Healing of the Heart and Soul

I continue to revel in this lightheartedness brought about by the healing of the heart and soul. For that is what it brings: lightness of the spirit – heart that’s healthy and free and soul that’s not stooped and shrinking. So, I bask under the Lord Jesus’ light and love even though the trials are still here.

love of God

All who come to Jesus are, in one way or another, ailing in heart and soul. That’s why we come to the Savior: to be healed and receive salvation. So, we receive the immense gift of grace: the forgiveness of all our sins and healing from our past. We are made whole. By His stripes we are healed (Is. 53:5). We are made into new creation (see 2 Cor. 5:17).

But somewhere along the faith journey, trials come, some are too hard to bear that we struggle, really struggle, to be able to overcome. Sometimes the struggle takes years. If we surrender to the molding, forming, and shaping of the Potter’s hand, processes that are not without pain, it may create in us a faith that’s strong, steadfast, unmovable.

But the long, arduous trials that seem to have no end may also harden the heart and make the soul bitter. Suffering, the kind that is beyond understanding, can send one to a whirlwind of negative emotions that may be hard to shake off. Such was what happened to me.

For years through sickness and suffering, the struggles have really been hard. At the end of the day, you will know that the struggle is really with God. You get hurt, dismayed, disappointed, discouraged, depressed, and deep in your heart, you believe that it is because of Him. Why doesn’t He do something? is a question that somewhat summarizes and represents all the whys. Over time, you develop feelings of envy, jealousy, and self-pity, just because you don’t receive what you are fervently begging for while others enjoy the very same thing. As the desert stretches endlessly before you, the sadness settles like a rock and the longing burrows deeper and becomes more painful. As suffering intensifies, the heart works hard to cope. But bitterness, cynicism, numbness, resentment, and silent rage can easily take up space there. Every now and then, they gain the upper hand in an insidious way. Most of the time, you won’t realize it, but they are there and they won’t go away, unless the Healer comes to take them away.

You feel so vulnerable, like a fragile porcelain ready to shatter to thousand pieces with just the slightest touch.

So, can we still get heart-and soul-broken even when we’re in the Lord Jesus Christ? The answer is yes.

I don’t think there’s anyone who is immune to such struggles. Even the prominent men and women of the Bible went through the same struggles. King David wrote psalms upon psalms of his gruelling trials and how he had painfully questioned God for them.

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me? (Ps. 13:1)

There is a beloved young father in church, one who is closest to the household of God and therefore, you would think that his faith is unshakeable. But when a painful trial came to their family, he struggled greatly to the point that he wanted to run away from God for good. He wanted to find answers. Oh, the struggles of the soul that he had to go through! When he testified in the pulpit, he spoke of the deepest emotions a heart and soul are capable of reaching (choking back tears). He opened his soul as wide as that before the whole congregation. It is part and parcel of his healing.

In the midst of indescribable suffering, you only want two things: to be delivered speedily or for God to lift off His heavy hand that is upon you and let you breathe. Oh, how Job had longed for that!

“Only two things do not do to me,
Then I will not hide myself from You:
21 Withdraw Your hand far from me,
And let not the dread of You make me afraid.” Job 13:20-21)

I love Kari Jobe’s song, The Garden, from her latest album of the same title. During an interview, she shared how the lyrics of the song came about: from the ashes of a painful trial in their family.

I can see the ivy
Growing through the wall
‘Cause You’ll stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul.

Ohh, You’re healing broken souls… (From The Garden by Kari Jobe)

Kari’s soul was broken because of the trial. Her healing came about when she went out to their garden and saw the ivy. The Lord spoke to her through it. It was an epiphany for her.

How was I healed of my own brokenness brought not by sin but by unrelenting sickness and suffering? When I decided to walk away from the place of heart-and-soul oppression and stood on neutral ground. I wanted to enter Jesus’ love like auto mode, but it wasn’t actually happening in my heart. I still wanted to stare into blank space and think about nothing and feel nothing. Maybe it is in that place of nothingness, when I emptied myself of the negative emotions, meaning, I didn’t give in to them even after episodes of suffering, but kept my heart and mind on neutral, that the Lord was able to get in.

But I know that much of it came at the heels of my withdrawal from Facebook and the negative effects it was having in my life; when I heeded the Lord’s call to come away with Him to a quiet place. The Lord invites us to peel our eyes off of the world and turn them fully on Him.

Understand with your heart
    and turn, and I would heal you. (From Mat. 13:15)

In the midst of pain and confusion, we want to sulk, to be in a huge sulk with God and that could take any form. Like running away from Him. Even silently, in the heart. But He goes after us, or maybe He is already there where we want to go, waiting. He whispers, “Come away with me.” 

What does this tell us about Him? That He will never give up on us even though in our moments of weakness we entertain the thought of giving up on Him (you know, as a part of the sulk)? Could it be that He’s being true to His promise? That nothing, nothing, can separate us from His love?

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)

I shout in my spirit, “Yes!!!”

MY ART

Mothers’ Day is approaching, so I would like to share with you my art with the hope that you may find something you would like to gift away. Below I have uploaded my original watercolor paintings. Premium prints are also available should you be interested. I only use professional or artist watercolors and paper is 100% cotton, 300gsm, acid-free, mainly Saunders Waterford by St. Cuthberts Mill. For premium prints, paper used is also 300gsm, textured, special art paper.

To order or inquire, you may email me at: rinaperu@yahoo.com. Payment for international orders is via PayPal. For local orders, via BDO bank deposit.

12 inches x 16 inches ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS

(Prices range from $80-$100).

abundant

ABUNDANT

 

BLOOMS IN A COPPER JUG

BLOOMS IN A COPPER JUG

 

YELLOW ROSE BUSH

YELLOW ROSE BUSH

 

PERSIMMONS

PERSIMMONS

 

OVERFLOW

OVERFLOW

 

SAMPAGUITA (JASMINE)

SAMPAGUITA (JASMINE)

 

PURPLE ORCHIDS

PURPLE ORCHIDS

 

PEACH ROSE BUSH

PEACH ROSE BUSH

 

LIGHTS

LIGHTS (Only premium print is available)

9 inches x 12 inches ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS

(Prices range from $40-$50).

LILAC

LILAC

 

SIMPLICITY

SIMPLICITY

 

BLUE AND RED

BLUE AND RED

 

GRACE

GRACE

 

SHINE

SHINE

 

GENTLENESS

GENTLENESS

12 inches x 12 inches ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS

(Paper used is Khadi 100% cotton, 300gsm, handmade paper).

RED AND GREEN ROSE

RED AND GREEN ROSE

 

SORBET PEONY

SORBET PEONY

 

PEACH ROSE

PEACH ROSE

 

PINK ROSE

PINK ROSE

 

RED DAHLIA

RED DAHLIA

 

PURPLE DAHLIA

PURPLE DAHLIA

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The Fruits of Praise

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

ps134

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nurturing Self

I am not writing about how to pamper ourselves because the world is so full of that already. We read it in a cornucopia of self-help books and websites and we see it in heavy doses in ads and even on our FB feeds as friends share the different ways they pamper themselves. The idea to write about this came as I observed how the Holy Spirit has been whispering into my heart about how I have been caring or not caring for myself. The whispers come like an angel’s breath when I’m resting my ailing body. I have come to understand from these I-rest-and-He-speaks times that the Lord is so compassionate He wants us to care for ourselves wholly.

nurturing_self

The Lord does command, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Denying oneself means turning away from the things of this world: secular pleasures and pursuits, the things that could bring fleeting happiness but are not aligned with God’s will and won’t earn us treasures in heaven. Even careers, jobs, wealth, dreams, plans — the Lord may desire us to give them all up for His kingdom. For those in the household of faith, we have crosses to carry as we follow the Shepherd of our souls. And by His grace, we will faithfully take them up.

But He does invite us to rest, too. He says, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Years ago, I understood the Lord’s compassion, His desire for us to be cared for, especially when we’re weak and recovering. In Mark chapter 5, we read the story of Jairus and her sick daughter. The Lord raised her up and instructed that something should be given her to eat. Also, in the story of Feeding the Five Thousand, he didn’t want to send the multitude away hungry. So, He fed them with fish and bread that He multiplied miraculously.

The Lord wants us to care for ourselves both with rest and nourishment.

The Lord Jesus and His disciples came to the home of Martha and Mary. Martha, anticipating that dinner must be served to her very important as well as tired and hungry visitors, fussed in the kitchen, cooking up a storm while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, enrapt as she listened to the Messiah. Martha complained to the Lord, but the Lord rebuked her gently, pointing out to her that Mary had chosen “that good part” and it wouldn’t be taken away from her (see Luke 10:38-42).

The Lord wants us to nurture ourselves with His eternal words. He wants us to draw close to Him, be still before Him, and listen to His voice. For “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4).

To pamper is “to treat with excessive indulgence”, while to nurture is “to feed and protect; to support and encourage, help develop, cultivate; to bring up, train, educate.”

The Lord wants us to nurture ourselves, not only our families, so that we can be shining vessels for Him, a sanctuary of His Holy Spirit.

Physical Nurturing

I need to rest my body many times a day. Even though I don’t do any heavy tasks, I still need to cease from all work — whether writing, reading, assisting my children with their lessons, watercolor painting, etc. Often, my body touches the bed with a terrifying need to recover. I lie very still and concentrate on breathing. If I can, I fasten my mind onto thoughts that would distract me from focusing on my suffering; otherwise, I just say Hallelujah! in my mind in rhythm with my heartbeat. Thankfully, in less than an hour, everything within me settles into a blissful calm and warmth. That should be the fruit of resting in the Lord. For He said, “You will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mat. 11:29-30).

These are the times I’ve been hearing the Holy Spirit whisper. He tells me that it’s okay to linger in that rest and savor the steady rhythm of breathing the Lord has blessed me with after a hard struggle. To rest is a command. Don’t be guilty about it. Remember the Lord sleeping soundly in the boat while they are tossed about by strong winds and waves. A restful nap is truly nurturing.

If I could I would love to make regular walks around our village. I would choose the back streets parallel to the creek. Maybe I would do that in the afternoons before the sun goes down. In my mind, I know how refreshing daily walks could be as my spirit relishes nature around me. Soon, I hope and pray.

Mental and Emotional Nurturing

For the sick and suffering, peace of mind and heart is hard to come by. That is why I strongly believe that mental and emotional health is tied up with our spiritual state. If our spiritual life is in the pink of health, mental and emotional soundness follows. Let our minds dwell on warm, loving thoughts — God’s Word brings them out — and not on fears, guilt, or self-condemnation. The beautiful words of Philippians 4: 8 begin with Whatever things are true…meditate on these things. Whatever the Word tells us about who we are in Christ, that is truth. It is only in the atmosphere of the Savior’s love and joy that nurturing occurs deep within us.

I have found the value of simply playing with the kids. We tell silly stories and jokes and we laugh freely. I believe it is in that place, delightfully wedged between the love and giggles and chatter that even my 48-year-old heart blooms. Don’t try to eschew the fun times you can spend with the kids, thinking that you have better things to do. Didn’t the Lord say, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 18:3)?

Reading, writing, and now, watercolor painting, are a few of the many gifts I’m grateful for everyday. These activities are therapeutic. Nurturing.

I love gardening. If I could only go out there and turn up dirt, deadhead, water, apply fertilizer — just touching and caring for those living things in the plant kingdom — it would be like a slice of heaven. But I can’t, so I drew up a plan like a good landscaping artist does. The old garden clutter was replaced with slate and pebble paths and a zen water feature in a corner. There’s still lots to be done, but gardening, like life, is a process, not a one-time affair.

A library and a garden are havens for the soul, don’t you think so?

Spiritual Nurturing

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that essays that point to spiritual nurturing are all I write about. Praise, prayer, the Word — you know the drill. But I counsel you to pray beyond the rote kind of prayer. Drench your life with prayer. You can never overpray. When suddenly at dawn you awake, there must be a reason. Sing praises to God in your heart. And pray your special petitions. You can go back to sleep afterwards.

In the mornings, before you latch your mind to your plans and open your gadgets, spend time with God until you feel full and have received the blessing to face the day. Nurturing our souls first and foremost is what equips us for life’s daily battles. When we are steeped with faith, fear is far away. Fear shrinks our spirits while the steadfast love of our Savior makes us grow and flourish. So, be a branch that is firmly attached to the Vine.

(All definitions from thefreedictionary.com; photo courtesy of Perla Frisberg).

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Anchor for the Soul

When I was in elementary, there was a place my classmate-friends and I would go to when classes were suspended: a meadow on a hill. There was a wide expanse of green grass on a gently sloping hill while trees, guava, as I remember, lined the periphery. We would roll down the hill, laughing in sheer exhilaration. I remember lying on my back as I landed on the flat earth, looking up to heaven. The sky was always clear, as blue as it could possibly be during those days.

Have you ever experienced the sky like that? There you are, flat on your back and the trees seemed to become dwarfs and recede further into the background and there is only this vastness, this dome of endless blue that is the sky. You feel like it has drawn closer, like you have become a part of heaven more than being a part of the earth beneath you.

When did I ever stop doing those things? Life happened – college, career, marriage, messes – that’s what it was and I had forgotten to roll down a hill and gaze up at the sky after I had landed.

Life happened and so did bad choices and decisions. Then illness came. The kind that steals your fulfilled dreams and future.

Many years later after those meadow days, after barely surviving the sin of adultery and embracing the resulting salvation, I found myself being wheeled outside of our room that was attached to the chapel in our Church’s outreach in San Fernando, Pampanga. We had been there for weeks, and sick and weak as I was, I hadn’t been able to see the outside as often as I wanted to. But that morning (my second day of being in a wheelchair), I was wheeled outside and just the sight of the trees and the grass and the sky made me cry. I gazed long and hard at God’s creation and my heart sang.

Every time I hear a newborn baby cry or touch a leaf or see the sky
Then I know why
I believe!

Later on as I waited for healing and recovery at home, I would sit in our garage most days and pass the hours learning new praise songs. There was one afternoon that discouragement and desperation visited me. It was hard to lift up myself from that pit (I still find it hard now but I have learned a lot and grown much spiritually), but when I saw a piece of the blue sky peeking above the neighbor’s roof, fresh hope and courage gripped my heart: As long as I can still see the sky above, I will believe and I will not lose faith!

For me, the sky meant hope. That beyond it dwells my Father and Savior, the One who can deliver me from my sickness and suffering. The One who can give me hope and a future.

But I know that there will come a day when the heavens will burn up and melt away.

…the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (2 Pet. 3:12 ESV)

But even then, I know my future (and my family’s and all whose lives are hidden in Christ) is secured in the Lord. Though the heavens above will be blown away and the earth beneath will vanish, the Lord Jesus has promised a new heaven and a new earth —-

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Pet. 3:13 ESV)

—- and a life that never ends in His Kingdom.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Heb. 6:19)

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Stand in the Holy Place

One night last week, I began to lament to my husband how that my newsfeed is being crowded with news about my FB friends’ travels. Relatives, friends, even brethren in Christ seem to go from one place to another again and again, I told him. Then, when a hint of bitterness slowly crept into my heart, I added, “Why don’t I just close my FB account?” My beloved husband stared at me, his expression inscrutable. “Oh, well. I’d better worship the Lord. That’s the best antidote against the onset of feelings of bitterness, dismay, discontent, and all their kin,” I said with a sigh as I turned away from him and set my heart to worship.

(image source)

So, I played Christy Nockels’ Waiting Here for You worship song over and over while I sang along with it, hands raised, eyes tightly shut. Once again, for probably the 4180th time, I ran to Jesus and laid myself at His feet. I’m sure people of the world have their own ways to escape their overwhelming sorrows. Retail therapy, gym, eat out, a night out with friends and booze – just to name a few. But for me, entering into the presence of God never fails to soothe my afflicted soul. So, I sang and worshiped until tears streamed down my face and I sobbed because of the powerful touch of God upon me.

The last time I read this phrase (which was just recently), it gripped me in a way that it hounded me for weeks: …stand in the holy place… (Mat. 24:15). I know I don’t always stand in the holy place. Sometimes, I find myself standing in the place of bitterness or discontent, even unhappiness. At other times, I stand in the place where there’s too much hunger for the fulfilment of dreams and desires. More often than I’d want to, between my morning and evening devotions, I find myself in places where I strain to entertain myself through writing (a Christian novel), reading (Christian romance novels), watching (Halmmark movies), Facebooking. And I know, deep in my soul, that these are not totally holy places. My soul cries out silently.

That shaft of light that emanates from the Savior is not found in the places of pleasure, but only in His presence, in the place where we humbly bend our knees, bow our heads, and worship the One true living God in spirit and in truth.

Let not our surroundings hinder us from approaching that shaft of light, thinking that we are unworthy. On our own, we are unworthy. For He alone makes us worthy. That’s why we come to Him, again and again, not because we are holy and without blemish, but because He is. And in His presence, in His holy place, He washes us from all filth.

Stand in the holy place. And yet, our feet are so rooted in the earth where temptations abound. “Gravitational pull” in the form of sinful pleasures, idolatries, etc., keeps people stuck on the earth. Even Christians, too, in their unguarded moments and moments of weakness. However much we strive to be holy, our surroundings can taint us. This reminds me of the Prophet Isaiah:

 So I said:

“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said:

“Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged.” (Is. 6: 5-7)

Like the Prophet Isaiah, we dwell in the midst of a people of “unclean lips” (sinfulness, not only among the people around us but where we put ourselves into, like the Internet, etc.), but when we come before the holy throne with humble and contrite hearts, God is merciful to purge us from all filthiness. So, stand in the holy place.

But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 NLT)

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Journey with Jesus,

Delight in the Savior King

Meditating on Psalm 149.

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3 Let them praise His name with the dance;
Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation. (vv. 2-4)

So, the past days saw me going back to the mount where the Lord had delivered His popular sermon. For days I had tarried there, hoping to meet Him, to have the chance to fling myself at His sandalled feet and touch Him. But, He wasn’t there. I only saw rocks and patches of grass amidst the dust. And His light, His glorious light that shone upon it. The mountains echoed His eternal words and I strained to listen.

But that hadn’t been enough. So, what do I really want? Maybe to wrap my arms around my Savior. How many times had I wished that? But in praise and worship, He met me. I have failings and shortcomings, but I wormed my way toward His presence through songs that came from my hungering places. Without self-condemnation, I presented myself to Him through my humble songs of praise that were more of soulful prayers. And I felt Him. He touched me and the tears streamed down. His is the love that I crave for. Always will be.

Why do we not rejoice in the Lord? He is the source of our joy, our peace, our hope. He is our greatest love. Why do we not come to Him – in our lack, in our need, in our weakness? For the Lord takes pleasure in His people. He takes pleasure in me and in you, for He has redeemed us by His own blood. Don’t let the enemy’s lies and mocking whispers bar you from approaching the throne of grace. Delight in your Savior King for He takes pleasure in it.

Let the saints be joyful in glory;
Let them sing aloud on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth… (vv. 5-6)

Make all effort to discern your listlessness, your discontent, your sorrow, your emptiness. Your hunger. It maybe that your soul is parched for the living God, the precious Savior, the Lover of our souls.

(Photo courtesy of my cousin Bill Raras).

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I might be linking up with these lovely blogs and Coffee for Your Heart.

Journey with Jesus,

Healer of Hearts

Meditating on Psalm 147.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises on the harp to our God,
8 Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who prepares rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
9 He gives to the beast its food,
And to the young ravens that cry. (vv. 7-9)

In this psalm, the psalmist once again praises the glory, grace, and goodness of God. There are many things going on in this psalm, but I’d like us to bring our focus on this:

He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds. (v. 3)

This has been our running theme in recent posts – how that the Lord weaves a beautiful love story in our lives if only we give ourselves wholly to Him. The above verse gave a name to my story. Before I gave my life to Jesus, broken in body, heart, and spirit, I never thought that He alone could heal my brokenness and bind up my gaping wounds. The devil is way too cruel to leave you with a flimsy thread of hope of ever mending, once you ventured anywhere near his lair. Like living a life of adultery. You become his. That’s exactly how he left me – helplessly clinging to the thin thread that connected me to whatever was left of my life.

Then Jesus came, with His power, light, and love. I thought I only sought Him for forgiveness of my sins so I could die at peace with God. But there was also hope that maybe He’d be merciful enough to heal my body, too. But He did much more than anything I had hoped for. His grace abounded to me. “…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20). He redeemed my soul, cleansed me from the sin of my dark past, restored my family, healed our broken hearts and bound up our wounds.

He can easily do those things in just one stroke of His powerful hand. “He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly” (v. 15). And yet, there are still many who don’t want to be anywhere near Him. They insist on seeking cure for their ailments elsewhere, not knowing that it’s probably their souls that were sick and suffering and need healing.

My prayer for the broken is this: That the Savior Jesus Christ be their Redeemer, Healer, Restorer. That He will reign in their hearts and minds and be their Lord and King.

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I might be linking up with these lovely blogs and Coffee for Your Heart.

Journey with Jesus,

My Redeemer

Meditating on Psalm 130.

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications. (vv. 1-2)

As I read the words of Psalm 130, I remember myself fearfully groping in the dark more than ten years ago, trembling and not knowing what to do. I was suddenly afflicted with a strange illness that made me extremely weak, like I didn’t have a backbone and my flesh trembled to the marrow. I had fainting spells. But the most terrifying of them all was my mounting nervousness. It was like my mental faculties were breaking down, like I was scared to even breathe. Weakness like that feels like you’re being sucked by quicksand into your death. It makes you panic uncontrollably.

In-between my consultations with various specialists, I also went to a psychiatrist. This was after a priest’s insistence that I saw one. I knew it wasn’t what I needed, but I tried it anyway. I was ushered into a dimly-lit room. I sat in a couch and when my eyes had adjusted to the dark, I saw the lady psychiatrist sitting in an armchair to my right. She was older than me, maybe in her late-forties. Her demeanor made me think she also would commit adultery if given the chance. No, she wasn’t sexy or anything like that (and I was wrong to judge her). It’s just that – I didn’t trust her for my peace. For that was what I was desperately searching for. Peace. Peace for my soul. If I found that, then I would be well.

Looking back now, I remember the psychiatrist like she herself needed peace in her life, too. I knew that aura when I saw one – career woman, strong personality, maybe a shopaholic, too. Confident on the outside but heavily laden on the inside.

In those days you were living apart from Christ… You lived in this world without God and without hope. (Eph. 2:12 NLT)

I left her office more miserable than when I entered it, and with the thought that I wasn’t coming back. Ever. I was looking for peace. I wanted to talk about spiritual things, but she wanted to talk about worldly things. Like leaving an unhappy marriage and pursuing my own happiness. Well, I couldn’t really blame her. That’s all she had; that’s all she could give. It would be many weeks later before I would hear these words spoken to me, I give you Jesus.

That same afternoon, I squeezed myself in a crowded counter of Mercury Drug, the prescription from the psychiatrist laid out on the counter in front of me. Suddenly, I realized the stares from the people around me. I followed their eyes and saw the prescription in my hand: Dr. so-and-so, Psychiatrist. What were they thinking? That I would suddenly go berserk and hurt them? Ha!

3 If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared. (vv. 3-4)

I didn’t care about the psychiatrist’s prescribed pills. I threw them all away after trying once. How could medicines bring peace to one’s soul? It was because of my sins that my mind and body were shutting down. But there was forgiveness in the Lord. Acceptance. Salvation. Healing! He alone could make me whole.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
8 And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities. (vv. 7-8)

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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,

A Quiet Place

The Spirit whispers, telling me to withdraw from the “crowd” and the busyness of daily “Internet” life. For we can easily get so engrossed with this sharing thing, thinking that the more we “socialize”, the more we can spread the Word of God and His testimonies. But we can also overdo it. No, not the sharing part, but the socializing part. So much so that we can neglect the weightier matters: reading and meditating on the Word, listening to God in the silence, or just giving our spirits space to breathe freely.

(image source)

After the busyness of last week (not so much with crowd gathering in our place because that doesn’t happen, but the “marathon-like” associating through FB), my soul is longing to escape to a deserted place where there are only trees, tall grass swaying with the gentle breeze, and the warbling of the birds as they call to each other. How refreshing would that be! But though I cannot go farther than our own garden (the discomforts from my illness hinder me to travel), that doesn’t stop me to seek solitude and be with my God in the quietness of my soul and surroundings.

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. (Matt. 14:23)

The Spirit of Christ which is also in and with His very own (Rom. 8:9) is the same Spirit who draws us away from our own “multitudes” to resort to our own “deserted mountain” by ourselves to pray, ponder on God’s Word, and listen to His whisperings. Maybe we can escape to a quiet corner in the garden, beside a lake or a river, the beach, or in a deserted park where there is much grass and plenty of trees. The essence of the Spirit’s calling is to withdraw from the world and draw near to God. We can only find quiet and rest and more of God when we withdraw from the “multitudes”.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31, NIV)

The Lord Jesus has set for us an example. But sometimes, although our souls hear Him bidding us, we choose to do more of our plans and to-do lists or more mingling with the multitudes, and neglect to fill ourselves with God. It will not come as a surprise then when we feel like God is far. It’s because we’ve neglected to draw near to Him. The more we soak our hearts and minds with the things of this world (a cornucopia of plans and wants, insidious worries, or even selfish motives in the things we do or serve God that we don’t realize until we are in that quiet place), the more we draw farther away from His presence.

But it is in the silence, when our bodies, hearts, and minds are still and yielded to God like empty vessels waiting to be filled, that His voice seems louder and we hear Him clearer. 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… (James 4:8)

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,