Saturday, March 25, 2017

Nothing Impossible!

"For nothing is impossible with God..." Luke 1:37


Sometimes we put boundaries on what God can do. One time I was talking to a woman who said it seemed impossible that her son would go closer to God. I told her not to say that. In the 11th chapter of Mark, Jesus instructs that we will have what we say. Whatever comes out of the heart, what we believe, that is usually what we say. We have to train our heart and mind to believe what God says, and God says there is nothing He cannot do! Nothing is impossible for Him if we only believe! And that is what we should confess! 

I read about an amazing couple. Domingo and Irene Garcia had a very unpromising start when they married at 16 years old, and Irene was pregnant. The first 10 years of marriage was filled with Domingo's alcoholism, infidelity and abuse. Irene hated him. When Irene became a Christian, she prayed for a new husband and prepared to leave. But Domingo suddenly pleaded for forgiveness and promised to stop drinking. Since then, in the past 45 or so years, they have become a model family....to more than 40 kids! Aside from their 2 biological sons, they have adopted, fostered and cared for children, many of whom have special needs, severe health problems and emotional scars. A lot of them come from drug raids and have been abused and neglected. How did this imperfect couple with a messy relationship get from there to being a source of love, comfort and the structure these kids needed? Only God can do the impossible, and like God, we should never give up on people! 


Lord, I pray that my heart and mind embrace this truth, that nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible with You! I should never give up, never despair, always hope and believe!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Hear O Israel!

"Excellent, teacher!" Mark 12:32


What must it have been like to engage Jesus in a conversation? Here we have an unnamed scribe, a teacher of religious law, listening in on Jesus' discussion with some Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead. Unlike the others, this scribe was not out to trap Jesus into saying something for which He could be arrested. 

This scribe really wanted to learn, and he asked Jesus, "Of all the commandments, which is the first, the most important?" And Jesus recites the Shema, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! Therefore you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." 

These words from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is a declaration of faith, a pledge of allegiance to One God. The Jews recite this when they wake up and before going to sleep at night. It is the first prayer that a Jewish child is taught and the last words on a Jew's lips on his death bed. 

Rabbi Eliezer Silver went to Europe in 1945 to help recover Jewish children who had been protected during the Holocaust by hiding them with non-Jewish families. He would go to gatherings of families and then recite the Shema loudly so all could hear. Then he would look into the eyes of the children for any tears of remembrance, any sign that they could recall those words repeated again and again before they went to sleep and when they awoke. These were also the words Jesus was taught to memorize as a young child. 

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses tells his community to repeat these words again and again to their children, to talk about it all the time, not only when they were at home, but also when they were at work, and when they were traveling. They were to tie it to their hands and put it on their doorposts. That was how important this teaching was. This was one way to identify the people God called His very own. Perhaps we should memorize these words too, and engrave it in our hearts!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Finger of God

"...by the finger of God..." Luke 11:20

 
Can we say we have been touched by the finger of God? Have we seen God's power at work in our lives? Or perhaps we see God intervening in someone's life and wonder why He has not done the same for ourselves. We live in a skeptical world, very much the same as the time Jesus lived. Back then, they thought that when Jesus cast a demon out of a deaf and dumb person, He did it with power from Satan! Today, we prefer to be sophisticated skeptics, always questioning whether God is present or if He exists at all! I saw this picture on Facebook of a big sign "GODISNOWHERE". How would we read it? God is nowhere? Or God is now here?

When we start with faith, we will see signs of God's being "now here" everywhere! Last Sunday, my husband, sister and brother in law and I traveled to and from a wake in Calamba, a 2 hour drive each way. The car came to a complete stop without warning inside the subdivision very close to home. With grateful hearts, we thanked God the car did not stop on the highway, or there in Calamba! 

Sometimes we need bigger signs that God is present. Marion Brown, a court reporter, grew away from her faith as she got older. She became skeptical that God was listening when she talked to Him. It took a big fire, the 2003 wildfire that destroyed over 700 thousand acres and more than 3000 homes, to make her believe again. Her family's home was razed to the ground. When she went back to the site with her husband and kids, to find if there was anything of value that was left, they looked around and everything was just ashes. There were even holes on the ground because the roots of the trees were burned. She started to pray for words to say that would help her sons heal. She could see her younger son Erik quietly going around with tears falling down his cheeks. He suddenly got excited when he found a book but when he picked it up, it disintegrated in his hands. 

"Wait! Look!" he shouted. In his hand, was left a most fragile piece of ash. It was a picture of a family holding hands, with the words, "Count your blessings."  

Lord, may I always remember to be grateful for Your presence in my life. May I remember to count my blessings and not wait for big signs before I believe You are working in my life! 

http://patsypat.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WOYWW: Teach Your Children Well




Here is what is on my work table.
I am still preparing for the art fair.

I am attaching cords to the back of the canvases 
so it can be hung.

"Teach them to your children and your children's children." 
Deuteronomy 4:9



There are things I remind my son Josh about, and because I've said them again and again, his response is a plaintive, "Mom! I've heard that before!" 

"Don't date until you're ready to get married!" I've drummed this into his brain since he was young. "Pray everyday and read the Bible." I've taught my son what I believe is best for him. Would God our Father do any less? 

In the 4th chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses tells his people to listen and observe the statutes and decrees God gave them, His chosen people. It is for their own good, just as it is for ours. His law is easily summarized into the Ten Commandments and the Shema, the Jews' daily declaration of faith to one God. Just as we want to teach our children what is good for them, so God wants to teach us how to live in good order, wisely and faithfully. 

There is a story of an old miner who lived like a hermit in the Colorado Mountains. When he died, his relatives came and took his meager belongings, an old cooking pot, and some rusty mining equipment. Before they left, his old friend came walking up and asked if he could have what was left. They answered, "Sure! We got everything we want." The friend then went in, moved the table, and lifted one of the floorboards. There was his friend's hoard of gold worth millions. Only a true friend would know your worth! We need to be God's friend to know how valuable His Word is! 

Lord, thank You for the gift of Your Word. I know Your Word, Your promises, are worth more than gold or silver, or bitcoins, or all the wealth this world has! 





Joining the lovely Julia Dunnit for a 
peek at desks and projects!

I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:

Blessings!
Patsy  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Forgive 70 x 7!

"Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?" Matthew 18:33


Jesus tells the disciples a parable to emphasize that we must forgive others 70 times 7 times. If we do not, we would end up in a place we would rather not be. Most of the time, that place is a hell of our own making. When we do not forgive, it is like putting ourselves in a dungeon and locking ourselves in. Or drinking poison little by little. 

No one can teach us more about forgiveness than Corrie ten Boom, who was imprisoned along with her sister Betsie in Ravensbrück, a concentration camp, during the Nazi occupation of Holland. After her horrible experience, she would give talks about Jesus and His forgiveness. One time she recognized a guard from the camp come forward. He said he had become a Christian and wanted to hear it from her lips that he was forgiven. It all came rushing back, her sister dying, this guard's cruelty and now, he couldn't even remember her!

But she put out her hand stiffly, and God flooded her with His love. When it is truly difficult to forgive, we can just take a little step forward, and God will supply the rest. Corrie knew that if she didn't forgive this man, she would remain an invalid for the rest of her life. She saw it in the people she ministered too. Those who remained bitter could not move on with their lives. 

I watched Beauty and the Beast last night. One of the things I like about the movie was that the servants were not bitter about their fate. They forgave their master, the beast, because they understood why he became the selfish young man he was, and even took part of the blame.  Because of that compassion, they were able to be hopeful, and help save themselves from the horrible fate that awaited them. 

Lord, may I always look upon others with compassion and love. If there is any hatred or unforgiveness in me, bring it out so You can help me take the first step and heal me. 

http://patsypat.blogspot.com

Forgive 70 x 7!

"Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?" Matthew 18:33


Jesus tells the disciples a parable to emphasize that we must forgive others 70 times 7 times. If we do not, we would end up in a place we would rather not be. Most of the time, that place is a hell of our own making. When we do not forgive, it is like putting ourselves in a dungeon and locking ourselves in. Or drinking poison little by little. 

No one can teach us more about forgiveness than Corrie ten Boom, who was imprisoned along with her sister Betsie in Ravensbrück, a concentration camp, during the Nazi occupation of Holland. After her horrible experience, she would give talks about Jesus and His forgiveness. One time she recognized a guard from the camp come forward. He said he had become a Christian and wanted to hear it from her lips that he was forgiven. It all came rushing back, her sister dying, this guard's cruelty and now, he couldn't even remember her!

But she put out her hand stiffly, and God flooded her with His love. When it is truly difficult to forgive, we can just take a little step forward, and God will supply the rest. Corrie knew that if she didn't forgive this man, she would remain an invalid for the rest of her life. She saw it in the people she ministered too. Those who remained bitter could not move on with their lives. 

I watched Beauty and the Beast last night. One of the things I like about the movie was that the servants were not bitter about their fate. They forgave their master, the beast, because they understood why he became the selfish young man he was, and even took part of the blame.  Because of that compassion, they were able to be hopeful, and help save themselves from the horrible fate that awaited them. 

Lord, may I always look upon others with compassion and love. If there is any hatred or unforgiveness in me, bring it out so You can help me take the first step and heal me. 

http://patsypat.blogspot.com

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chosen!

"I have made a covenant with my chosen..." Psalm 89:3


I am part of a covenant community. When we say yes, we want to have a covenant relationship with God and our brothers and sisters, the women are given a veil and the men a mantle to wear during our gatherings. This is a sign of commitment. Yesterday, we went to the wake of one of our members. Merl was very much a part of many members' lives. She always asked how we were. She knew our families. When my mother got sick, she was our prayer partner, and when my mother was in the hospital, she came and sang songs at her bedside. 

So many of us have many stories to tell about Merl and her love for each one of us, from the oldest to the youngest. She was like a mother hen, wanting to know where her chicks were, and wanting to take care of them.

God shows his love for us through brothers and sisters like Merl. He said yes, He wanted a covenant relationship with us, when He made a promise to Abraham. He has said yes many times. The biggest yes was when He spread out His arms and died on the cross for us. 

 
Lord, I say yes to You. You chose me even before You created the world to be set apart (Eph.1:4). How privileged I am to be a part of Your chosen people, Your adopted family! 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

In our Midst

"Is the Lord in our midst or not?" Exodus 17:7

 
Like the Israelites, we tend to ask this question when we are in the midst of some trial. In Exodus 17, the people of God grumbled and complained because they were thirsty. They forgot all about the pillar of fire that guided them at night, the parting of the sea so they would be saved from the Egyptians' wrath, the manna and the quail from the Lord's hand for them to eat. 

In Romans 5:3-4, Saint Paul advises that we should rejoice in our trials and tribulations: knowing that tribulation produces steadfastness, patience and perseverance. This in turn develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. When we are undergoing some trial or testing, let us be confident that God is doing some perfecting in us. Just like any master potter, He will knead and mold, and carve. He will throw us on the potter's wheel again and again. He will creatively use the needle or the brush or whatever tool He can, to make us into the masterpiece He plans. 

Lord, it may be hard to rejoice in the trials and sufferings we sometimes go through. May we always be aware that You walk with us during these times, and may we be confident that You are doing some important work in us. Amen. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stale Checks!

"How many hired hands at my father's place have more than enough to eat, while here I am starving!" Luke 15:17


We are all prodigal sons and daughters of the God of the universe if we do not realize how much blessing He has in store for His children. Our heritage is immeasurable! We have only to look back through the ages and claim each and everyone of the promises given to Abraham and the sons and daughters of Abraham. We do not have to reinvent how to be blessed, how to do business, how to bring up our children, how to discern God's will, etc. Sometimes we buy and read so many self help books when what we should read again and again is our instruction manual, the Bible. 

One of the stories that impacted me was about an old man found dead and stiff in Central Park one very frigid day. When his pockets were searched to find out his identity, there were several stale checks in them. The man died, not knowing he was rich, that he could have had a family in Christ, that he could have called on His Father and received blessing after immeasurable blessing.  We should make sure we are not like this man and his stale checks. The promises of God are as good as checks that we can encash if we know about it. Let us not die with so many 
stale checks in our pockets! 

Lord, You are good and merciful. May I live knowing You want to bless and prosper me. Thank You for the inheritance we have in You. I want to encash EVERY check in 
my name from You! 
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Master Dreamer!

"Here comes the master dreamer!" Genesis 37:19


Joseph's brothers were so irritated with him. Why? Was it because he was so obviously their father's favorite? Did they hate him because of the dreams of superiority over them? Was it because Joseph would tell their father some of the bad things his half-brothers were doing? Yes, all that and more! As the story progresses, we see how Joseph was guided by the Spirit of God to do the right things, and to move into positions where God could use him more and more. 

And his brothers? We do not want to be like Joseph's brothers! They just went from bad to worse! Plotting to kill their brother, selling him to traders and lying to their father Jacob! We should be careful not to end up like them! They allowed their baser instincts, their tortuous hearts, to control their actions! Where was God's spirit of love and wisdom all this time? Being stifled! 

Can we say that everything we do is in line with what God wants us to do? Do we always act in love and wisdom and truth? Is our life wholly surrendered to and dependent upon the Holy Spirit? 

Lord, there is always more of Your truth to uncover in the Bible, more of Your character to discover, more of Your love to experience, more of Your power to use in our life! May we be like Joseph, Your favorite, who encountered You even in his most desperate moments. May we also be dreamers for You, thirsty to experience everything You have planned for us! 

http://patsypat.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tortuous Hearts!

"More tortuous than all else is the human heart...
who can understand it?" 
Jeremiah 17:9



In other versions of the Bible, the heart is described as deceitful, sick, corrupt, incurable, weak, perverse, and desperately wicked! I would like to vehemently disagree, but sadly, there are so many horrible and inexplicable things that have happened and continue to happen in the world! 

In this same chapter of Jeremiah, we read that only God can understand our hearts and minds. He can probe it like a surgeon can use his tools to examine and explore our bodies. If only God can do this, perhaps we can only fathom the tortuous heart of man through the lens of compassion, which is how God sees us. I try to remember the adage, "There, but for the grace of God, go I", before judging others. I am not always successful. Hopefully I shall get better at it! 

 
This was allegedly stated by John Bradford when he saw a group of prisoners being led to their execution. Indeed, if I was not born to parents who had the fear of God and taught my brother and sisters right from wrong, where would I be now? What kind of a person would I be? 

Lord, My heart might rebel against You, but You have ransomed me and taken me for Your own! Help me to choose You always! May I obey You so You can tame my tortuous heart! 




I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:

Blessings!
Patsy  



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

WOYWW: Braver than We Believe

This is how I left my desk last night. 
These are two paintings that
haven't gotten sold and
I covered them up,
making them entirely new.
I should have taken a picture
before painting over them! 


Now I am painting out in the garden.
It is still dark, and 3 cats 
are keeping me company. 


"I hear the whispers of the crowd, 
that frighten me from every side..." Psalm 31:13


Even a mighty warrior like David had fears. 
These are his words! He had enemies conspiring against him, 
plotting to take his life. 
I think all of us have fears of one kind or another. 
From the man on the street, 
to someone well used to walking the 
corridors of power in Washington. 

I remember the story of Stasi Eldredge. 
She was invited to Broadmoor Hotel, 
a luxurious, elegant and very expensive resort 
with swans floating on the lake at its center. 
She dressed as best she could because the people 
she was going to have dinner with were 
her husband's colleagues at work. 
She entered the Penrose room with her husband, 
and greetings were exchanged. 
As she sat down, the beautiful chair broke under her weight! 
Can you imagine the fears this woman has to live with? 
Because of how much she weighs? 
Or what Nick Vujicic, the man born with no limbs, 
has to go through every day? 
Both of them are more than conquerers if you 
read their life story! 

What I have to go through 
is nothing, absolutely nothing!
 I love to travel, but yesterday when 
someone called me with a VIP invitation to 
the Hong Kong International Gifts Fair, 
complete with airfare and hotel accommodations, 
I started panicking. 
Should I take advantage of this? 
It wasn't the travel that I was afraid of, 
it was that there was an opportunity that I should take, 
but I didn't want to.   
How crazy is that? 
The thing is, there are so many things we fear, 
it's absolutely amazing! 
Is there a secret to living with courage every single day 
that we need not face fear and anxiety attacks? 

We can't, but Jesus IN us, 
CAN and WILL. 
He is the secret. 
He can calm the raging storm in us. 
He can make the blind and fumbling me, see. 
He can make the lame and weak me, walk!
 I like what Christopher Robin said to Pooh.
 I can imagine Jesus saying it to me! 

"Promise me you'll always remember- 
you're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, 
and smarter than you think." 
Lord, help me remember and believe this! 




Joining the lovely Julia Dunnit for a 
peek at desks and projects!

I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:

Blessings!
Patsy