Lent to the Lord

In 1998, when my beloved father lived with me in my small, two-bedroom apartment very sick of lung cancer, life was truly hard. He and my mother traveled from our hometown in the province to seek medical help from specialists. This was also the time that I was struggling with the chemicals business I had put up only ten months earlier. I had turned a portion of my living room into an office and given my bedroom to my father for this was more spacious and airy.

There were cousins who would come to assist my mother in caring for my father all day, while I went out to work, visiting clients. Everyday, our hearts were heavy and the mood in my apartment was generally gloomy. This was a time when I hadn’t yet surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.

To combat the pervasive sadness in my apartment, I wrote to my older sister and implored her to send her then 4-year-old daughter to us to help cheer up our beloved parents, and me too, since the challenges my fledgling business brought and the burden of caring for my sick father were bearing down heavily upon me. (I was still single then).

She sent her right away and my apartment sure lit up with her effervescent presence. She made her grandfather laugh heartily and stayed beside him when he was quiet and not feeling good. I brought her to the hospital when my father had to stay there for days and he was always happy to see her. I bought her clothes, food, and things to get herself busy most of the day and not miss her Mama too much. The generosity and unselfishness of my sister to lend her little daughter to us so far away from her sight and bosom (they lived in the province) stuck in my memory.

Which brings me now to an endearing story in the Bible that I have cherished ever since I was saved: the story of Hannah and her beloved son (1 Sam. 1-2). Hannah was inconsolable because she was barren, and her rival, the other wife of her husband, mocked her for she had borne many. Hannah prayed to God and begged Him to give her a son and she vowed that she would lend him to Him all the days of his life. (I had written a more detailed retelling of Hannah’s story in Powerful Prayers: Hannah).

God heard Hannah’s agonizing prayer and He gave her a son. After she had weaned her child, she brought him to the Lord at Shiloh and entrusted him to Eli the priest, as she had vowed to the Lord. She had waited for years to have a child, but now she had to leave him in the temple to serve the Lord to honor her vow. But Hannah’s unselfishness and sacrifice didn’t go unnoticed in the eyes of God. For when she and her husband returned to their home, God blessed her with more sons and daughters. Hannah was exceedingly glad that she poured out a song of praise to God.

…For the Lord is the God of knowledge;
And by Him actions are weighed.

The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and lifts up. (1 Sam. 2: 3,7)

It is this same principle that I apply now with my children: lending them to the Lord through singing in the choirs in church. Hannah sings in the Children’s Choir while Tim sings in the Cherubims Choir. What’s more excellent than singing praises to God in His great congregation? I see God’s goodness in our life everyday and I know we can never repay it. Praising and giving glory to His name is the least we could do and we will not be stingy with it, by His grace.

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have perfected praise. (Mat. 21:16)

And God is ever faithful to reward every earnest sacrifice offered to Him, and prospers and increases every endeavor geared for His kingdom. As He did with Hannah in the Old Testament, so He does with Hannah my daughter, blessing her with wisdom and she gets good grades in school. She received a silver medal in academic excellence last year and she will again receive a medal this year in their graduation and awarding ceremonies – to God be the glory! He answers our heartfelt prayers and gives our hearts’ desires, like my prayer for Hannah to learn the piano. Now, she’s presently enrolled in piano lessons and will have their recital in April. She plays the piano so well – a precious gift from the gracious God – and I only have Him to be grateful for!

Linked to Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Walk With Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Faith Filled Friday, Teach Me Tuesday, Winsome Wednesday, Pink Saturday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty, Better Mom Mondays, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

A Heart for the Poor

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(Meditating on Psalm 41)

One path to blessedness is to have a heart for the poor. The poor who is in need of food and clothing, or the poor in spirit who is in need of God’s love and deliverance, or the poor in health and strength who is in need of healing. And this path is really the path of genuine love. And the love that truly blesses is a love like Christ’s. Isn’t this exactly what the Lord was talking about in Matthew 25:34-40?

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked and preach the Gospel to them for this is really what makes rich and fills and satiates. Visit the bound and destitute in prison and preach the Gospel of salvation to them for this is what really liberates. Visit the sick and the suffering, pray for them, read to them the Word of God, hold their hands and whisper words that give hope and encouragement and healing. This is all love in action. This is the proof of our faith to the living God who loves and saves and heals – faith that expresses itself through love (Gal. 5:6). This is the only thing that counts.

Faith expressing and proving itself through love. This is the path of gold that ushers in God’s wonderful [great, extraordinary, amazing, astounding, staggering, tremendous!] blessings. 

May this be our path, our life, our ministry, as we cry out to God to gift us a love that is like Christ’s, for this is the kind of love that matters in His sight.

Blessed is he who considers the poor;
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.
The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed. (Ps. 41:1-3)

Related post: Beautiful Feet: What Love Really Means

Linked to Proverbs 31 Thursday, Women Living Well, Walk With Him Wednesday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty, Titus 2sday, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Raising Homemakers, Women in the Word Wednesday

5 Ways to Practice Christmas Everyday

All over the world, Christians young and old love Christmas. There is a unique wonder to Christmas that no other time of the year can equal. It is like magic that captivates everyone’s heart.

During Christmas season, as snow piles up in most parts of the globe and temperatures go down below zero making lakes freeze, an entirely different thing happens to the hearts of people – they melt, acquiescing to the love that is felt in the air – everywhere. People find enough love to forgive, enough compassion to give, and hearts overflow with thanksgiving to the Author and Reason of it all – Jesus Christ.

People sing carols declaring the love, peace, joy, and salvation the Savior brings. Estranged people reconcile, families reunite – there are celebrations in every heart and home. This is the love, joy and peace of God! But we don’t have to be stingy on ourselves and wait for another year to live the wonder of Christmas.

Loving, making peace, giving, thanksgiving, and rejoicing – the things that happen at Christmastime – are things that the Lord wanted and intended for us to practice every single day, not just on a specific, short time of the year.

So, how do we live the practice of Christmas everyday?

  • “O, Come Let Us Adore Him!”

This is a classic Christmas carol but do we come and adore Him only on Christmas? Nay. We come and adore Him when we wake up in the morning and before we lay ourselves down again to sleep at night! Everyday, we come to worship Him, singing songs of praise that come from grateful and adoring hearts. Let us purpose in our hearts to live in His constant presence.

I have a beautiful Christmas stationery with “O, Come Let Us Adore Him!” embossed in red foil at the top, but I use it all-year round!

  • “The Weary World Rejoices!”

The Bible tells us in Phil. 4:4 to “rejoice in the Lord always”. Yes, not only on Christmas season but always. We rejoice because we received the salvation of our souls and He is coming again to take us to Himself so that we will be together with Him through eternity.

We can rejoice in the Lord by turning ordinary days into simple celebrations of His goodness and faithfulness – thanking Him for His grace, tending to our homes with joy, gathering around the dining table with family, food, stories, and laughter and just creating precious moments, enriching our spiritual lives by spending quiet time with the Lord, immersing ourselves in His Word, writing on our journal, or reading a good book, etc. The essence is that whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

  • Give Love [not only on Christmas Day]

We can show love and give love not only by giving prettily-wrapped presents but by visiting and praying for the sick, by sharing the Gospel to a loved one, a friend, or a co-worker, by donating to send a poor child to school, or by sending a lovely card with your handwritten message of love, care and best wishes to someone who is lonely… There are a myriad ways we can preserve the spirit of Christmas in our lives! We only need to keep the love and inspiration from the Lord ablaze in our hearts.

A few years ago, my elderly neighbor and I have begun a tradition of exchanging gifts throughout the year. I give her of my home cooked muffins and cakes, homemade ice cream, and some other stuff for her home, and she gives me bunches of lovely and fragrant flowers, bread and pastries, and all kinds of stuff for the kids. Sometimes, I can only give her a handwritten thank-you note from my stash of pretty cards :).

  •  “Deck the Halls!”

The Christmas tree and all the other beautiful Christmas decors have been put away in boxes ’til next December, but our homes need not be stripped of loveliness. Take joy in making our homes places where God’s beauty is seen and felt. Home-cooked goodness, fresh flowers in a vase, uplifting praise music, kids’ artworks on the walls, lighted fragrant candles, frames of joy-filled moments…the possibilities are endless! Just draw from that well of inspiration and creativity that we, homemakers, have been gifted with!

This huge bunch of lovely white lilies is a gift from my sweet, elderly neighbor.

Homemade white chocolate and whole oats cookies with green tea.

Some of our family photo frames arranged and photographed by Hannah.

  • “Let There Be Peace on Earth”

Let There Be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me. 
Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be!
With God as our Father, brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now.
With ev’ry breath I take, let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!

Written by Sy Miller and Bill Jackson

Live each moment in peace eternally! What a beautiful song! Need I say more?

Linked to Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, We Are That Family, Women Living Well, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Raising Homemakers, Walk With Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty

The Widow and the Fatherless

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Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)

She received my letter with great joy and without delay, she  came, traveling 12 hours by bus with her little girl in her arms. They arrived in the early evening going straight to the Friday overnight worship service of our main church.

That night, I saw her testify in the pulpit clothed in white long sleeves blouse and long skirt, and one wouldn’t think that she just got off the bus. She had fresh testimonies of God’s healing miracles in their outreach – a far-flung barrio in San Andres, Quezon Province. She testified that she was fetched by other brethren-in-Chirst to go to an island and pray for a woman who was greatly suffering from witchcraft. There was nobody to leave her almost three-years-old baby girl for her two older boys were still in school, so she brought her baby along.

She testified that huge waves would cover their banca (a small boat) as they navigated the turbulent sea but they never stopped praying and rebuking the wind and the waves. At this, I remember the very first time I heard her testify. It was almost the same situation – a very dangerous boat ride to an island where they would have a Bible Study. I was amazed then at her stories, her testimonies of great faith in the midst of seemingly impossible situations.

I had wanted to meet her then (over six years ago) and requested her to pray for my healing. And thus, our friendship blossomed.

Sister Isabel is a faithful worker in the Lord’s vineyard. She fasts and prays regularly. She has a small hut near the outreach’s chapel. She visits sick people and prays for them, as taught by our dearly beloved pastor and assistant pastor. She had fully surrendered her life in service to the Lord while her beloved husband worked for the family as a security guard in another province.

But in late-2008, three months before she would deliver her youngest child, just a few weeks before Christmas, her beloved husband suddenly died of a heart attack.

Sis. Isabel and her baby Rain with my 2 kids Hannah and Tim.

Sunday after the worship service, she comes to our home, with her little girl in her arms. The widow and the fatherless. We talk and I can see her strength, that quiet strength that only comes from a very intimate walk with Jesus.

I ask again the name of her little girl, and she tells me. And I think, “Did she name her daughter Princess Reign? Like a reigning princess?” I’m not sure so I ask her to spell it. And she says, “R-A-I-N.”

“I named her Princess Rain because tears poured out like rain when I was carrying her.” And I see beads of crystals threatening to spill out of meek eyes.

I ask about her boys. The eldest is in grade 6 and the younger is in grade 3. I ask some more. They live by her beloved husband’s SSS pension which is P3,0oo plus (about $80) per month. I tell her we will sponsor John Mark’s (her eldest) schooling until he graduates from high school. At this, those pools in her eyes spill over and run down her face freely. She wipes them with her palm as she expresses her gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ.

She goes back home to the province with cartons of canned goods and noodles, packs of juice powder and biscuits, a box of used clothes, and cash for 2 sacks of rice – and a very grateful heart to the One who deserves all thanksgiving. These will be distributed to the beloved brethren there – the poor who are rich in faith.

And she tells me that this will be a joyous Christmas for all of them. “Ang Diyos ay mabuti!” (God is good!), she utters solemnly.

Through our own afflictions, the Lord Jesus draws us nearer to the afflicted, so that we would learn love – and we would learn Him.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35)

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 3: The Goodness of the Lord
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 4: Yes and Amen!
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 5: The Way to the Manger
 

This post is linked to Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty, Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Walk With Him Wednesday, Proverbs14verse1, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays

Yes and Amen!

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(source: Google images)

Sabel’s husband left shortly after she gave birth to their youngest child. He left and didn’t look back nor go back to the family he left behind, ever since. The family learned later that he had started a new family with another woman in another province far from where they live.

The years that followed would prove for Sabel the most trying times of her life. They would live in painful poverty day in and day out. The children wouldn’t be able to go to school and would often go to bed at night crying in hunger. Sabel herself would get seriously sick and at one point, would lose her sanity.*

Who wouldn’t? Without the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, who would not get sick in mind, body and soul?

It is because of ALL these: shattered homes, rent hearts,  broken bodies, that the Messiah has come – to save, to heal, and to restore. To give new lives.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

What the enemy has stolen – our joy and peace, health and strength – the Lord Jesus came to restore.

When the angel Gabriel brought the most important message for humankind to Mary, Mary had bravely faced this heavenly being who stands in the presence of God and had listened intently to each word spoken. Mary, the young betrothed woman blessed by God, had unflinchingly said “Yes!”

Yes to God’s will! Yes to God’s plan for salvation! Yes to Jesus!

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. (2 Cor. 1:20 NLT)

For it was the Lord who first said “Yes!” He said yes to mercy, yes to love that knows no bounds, yes to coming in the flesh to be laid in a manger covered with hay, yes to swaddling clothes to cover Him in place of regal robes, yes to walking with sinners, with the sick and the diseased, with the poor and the downtrodden, for it was for them that He had come. Yes to being spit upon, mocked, struck, scourged. Yes to death on the cross.

For the Lord Jesus Christ, it was “Yes! Yes! Yes!” And it will always be “Yes and Amen!”

But it’s truly saddening that there are still many people who keep on saying “No”. No to Jesus, no to His love, no to His proffered hand, no to His light, no to His righteousness, no to His presence, no to His will.

If we examine our hearts and reach deeper inside, have we been saying a resounding “Yes and Amen!” to Him? Or have we been hesitating, faltering, stalling, and stammering an “I don’t know…er… maybe…we’ll see..” Or maybe we have been fearing, doubting, unbelieving?

But for true Christ-followers, it’s always “Yes and Amen!” Yes we’ll go share the Gospel, yes we’ll go testify, yes we’ll go visit the sick and the suffering, the poor, the widow, the fatherless, the lost, the brokenhearted, the sorrowing. Yes we’ll give of ourselves and of what we have, yes we’ll show His love, mercy and peace!

Because it was the Lord who first gave.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

I want to share with you this beautiful song which I have recently learned to sing to the Lord: Becoming by Shannon Wexelberg from her album I Have a Song. It’s only an audio because there’s no available music video of it in YouTube. You will find the beautiful lyrics here.

Who am I becoming?
Would a stranger find You here?
Could they recognize You in my life?
Would my love for You be clear?
Do I treasure all that’s dear to You
See the world through mercy’s eyes?
Who am I becoming?
Can they see Your face in mine? 

~ from Becoming by Shannon Wexelberg

https://ourhealingmoments.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/08-becoming.m4a

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 3: The Goodness of the Lord

Endnote: *To read more of Sabel’s story, click here.

Related post: Quiet Strength

GIVEAWAYS!!!


I’m giving away 2 tickets to Better Than Life Gospel and Christmas Concert 2011 to be held at Cuneta Astrodome, Pasay City, on 20th December, 7:00PM.

Mechanics:

  • Just leave your comment to this post and you’re automatically entered in the giveaway.
  • For additional entries, you may do the ff:

~ share this post on Facebook

~ like, share, or comment on the link I’ll be posting on Facebook

(Each thing you do will be additional entry)

  • One winner (winning 2 tickets) will be drawn via random.org
  • For NCR and surrounding provinces (Philippines) residents only
  • Giveaways close on Thursday, December 15th, 6:00PM

This post is linked to Sharing His Beauty, Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Raising HomemakersWalk with Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays

What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}

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(photo source: Google images)

When they were in great need, they would write, relating in detail the devastation a typhoon had brought – wiping out their homes and livelihood. They write, not that they are dependent on other people’s support, for they do not come short in prayer and even with fasting, but that they would like to share their hardships, the trials they encounter. And it dawns on me, that they need to “share” their poverty so we could learn to share our prosperity.

They would write, how their small, beloved chapel had been blown away by the storm, and they pray to get even just a small donation to repair the roof and to buy cloth to sew into curtains to serve as covering in the place of walls. These are believers who praise and worship God in spirit and in truth, who are filled with the Holy Spirit and prays for the sick with power from on high – for the glory of God dwells in a humble manger covered with hay where the Savior lay – just like He dwells in their hearts and in their “ramshackle” chapel.

(Photos from JMCIM Davao Outreach; no available photos from San Andres, Quezon Outreach)

This outreach of our Church is in a far-flung barrio of San Andres town in the province of Quezon, a 12-hour bus ride from Manila. Their livelihood comes mainly from fishing for it is near the sea, and during hard times, they would make do with corn as a staple, for rice would be too expensive for them. But they are rich in faith. Those who live high up on the mountains would trek a 5-hour descent going to the worship service, then back again afterwards. They need to start early, even before the dawn breaks.

(photos above from jmcim.org; Tiaong, Quezon crusade)

We had given some financial support to these faithful believers, but there hadn’t been any communication this year, so this time, I’m writing them. I write to tell them that the Lord has accumulated their blessings and has not forfeited them.

For isn’t this our fervent prayer that during the time of His silence, we hope that He is accumulating all the blessings intended for us and will heap them on us in His perfect time?

(There are other outreach stations of our Church who may be poor in material wealth, but truly rich in faith and for that, I glorify God).

So, what’s stuffed in your sock this Christmas? Maybe sacks of rice and cartons of canned goods, bread, noodles, milk, etc. to fill our brothers and sisters in Christ? Or, maybe blankets to ward off the cold at night? Or, not-so-expensive quilts (we found ones which cost about P350 or about $7) to cover the cold bamboo slats or concrete floor where they lay themselves to rest and sleep? Or, clothes that they could wear when they go to worship the Lord? Whatever we give, may these warm their hearts and homes this Christmas.

There’s so much need around us: empty stomachs wanting to be filled, children dreaming to be clothed and to be warm at night. May we be the hands of Christ helping to fill this need.

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This post is linked to Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday, Walk with Him Wednesday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sunday, Sharing His Beauty

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Raising Mighty ArrowsGrowing HomeLittle Natural CottageAn Original BelleLove Being a Mom