The Place of Humility

RinaPeru's photo

RinaPeru's photo

I was wheeled into our newly-refurbished kitchen for the first time in many years, and besides my delight to see our old kitchen transformed into a more modern and sleek design, I felt dwarfed by the walls and cupboards. I was looking up to them whereas before, I was eye level to them.

I could not contain my pleasure for having been able to eat again in the island (more of a peninsula) of our kitchen after many years of being in and out of illness. But the great mercies of God which I have continuously seen at work in my life drive me to that place of being bowed down low, in trials or in victories, and poised to offer a profusion of sincerest thanksgiving.

In times of great joy as what I had felt the moment I sat in our kitchen, there is only remembrance of God’s enduring mercies and unfailing goodness, and words are never enough to thank Him even as I raised my hands in praise and worship. Later on when I was in our room, I knew that the cupboards seemed to have gone higher because I was sitting in my wheelchair, whereas before, many years ago, I stood in the kitchen while I worked.

Sitting low in my wheelchair and feeling dwarfed by the things around me serve as a constant reminder to stay in the place of humility. The Lord spent years teaching me humility. Those trying years saw me really grappling to walk alongside my Savior. He walked beside me, went before me, but always, He held me when I was about to fall and raised me up when I did fall flat on my face. He allowed all that – stumbling, falling, hurting myself, raising me up – so I could learn the important lesson of humility and total dependence on Him (yes, not on my own wisdom and strength), among other things, and be partaker of His holiness (Heb. 12:10).

You see, pride and being “Ms. High and Mighty” could be a “disability”. This could make a cripple out of a follower and the Lord is determined to do away with it. So, this follower was chastened to God’s satisfaction (I hope!) and learned to make my paths straight so that my “lameness” (or disability – pride, self-sufficiency, among other things) was healed (Heb. 12:12). That’s the way I looked at the whole process of learning and healing and becoming whole.

So, I did learn humility – the hard way. Victories sometimes attempt to displace me from my posture of humility and thanksgiving, but remembrance of God’s goodness and tender mercies drive me to earnest repentance and keep me rooted in that place of humility. It is always this:

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Rom. 2:4)

The place of humility is a place of grace.

…be clothed with humility, for

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet. 5:5, emphasis added)

The posture of lowliness is the posture to receive grace upon grace. We received God’s amazing grace that moment when we fell down on our knees and humbled ourselves before Him. And we will receive the grace to illuminate His light and be used for His purposes as long as we stay in this place of humility, for humility precedes honor (Prov. 15:33, 18:12). I think about Mary and her exemplary life of lowliness coupled with quiet strength. This is something a servant of the Lord could emulate.

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My gratitude list ~ things I’m thankful to the Lord for:

7. Being able to eat in the dining table (peninsula) in our kitchen after many years.

8. The Lord Jesus’ faithfulness to draw me closer and remind me of His enduring mercies and goodness.

9. Precious lessons learned in my walk with my Savior-Redeemer.

10. The delights photography – lights, colors, shadows – brings!

11. The love, peace, joy, and unity in the family

12. Home improvements

13. Tidied up and decluttered cabinets – clean house!

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

rina

Going Back to the Well

I lie long and silent on the sofa, back flat on the sturdy surface, as my weary flesh throbs away the rigors of the day. It has been a rather long and struggle-filled day. As silence finally settles in our home with only the faint sound of my husband’s praising in the guest room, I have time to think and pray some more. Pray silently over and over. For even though the weary flesh and mind shout rest, there is this desire to draw still closer to the Lord Jesus.

In the midst of seeming lack of clarity, we really cannot afford to be apart from Him who gives light.

There could be various things that could bear down on one’s soul. I’m particularly wearied by household challenges that involve maids who lack self-discipline. Maids whom I share the Gospel with but remain unmoved, indifferent, and therefore continue in their ways which are so different from ours. At times this gets me and my husband into unavoidable conflict and disagreement because he just wants to consider the necessity of having maids, what with my need of assistance and our whole household to tend. But for me, I just want maids who are devoted to their work, who sincerely care for the welfare of the household and the people they serve.

Sometimes I get frustrated that these daily challenges encroach into my spiritual quiet, provoke me and even bring me to a place of weariness and discouragement. Often, my soul shouts, wanting me to be fully well so I could manage and tend our household myself.

It is past midnight and I am here lying on the sofa trying to find a solution to all this, all the weariness making me as still as a log. Questions flood my mind but the warmth and comfort from the faithful Lord that are slowly enveloping my tired body don’t escape my notice. He whispers gently, He touches the exhaustion away, and I stop analyzing and just say deep in my heart and mind, “I love You, my Jesus; I love You, my Lord” over and over.

In the silence, when one’s tired mind and body are ready to succumb to rest, He whispers His love and comfort and the soul is restored. 

…he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul… (Psalm 23:2,3)

Why do we sometimes find ourselves near to unravelling, succumbing to bitter conflicts, painful discouragements and self-pity? I’ve heard others who even have lost their spiritual fervor.

My husband gently stirs me up. He’s done praising and he will carry me to bed. As he lifts me up in his arms, a still small voice speaks in my heart, “I’ve given you all you need so you’ll never be thirsty. Remember what I had given you at the well. It is all you need. It is flowing freely, eternally. You might have forgotten to drink and fill yourself up to overflowing. Come. Come again and drink freely.”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13, emphasis added)

Yes! Yes! Yes! How could we have forgotten? We may praise, worship, pray, and read the Bible everyday but we forget to wield the power of the Spirit! Sometimes we get into praise weary and come out of it weary still, forgetting to drink up and fill up all our vacant places to overflowing. Or maybe sometimes, we enter into praise with our minds busy with other things and come out of it almost not being able to contain and control the many plans that fill up our minds.

We go through weaknesses and weariness because we let our minds forget the power of the Spirit that the Lord has given us and what it can mightily do to our lives. We forget because we let the enemy stimulate our minds with other things, things of this world  – the Internet, social media, worldly pleasures, etc. Others become passionate with their jobs, careers, and businesses more than with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

But the fountain of living waters should be more powerful than any discord, discouragement, disappointment, self-pity, grief. It should bring more fire and passion than any job, career, or any other pursuit could. That is, if we let it flow in us freely and not block or choke it. Apostle Paul warned, “Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19) and “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).

The Lord is that “Fountain of Living Waters” (Jer. 17:13). All other sources are “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). No wonder, even when one keeps on drinking in (not God’s light and living waters) what one thinks could fill, one remains thirsty and empty.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

Hope for the Smudged and Broken

My father was an artist. I remember vividly one evening when I was in grade school that he came home drunk. He had been working on a special project for our town’s celebration every summer called AgRo (the exact words these letters represented escape me, but AgRo was like an expo of various agricultural products, native arts and crafts). His project was a set of pitcher and half-dozen mugs sitting on a tray all made entirely of bamboo. For hours on end, he patiently polished the bamboo pieces until they were shiny and smooth. After that, he painted on each one a cluster of bamboo trees.

When he left the house that afternoon, he had finished painting all the pieces and meticulously set them on their bamboo tray to dry. But a neighbor, his old buddy, who came from Manila came to our house and saw my father’s work. He held and examined them, admiring each piece, as my mother and I watched.

When my father arrived that night, he saw at once the paint smudges on his bamboo project. He knew there was no way to repair them. He was so dismayed that in great feeling of frustration, he shoved the whole tray from off the table and all the pieces fell on the floor. My mother and I were shocked. When he left, I saw his pained expression. I felt for him. Slowly, my mother and I began to pick up the pieces and mended the broken handles with wood glue.

After almost four decades later, I would come to know, really know, another Father. But instead of seeing Him greatly dismayed with me – covered in miry clay and all broken – He mercifully and lovingly picked me up, mended my broken parts and healed my wounds.

How could something that is covered with filth and with a heart and body so broken it couldn’t function properly be transformed into a thing that radiates the beauty and light of its Creator? But that is how the mercy of my Father in heaven works in a terribly messed-up life like mine was.

His workings are all so wondrous. But why doesn’t everybody see that? Why don’t the smudged, the wounded, the broken run to Him to be recreated, to become new – a new creation? These are the things that I saw:

  • One cannot see the truth in one’s life

One has been completely blinded by Satan’s lie that one believes one’s life is good, all good. I have two female friends who live as a couple, and by the world’s standards, they are blessed abundantly – health, finances, happiness – that their favorite line is “God is good!” To be in the belief that God blesses and favors those who do not obey His Word and follow after righteousness is a very dangerous thing. For it would be more difficult to make them un-believe the lie.

  • One cannot believe that God can forgive and change him or her

A testimony was shared to me by a sister in Christ whose mother-in-law asked her doubtfully when she told her about  the Gospel of salvation, “Can God forgive my sins?” (Her mother-in-law had committed abortion many times due to poverty. In the Philippines, one need not go to the doctor to have an abortion).

But God forgives anyone who comes to Him and repents and receives the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. This is His promise:

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool. 
(Is. 1:18 NLT)

The mother-in-law believed and plunged herself at Jesus’ feet, repenting and humbling herself. She was made into a new creation – sanctified and clothed with righteousness.

Endnotes:

  • Read more of my testimony here.
  • Know the keys of salvation here.
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Journey with Jesus,

Be Fully Awake!

Some time ago, I wrote The Lukewarm, taking heed of the Spirit’s leading and teaching at that time. Without a doubt in my heart, The Lukewarm was inspired by God, and I invite you to read it if you had missed it before as a background for this post :).

I was reminded by this post last night after I heard the testimony of a sister in Christ during Friday overnight service. She and her beloved husband are pastoral workers; the sister also sings in the Jesus Finest Generation Choir. From her testimony, I understood that her husband had grown lukewarm in his service to God. Why did I conclude that he was lukewarm and not cold? Because as I had written in The Lukewarm, the lukewarm make the effort of showing to everyone that they are still in the faith and going through the motions of serving God, but the fervor is gone.

They do it in hypocrisy, a farce, a thing which God hates.

I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[a] I will vomit you out of My mouth. (Rev. 3:15-16)

So, for a long time, this brother made a show of serving God every worship service, but as his beloved wife has testified, he wasn’t really into the things of God: praising and worshiping, praying, and reading the Bible daily. When he was in the worship service, he did his menial job but spent most of the time talking with his peers. He did not worship during time of deep worship, and he did not open his Bible during Bible Study and preaching.

Many times his beloved wife admonished him, even encouraged him to open up and talk about his spiritual state, but he wouldn’t listen. Until one day, the Lord took his health and strength. He became sick of diabetes and UTI among other ailments that afflicted him. He lost a lot of weight. Then there came a time that he became very ill that he was brought to the hospital. He was struggling to live.

Because of God’s chastisement, he changed his attitude towards Him. He repented of his negligence and shortcomings. He became more fervent in worshiping with the strength he had; he read the Bible often during the day, and his prayers became earnest, agonizing.

Until today, he is still begging God to heal him and give him another chance to honor and serve Him. He and his beloved wife continue to pray and be zealous in serving Him amid the hard trial.

I am thankful to God that He is ever faithful to send us reminders for us to perfect our ways before him, either directly to us or through a brother or a sister. This is a wake-up call for all of us. We cannot hide anything from God, no, not even the deepest crevices of our hearts. He knows everything in there more than we do. Remember the apostle’s admonition:

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Heb. 4:13)

There is no more time to be complacent, to be lukewarm in our love and service to God. He is coming so very soon and He wants to awaken us from our spiritual stupor. We need to stop acting and faking it and going about our lives being numb to the things of God, but at last be fully awake to them!

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Rom. 13:11 NIV)

Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning… (1 Cor. 15:34 NIV)

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • healing of Hannah of her stomachache and diarrhea with fever
  • late-night giggling and laughing with her about something funny that she said
  • renewed inspiration to write and photograph
  • delectable cakes from neighbor
  • luxuriating in exotic-scented bath products
  • new inspirations, new beginnings ~ change is good!

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

When Obedience and Zeal Go Together

A few years ago, I dreamed of putting up a house of worship in my hometown in the province. At that time, I had been through a lot: prolonged illness and suffering, partial healing, pregnancy, postnatal illness and suffering, but to serve God was foremost in my heart. I could have died when I delivered my son, considering that I wasn’t well. But He made me live and I wanted to give back to Him.

So we bought a lot at the outskirts of the town. It was along the highway and on the other side was the great river that flowed deep and quiet. After just a few months, a single-storey house was erected. There was ample yard left where a tent could be put up if worshipers overflowed.  Some workers from another town would come every Saturday to hold a Bible Study. They also visited some homes bringing the true Gospel of salvation. But their small group didn’t flourish. The preacher who visited every Saturday died and the Bible Study was discontinued.

I had thought that the one who took his place would continue the weekly visit to our town. But that was our (my husband’s and mine) mistake, not following it through closely. For since then, the place has become desolate, except for my beloved mother who would bring someone to cut the grass that had grown tall and thick.

We wanted to obey God wherever He led us to, but I now realized that we should have also prayed hard for our hearts to be ripe and ready, to be steeped with God’s zeal.

So, there was negligence on our part and it really pains me now to think about it. One of the reasons was I became very ill in early-2010 near unto death and spent most of the rest of that year recovering and hoping for God’s mercy yet again.

I had been unceasingly praying for the salvation of my loved ones and the people of our old town, but the Lord made me realize that even my prayers lacked urgency. For if they would have been frantic and more fervent, these would have driven me to act without delay. It saddens me now to think that I had waited for almost 2 years before preparing this letter requesting for workers to visit our town and resume the weekly Bible Study there.

But I’m ever grateful to the Lord that He completes whatever is lacking in us, like our love and fervency. He supplies them, the desires of our hearts, and alerts us so we could hear His voice and prods us into action to accomplish His plans and purposes. He is faithful to remind us that the harvest is ripe; our hearts are ready to dive into serving Him without reservations. I believe this is the fruit of my abandoned prayer and worship I offered not too long ago. I wrote this in my journal just after that private worship filled with the presence of the Lord:

I sing at the edge of the bed. I sing, though my breathing is short, breaking the lyrics into divided words and phrases with pauses. For my hunger to get well to be able to travel must not be greater than my hunger for Him. Just for Him.

And when I feel His sweet, comforting presence gently descending upon me, and the tears start to roll – I know there’s nothing in this world that could taste better, feel more wonderful, than His love. I want it most.

And in His presence, in His love – every desire, every dream for self, fades into the background. 

When we earnestly pray and truly surrender our lives to God, abandoning all fears, doubts, and reservations, and denying our own wants and dreams – He will put His desires in our hearts. His desires will become ours and we are able to do those which He has planned and purposed for our lives. Our obedience and service to Him then bear fruits.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Phil. 2:13)

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How Have We Been Redeeming the Time?

One evening last week, I received a “blanket” text message from the main Church of Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry. Beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde Almeda had seen a vision during prayer. He saw the Lord in tears. He was weeping because there were brethren who turned their backs on Him and had chosen to embrace the world. And there were others whose love had grown cold. He wanted to warn everyone that His coming is very near. Then the beloved pastor saw heaven open and the Lord handed trumpets to the angels. The Lord Jesus is coming very soon, so the beloved pastor’s earnest reminder is for everyone to be fervent in serving the Lord, to be vigilant and to not let the enemy deceive anyone.

After reading the important message, these words instantly came to mind: “redeeming the time”.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:15-17)

And I asked myself, “How have I been redeeming the time?” I realized that I came short in fulfilling this.

I had seen in other devotional blogs (and I had written it on mine, too) how this phrase had often been used, but when I read the urgent message about the vision, it was only then that I really put my whole attention to it.

We might have been consistently sharing the Gospel and our testimony through speaking and writing, but we might not have realized that there was an element missing all the time. I know that there are so many in our Church (JMCIM) whose fervor in winning souls has not waned a bit throughout the passing of time, but I definitely can’t speak the same for myself. When I examined myself, I found out that I have slackened my grip on my desire for the salvation of others. All the while, I believed this was just normal, thinking that we really couldn’t push our faith to others, even to family and friends.

But I realized that this slackening, this relaxing, was taking longer and complacency was actually slowly creeping in. How could I say that when all the time I had been writing prolifically on my blog about the Gospel? I must confess, it lacked the element of urgency. Yes, urgency. When we take action to win souls for Christ, the driving force behind it is not reluctant obedience – you know, just to show God that we’re doing our assignment – but the thought that every second that passes, the unsaved is in the brink of falling into the Pit, that it might already be too late for them.  We have to really care for their salvation

I want to see it this way (and therefore, would move accordingly): the salvation of souls is an emergency. It is as if we only have little time, and indeed we only have today, to do what we need to do. That alone should move us into action. This is “redeeming the time”.

There are reasons why our urgency gradually slides into complacency.

Indifference and Coldness of Others

There was a season that I profusely shared God’s truth and testimonies to loved ones, spending almost the whole day talking about testimonies after testimonies. They might have been touched and believed for from then on, they would ask for prayer whenever the need arose, but that wasn’t enough for them to receive the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in water in His name. They still preferred the old life, the religion that they were born into and grew up with. And though we’re definitely not giving up, our fervency hibernates indefinitely, but until when? I know I need to come out of my cocoon, to wake up from my complacency and begin winning my loved ones feverishly once again.

Fear of Persecution

Maybe we don’t want to hear people say all manner of hurtful words or insults about our faith. But that’s taking it to the extreme. What I had been guilty of was feeling quite embarrassed when I speak about Jesus and my faith, and the people I talk to made attempts to ignore the topic. I then learned to be discreet in bringing up the topic of salvation. But maybe I had become overly cautious to the extent of neglecting to do what I needed to do.

We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

I admire the second-generation movers of our Church. I want to specifically mention beloved Teth (one of our beloved pastor’s children) and her beloved husband, Minister Luke Smith. They have settled in America with their four children but they make it a point to come home to Manila yearly to minister, sacrificing their children’s schooling. Just last Saturday, Oct. 27, the couple organized a concert for the youth entitled Jesus Miracle Youth Crusade Freedom Concert. Hannah and her Dad went to the concert while I stayed home and watched via live webcast. I was amazed at the preparation they had put into it in just a matter of weeks. Thousands attended, most of them youth.

The special numbers presented were all anointed – singing, special testimony, play, and the invitation to receive salvation. I was blown away by the power and glory of the Savior.  Beloved Teth and Minister Luke, together with their family and siblings, gave their all and it was so soul-stirring – such an inspiration! They shook the foundations of the stadium, so to speak, with their all-out, indefatigable singing and worship that hundreds of the youth that came received Jesus Christ. But it wasn’t only a great opportunity to bring salvation to the youth, it was also a time of revival for believers like me.

Their zeal speaks of how important and urgent the matter of salvation is.

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Giveaway winners!

A leather-bound, embossed designed KJV Bible from Christianbook.com.

Veron Pagulayan

Congratulations!

Thank you to all who joined!

God bless you!

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • finishing 8 days of half-day fast
  • victorious Jesus Miracle Youth Crusade Freedom concert
  • spiritual revival: soul was stirred; blessed beyond expectations!
  • for brethren in Christ who inspire!
  • laughing with family until tummy hurt
  • true and durable joy
  • long and tight hugs
  • amazing, faith-fortifying testimonies
  • Hannah having had a wonderfully blessed time during the youth concert
  • slow cooker meals
  • Tim singing his kindergarten songs loudly
Photo courtesy of Sis. Helen Grace Arcilla.
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

A Deeper Understanding of “Resting in the Lord”

I had been reading Christian books and devotional blogs mentioning the oft-quoted phrase “rest in the Lord”, but it was just very recently that I had a real grasp of it. I mean, it is easy to say it but what does “rest in the Lord” really mean? After the truth has sunk in my soul, I realized that “resting in the Lord” could feel very risky and scary. These are the things involved: risk and fear. That’s because we had been taught to rely on visible things rather than on the invisible God. But to truly rest in the Lord is to spurn these, to let go of these in exchange of plunging oneself at the feet of God, trusting completely in His mercy.

I don’t know how deep or trying your reason to choose to rest in the Lord is, but as for me, I took inventory of the years that I “rested in the Lord”, and I came to realize that to truly rest in the Lord is to believe that He can help, save, and deliver in the MOST urgent need. It involves a REAL belief, so real you could almost touch and taste it. That kind of belief is the seat of trust.

Because you truly believe, then you can trust, and therefore, you can rest.

There is no true rest when there is a shadow of doubt in your belief of a true and living God, a breathing, seeing, moving, fast-acting God – an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God.

I had wrestled with death not just a few times, and I remember my beloved husband offering to bring me to the hospital or buy me an oxygen tank at least. It was truly scary but I had always chosen to rest in God instead during those fear-filled walks through the valley of the shadow of death. I believed that the commotion that would be brought about by calling an ambulance, transferring me into it, the nurses milling about, the panic, the anxiety-filled trip to the hospital and then the hustle and bustle of the emergency room would be more than enough to stop my breath altogether.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, emphasis added)

So, I always chose to rest in God, keeping my body as still as I could as I trusted in Him to save me, to deliver me to the next breath and heartbeat and to the next, until He brings recovery. I would keep still as an electric fan blew hard on my face, thinking hard about the Lord Jesus. When things were better, I even sang praises in my mind. He is a VERY PRESENT HELP in times of great need.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

And though the flesh is weak and perishes, there is rest for the soul (Mat. 11:29). That is what resting in the Lord brings – rest for the soul.

When illness, suffering, difficulties, anguish, confusion, fear, weakness, worry overwhelm, I rest in His Word. His Word enlightens me, strengthens and comforts me. The Word is God (John 1:1).

To rest in God is His will for us. To be still in His presence and be confident in Him and His power are what He truly wants us to be. He has counselled us about this long time ago, that when we rest in Him, He will save and strengthen us (Is. 30:15). But the world had taught us to run elsewhere to get help. We had learned to rely on tangible things to quieten our souls and momentarily bring peace to our minds, not quite grasping the truth about God and what He is able to do. For with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)

Friend, are you looking for rest for your weary soul? Rest for your sick body or unquiet mind? The Lord Jesus is bidding you. He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat. 10:28)

Photo courtesy of my friend Myriss Torres.
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