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

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

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,

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.

God’s Perfect Plan

God has a perfect plan for all of us: to save and call us and give us eternal life. This was established even before time began and fulfilled through the Lord Jesus Christ.

[God] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  (2 Tim. 1:9-10)

This was what the Lord has done:

He has abolished death (eternal death in the lake of fire)

He has brought life (eternal life with Him in heaven)

Only through Him shall we receive these:

Wisdom in exchange for our madness and foolishness.

Righteousness in exchange for our sinfulness.

Sanctification in exchange for our uncleanness and natural sway towards impurity.

Redemption in exchange for our condemnation and eternal punishment.

(1 Cor. 1:30)

This is God’s perfect plan for us, His amazing grace, His ultimate blessing. Who wouldn’t want it? But the tragic truth is, there are many who miss on it. The following maybe the reasons why:

They have not heard the true Gospel of salvation (for false doctrines abound which are devoid of truth and power).

They don’t believe in or have a clear understanding of the existence of heaven and hell.

They choose the pleasures of the world which they can revel in now over an everlasting life which they can’t quite believe or grasp.

Self-righteousness. They believe that they are good, they do good works, and have not committed a grave sin.

Then there are those so-called Christians but in their lives the teachings of the Bible are not at all evident. They are not fooling anyone, but they themselves are fooled.

So, we continue to tell the world of God’s love and we will not relent. We continue to tell and show that God loves them and is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance and be saved (2 Pet. 3:9 paraphrased).

Oh, friend, if you have been repeatedly turning a deaf ear to the true Gospel of salvation, to Jesus’ calling; if you have been resisting His love and mercy for whatever reason, don’t do it any longer. Come to Him. Receive Him. Know the keys of salvation here.

(Photo courtesy of Bro. Edu Cortez of extremedetails.com).
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

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.

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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 Surrender Truly Means

We surrendered our lives when we received the Lord Jesus Christ and let Him reign in us. But, as I had found out, the years go by and we come to realize that there may still be many things that we are holding back. The heavy burden that we carry every now and then may prove that we have not surrendered all to Him. For He himself promised that when we come to Him, He will give us rest from our labors and heaviness (Mat. 11:28).

This heavy burden that we insist to pick up and carry and go about our days hauling it  may come in different packages.

On our own, trying our best to analyze our problems and always straining to find ways to solve them (problems with the self, marriage, children, work, etc.).

Always striving to be good and do good in the sight of God and man, but the burden is heaviest when we fail and err, stumble even.

The guilt, shame, and inner turmoil our failures and shortcomings bring.

The fear of displeasing God for giving in to our emotions, for being easily provoked, for lacking self-control, for forgetting His commandments in the heat of the moment, for failing to be a light to others, and for just being plain foolish and weak in a moment’s time! The fear of losing His favor, of not receiving His blessing but His chastisement instead. Even the fear that He may decide to take me already that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (Remember 1 Cor. 5:5?). And naturally, I greatly hold on to my life. As far as I’m concerned, all THAT is heavy!

These negative emotions that come to visit every now and then – envy, comparisons, self-pity, discouragements, discontent, hunger, unfulfilled dreams, pesky desires and wants that we know are not aligned with God’s will. The struggle, the energy used to try to curb them, and the feelings of guilt and shame why we even have them close to our hearts and minds! They maybe godly desires and dreams but they carry with them the heavy burden of hunger.

I had all these at one time or another and while I sat there sobbing and feeling all the turmoil swirling within me and thinking (and at the same time listening to that inner voice!), “So, when will you pick up yourself and stop all these already!” (It was more of a shout than a question), I was at the same time wondering what the Lord Jesus could be thinking of my miserable state!

To have the fear of God is a good thing, but to try to hold on to all these things and muster every ounce of strength to carry the heavy burden will.not.work. And so one night, hauling all my burdens on my back, I dared approach the Lord. For one who had wonderfully messed up all good intentions, it was even hard to approach at all. But we have nowhere else to go. And we know that in the Lord, one would always find mercy. He has always room for a broken and contrite heart. 

This is the way we can approach the throne of grace boldly, not that we are confident because of our perfect performance (for we miserably fail, don’t we?), but because we know He is perfect to forgive; He is strong to lift us up, and His love is complete to cover our shortcomings.

And that night, I gave Him all that I had been holding. Every.single.one.of.them. I did not leave anything un-surrendered.

Until we fully learn to hand over to Him all that we carry, surrendering absolutely EVERYTHING to Him (fears, problems, confusions, hurts, hunger, desires, dreams…) and not holding back anything, we will never truly find rest. Only in COMPLETE SURRENDER shall we find rest for our souls (emotions, mind, will).

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