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,

The Practice of Love

The kids and I gather together this evening. I had been desiring for our family to have a gathering in the evenings to read the Bible, talk about what we have read, each give thanks for the day, then pray. But I know that my beloved husband can’t be easily invited to such. He sings praises, worships and prays every night for more or less two hours. Gathering with the family for the purposes I have mentioned is a thing he’d rather not join. This saddens me but I was determined to start with our two kids.

Hannah and I have been meeting to read the Bible and discuss, but this time, we include soon-to-be five-year-old Tim for he also needs a lot of teaching and praying over.

Lately, I have been thinking deeply on how to honour God more in my life. I felt that there must be something more to all the things that I do, something that is wrought by the Lord in and through me. I know that I lack and I err and I fail to follow through all that He wants me to  be and to do.

So the three of us gather together, forming a small circle (I don’t want any of the Lord’s words to fall to the ground). We talk about love. I point out to them that we are not loving the way the Lord Jesus wants us to. I tell them that sometimes we choose to be impatient, unkind, ungentle to one another. I point to myself. Why do I let myself speak harshly at times and snap rather than pay attention? Why can’t I completely rein in my temper and just be known for my gentleness? Why can’t I stop myself from answering back their dad when I am hurt? Why can’t I just take the pain and keep quiet? Most often, it’s my pride that gets hurt. So then, why can’t I just kill my pride? Didn’t the Lord tell us to pluck out our eye or cut off our hand if these make us sin? To have a meek and quiet spirit is still my earnest prayer.

“If I am not known for my gentleness, what am I known for? What are we known for?” I ask them, voice cracking. Why would you shove your brother to the side? I am looking intently at Hannah. Why can’t we love just like the Lord loves? Tears find their way out.

“We can’t stay like this”, I tell them. But I also tell them that I’m thankful I’m hurt and broken this way, for that means I’m not numb to God and His commandments. For if one has become numb and unmindful of God and what He thinks, one has become barren, spiritually dead. I am thankful for His tuggings at my heart for I know I am fully feeling, knowing, seeing. I am fully awake! The tears flow freely.

And I tell them more, like the Lord’s commandment (well, more like an urgent plea) to His disciples before He was taken to be crucified.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35, emphasis added)

We will be known as the Lord’s disciples by the way we love  one another.

“Can we begin to practise love, really, intentionally practise love everyday starting today? Just like how the Lord loves us?” I ask them. The Lord is not harsh nor unkind nor shoves nor shouts at us. Hannah nods sincerely.

I hold Tim’s face. His still-baby skin feels so soft in my hand. I tell him about loving by showing respect. I tell him what is love and what is not. I explain, I implore, and I am held in awe by how his beautiful eyes grow bigger and rounder. His eyes have opened and rounded to the full and I am amazed at the beauty of the faith of a child. If only we could easily open our eyes that big and round and fix them to Jesus, just like little children do. 

Maybe then we would not miss anything. Maybe then we could practise love everyday, even every moment.

We end with prayer. I pray and reach and cry out to God. I offer up our lives; we are His. For only in His light do our uglinesses vanish and we are changed. And we love Him so, with all our hearts, minds, and souls. Copious tears keep streaming down. We have been touched.

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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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More on Giving Ourselves to Prayer

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16)

She talks of the latest evil that was done in that little town. A local government official – some kids’ father, someone’s husband, a father’s son, some man’s friend – was gunned down and everybody believes it’s politically-motivated. The father wept despairingly, wounded deep in his heart. There was indescribable hurt as well as anger that was hard to contain. The wife said, “All of my children’s hope and future have altogether crumbled and gone in an instant.”

This is the second time. Not too long ago, it was the town’s leader. He was a new one, full of promises and actions and well-loved by the townsfolk. They mourned then and were greatly shocked. And now this.

She talks how the proud and the fierce and the hungry for power threatens some more, emboldened. And there is shock and fear, and — helplessness. The one who holds on to power and hungry for more is one who is utterly powerless. Powerless against the evil that works in and through him. I stare at the Queen Anne chair and remember the words of our beloved honorable pastor, “We hate the sin, but love the sinner.” Hate the sin, love the sinner. But at this instance, I don’t know where the line between the two is drawn. It seems to me that the sin and the sinner are hopelessly intertwined and they are one, and I don’t really know what to feel.

But always, “love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth”, and I strongly denounce such evil. These things stir up anger and the proud mouth can’t be stopped, so I burst out with these words, “Hell is never full; it is never satisfied.” God knows and sees everything that is done under the sun among the children of men, and His Word, His will, His master plan will stand. He has set up a day of judgment and punishment for the wicked.

The Lord has made all for Himself,
Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.
 (Prov. 16:4)

Either that or His Gospel of salvation will be gloriously descending upon that mourning town and penetrating into the people’s hearts and they will all be humbly and hungrily accepting it. And they all will be miraculously saved and delivered from the evil one. So I tell her now, “The Lord Jesus Christ is the only hope of that town. He is the only one who can raise it up from the heaps.” I say this while deep in thought and my whole being shrouded and heavy with all this dark news. God is all-powerful. He will make a way. He will judge. He will reprove. He will punish. Or, He will turn their hearts around. And I don’t know what else He plans to do but I know He wants us to pray. Pray agonisingly, earnestly, unceasingly, unrelentingly. 

There stands at the outskirts of the beloved town a small, new house with ample yard. The dream is – this will be a house of worship of the true Church of the living God, a haven for the lost and the mourning. But the years pass – the grass grows uncontrollably, except for occasional cutting by  a hired help – and the house remains unoccupied, silent. For the workers are few and it breaks my heart. Didn’t the Lord tell us to pray for more laborers for the harvest? So, we pray. There are souls that need to be liberated – from evil works, from hatred and unforgiveness, from despair and hopelessness.

We can’t afford to be complacent, to be doing nothing. So let us “give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

Endnotes: Above photos courtesy of Bro. Edu Cortez of Extreme Details Photography; JMCIM worship services.

******

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

  • My salvation and healing which comes from just One: the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Tim greeting the whole congregation and reciting a verse before their choir – Cherubim’s Choir – sang on a Sunday service.
  • Blessed to be a blessing: making my sister’s birthday abundantly blessed.
  • healthy menu plans and food that is good and available
  • Tim enjoying my homemade dark chocolate ice cream, how he scooped up by the spoonfuls and heaped them into his mouth :).
  • an afternoon in the garden – precious moments
  • a yellow chair, a throw, and a Bible

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

What It Takes to Open the Eyes

My son Tim came bounding into the room; he couldn’t contain his excitement as he happily announced, “Mom, the rabbits’ eyes are open! The rabbits’ eyes are open!” He was jumping up and down and his eyes sparkled. I became excited, too, as together we cheered. Then, he grabbed my cell phone and before I could ask why, he was off.

He came back with a fresh video he took of the rabbits, focusing on their open eyes. As we viewed it, I could hear his recorded whisper, full of wonder and almost reverently, “Their eyes… they have opened their eyes.”

I marvelled at the wonder of it all: my son’s awe and the rabbits’ opened eyes.

Why would an adult like me be caught in the wonder of the moment? It is our first time ever to have a pet who gave birth. Our kids’ rabbit, Sophie (one of their bunnies that we gave last Easter), gave birth to a litter of 6 and 5 survived. The whole family was so excited about this event.

About 2 weeks passed and the baby rabbits’ eyes remained tightly shut. They groped as they played around in their cage. One day I told the family that it seemed they weren’t going to open their eyes anymore at all, and Hannah said incredulously, “Of course not, Mom!” That’s why when the day finally came that they opened their eyes to the world – it was to us a marvellous moment.

And isn’t it a wondrous moment for heaven, when a lost soul finally opens its eyes to the truth, that all the host rejoices? (Luke 15:10)

The opening of our eyes – it’s the work of God. It is a miracle. It. Is. Pure. Amazing. Grace.

How does one receive this grace? That in one glorious moment, one is able to really see at last? See and understand that what one does is sin and offends God? That the true Gospel of salvation is the hope of the world? That God is holy and one must serve Him in holiness? That Jesus Christ is the only Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one receives eternal life but through Him? That giving one’s life to Him is the best thing one could ever do with this one life?

How does one poor soul whose eyes the “god of this world” has blinded see the truth of God (2 Cor. 4:4), that He is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:23), when one’s eyes are focused on what is seen, and worship the thing that was created instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:25)?

How does one see that the person who’s leading him or her is as blind as he or she is? That without the enduring mercy of God, they will both fall into the ditch? (See Matthew 15:14).

It takes tons of unrelenting, unceasing prayers with fasting.

It takes a life surrendered to God and set aside for the Gospel. It takes a lifetime sacrifice of the man – pastor – called, anointed, and sent by God (Jer. 3:15) “to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jer. 1:10).

It takes the concerted prayers of the true Church of the living God (Acts 1:14).

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:4)

This is what it takes: Give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. When we pray and minister, we’re giving our own selves – mind, body and spirit surrendered to His will. What a noble way to give!

Yes, and all this – ALL THIS IS HIS GRACE! It is all His mighty power working in and through us.

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Linked to Encourage My Heart.

How to Truly Seek God and Live an Authentic, Christ-centered Life

Please do not think that I have it all put together in my own life. It’s true that we are so blessed to belong to a Church (Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry) that teaches and practices all biblical truth – unwavering faith, true holiness, prayer and fasting, Christ-surrendered life. But in my own faith walk, there is still a lot of learning and growing to do.

What do you truly ache for?

What is your heart deeply desiring for?

What do your prayers consist of?

Do you come to God because you believe it’s your duty?

What drives you to seek God?

These are five questions whose answers the Lord has been gently but surely guiding me to walk through lately.

Do you ache for anything in the world or do you ache to live a life that brings joy to God? Does your heart desire the things that God desires? Like the salvation of souls? Of obeying His Word and surrendering to His will? Surrendering not because you have no choice but because you delight to do His will? Has your love increased so much that you are past looking out after yourself but also for others outside of your family?

If you examine your prayers, what are the things that are foremost? Are they for the kingdom of God? What weighs heavier – prayers that are for the self or prayers that are for the things of God?

Do you hunger for the presence of God that’s why no matter how busy or how weary you are, you want to seek Him and be in His sweet, comforting presence? Do you seek Him only because you need things from His hand or because you want to be near Him, to know Him more, to feel his love surrounding, filling you, and to let this love between you and your Savior King flourish?

Ah! To be brought by the Lord to this place and walk this higher ground is unsurpassed grace! For it is only by His Spirit that one bears much fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

By God’s grace, fasting and praying here from Sunday ’til Sunday. I pray God will use this blog to bless people around the world!

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Pulling Down Strongholds

(photo source)

The night I posted Unholy Union, I lay in bed, eyes wide open. Thoughts flooded my mind. Voices vied for my attention. Did you really have to write those paragraphs? Why did I have to do it with the risk of hurting a good friend? It pained me so much just to think about it: the way she had chosen in life is what separates us. But her salvation is not yet too late. One day she will receive Him and we will be united by one Spirit. What? Do you really believe you can save her? Do you really believe you have that power to root out and to pull down? The enemy was at its element again – sowing seeds of doubts and unbelief. Well, he was just being himself: the liar that he is!

See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To root out and to pull down,
To destroy and to throw down,
To build and to plant. 
(Jer. 1:10)

Rooting out, pulling down, destroying, and throwing down strongholds are never easy. That is why our beloved pastor Evangelist Wilde E. Almeda has, through the years of his ministry, been praying and fasting unrelentingly. For preaching the Gospel to bring true salvation to the lost does not just happen. And it certainly doesn’t happen by a deluge of enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Cor. 2:4). It takes unceasing prayers with fasting. And so, workers of the vineyard of the Lord go and preach to the uttermost parts of this country, and even overseas, powered by God’s anointing through praise and worship, prayers and fasting. They are backed-up by prayers of the beloved pastor, prayer warriors and brethren in Christ.

For how then can they boldly enter strongholds, fearlessly and fiercely preaching the Gospel? For indeed, God’s army is set up against strongholds of:

false doctrine

self-righteousness

the good life

For as I myself have experienced, the one who has everything in this world would rarely humble down and surrender all, except he or she be called in sickness, weakness and hopelessness. So, knowing this, it is not at all because of my might or power that the sinner will come to repentance but the power of God and it will be His Spirit that will draw them.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Rom. 1:16)

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. (Zech. 4:6)

I may desire and pray fervently for the salvation of my loved ones and friends, but ultimately, it is the Lord’s mercy and power that will draw them to Him. It is the Lord’s Spirit that will speak to their hearts.

So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. (Rom. 9:16)

I will just have to keep on praying and sharing the Gospel with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, truly desiring their salvation and speaking the truth in love.

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