my body’s trembling in sickness and fear and shrunk into something that is uglier than death itself. I would have whittled away like a useless driftwood that could only be used for kindling.

But it’s the Word that nourishes me, gives strength to my flesh and bones and heart, sees me through every difficult day, and adds to my life. I declare the powerful words over my life throughout the day, especially during physical struggles, like an IV of a potent medicine, a lifeline, a supply of oxygen.

It should work. It shouldn’t fail – that cannot happen. God’s Word cannot be rendered powerless or impotent when applied with full faith.

At the factory Corrie Ten Boom was assigned in after she and her father and sister were arrested by the Nazis for hiding Jews during the Holocaust, she was asked if she needed personal care items like toothbrush and soap. She didn’t have them but she asked instead for a copy of the New Testament. She knew she could survive without a soap or a toothbrush, but she couldn’t possibly live through the horrors of her captivity without God’s Word. After a few days, she received a pocket-sized New Testament Bible, a toothbrush and a soap*.

*From her book Hiding Place.

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Journey with Jesus,