Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Praise - Take 6 Solomon

In II Chronicles chapters 1 through 7, we learn about Solomon’s first years as king. We all know Solomon was the heir to the throne. He asked God for wisdom to rule the people. God granted his request. Prior to his death, his father David made extensive preparations for the temple building. Solomon continued with the preparations. He built the temple, brought the ark of the covenant and placed it inside, and dedicated the temple. All throughout, praises were lifted up to the Lord. In turn, the glory of the Lord filled the temple.

When we, as humans, miss our family or friends; we can call, write, or visit them. We want to spend time with them. We want to enjoy their company. Few hours seem like mere minutes. If they are coming over for a visit, we ensure our dwelling is in tip top shape. We prepare their favorite foods and drinks. We greet them with a huge smile, hug, and kiss when they arrive. We ensure they do not need anything while in our home. How is God different? When we praise Jesus Christ, His presence is sensed. He fills us with His Spirit. I Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” We are the vessel the Holy Spirit indwells. Ephesians 2:22, “… in him (Jesus) you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Is the vessel clean and welcoming? Does the vessel feed the Holy Spirit and starve sin and the flesh? Is the vessel longing for the Holy Spirit to visit and reside within? Does the vessel enjoy God’s company? If so, then the Holy Spirit will feel right at home in the vessel. If not, He will reveal what needs to be changed when asked. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Does it take a cat?

Moderator: Welcome. We have our usual guests here. Beth, you have an interesting story to share with us. Please, take as long as necessary.

Beth: Thank you, Moderator. I have a story that I want to divide into sections. 

                Day 1: We decided to take a walk on a beautiful sunny day. I spotted a kitten that appeared lost at the community complex. I managed to pick her up. She had a pink collar on without identifying tags. I reasoned the manager would know who this cat belonged to. She did not. She offered to take her to an animal hospital nearby which would put the little kitty up for adoption. I wanted to see if I can locate the owner first. I asked the neighbors closest to the location where the cat was found. The neighbor knew about the cat and how her owner moved and left her behind. I went back to the manager to see about taking her to the hospital. She found a box for me. All along, the kitty was not happy. She would fidget, meow, bite, and scratch me. I would not let her go. I soothed her with soft words, rubbing her head, and patting her. That lasted for a short while. But she would panic again. I still would not let her go. I wished to see her to safety. I was determined and nothing she did to me would deter me. She was delivered safely to the hospital. The attendant was excited to see the cat was a teenager.

                Day 2: Father started revealing many things to me. He showed the extent of emotions this little kitty was experiencing; how I share the same emotions. I get frightened being carried by the Father. I am far off of the ground. I lose control. I have no knowledge of what He is doing. I do not see the next step. It seems I am in prison. I do not have the freedom to come and go as I please. I cannot see ahead of me because I am concentrating on the problem I am in. It is hard to look ahead when looking below. It is hard seeing the big picture when I focus on the puzzle piece. It is hard seeing the ocean when I am struggling to stay afloat in shallow waters. When I get this frightened, I fight. This fighting is hurting Him because it tells Him I do not trust Him. It only reveals my lack of thankfulness and acceptance of where I am. All the fidgeting also hurts me because it just makes me angrier and more self focused. It also hurts those around me for they can sense negativity in me. In turn, negativity is contagious. It also wastes time. If the Father had to focus on calming me down, time is taken away from Him doing what He plans to do. He does take the time to soothe me with words and touch. He may send someone to encourage me. He cares to keep my relationship with Him close. As long as I choose to, His will be done.

                Day 3: Father started revealing His perspective in the situation. Father, would you kindly take over?

Father: With pleasure, Beth. Thank you.

I have a specific plan for each of my children. The only hindrance to that plan is the person in question. I will attempt to convince you to obey me. But I cannot force you for I want you to choose to live in my will. If you do choose my will, you will encounter many dark days for you will not see everything I do. Your enemy will try to convince you that I left you, forgotten you, and do not love you. Just remember your enemy is a liar and the father of all lies. All he wants to do is separate you from me to harm you. I promised you that I would never leave you. You, on the other hand, can leave me.  It may seem I have forgotten you, but I have not. I am waiting for the perfect time to do my perfect will. Just hang in there and you will see my work in you. I love you and nothing you do will cause me to love you less even walking away from me. Walking away from me will only hurt you and those around you. The opposite is true also. Nothing you do will make me love you more. My love is beyond your understanding. It exceeds the ocean depth, width, and length combined. I sent my own Son to die so you wouldn’t have to. He paid the price of your redemption so I can have you dwell with me for all eternity by your choosing to accept Jesus’ work in you.  Once you accept Jesus’ work in you, you no longer belong to you. You belong to me. I want my will to be done in your life. Nothing you do will make me change my mind in regards to my will for your life. I have dreams for your life that super exceed any dreams you may have for yourself. I am determined to accomplish my will. You may fidget and attempt to flee. But since you belong to me, I will protect you until you come home. Your fidgeting will only waste time. But I am able to restore all things. Do you believe me? Do you trust me?

Thank you, Moderator, for another opportunity to reveal my heart.

Moderator: Thank you, Father. And thank you, Beth, for another wonderful experience with our Father. 

Our Father constantly speaks. Do you take the time to listen? It took Beth a cat lesson to listen.  Until next time, stay blessed! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Praise - Take 5 David

Some of the readings: I Chronicles chapters 11 through 29.

Have you ever seen a warrior such as David? He was courageous from his youth when he killed the lion and bear while shepherding. He was the hero in David verses Goliath. He was a splendid harpist. He was a remarkable psalmist. He loved God. He was a fast thinker and a quick runner. Otherwise Saul would’ve killed him. He fled from Saul and knew how to hide.  He was exiled due to Saul’s jealousy. He feigned insanity. He was good looking. He loved women. He sure knew how to pick them. He was too busy for his many children. He brought about many great victories for Israel. He deciphered friend from foe. He demanded respect. He set up temple worship. He made extensive preparations for the temple building. He constantly praised God. This list is far from complete. Have you ever seen such a hero?

Imagine for a moment that you are a refugee. No, wait. Let us back up a bit. Imagine that God made a promise to you like David and the kingship. Everything is peaceful. Then you sense a spiritual shift. Opposition comes at you from every side. Instead of finding yourself running towards achieving the promise, you find yourself being pushed far, far away. Every time you come out alive from each situation, you anticipate death to overtake you at the next ordeal. You look around you at your companions and notice all the misfits of the world are commiserating with you for you alone understand them. A year approaches and passes by without finding you a place to call your own. Someone is constantly seeking your life. Tears are your best friends. You struggle to stay away from the darkest place in your soul. The saddest thing is: you did not do anything to deserve any of these circumstances. You learn to fight. You learn true heroism. You learn to pray. You learn to praise God for in Him is the real victory.

One of the themes in the Bible is the promise one. After a promise is made by God, a person or a group of people enter the wilderness. This wilderness does not have to be a real place like in the Exodus story. It is mainly internal where God is testing and pruning. Some make it to the other side and God brings His promises to fruition. Some die in the desert without any fulfilled promise. Which one are you?

Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word. I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil. Psalm 119:161-162.

Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: your promise preserves my life. Psalm 119:49-50.

Thomas Kinkade Painting

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lover of my soul IX

John 5:1-15; the healing at the pool.

An invalid for thirty eight years was lying at the pool called Bethesda. At the time, it was believed that an angel stirs up the pool’s water and whoever gets in while it is stirred became healed of his or her infirmity. Only one person can get healed at a time. Jesus approached him and questioned if he wanted to be healed. The invalid responded that he had no one to help him. Jesus healed him and told him to get up and pick up his mat. The Jews questioned why the former invalid carried his mat on a Sabbath. He told them that his Healer told him to. He did not know who healed him. Jesus cautioned him to stop sinning or something worse would befall the former invalid. The healed man found the Jews and told them it was Jesus who healed him and told him to carry his mat.

I must confess. This story bewildered me. I’ve been thinking about it for over four weeks now. It evoked many questions such as the following. Why did Jesus ask him if he wanted to be healed? He being at the pool should be obvious enough. Did the invalid have a victim’s mentality? Did he solely focus on what others did and did not do for him? Had he given up hope of being healed? Did he harbor unforgiveness? What did Jesus mean by ‘stop sinning’? What can an invalid do? Or is it the thoughts, feelings, and his words he needed to watch out for? Was this illness due to sin? Perhaps the invalid had a haughty heart? Why did Jesus heal him if the latter would not appreciate it or give glory to God? Or did he appreciate the miraculous healing? Did Jesus heal anyone else? Or He intended to heal only him? Was John the apostle the only witness of this miracle? The other three gospels did not document it.

The one comment that alarms me the most is the stop sinning or something worst will happen. Many preachers comfort people telling them that their circumstances are not due to sin; that God does not punish for sin. Well, they are right. God does not punish us for our sin. We do. He set up few spiritual laws ages ago. One of those was the sowing and reaping law. So God does not have to do anything. He lets nature or life take its course. The trouble with sowing and reaping is the sowing being few seeds while the reaping is multiplied. There is a waiting period between the sowing and the reaping. If we confess and repent anytime after sowing a sin, we stop the progress of the reaping of consequences. The predicament is knowing what is sin and what is not. There are obvious examples such as murdering, stealing, even adultery. What about hating someone? Malice? Jealousy? Envy? Hurting someone with words? Making fun? Avoiding someone? Ignoring someone? You know, the gray areas.

Another issue I have with this question is that God waited 38 years to tell the man the reason for his illness. Why wait that long? Did God wait for the man to be ready to listen? Or was God speaking to him all along and the man did not want to listen? It makes me shudder to think that perhaps there is something in my life that is hindered in the same way. It also makes me affirm that I am nothing without God. He gives all good gifts. He gives wisdom, understanding, and knowledge among other good things to those who ask Him.

On another note, Jesus is faithful to show up at the perfect time. If He does not show up personally, He usually sends others. He saw something in the invalid no one else saw. He wanted to heal him. He was able to heal him. As He was able to heal back then, He is able now. Will you trust Him?

I have been privileged to visit a nearby quay recently. It is more like a bridge that houses a restaurant at the far end. It is not a boating dock, mind you. It is for entertainment purposes. Perhaps there is a better word to describe it, but I do not know it. Many people visit it. We were no exceptions. Since it was a long walk, I decided to enjoy it and people watch.  What I saw confirmed what I already knew. Everyone has pain. It shows. It is obvious just by looking at people. And it hurts me. Why? Because I am helpless to do anything.

O Lord, please help me to not allow my pain and tears to stop me from seeing the pain in others. Although I may not be able to do anything, I just wish to let them know that they are not alone and that many have experienced what they are experiencing and have overcome with Jesus as their strength. To you alone be all of the glory. Amen.