Liberation in the Word {and a Testimony}

Meditating on Psalm 119: 113-176.

You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.
116 Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
117 Hold me up, and I shall be safe… (Ps. 119: 114, 116, 117)

Psalm 119 tells about the psalmist’s hope in the Word. Over and over, we read his cries to God for salvation and deliverance, and always, because he trusts in His Word. We have discussed in previous Psalm 119 posts how the Word works in a Christian’s life as guide, comfort, reminder, healing, power, channel of God’s presence, and salvation. But we may ask, especially those who are still searching for truth or are not yet established in it, “What, really, is the relevance of the Word in a man’s life?” I ask this to introduce a testimony of a brother in Christ who had found the answer to this. We may lightly use salvation to the extent that its profound power is diluted in the everyday mundane. But, salvation in the Word remains to be the true life- and freedom-giving source for mankind. The Word [is] God (John 1:1).

Many years ago, Bro. Junie and his wife planned for a business of their own. His wife was going to receive a big sum of money from their company where she was working as a manager. It was her retrenchment pay. Around the same time, Bro. Junie also sold two condo units as a real estate agent and received huge commissions which he handed to his wife. They were going to set up their own business. Their only child and daughter was graduating from college. They had bright hopes for the future.

The day the wife would receive her payoff, she told her husband that she was going straight to the pier to send some money to her father in the province. Night came but Bro. Junie’s wife didn’t return. The next  morning, he set out to look for her. Everywhere. She didn’t find her but received news that her wife ran away with another man. Bro. Junie couldn’t find them no matter how much he tried. He was utterly devastated.

A few weeks later, her only daughter who was expected to be graduating from college, also eloped with her boyfriend. Bro. Junie was left alone with his shattered heart and life and indescribable wrath. It seemed to him that heaven and earth converged to crush him in-between with no hope of ever rising again.

He bought a gun and vowed to search for his wife and her paramour to the ends of hell and kill them both. He was burning with revenge. To say that he didn’t have peace would be a sheer understatement. He threatened his neighbors that he would kill everyone of them if he ever learned that they were gossiping about him.

Can you imagine Bro. Junie’s anguish? Not only his shattered heart and life, but the total absence of peace and the burning hatred which was driving him crazy and be really lost? It’s a hellish life.

One night, he opened the TV and it was the program of JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY. He stayed rooted in his seat and when the Gospel of salvation was preached, tears were streaming down his face. He was at once flooded with an indescribable peace replacing the great hatred that he had in his heart. He searched for the JMCIM Church and when he found it, he sank to his knees and begged God to help him. He received the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation with all his being.

123 My eyes fail from seeking Your salvation
And Your righteous word.
124 Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy…

146 I cry out to You;
Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.
147 I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word. (vv. 123, 124, 146, 147)

Soon, he found his daughter who was already pregnant. He arranged his daughter’s marriage and brought her and her husband to the Church. And they, too, were saved. Bro. Junie became a happy grandfather.

He continued to search for his wife with an offering of complete forgiveness in his hands. He searched and prayed. But in the end, the wife refused to return to him. Bro. Junie had to accept it peacefully. He was strong in the Lord.

141 am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.
143 Trouble and anguish have overtaken me,
Yet Your commandments are my delights. (vv. 141, 143)

He and his daughter’s family continue to serve the Lord faithfully to this day.

129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple. (vv. 129-130, emphasis mine)

Friend, if doubts, uncertainties, and cynicism have stopped you from totally embracing the Lord Jesus Christ and His Truth (His Word and Gospel of peace), may this bring you nearer to Him (if you had not already run to His waiting arms). The Lord loves you so! Know this.

(Photo courtesy of my cousin Bill Raras of Vancouver, Canada. and edited at picmonkey.com).

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God’s Presence Through the Word

Meditating on Psalm 119:81-112.

My soul faints for Your salvation,
But I hope in Your word.
82 My eyes fail from searching Your word,
Saying, “When will You comfort me?”

Unless Your law had been my delight,
I would then have perished in my affliction. (Ps. 119:81,82,92)

Psalm 119 essentially talks about God’s laws, precepts, statutes, and testimonies. In other words, and as we apply the psalm in the present, it talks about the Word of God, the words that proceeded out of His mouth which were faithfully recorded in both old and new testaments and became the Holy Bible. The psalmist, in his extreme need, hopes in God’s Word, in His promises, and not on anything else. He diligently searches God’s Word, looking for the fulfilment of the promise which is in it. By holding on to and delighting in God’s promises, he is delivered and doesn’t perish in his affliction. What great light, penetrating from long ago, does this bring us!

The psalms teach us that in everything, in all our trials and tribulations, may they be diseases of our bodies, problems that break our hearts, or great dangers we face – we can put our hope and trust in God’s Word, in His promises. This is the one thing that makes us wiser than the wisdom of the world.

Oh, how I love Your law [Word]!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation. (vv. 97-99, annotation mine)

The Word of God teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). It heals our diseases. He sent His word and healed them… (Ps. 107:20). But it is also a channel through which we can feel God’s powerful presence. We praise and worship God to enter into His presence and feel Him moving mightily in us. But we cannot always sing with strength, especially those of us who are sick and weak.

There are seasons in my illness that my abdomen becomes too weak to vocalize. For weeks, even months, I cannot sing praises in my private worship time, but I compensate that in immersing more in the Word, morning and evening. I honor and worship the Lord as I soak up His Word, verse upon verse, passage upon passage, chapter upon chapter. There are times that He grips me so suddenly in His presence as I plough through His Word, that my spirit is caught up in His embrace. And I would stop in the middle of reading, raise my hands and worship, and bask in His glorious presence, tears cascading.

One night many months ago, when my son Tim was suffering from an asthma-like cough and my husband was away praying and fasting, I felt, heard in my spirit, and saw in my mind, the Lord talking to me. In the early evening, I read Him between the pages, during the ministry of prophet Elisha. I was so in it – the places, His words, His power, His presence. As if I was there myself. When later that night, Tim sat up and told me that he couldn’t breathe, I raised my hand towards heaven and cried out to God. As I prayed and begged Him to help Tim, I saw Him in my mind (my eyes were tightly closed) and He spoke to me.

“You spent time with Me tonight. You delighted in My words and works. You know Me, who I Am, what I can do. I will not fail you. I am with you. See, I am here. Just so very near you.” (Choking back tears). I was weeping because of the Lord’s holy presence and His words. And when I laid my hands on my son to cast out his sickness, I saw in my mind that it was God’s prophet Elisha who was laying his hands on my son. Before the night was over, Tim began to recover. Hallelujah!

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. (v. 105)

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Afflictions’ Purpose

Meditating on Psalm 119: 57-80.

Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word. (Ps. 119: 67)

In the passages of Psalm 119: 57-80, the psalmist acknowledges that his afflictions are from the Lord and they were sent to remind him he’s gone astray from the Lord’s statutes. Almost always, God sends afflictions to His people to draw them back to Him. I base my observations both from my own experience and from the many testimonies I’ve heard.

God will send all sorts of “calamities” to break us, strip us off, send us to our knees, with the purpose of calling our attention. He may do it to an individual, to a family, to a community, or to a whole country. He doesn’t do it merely to punish, but in His great faithfulness and mercy, He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9, emphasis mine).

Today, my mind is particularly focused on the latest calamity that has ravaged our land, claimed over a hundred lives, and ruined properties and important landmarks. Calamity after calamity, our nation and people are battered and afflicted. Before they can even completely scrub off the hardened brown clay from off the flooded floors, posts, and walls; before the evacuees can even settle back to their damaged homes; before the communities can even start restoring devastated properties, and grief-stricken families begin to heal – another tragedy strikes.

I mourn for my country. Month after month, a catastrophe breaks out, whether force majeure – alluvion, super typhoon, earthquake, landslide, drought – or man-made – sea tragedies, corruption in government, rebellion, war – these are all designed by the soveriegn God (except for corruption, rebellion, or other immoral acts) to bring the people to repentance. To turn them away from their idolatry and immorality to worship and serve the one true living God.

If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;

14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chro. 7:13-14)

God is speaking loud and clear, but do the people hear?

God’s judgments are just and it is in His faithfulness that He does these things, with the utmost intent to reconcile the people to Him.

I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
76 Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.
77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live… (vv. 75-77)

And whatever happens, He alone can comfort us in our sorrow; He alone can liberate us from our afflictions, and restore us, as an individual, a family, a community, or a nation.

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My Comfort and Hope

Meditating on Psalm 119: 33-56.

36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
41 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word. (Ps. 119:36-37, 41)

As we read and discuss these verses in Psalm 119, I would like to remember and share with you the days approaching my salvation. Those were days of enormous difficulties accompanied by fears and trembling and great confusion. “Birth pains” I call them now. I was to be born again of the Spirit and “labor pains” surrounded my delivery. But I didn’t know that then.

As I had written a few times before, one moment my life was at the peak of career and business success, the next moment, I was stripped off of all strength – physical, mental, emotional. During the years of my worldly success, I had beheld vanity and lived in covetousness, whether consciously or unconsciously. But all that ended in my sick bed, when, a day after my 36th birthday, my family and office staff surrounded me and looked at my state helplessly.

It was at this time that I was already seeking God’s salvation desperately. In the midst of my utter weakness, something powerful was telling me to seek the Lord Jesus Christ for He was my only hope. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word (v. 41). I told everybody that I was looking for a Christian Church where I could go and serve the Lord. I needed His forgiveness so much.

When everybody went out of the room, one of my senior employees stayed behind and asked if I wanted to be prayed over by their Church’s prayer warriors. They are from the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry. This was the answer to my cries to God. And thus, I received my salvation. The complete forgiveness of my sins healed my soul, mind, and heart. Later on, my body received gradual healing, too.

And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
46 I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings,
And will not be ashamed. (vv. 45-46)

With my salvation came my liberty. And I have walked therein to this day. I live to give glory to my Savior. I testify of His unfailing love, goodness, and miracles to anyone who will listen.

But with the difficulties that accompany my incomplete physical healing and the daily challenges and struggles of walking in faith and holiness, I wrestle in my prayers to God just like the psalmist who clings to the Lord in all his afflictions. So, I too, cling to His Word. To His promises that He will not let me be tempted and tested beyond what I can endure, but that He will always deliver me.

49 Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life. (vv. 49-50)

The Lord Jesus Christ is, and always will be, my hope. He is my comfort in my affliction.

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

His Word is Light and Life

Meditating on Psalm 119: 17-32

Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law. (Ps. 119:17-18)

I can almost feel the psalmist’s agonized prayer to God through the passages of Psalm 119. Definitely, these are not ordinary utterances but ones that proceed from an afflicted, sorrowing soul. I remember the early days of my illness and suffering. One moment I was in the best of health, working, traveling, and doing the things I loved, the next moment, I was bound in bed, very sick and weak and feeling like I was drowning fast from the fears that accompanied my illness. During those dark hours, I strained to find comfort, strength, understanding, and deliverance from God’s Word.

I was desperately scrambling for light to understand what was happening in my life and I believed I could get that from God’s Word. In-between difficult eating and bouts of violent vomiting and struggling for breath, I begged the Lord to speak to me through His Word. How I desperately needed to know! And He didn’t fail me. He answered my very crucial questions through His Word, and I was greatly comforted and strengthened.

His Word was my light in the darkest hours.

My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word. (vv. 25, 28)

As I spent endless days in bed, I was nourished by daily servings of His Word. I devoured chapters upon chapters. Did I believe this would do me good? Absolutely. I believed the Word could bring me healing. I believed it could resurrect me and bring me new life, both physically and spiritually. Revive me according to Your word; strengthen me according to Your word, the psalmist begged.

As I stalked the Lord Jesus in the narrow streets of Jerusalem or along the seashore or on the mountain where He resorted, I desperately wanted to be sucked into the pages of the Gospels and be with Him where there’s no more pain, suffering, and fear. As I followed Him relentlessly with the multitudes and straining to touch the hem of His garment, I knew without a doubt that I would be healed. I did all this through walking and living in His Word.

…The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)

The words of the Lord are life. They give life and bring healing and restoration. He and His Word are one. The Word [is] God (John 1:1).

I love God’s Word. I have not gotten tired of opening it and walking through it, meandering through the beautiful, life-giving passages, and pondering on and wrestling with the hard teachings. That I may swallow them and be digested in my inmost parts that I may continue to live. To live, physically and spiritually.

It is my constant prayer to remain fervent in His Word.

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,