Sanctuary

(Meditating on Psalm 84)

How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
(Psalm 84:1-2)

One of the many things that I love about our Church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY, is its offering of a 24/7 sanctuary. That is, a sanctuary for the weary soul and the sick body.

All over the country, there are outreach stations, pastoral houses and fasting houses where one could take refuge. These are not towering cathedrals, no, they are far from such. In fact, some outreach stations could be so bare with only curtains for walls, but these could be havens for anyone looking for rest, both for the soul and the flesh.

In these houses, the workers of the Lord’s vineyard praise and worship night and day, with fasting and prayers. Their soulful singing and worship invite the glory of the Lord, hence, though the place is not built with marble and hardwood or gilded columns, God’s anointing descends and imbues the worshipers with power from on high.

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah 
(v. 4)

I was one who ran to God’s sanctuary often. When my body was so sick and couldn’t seem to find the way to heal, I ran to this sanctuary. In fact, our whole family lived there for a season, in Pampanga Fasting House. I found great comfort in plunging myself at the feet of Jesus in His sanctuary, completely yielding myself to His mercy. I believed in His existence. I believed He sees and knows and moves among the children of men. I believed He heals. I had to believe and I did, with all my being. That’s why one afternoon when I thought I was breathing my last, I signalled for the one caring for me to call for the prayer warriors who were praying and fasting to pray for me. And even when I knew it could be my last breath, I was believing and surrendering, and He proved to me that He is real and true, faithful and unfailing.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 
(v. 5)

They go from strength to strength… (v. 7)

One can trust God in His sanctuary which is filled with His anointing and power. One can run into this place, not to gaze at the magnificent paintings and murals on the ceilings and walls for these are only found in cathedrals and basilicas, but to find solace for the soul and healing for the body.

This is what sanctuary really means.

It was where Sis. Dina and her dying daughter ran to when the doctors in the hospital could no longer do anything for Janna. They ran to the fasting house in Sauyo, Novaliches in Quezon City where praying and fasting sisters awaited them. And Sis. Dina, the fraught mother, found solace to her soul, and Janna found healing to her body.

When Sis. Sarah was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and she was told by the doctor that only surgery could prolong her life, she refused it but instead travelled to the same fasting house to find strength and solace there. And when her tumor broke open while she was travelling in public transport and blood leaked out of her blouse, she was determined to reach God’s sanctuary. And she arrived there where sisters in Christ ministered to her.

Like what I did in 2004 when I lived in Pampanga Fasting House, comforted day and night by constant praising and strengthened by prayers with fasting, so did Sis. Sarah. She lived in God’s sanctuary until the day the Lord brought down His healing upon her, and she rose up from her sick bed.

And there are still many who run to God’s sanctuary to take refuge there, at any time of day or night. This is declared in their testimonies. I can’t possibly mention each one.

God is real and He makes known His power among men. The kingdom of God has come near to [us] (Luke 10:9). It is manifested through His amazing testimonies.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
(v. 11)

Read in full the testimonies mentioned above:

To read more of God’s amazing testimonies, click here.

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Journey with Jesus,

God Causes Them to Know Him

(Meditating on Psalm 83)

Psalm 83 speaks of Israel’s prayer to God to confound those who conspire against her. But how can we apply some of the verses of Psalm 83 in our present-day lives? We’ll consider this:

So pursue them with Your tempest,
And frighten them with Your storm.
16 Fill their faces with shame,
That they may seek Your name, O Lord.  

That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth. 
(Psalm 83:15,16,18)

I would like to use these verses in a positive way: that God pursues them whose evil deeds have multiplied and overflowed. That He pursues them with the “tempest” of His purposes and frightens them with the “storm” of His punishment. That He is determined to frustrate their schemes and confound their evil plans, that they may be put to shame and be greatly dismayed. So that they will know Him and turn to Him.

On the other hand, we know also that the thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10:10a), and God may allow him to carry out his work, then use it for His purposes and turn it into victory in the end. So that, behind the calamity, we might find life and have it to the full (John10:10b).

Such is the moving story of Bro. Eric Fajardo, a former policeman who lived in depravity, but there came a time that he reaped what he had sown. The day he thought he would be honored in a town’s important occasion where he was the guest speaker turned out to be the darkest day of his life. He brought along his family for he wanted them to witness this special event in his life. But before he could even set foot on stage, there was a bomb blast followed by indiscriminate firing. When the smoke subsided and Bro. Eric could see clearly, he saw his whole family sprawled on the ground, bloodied and lifeless.

Read more of Bro. Eric Fajardo’s testimony here.

I believe that God causes us to cease from committing evil by allowing calamities (maybe in the form of illnesses, suffering, heart-wrenching problems, etc.) to come upon us so “that [we] may know that [He], whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” (v. 18) and turn to Him and surrender our lives to Him.

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Journey with Jesus,

When the Space Between Heaven and Hell Became Narrow

(Meditating on Psalm 82)

Last week, my husband went home to the province to attend the wake of his uncle. His uncle, together with his beloved wife, received the Lord Jesus Christ some years ago but their ten grown-up children who were scattered abroad have not. When my husband arrived in his uncle’s home where the wake was being held, he saw many people gathered around gambling tables. This is a common scene in the Philippines where the wake of a dead person is usually held in the home. People from around the neighborhood would flock to the place , set up gambling tables, and this would run the whole night, night after night until the day of burial.

On the last day of viewing, preachers and workers from the provincial outreach of Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry came to hold a worship service and Bible Study. The gambling tables were pushed to the side to make room for the service. The gamblers who were really just ordinary folks that included fathers, mothers, teenagers, and idle people who mostly do nothing but gamble, smoke, and drink liquor, stood to the side as the worship service began.

My husband noticed that these people stayed far and showed a general disinterest or boredom.

They do not know, nor do they understand;
They walk about in darkness;
All the foundations of the earth are unstable. 
(Psalm 82:5)

JMCIM worship services and Bible Studies usually last for at least 4 hours, with at least 1-2 hours of praise and worship. My husband was hoping that the people and bystanders would come near and listen to the Good News and receive the Lord Jesus Christ, but they remained where they were.

As my husband was telling me what he saw, I imagined the Lord bringing near the kingdom of God to these people, but they chose to be rooted to the ground where they stood – a shaky, dangerous ground that could give in any time and swallow them all up. I imagined that  for a few hours, the Lord brought down heaven (by this I mean God’s salvation) levelled to the ground where the people stood, but they chose to not move and walk over to the other side. For a few hours, the space between life and death became so narrow and they only had to cross that line, then everything in their lives would have become entirely different.

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Heb. 4:2)

They could not enter in because of unbelief. The enemy has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts. After the Bible Study, the people rushed to the gambling tables. My husband observed that they couldn’t wait to start what they loved doing. This, truly, is a most deplorable situation.

But as long as we have breath, we will pray, testify, and preach the Gospel.

Journey with Jesus,

A Heart Check

(Meditating on Psalm 81)

Sing aloud to God our strength;
Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song and strike the timbrel,
The pleasant harp with the lute. 

For this is a statute for Israel,
A law of the God of Jacob. 
(Psalm 81:1,2,4)

This, also, is the statute of our Church: to sing praises and worship God not only during worship service when the congregation gathers, but also in our own homes, in the morning and in the evening. Those who do this fervently with a willing spirit are blessed beyond their hearts’ desires, specially with a stronger faith in God.

But there are those who neglect to praise and worship and their focus was diverted to the things of the world: agendas, schedules, plans, and passions with other things like careers, hobbies, and other pursuits that may veer one away from deep communion with God. The more time spent with our pursuits, the less time we give in seeking God. Even in the time of private praise and worship, one may not be spiritually present; one’s mind and heart may be upon the to-do lists, or other exciting projects that await.

When our affections and passions (am I being redundant?) are diverted from the living God to the things of this world, aren’t we loving, adoring, and worshiping them instead? Isn’t this a form of idolatry? God admonished His people Israel:

There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god. 
(v. 9)

I’ve heard testimonies in Church that they got so engrossed with work or flourishing businesses that they began to neglect to praise and worship God with all their beings. They had forsaken the Spirit’s admonition. They could no longer listen to Him for their hearts had been captured by their passions or given away to their work’s demands. Until one day, they found they no longer walked in the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit had left.

But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.
 (vv. 11-12, emphasis added)

To be given up by God is a most dreadful thing to happen.

Where do are our affections lie? Do we praise God with our lips but our hearts are far from Him? Do we worship in vain? Or do we delight in Him more than anything in this world? It is good to always have a heart check.

Cause Your Face to Shine

(Meditating on Psalm 80)

I sit in front of my laptop, not really knowing what to write for Journey Through the Psalms Friday. I had planned to write about how the Lord Jesus had shown His marvellous light to the youth who had come to the Jesus Miracle Youth Crusade Freedom Concert with so much expectations in their hearts. They had heeded the call and humbly come, hundreds of them. And the Lord Jesus did not fail them. Yes, gloriously He shone forth to the hearts and souls of these young people and filled them with His love, forgiveness, and Spirit. He filled me, too.

I wanted to write about all that, but today, the Spirit seemed to be leading me to a different path. Just a few hours ago, I felt so weary and my spirit was down. Husband and kids had gone to the Planetarium and Robot Zoo, a trip which I planned, and as usual, I was home alone with the maid. I baked chocolate cookies but they didn’t come out as expected. I just wanted to cry, not just because I was left alone neither because the flourless cookies turned out to be one messy, sticky heap. I know it is something more.

Restore us, O God;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved! (Psalm 80:3)

I had thought the straying youth needed this – for God to shine on them so that they will be saved. But I realized that I needed Him to shine on me just as much as the youth did. I had been wanting and earnestly working to be freed from all personal desires and wants and dreams and plans – to die to all these – and just desire God and what He wants for my life. I need His love to complete what’s lacking in me, specifically my love. Without Him expanding, deepening, growing my love, I am just a miserable woman fighting her own daily battles and barely winning.

Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine. (v. 14)

They arrive. The kids run to me saying, “Thank you, Mom”. Then I know what’s filling my soul with sadness: I just want to let my life be a pleasing offering to God who gave me everything I own. I just want to let go of all the thoughts about self – unrealized dreams, unwell body – and be an unwavering light to these young people; show and give them Christ by how I live Him.

Cause your face to shine on thine servant, O God! Strip me off of all that offend and clothe me with thine righteousness and kindness.

The tears fall. I hope that I have touched heaven’s throne of grace.

God’s Jealousy and Anger

(Meditating on Psalm 79)

I know that such title wouldn’t do well specially with people who believe only in a loving God and not in the just, righteous, holy God that punishes iniquities. But one needs to speak the truth. I read Psalm 79 and though it tells of the captivity of Jerusalem (maybe this was during the time of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who invaded Jerusalem, defiled the temple of God, and took Zedekiah the king), the following verse stood out and it’s what I want us to meditate on:

How long, Lord?
Will You be angry forever?
Will Your jealousy burn like fire? 
(Psalm 79:5)

Jerusalem was punished by God because of her consistent idolatry. He used Nebuchadnezzar as instrument to serve His purpose. In our present time, idolatry still doesn’t go unpunished.

Years before Bro. Louie Angeles came to know the one true living God and surrender his life to Him, he knew many gods made of wood and cast stone. Every morning, even before the sun rose, he would be in their market stall helping his mother. His mother’s number one instruction was for Bro. Louie to kiss a statue of a “young Jesus” with a crown and a cape decorated with gold stitches before he started work. (This icon is widely popular in the Philippines that its yearly feast is celebrated for days).

But before Bro. Louie could do that, he would first diligently search for the head of the statue which always went missing because the rats played with it during the night. When he had found it, he would fix it on top of the statue and only then could he kiss it. Bro. Louie worked diligently in their market stall to finance his college education. When he graduated, finishing Bachelor of Science in Architecture, he found out he had leprosy. To read more of Bro. Louie Angeles’ amazing testimony, click here.

******

How about the devotion to a black statue whose yearly feast is celebrated with so much fanfare and attended by millions of devotees, but also marred by disasters and tragedies? This Filipino Catholic tradition was analyzed in depth in this article Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo » Faith or Fanaticism? Click the link to read the essay.

The Bible teaches us to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

Until the people come to the knowledge of this truth and worship the one true living God and not impotent idols made by hands, there is no real peace and the land remains captive and “desolate” [barren; lifeless].

New testimony post: Healed of Witchcraft: The testimony of Sis. Maria Fe Lible

Photo courtesy of Bro. Edu Cortez of extremedetails.com
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The Practice of Remembering God’s Wondrous Works

This photo courtesy of my friend Myriss Torres.

(Meditating on Psalm 78)

There is a spiritual practice that we could all benefit from. Both David and Asaph had shown it many times in the book of Psalms. I learned it in the Church where the Lord has put us. It is the practice of recalling God’s mighty deeds that He has wrought in His Church, among the brethren, and in our own lives. The other word for this is testifying.

Here in Psalm 78, Asaph once again contemplates on all the wondrous works of God that He has done in Israel. Line after line, he tells of the journeyings of God’s people and the many proofs of God’s faithfulness toward them.

In my own spiritual journey, I have found quiet contemplation on God’s mercies to be a very helpful tool in strengthening my faith and keeping my love for the Lord constantly burning. We can either shout out our testimonies in the pulpit, share them with the unsaved, meditate on them, or sing them out.

Yes, sing them out in our private worship time. In this way, they remain fresh in our minds and the overflow of thanksgiving to God happens easily. If you sometimes find it hard to concentrate in singing praises to God by singing songs you’ve learned, then sing that which naturally and spontaneously comes from your heart. Sing to Him with your own lyrics of love and thanksgiving. Sing to Him recalling all His tender mercies and marvelous deeds. In my case, I think back on the days that I was bound in bed, very sick and weak and to the point of death, and how He had mercifully raised me up from my sick bed and showered me with good things. It doesn’t take long before I would feel His touch and then I would be enveloped in His sweet, powerful presence.

Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. 
(Psalm 78:4)

Last Friday, I shared with you a brief retelling of the victorious Talipao (Mindanao) Peace Mission which God had wrought in JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY. Once again, the prayer warriors who had experienced the horrors of being in the constant presence of the Abu Sayyaf and the military assault that followed – a three-month ordeal – recalled how the Lord had delivered them mightily day and night.

How the high-powered guns and weapons of the Abu Sayyaf did not have power over their bodies.

How they would be down on their knees praising God as the bombs from the military planes bombarded the area.

How they would be running at night with the Abu Sayyaf in complete darkness, on the rugged mountains of Talipao, Jolo, Sulu, in danger of wild beasts and falling into deep ravines.

One memory after another, they recalled God’s mighty deeds, shouting out their praises and thanksgiving. Below I share more photos of the 12th Victorious Talipao Peace Mission Anniversary held on October 7 at the Amoranto Stadium, Quezon City, Philippines.

I would also like to share with you this amazing testimony of a brother in Christ that I wrote over at Minister of Mercy entitled Double Miracle. Now, some would be cynical about it and would refuse to believe. But if, through reading the Bible, you can believe in a God who is all powerful and works miracles, how can you not believe in His present-day miracles wrought in His Church and experienced by the redeemed? If you believe that God never changes – “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8) – then you must also believe that He still performs wondrous works and marvellous deeds to this day. To read testimony, click here.

Endnote: All JMCIM photos courtesy of Bro. Guetz Febrer.

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