God’s compulsion is our liberation – A staggering kind of love.

3“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”
Jeremiah 31:3

Also, from “The Prophet Marries a Prostitute” by Dr. Ravi Zacharias, and “Moonlight drawn by Clouds”

Watching a drama series, I found myself moved by the characters and their actions: The heroine loves a crowned prince but was forced to leave him because of complication in their relationship. But the prince, refusing to accept this separation, found and made a way to be the rightful king and removed corrupt ministers. They ended up enjoying the freedom to be with each other. The series, more than anything else, displayed to me how determined God is to ensure that we, His church, His bride, can be with Him today and in eternity.

He wanted me and you by His side.

Jesus, in humility, made himself equal to us and gave himself up on that cross of Calvary. (This is no easy act, easy to understand but such a huge responsibility that He even sweat blood, praying in the garden.) He did it anyway, to obey His Father, and because He wants us to be cleansed of sins, with which we can never come to His presence. A holy, loving sacrifice once and for all.

Today, He still wants us by His side.

God has constantly spoken to us in our daily activities, no matter how mundane they may seem. When a bus past by you and has a message painted on it, when you wake up, and even when you found it hard to sleep at night. These are all evidences that God is in loved with me, with you. He desires to talk and build that relationship with you. Ptr. Bong Saquing said in his preaching that if God has a refrigerator, it would have been filled with magnets of your picture. If He has a wallet, your picture would have been there as well. If He has a cellphone, He would’ve constantly texted and called you. This is the truth: God, my friend, is madly in love with you.

A hurting and jealous God.

It may seem ironic that a God who is perfect, can be hurt (Ephesians 4:30) and jealous (Exodus 20:5). But just imagine with me, you are a man who has everything. You love someone and of course, you want the best for her. You have delivered to her your intention and yet she still chooses another person whom you know will be of no good for her. Imagine. If I were that man, I will surely be hurt.

I was moved when God showed me this. It’s just the same with Him. He has everything, He is everything. And yet, I still choose something else over Him. My current fight is with self-righteousness. I was thinking that I deserve to be blessed when I am able to accomplish some good deeds, or that I won’t receive anything when I failed to do so. When the truth is, God is just like a man who will give to his lover everything she needs, with or without her doing anything!

God is jealous not because of insecurity, but because we choose something far lesser than Him. He is jealous because He is eager about protecting that which is precious to Him, us. He is hurt not because He loses something when we worship something else, but because we lose Him whom is everything we need.

Worse than the prodigal son.

I found myself in the same shoes that C.S. Lewis once in.

I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?…”

I can imagine God hurting, even crying, because I, whom He dearly loves, refuses to be with Him; that in one hint of sin, I will easily fall. I struggle but He hugs me. I kick and hurt Him, but He still embraces me. “I will never give up on you,” He says.

God is not done yet.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

I pray that we would always rely on Him alone, on His unconditional love. That no matter what we do, we would know that His grace, alone, is enough reason for Him to provide for us; that His love, alone, is enough reason for Him to never give up on us. And that His compulsion is to liberate us from idols, His very compulsion is to lead us to His side.

I pray that we will continually grasp every day, bit by bit, how wide and long and high and deep is the steadfast, sincere and strong love of Christ. That we will constantly be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18,19.)

Advertisements

Fetching the real water from the True Well

10“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee the living water.”
John 4:10

 

Sometimes, we will just find ourselves doing something and we will come back to our senses and ask, “Why am I doing this anyway?” Although I knew this truth, that God is everything we need, I believe we, humans, have a great tendency to forget. When we wake up and know that we’re going to have a busy schedule for the day…

‘I need to buy and cook food’, ‘I’ve got to go online and check for updates’, ‘I have to be at the train station by this time’, ‘Need time to exercise’, ‘I’ve got to talk with her’, ‘I’ve got to come up for a plan’. These are just but few of the thousand thoughts and things we do in a normal course of our day. Yes, we might all be doing different chores but unless we stop for a while, unless we see things from a higher point and see the big picture, our day can go from morning to night in just a glimpse. It can be over without us even knowing why we did what did.

God reminded me in this verse to always go back to the Reason for living.

We are not just working to buy or pay for things that we need (sometimes just what we want): food, utilities, internet plans, among others. We are working to provide for ourselves and for our loved ones. Food is a basic need but it becomes something else, something more, when we share and enjoy it with someone.

We are not to live only for our self. Life in itself is not something aspiring for. What deserves aspiring for is life with someone, with whom we can enjoy it. God reminds us that we can find sustenance for the body in this world. But it’s only in Him that we can find life. Not just eternal, but life with Him, full of joy and complete.

I was also reminded that we are to share this gift to people. God, in His rich love for us, is more than willing (and able) to give it if people ask of Him. But how would they ask if they know not that it’s existing, that they need it.

Therefore, I would continually pray for God’s will to be done – that everyone will know His Good News; His gift of forgiveness and reconciliation. May God continue to mold me and use me to be ambassador of this Message. It is my prayer that we will all unceasingly know God and enjoy Him everyday of our lives.

After the event

23”Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.”

John 2:23,24

 

Smiling, laughing, being a gentleman or a prim and proper lady. These things are expected and are actually easy to do whenever we are attending occasions. The people are chatting, the foods all look delicious, seats and tables filled, and decorations are adorned all over the place. The atmosphere is indeed filled with celebration. Yet, after the cheers, when the festivity dies down, all who are left behind tells so much more about people.

Jesus performed miracles before men; jaw-dropping ones such as exorcising a possessed man, and commanding storm and the sea to be still. And many followed Him. People became excited upon hearing that Jesus was in their place, and a crowd would always gather around to listen to Him. Some even followed Him wherever He went.

But it is not a secret that not all the people who cheered for Him when he was ‘great’ chose to stay by His side when He was being persecuted. Some of those who were excited to see Him heal the sick were also excited to see Him whipped. Some who gathered around Him were really not listening to Him but were merely thrilled at the sight of a miracle.

Yet, we also know that there were also people who actually did stay by Him and continued to live His teachings. Thanks for these people that we now have the Message of forgiveness of and reconciliation with God. I believe that the reason they remained in Jesus and His teachings was because they were looking at Jesus and not just on what He did; they had a genuine relationship with Him.

Verse 3 tells us that Mary spoke to Jesus about the wedding having no more wine left. This is the time when Jesus changed water into wine! It is more likely than not, that Mary was not able to predict was about to happen. But not knowing what Jesus would do did not stop her from believing because she knows who He is: that He is the Son of God. Likewise, we may not know how God will act. But as we know Him more, let us believe in who He is: the King who is sovereign and almighty, the Father who cares and provides, and whose entirety and glory we won’t ever be able to comprehend completely (but we will be enjoying forever).

Verses 7 to 9 go on with Jesus telling the servants to fill out the jars with water. Jesus could have done that and claimed the praises of people all to Himself. Yet He did not. God uses even the most modest among us to accomplish great works that are yet unseen and unheard of. It is humbling to know that the Almighty wants to partner with us in His divine redemption not because of who we are but because He wants relationship with us. Praise to you, o Lord!

I pray that we will not look into ourselves and boast of things we did that are great before man, nor be in despair because of our failures (this is like bowing and seeing just ourselves and its darkness, turning away our eyes from His light). Instead, may we always gaze unto God and His majesty, accomplishing His will with Him and His enabling power. It is also my prayer that by God’s grace, we will know more ofHim and stay in love and faithful to Him. That even when the atmosphere of miracles died down, when things look all too normal and plain, we would remain at His side because we have a relationship, continuing to celebrate not the miracle but being at the side of the Miracle-Worker.

The Father’s over the stranger’s voice

5”But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
John 10:5

 

Saturday, the second day since I started to listen to His voice (praise God). There was no big voice from heaven, nor hologram-like visions before me. Neither did I wake up with a feeling of being supernatural. In fact, I did not feel like it, but the day began with a prayer, anyway. There was the desire to talk to Him and listen, but there was also a feeling of going back to old ways, to just do whatever I liked to do.

Then, I read a book entitled, Think On These Things by John Maxwell, given by a friend as a Christmas gift. The book is really helpful especially now that my mind needs to be cleansed of the many undesirable ideas I collected in the course of my 25 years in life, and be replaced with things pleasing before Him (Philippians 4:8,9).

It was about noon when I decided to open my messenger after searching with my sister for potential restaurants where we can eat for mom’s birthday celebration. The first message I read among numerous items went, “Ano na naman issue sa CTMO?” (What’s the issue in CTMO this time?) CTMO is a business site we’re enhancing and maintaining. Then it felt like blood rushed to my head but the colors ran out of them at the same time. A critical issue in the system had been encountered and business data are being messed up, making reporting and other tasks impossible, not just in one site but globally!

Then I read some other messages and e-mails. Clients were, of course, frustrated and in panic. Some of my team mates, it seemed, already devised a plan of action to firefight the mishap. The first thought came to mind, “I should quit.” It was not the first time an issue occurred, and the other was just a few days ago. But to quit now at the middle of chaos will be worse. “I need to help fix this.”

I went to the office without knowing exactly the root cause of the issue yet, more so, how to resolve it. I was holding on to God’s word, “My plans are to prosper you, not to harm you”, in Jeremiah 29:11. If God allowed this to happen, I thought, may it be from the enemy or just a consequence of our negligence, my Father will be with me and will see us through this. True enough, I came to the office with my teammate already preparing the resolution for deployment.

Not just that day, but every day, I, just like everyone else, will be offered by the enemy with countless alternatives to God’s voice (idols). First and foremost, that stranger tries to destroy our quiet time with our Father. My mind wandered many times to other things when praying and talking to Him. I often feel reluctant to begin to pray and read God’s word. The enemy knows that without communication with the Lord, without letting my self be equipped with His holy armors, I am bare before his arrows (Ephesians 6:11-18). His cunning lies and temptations such as, “You cannot do that. You cannot change. You failed so many times. Just give up”, will be so much easier to be planted in my mind.

Today (15 January 2017), while writing this account, I flipped again the book on one of the pages I read yesterday. It went, “Today you may not be what you want to be, or dream of becoming, but the one key to achieving your dream is determining not to quit.” God has spoken to me that very moment, preparing my heart, before I became aware of the issue we had.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” the Father reminded me (John 10:27). God can speak to us when we read His word, when we pray, when we read books or listen to songs, when we meet and interact with people, and even in the most usual chores of our daily life.

It is my prayer that by God’s unfailing power, we will endure the times when the enemy distracts our attention from God. That we will continually meditate on our Father’s words and on things that are pleasing to Him throughout the course of our day (Phils. 4:8,9). And that we will let ourselves be surrendered to His care before we sleep, expectant to hear from Him even in dreams. Until the day comes when we are a lot sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and any other voice is just but a mere stranger.

Blessed be the Lord our God!