The Practice of Remembering God’s Wondrous Works

This photo courtesy of my friend Myriss Torres.

(Meditating on Psalm 78)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the Enemy’s Camp {A Mission That’s Worth a Thousand Crusades}

(Meditating on Psalm 77)

We’re in Psalm 77 in our Journey Through the Psalms Friday, and how very timely to be discussing about it now that our Church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY, had just celebrated the 12th Mindanao Peace Mission Anniversary last October 7.

This is all I could remember about it. I was resting comfortably on our new bed in our new townhouse watching the evening news. I caressed my bulging tummy; I was about 5 months pregnant with our first baby. I saw in the news how these emaciated prayer warriors together with their beloved pastor were battling and struggling against all the hardships they were in as their stay in the Abu Sayyaf camp was prolonged indefinitely. What little I can remember of it (because I didn’t really focus my attention, there were other things in my mind then that were more exciting – how selfish I had been!) was that, those Christian men were staying strong in their faith amidst all the perils around them. I remember thinking, “Why would anyone want to go to that hellish place?”

It would be three years later when my memory would be refreshed about that news, when I was brought to the feet of Jesus at JMCIM, dying and shaking from unexplainable fear. It would be months later, as we continued to serve the Lord and hope for His healing, that I learned that the Church where the Lord had mercifully brought us to was the one who bravely entered the Abu Sayyaf camp to pray for the 21 Sipadan hostages and help with their release.

Every year as the Church celebrated this victorious peace mission in Talipao, Jolo, Sulu in the island of Mindanao, I would hear about the amazing – A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! – testimonies of the 12 prayer warriors who had experienced the horrors of that place in the presence of the fierce Abu Sayyaf. Just a few weeks prior to JMCIM’s entrance to the camp, a Catholic priest, Fr. Gallardo, was captured by them. They extracted all his nails and plucked out his eyes before they brutally chopped off his head.

I cannot now write all the testimonies of God’s mighty deliverance during their three-month ordeal inside the enemy’s camp and the military assault that followed. How could Bible-wielding, weak and emaciated (from daily fasting up in the cruel mountains of Jolo, Sulu) Christian men escape the fierceness of the Abu Sayyaf and later on, the canons and bombs from military planes (for the government had declared an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf but they (Abu Sayyaf) insisted that the JMCIM Christians would stay close to them)?

I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted. 
(Psalm 77: 1-2)

The bombs would drop from the military planes, cutting off trees and spattering the earth. The Abu Sayyaf would be fleeing to wherever they could escape, but the faith-full Christian men, always anticipating God’s mighty deliverance, would be on their knees, arms raised up to heaven, yielding their bodies to God’s protection WHICH.NEVER.FAILED. (Sobbing now).

And God delivered them triumphantly, all thirteen of them. They were not hurt by the Abu Sayyaf nor the bombs and canons of the military assault. HALLELUIAH!

But the beloved pastor suffered much. Due to prolonged fasting (he had fasted 40 days and 40 nights before entering the Abu Sayyaf camp and continued it during much of their stay in the mountains), his body weakened so much that he could hardly walk and talk. He is still recovering until now. I remember the apostle Paul’s words: I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (Gal. 6:17).

As the years passed and the Church continued to wait for the beloved pastor’s full recovery and as it travailed still in heartbreaking trials (the passing away of the beloved assistant pastor, Lina C. Almeda, among other trials of faith), some despaired (I was one of them) if the Lord’s eyes and miracles were still on His Church, JMCIM. But we were wrong in even letting that thought enter the mind. For God again showed His amazing miracles – healings, lives changed, deliverance – and let His powerful presence felt in the congregation every worship service.

I read Asaph’s laments and I can imagine the beloved pastor (and the beloved brethren) awake in the night, meditating on God and His wondrous works.

You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.

Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah (vv. 4-9)

I hold these precious words close to my heart. They serve as lamp in the dark, wisdom in weakness and confusion.

Last Sunday, October 7, the whole Church gathered together again to remember God’s goodness and celebrate His mighty deeds that He has shown. Once again, brethren, specially the prayer warriors of the victorious Talipao peace mission, shouted out their praise, testimonies, and celebratory messages in the pulpit. Human strength is not enough to shout out God’s wondrous works to the ends of the earth.

And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples. 
(vv. 10-14)

Below, I share with you photos of this blessed event. I pray these will be a blessing to you.

Congregational singing – joyful. These were those on the grounds.

The beloved brethren with their umbrellas to fend off the heat of the sun.

The Children’s Choir

Youngsters in worship (Children’s Choir)

The Adults’ Choir (brothers’ side)

Youth and Singles’ Choirs combined. Those on their knees were being filled by the Holy Spirit.

The musicians

A sister worshiping.

Beloved workers in the vineyard of the Lord (preachers, prayer warriors, pastoral workers).

The Jesus Finest Generation Choir

Up close

Hands in praise

The beloved JMCIM mimers

The Adults’ Choir (sisters’ side)

Our dearly beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde E. Almeda in the pulpit. He was in the verge of tears remembering how God had mightily delivered him and the 12 prayer warriors.

The altar call

Endnotes:

  • I thank beloved Bro. Edu Cortez of ExtremeDetails for providing the beautiful photos. God bless you so much more, Bro. Edu! (Lord willing, I hope to get some photography lessons from you in the coming days :)).
  • I was blessed to have browsed the manuscript of the book written about the Talipao peace mission by an American (CIA) who had studied and followed through the whole event. I hope and pray that it will be published soon.
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

To Have a Life

It was late Monday night, I sat at the edge of the bed to sing praises to the Lord and worship. After a few songs, I knew the Lord has ushered in a new day, and it was already the day of my birth. I began to sing spontaneously, singing that which my heart wanted to cry out. It wanted to shout to the Lord its deep gratitude for His mercies that endure.

When the need for God is deeper and more urgent – like the next heartbeat perhaps – and His mercies and rescue come like a gentle rain — gratitude is more profound.

So I lift up my whole being towards Him, trying my best to express my gratitude for all He’s done in my life, if that were possible. But truly, there are no words or songs enough to convey this.

I thank Him for my life and for the countless times that He has come to my rescue. He has never failed me. And during seasons of celebrations, I still strain to remember the times of great need. This helps me maintain a posture of being bent down low and stay in the path of humility and thanksgiving.

It was early 2005, my body was busy dying, but my spirit was busy believing, trusting, and hoping. When I rested from reading the Bible or listening to Bible Studies on tape, I counted the flowers on the wallpaper of my daughter’s room where I spent that first quarter. Or I would watch through the window the townhouse being built in front of our house, how each rivet was driven into the corrugated roof. Counting flowers on the wallpaper – one can’t avoid it when one is bound in bed like I was.

Later on, I found inspiration and enough strength to color children’s coloring books. I wanted to pass the time more enjoyably and my fingers were ready for the exercise.

Years later when I was already basking in God’s healing grace, I wanted to do something which would celebrate God’s mercy and goodness in my life. I wanted to make use of my regained strength which would make me remember constantly how God has raised me up from my sick bed. That was the time I wanted to prepare special snacks and meals for the family. And the table of thanksgiving was set up. It is now a fast becoming tradition of our family.

The weak hands and fingers that couldn’t be used to put food into my mouth and were later on exercised by making strokes of the crayons on the pages of a coloring book, are now the hands that knead dough to make bread or stir a batter or temper egg yolks to make a custard or scoop ice cream that I have made. The family gathers around the table and I don’t fail to think about the goodness and faithfulness of God. Every bread that I make and put on the table makes me think of Him who held the bread, broke it, and offered it for the life of the world. He is the living bread.

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)

Faith has triumphed over flesh. The body that was bound in bed now lives a fulfilling life, a life the Lord has purposed when He called me to walk in His presence.

He is calling us to have a life in Him – a life redeemed, healed, and made whole by Him. Friend, are you in the dark and don’t know what to do and where to go? Jesus is calling. It is all possible for Him.

Know the keys of salvation here.

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

A Pattern for Faith

Bible reading: Jeremiah 32, 33, and 38

After the prophet Jeremiah consistently proclaimed the word of the Lord unto all Judah that the king of Babylon would come to take the city and the Chaldeans would set it on fire and burn it, the Lord commanded him to buy a field. He immediately obeyed the voice of the Lord and went and bought himself a field. But after accomplishing this, he prayed to God for understanding. Jeremiah saw the Chaldeans come to take the city; the siege mounded; the word of the Lord had come to pass, and yet, the Lord commanded him to buy a field! Even the prophet Jeremiah couldn’t understand and see God’s purpose!

But Jeremiah’s buying of the field is a sign of God’s future plan for Israel. That after He has punished the people for turning away from Him and serving other gods, He will again cause them to return from where He has driven them. This is His assurance. His covenant with David His servant will stand.

But as the siege around the city mounded, Jeremiah couldn’t see beyond it.

‘Look, the siege mounds! They have come to the city to take it; and the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword and famine and pestilence. What You have spoken has happened; there You see it! 25 And You have said to me, O Lord God, “Buy the field for money, and take witnesses”!—yet the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’” (Jer. 32:24-26)

If the prophet couldn’t see a bright future beyond the present chaos, how could have I seen through my suffering? As the onslaught of my illness raged, I could only see the present moment. As the battle with pain and suffering intensified, I could only think of the next heartbeat. But though I couldn’t envision a bright future full of God’s grace and goodness, I trusted Him with the next heartbeat, and the next. I knew and believed that He owned every breath and every heartbeat, and so I trusted. As Job had declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him” (Job 13:15), I did, too. 

And that’s what the prophet did. Though he knew that the city would be taken, he went and bought the field as the Lord commanded him.

When the Lord had started to heal me, and I could see a ray of hope into the not-so-distant future, I began to rest in His promise. About 2 years before I would give birth to my son Tim, twice I dreamed of holding a baby boy in my arms. I was still recovering from my illness then. Recovery was long and slow. When brethren in Christ interpreted the dream as me having a son in the near future, I was glad and rejoiced in the Lord, but I didn’t spend too much time imagining the future (it made me more hungry and that was painful) and didn’t try to speed up the days and weeks and months. I concentrated on my recovery, so that when the day finally came that I found out I was pregnant, we were so elated.

After I had given birth, twice I became ill again. The last one was after I had agonizingly prayed to God to completely heal and strengthen me and use me for His purposes. Instead of sending me outright to fulfil His purpose, I became very ill that each day felt like it was the last. When a praying and fasting sister in Christ came to visit and told me about her dream: she saw me high up on a tower writing on my laptop and the Lord telling her that He had given me a very important task, again I couldn’t see beyond my pain and suffering (remembering all these makes me sob).

Her dream brought gladness to my faint heart. Nevertheless, I didn’t understand it. A year later, I found myself blogging for the glory of God.

What have I learned from these experiences and from the book of Jeremiah? To believe God’s promises and strive to see beyond the suffering. As the storm of trials rages and it’s hard to see beyond the pounding rain – only believe: “buy the field” (in my case, I bought fabric for my choir uniform even when I was still sick in bed), entrust to God the realization of hopes and dreams.

This is a pattern for faith: Just as He had planned the future of Israel even before the fulfilment of her punishment, so He also has a perfect plan for us behind the trial. For even though the present situation seems hopeless, like in Jeremiah’s time, God declares:

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” 

“Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.” (Jer. 32:27; 33:6)

Endnote: (Old photo of me and Tim)

******

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

  • My friends in Dubai (upon my invitation) attending the worship service and 5th anniversary celebration of JMCIM-Dubai Outreach and being blessed by it.
  • The pure wonder in Tim’s eyes when he discovered the baby rabbits have finally opened their eyes. He was so excited he took a video of them and uttering in awe, “Their eyes! They have opened their eyes!” Thank You, God, for Your amazing grace – You have opened our eyes!
  • Looking at my beloved husband’s back as he left the room, body lean and erect – my heart surged with love and that old fire (wink).
  • Watching bel. hubby and kids relish the macapuno pandan ice cream I made for Saturday afternoon snacks. It’s funny how they compete for the scooper – ah, kids and kids at heart!
  • Watching the live webcast of JMCIM Sunday worship service together with our two new maids; sharing to them the testimonies of beloved brethren in Christ and telling them about the true Gospel of salvation. (This is just the start).

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

Which Side are You On: Faith or Fear?

JMCIM brethren worshiping on the grounds of Amoranto Stadium during a Sunday service.

I often share about the powerful moving of the Holy Spirit in our church, not only during worship services but also in everyday life. I have mentioned a few times before and I’ll mention it again now (I hope you won’t grow tired of it), that we have worship services three-times-a-week: on Fridays, it’s an overnight service from 8:30pm to 4:30am the next day, and on Sundays, it’s a whole-day affair from 10am to 5pm. What do we do in so many hours, you ask?

Most of the time is spent in testimonies. In-between choir singing (5-6 different choirs), brethren in Christ take turns in testifying in the pulpit of the miracles, healings, and mighty deliverances God has wrought in our lives. These testimonies are not only salvation and conversion stories, but ordinary and extraordinary miracles that the faithful encounter in daily life. (I could say that we are always on the look-out for such and we won’t delay in bragging/declaring about them in the pulpit for the glory of God).

That’s why I was surprised to read how other Christians in the other side of the globe react to supposedly God’s miracle and mighty deliverance.

I’m currently reading this Christian book and I was really enjoying it until I reached near the end where the author related a story about their family being involved in a serious road accident where their car was totaled beyond repair, but they themselves walked out of it unscathed. What the author went through afterwards was what caught my attention, and there, I noticed the big difference between the “practice of faith” in other Christians’ lives and ours.

The author relates how she, after the accident, went through great anxiety as she recalled what happened to their family that night. She writes that it was as though the room was filled with fear as she thought about “what could have been” and bemoaned the almost endless what ifs. These haunted her as her sense of safety became decidedly undone. God just delivered her and her whole family from a near-fatal accident, making them walk away with barely a scratch and she writes that she didn’t feel safe!

This miracle in their life should have decidedly proven to them that God protects and delivers His children, and instead of being engulfed with fear, this should have brought them into that place of celebration and thanksgiving.

Marvel at and be in awe of God’s mighty deliverance and not on the foiled plan of the enemy.

I respect her feelings; she’s entitled to them. But I just want to emphasize the difference between a Christian walking in faith, and thus, victory, and one who is walking in fear and uncertainty. What I’ve read in that part of her book is not at all how we are taught, time and again, to walk in faith.

I’ve heard numerous testimonies in church of miracles of similar nature. In fact, I’ve written some of them, and continue to write: brethren who had been delivered from serious road and air accidents, shooting incidents, bombingsrobbery in public transport, robbery hold-ups, kidnapping, in danger of rebels, rape, electrocution accidents, calamities – you name it! I’ve heard multitudes of them I’ve lost count! And of course, our family has had its share of these miracles, too.

Brethren safely walking out of disasters that could have easily taken their lives. Why? The God we serve is mighty to save and deliver! And this should be declared in the pulpits and wherever we go. These testimonies remind me of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. For the God who delivered them then is still the same God that we serve now.

These events that happen don’t end up buried in fear and anxiety, but they culminate in the pulpit where glory is proclaimed as it should be and given to Whom glory is due – only to the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!

She also writes that “[God] never promises our families will be safe. Not in the way we think. He does promise His presence, though.” How can a child of God not be safe in His presence?

There is a difference between the children of God – the redeemed – and the children of disobedience, aside from the salvation of their souls, and that is His manifest presence in their lives. And where the presence of the Lord is, there His protection is also.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you. 
(Is. 43:1-2)

The silhouette of an angel photographed during JMCIM’s Church Foundation Anniversary, Feb. 2012.

The angel[a] of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them. 
(Psalm 34:7)

Are [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Heb. 1:14)

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:10-12)

Endnotes:

  1. Read more of God’s testimonies here.
  2. Read the whole of Psalm 91 here.
  3. What I’ve discussed regarding the book is not my complete review of it.
  4. Know more about Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry here.

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

  • This last song of the Jesus Finest Generation Choir, Still, the humbling, the weeping, the tears, the indescribable hunger, the screaming guitar, the frantic hands on the piano, the one on the mambo drums crying out, the outpouring, the crescendo, the mighty sound all intermingling, heightening into a beautiful, magnificent, glorious praise and worship! The sobs came loud and strong – uncontrollable! And the whole being was once again embraced, enrapt in His powerful, palpable presence! Halleluiah!
  • Listening to the Bible Study of beloved Hon. Asst. Pastor Lina C. Almeda.
  • This Coffee Crumble with Chocolate Ripple homemade ice cream (and the reminiscing it brought!) that the whole family loves.
  • This Date and Walnut Bread using dates from Saudi Arabia, a gift from a beloved sister in Christ.

 

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

 

The Precursor of Blessings

I’ve always mentioned that I thrive in drinking in God’s testimonies as much as I do with His Word. In my book Walking Along the Narrow Path, I used up a whole chapter discussing about testimonies. I am so blessed listening to testimonies after testimonies for hours each week in our church’s worship services. These are so precious that I created a blog to share just a fraction of everything I’ve heard. There are many amazing testimonies (we call them major testimonies) and just to have a taste of what I’m talking about, I invite you to visit Minister of Mercy.

Last Friday overnight service, I heard another extraordinary (aren’t they all?) testimony which reignited fresh new hope within me. That is what I want to share with you and by God’s grace, be able also to dissect the precursor of such wonderful blessings, the Lord’s answers to the prayers of faith.

Sis. Elizabeth C.’s only wish was to marry a man who is good and doesn’t have any vices. But she found out later that she did not only marry a man who was full of vices (cigarettes, liquor, women) but she also felt unwanted by her husband’s quite prominent family. And to add to her misery, she remained barren for more than a decade. She was “looked down to” by her in-laws. But she prayed to God to help her. This was before she came to know her Savior.

One day, her mother-in-law figured in a vehicular accident and sustained a broken hip. She needed to undergo surgery without delay, otherwise her badly fractured hip bone would rot and she would die. The problem was, she had heart disease. The doctors were in a serious dilemma: the mother-in-law may not be able to survive the grueling surgery. In either case, her life was at a great risk.

But the family gambled on surgery. Sis. Elizabeth was so afraid for her mother-in-law. But in that same hospital, she met a lady from Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry (these are the ones who visit hospitals to share the Gospel, give out invitations to the worship services, and pray for the sick). That Christian woman comforted Sis. Elizabeth and assured her that her mother-in-law would be prayed for by the beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde E. Almeda together with the prayer warriors and preachers in the Pastoral House. Sis. Elizabeth was greatly comforted knowing that there was a true servant of God who would be praying for her mother-in-law’s safety.

After surgery, the doctors were amazed at how the procedure went on smoothly without any problems. They couldn’t stop talking about it. But they said that they couldn’t assure a complete recovery for the patient and how long she would recover.

As Sis. Elizabeth had promised to the JMCIM sister, she and her husband attended worship service. She was so elated to have found that church. She believed she had found what she had been looking for. On that first day that she fell on her knees at the feet of Jesus, she asked three things in her prayer: first, her mother-in-law’s complete recovery; second, that she will bear a child; and third, that her husband will change.

Notice the arrangement of her prayer requests: she didn’t ask for herself first, but for her mother-in-law, a member of the family where she had always felt small. And this was even when she had been barren 11 years (I would think that should have come first). I think about Ruth, how she loved and clung to Naomi, her beloved mother-in-law (for Naomi had loved and accepted her completely). And God honored Ruth beyond her wildest dreams.

I pondered deeply on Sis. Elizabeth’s story and I arrived to this conclusion: the Lord honored her for her faith and humility (accepting Him without doubts and hesitation), and her love (she believed that this was the One who would accept and love her completely and make her happy, so she poured out her love to Him, for doesn’t the Lord marvel at the one who loves much? See Luke 7:47).

It is this:

…The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal. 5:6 NIV)

And this:

With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful… (Psalm 18:25)

Her mother-in-law recovered completely in less than a month. But because Sis. Elizabeth continued to be faithful to the Lord, attending services regularly and praying incessantly, she began to notice that her belly was growing. She went to see an ob-gyne  but nothing could be seen through ultrasound. There was no baby growing inside. She went to different ob-gynes and clinics – the same result. They all concluded that her growing belly is caused by a myoma.

She sought counsel in church. The sister who brought her to the Lord told her to claim God’s answer to her prayer: she was going to have a baby. She was prayed over and laid hands on by the beloved pastor and was told that in nine months’ time, she was going to give birth to a healthy baby.

But because she didn’t have ultrasound result, her brother-in-law brought her to the Philippine General Hospital to be examined. The family’s cousin is a doctor there. She underwent ultrasound and other tests repeatedly, but they found nothing. NO.BABY.GROWING.IN.HER.WOMB. She was scorned by her in-laws and called her crazy for dreaming that she was pregnant. But Sis. Elizabeth held on to the words of the man of God.

We”ll pause and consider how God sometimes makes things so hard, complicated, and painful to test our faith: the words of the specialists against the words of the faithful. No baby was consistently seen, but doesn’t faith teach us to believe to something that is not seen anyway? At this juncture, I’m reminded by how the Bible defines faith. Read this:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen(Heb. 11:1, emphasis added)

On a glorious December day before Christmas, Sis. Elizabeth gave birth to a bouncing baby boy! Halleluiah! 

And it didn’t take long before her husband was completely changed by the Lord: a new man, born of the Spirit.

We read all four of the gospels and we learn that the Lord Jesus Christ operates through our faithBut without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

Might be linking up with A Holy ExperienceBetter Mom MondaysDomestically DivineRaising HomemakersBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartSpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living Well

The Only Defense

(Meditating on Psalm 62)

He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah (Psalm 62:6-8)

David had surely tasted the mighty power of God to deliver not just a few times. Because of David’s strong and true faith in God and a heart that rests in His power alone to save, he was a fearless warrior. Empowered by God, he charged against his enemies, advancing in the name of the God of Israel. Because David was in one mind and in one heart – God only was his rock and his salvation– he triumphed over his enemies.

Our democratic government has its own enemies, dangerous enemies: communism and communists. It has been battling with insurgency since the late-60’s, if I’m not mistaken. But in the late-80s to early-90s, Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry fearlessly launched its campaign against communism. Prayers with fasting were continuously offered for the victory of the campaign.

Through the years, countless rebels were converted to Christianity and they continue to serve the Lord and live in peace with all men to this day. This past summer, a JMCIM outreach launched another campaign to bring the Gospel to NPA (New People’s Army) strongholds. Using the same slogan printed in leaflets: “Beware! Communism is Satanism! We hate communism but we love the communists”, they boldly entered towns and distributed the invitations for the upcoming crusades.

When they reached the town of Zinundungan Valley in Rizal, Cagayan where it is known to be thick with NPA rebels, the police and the army warned the preachers and workers not to go up the mountains (for this is where the rebels live). But the workers insisted that the rebels must be reached. They planned to go up at night, for it is known that the rebels don’t go out during the day.

The workers were composed of preachers and prayer warriors who had fasted for 18 up to 40 days. So, they went up after dark, and it was too dark one could feel it, for there was no electricity in the place. Of course, they felt fear, being humans, but they were empowered by the Spirit of God.

They began to hike up the mountain with only the light from a flashlight. One couldn’t see either side of him. When they had to ford a river and the shoe of one of them was stuck in a rock, fear descended upon them that one declared, “If we will get out of this place alive, I will treat you to 2 gallons of ice cream.” (They were trying to lighten up their scary situation). Another dared the same, promising 2 gallons of ice cream as long as they would go out of that place alive. And then, still another one. The ordained preacher that was leading them was thinking silently and counting 6 gallons of ice cream in all.

They reached the dwelling places of the NPA rebels. They knocked on every door. A rebel, hood over face, would open the door slowly, rifle ready. A leaflet/invitation would be handed to him, he would read it with a flashlight, stare at the worker from head to toe silently, keep the leaflet and look again at the worker, as if to say, “You won’t be harmed.” Oh, Halleluiah! 

Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Pure love for God and complete obedience to His Word, and genuine love for the unsaved would make one really courageous.

At 3 0’clock in the morning, after they had given out the invites to the rebels and had descended from the mountain, the workers were feasting on 6 gallons of ice cream.

The crusades in Rizal, Cagayan and all its neighboring towns saw the NPA rebels gladly handing out their guns and rifles to the workers as they went into the water to receive baptism in the name of Jesus. Halleluiah! 

The “enemies” are actually hungry for love. They are hungry for God.

God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God.
12 Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy;
For You render to each one according to his work. 
(Psalm 62:11-12)

To God be ALL the glory! Amen and Amen!

(This summary is based on the testimony of beloved Ordained Preacher Danny Cuarteros).

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