Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Early Church

"It is not right for us to neglect the Word of God..." Acts 6:2


The early church was not perfect, and there were complaints that needed to be addressed. One of them was about the distribution of food to the widows. The Twelve then proposed that those who were complaining, those who spoke Greek, would choose 7 men to be appointed to this task so they, the apostles, could concentrate on prayer and preaching. When these 7 prudent, spiritual men were chosen, the apostles laid hands on them to pray. 

Suddenly these apostles were leaders of a growing community. The increase in members was exponential. How did these men handle it? First, they knew their priorities, "It is not right for us to neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables." Second, they submitted their idea to the community, giving parameters. Then they pushed through with it when the community unanimously approved it. After that, they prayed over the men for God's blessing. 

Lord, help me to put you first in all my endeavors. If you called a bunch of fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot and tradesmen, to grow Your church, You can also call me to do things for You. May I always know my priorities, and look to You for guidance in all I do. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Nothing is Impossible

"Gather up the crusts that are left over so that nothing will go to waste." John 6:12


Huge crowds followed Jesus everywhere and if He was alive today, I have no doubt, that in this age of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, the crowds would be bigger than a World Youth Day gathering or a Kumb Mela pilgrimage. The question that Jesus put to Philip, "Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?" would then be an even more impossible proposition. Philip will not give the same answer "It would take a small fortune to feed them!" 

Sometimes we are faced with impossible situations. We do not understand why God allows it. Friends of mine, a young father, is in a coma. Of course, his wife, who stays home and homeschools their children, is thinking about where to get the money to pay for the medical expenses. If Jesus asks her, "How are you going to pay for the hospital bills, the professional fees of the specialists?" My friend would probably answer, her mind boggled, "I don't know. It would take a big fortune!" But my friend is part of a Christian community, and there are many "young boys" willing to share their 5 barley loaves and two fishes with her. Just yesterday, someone from abroad asked me if there was a gofundme account she could contribute to. 

Thank You Lord, that there is nothing impossible with You. That just like there was an excess of fish and bread for the crowd, You will also provide an excess for my friends, and You will heal and restore what was lost. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Obey God not Man!

"Better for us to obey God than man!" Acts 5:29


The apostles continued to defy the orders of the high priest and persistently preached about the risen Jesus. Even when they were thrown in jail and flogged, they refused to stop going to Temple and teaching, and showing how the Scriptures pointed to Jesus. "We must obey God rather than man!" Peter and the apostles said. "We are witnesses. We testify that all we are saying is true!" And they each one rejoiced that God had counted them worthy to be flogged and to suffer for Jesus' name. 

I am so different from the apostles. Any little discomfort or inconvenience and I shy away from proclaiming the Gospel. I'm tired, I'm too sleepy, I'm busy, my schedule is full, they are not going  to listen anyway, they might think I'm crazy, uncool, different. But is it about me? The world needs to hear Jesus' message. How many people need hope, peace that defies understanding, real love, not the counterfeits the world offers? How many people reject the very relationship with God that would bring them to wholeness and fullness of life? 

Lord, may I be more like Your disciples who obeyed and followed You. Today, we won't be flogged or thrown in jail, but there are still powerful forces that keep us from obeying You. Help us to be victorious and to know the rich rewards of obeying You! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

WOYWW: Go Out!

My planner. 
There's a big fish on the page, because 
my dad was planning to go fishing, 
but he fell and we couldn't go. 

Here's another spread. 
I like making these flatlays
to put on my Instagram account.

"Go out now...and preach...all about this new life." Acts 5:20


The high priest and the Sadducees were blazing mad and violently jealous. The apostles were performing signs and wonders, and crowds were following them. Sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter's shadow might fall across some of them. That was how crazy it was getting! So the apostles got arrested and put in jail! Then an angel came and freed them, giving them instructions to continue preaching!

God continues to give freedom to prisoners in jail. I know some of them from QC Jail. They get incarcerated and meet Jesus, and even if they're in prison, they are freer than some of the people outside of jail. 

Earl Smith has been chaplain in San Quentin, California's oldest and toughest prison, for more than 20 years. He says that these men in jail, they were incarcerated way before they got in jail. Incarcerated by drugs, sex, crime, SIN. Just as he was. One day he was shot and the doctor said he wasn't going to make it. His father prayed fervently, and Earl heard a voice saying, "You’re not going to die. I have something for you to do. You’re going to be a chaplain in the San Quentin prison." His father proclaimed, "You're a rebel, but you're God's rebel. God's going to use you for something." After studying for ministry, Earl did become chaplain of San Quentin, as well as some SF sports teams. 

Lord, You are the only one who can free us and keep us free. Help us to realize that You have the best plan for us. Keep us in Your love!



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, April 25, 2017

Signs and Wonders

"And these signs will accompany those who have believed..." 
Mark 16:17


Today is the feast day of Saint Mark the Evangelist. He took Jesus' words to go into the world and proclaim the good news to all creation very seriously, even if he probably did not hear this from Jesus Himself. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys, and he wrote down the stories of Peter in the 2nd Gospel. It is probable that he was the founder of the Church in Alexandria, Egypt and its first bishop. He was martyred there. He died while being dragged through its streets.

Jesus said in Mark's narration that signs would follow those who believed Him. This is so intimidating. We can use His name to expel demons, we can speak entirely new languages, we can safely hold serpents, we will be able to drink poison and not die, and when we lay hands on the sick, they will recover. These signs followed the Eleven as they continued Jesus' work. They would follow us too if we would just believe and do it. Most of the time, we are too timid to lay hands because what if nothing happened? 

What would have happened if the  Old Testament prophets were too timid? James wrote in his only epistle that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently...(5:17). Peter was a man with a nature like ours, Jonah, even Moses who needed someone to speak for him. Yes, there is hope for us, if we believe, pray fervently, and go out and do His work. We can be Jesus' hands and feet. We have HIS Spirit!



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

I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:

Blessings!
Patsy  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Come Holy Spirit!

"...unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3



Born from above. Born again. Begotten from above. What did Jesus mean? Jesus told this to Nicodemus, when he visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus was a Pharisee like Paul, and he was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews. This means he was learned and with much influence. It is curious that he comes to question Jesus at night. Perhaps he doesn't want to be seen, or perhaps he just wants to get answers. He says he believes Jesus is a teacher from God. Most people then and now believe that of Jesus but Nicodemus got more than he bargained for from Jesus. He found out that we have to be born again before we can see God's Kingdom. 

In Luke 17:21, Jesus is asked by some Pharisees when the Kingdom of God was to come. Jesus' answer then and now is, "The Kingdom of God is among you. It is in your midst." Right now, I am here in my garden. God's Kingdom is here. You are in your office, bedroom, kitchen. God's Kingdom is there. To see it, to experience it, we need to be born again, to be born anew with a new way of thinking and seeing. That will be impossible without the Holy Spirit. 


Come Holy Spirit! I want to see and experience Your Kingdom here on earth! 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Our Unbelievable Inheritance!

"Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe!" John 20:27


What do we lose if we do not believe?  In 1st Peter 1:4-7, we read about an imperishable inheritance that won't fade, tarnish or diminish. It is guarded with God's power through faith. Can you imagine going through life with no knowledge or appreciation of what wealth we have as a child of God?! 

Most people set great store on earthly wealth, but once in a while someone lives and dies not knowing he is immensely rich. Such was the case of Timothy Henry Gray. He was a great-nephew of the eccentric Huguette Clark, an heiress who inherited her father's fortune. Her father was the former US Senator William Anderson Clark, founder of Las Vegas, who had investments in banking, railroads, real estate and copper mining. You would think Timothy Henry Gray would have a comfortable life, but he was homeless and would sometimes take shelter in a railway overpass. That was where his body was found, dead from hypothermia. He was entitled to $19 million of her $300 million fortune.

How about us? We are entitled to so much more than that as children of our Father in heaven. Jesus gave us the keys. We need to take it and receive it. Our faith is so much more precious than fire-tried gold (1 Peter 1:7). Father, thank You for our inheritance, gained for us for the immeasurable price of Your Son's blood on the cross! 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Believe it!

"...they refused to believe it." 
Mark 16:11


And who could blame them? "Jesus is risen!" Mary Magdalene and the women revealed to His followers, "I saw Him!" Cleopas and another announced the same thing and they were scoffed at. Finally, when Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples, He took them to task for their disbelief and stubbornness. 

Yesterday I was talking to a buyer from Sydney. He was telling me that in Australia only 16% of the people admitted going to church once or more in the year past. Usually it was for a wedding! He said that statistics show that the people who go to church were either poor, poor in education, sick, old, young enough to be dragged by their parents or migrants. I suppose the filipinos who fill the churches there with song are the migrants! 

He told me of his son who works in Microsoft in the US, making a lot of money. His grandchildren, who play with all the gadgets, have everything. "What else do they need?" he asked me. I said, "God." "Oh, it's a different generation now," he said, "they don't need religion." 

"I wasn't talking about religion," I answered. "They need to have a relationship with God our Father. They need to know Jesus." Of course we couldn't agree, of course our conversation went on and on, and he ended up not ordering a single thing! But the gospel reading today is precisely about people who go about their daily lives not believing even if someone told them the truth. Will they wait for Jesus to come again and rebuke them for their skepticism? Perhaps. But our job is, as Jesus commanded the disciples is to, "Go into all the world and tell everyone that God loves them, that I am alive, their sins can be forgiven, that I want them to get to know Me!" Like Mary Magdalene, we want to proclaim the Good News! But sometimes, they don't believe. We just tell it anyway! 

Lord, I pray for the man I talked to yesterday, and whoever You send to me. May I plant seeds of Your truth in their hearts. May those seeds one day bloom and break free, and enliven their faith. To whom should we go Lord? You have the Words of Spirit and Life! 

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Apostle's Creed

"...it was done in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead." Acts 4:10



When we recite the Apostle's Creed, the statement of what we believe along with other Christians, sometimes we just rattle it off because this is what we've memorized it ever since we were young. But when Peter and the disciples addressed the crowd, declaring that the lame man was healed in the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, the man they crucified, it would have electrified the listeners. How much more when he announced that this same man who had died and was buried, was risen from the dead? That would have been stupendous, mind blowing, eye-widening, teeth chattering news! So why today, when we recite it, do we mouth it like it is nothing extraordinary? Do we really.believe.it?


This season, let us make it a goal to renew our faith in the resurrected Lord, to have an Easter faith, a victorious, life changing faith. Our God is a God of revelation, a God who wants to reveal Himself to us. Let us not miss this opportunity to go through the veil that was torn and into the Holy of Holies (Matthew 27:51). 

Lord God, I do not want to have a mediocre faith, just mouthing platitudes in church. May my faith be vibrant, and bear much fruit. May I abide in You, the God who came down to earth for me, who bled and died for me, and who was raised up again! 

A 13th century illuminated
manuscript of the
Apostle's Creed. 
 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Exciting Times!

"Then He opened their minds to the understanding of scriptures." 
Luke 24:45


What exciting times the disciples lived in. They got to know God in the flesh. They saw Him crucified, maltreated excruciatingly. They fled and hid. Then miracle of miracles, news about Jesus miraculously alive! At first they thought it was pure nonsense, but then Jesus Himself appeared to Cleopas and another follower. Jesus took the time to explain passages throughout scripture that were about Him. 

Then He appeared again to the Eleven and their companions while they were talking about all of this amazing news. There He was, flesh and blood. They could even touch His hands and feet and see for themselves the wounds He bore for them and for us. They stood there amazed, and dumbfounded until He asked, "Do you have anything to eat?" 


After eating, He went through the scriptures once again, painstakingly explaining and opening their minds to understand. "Everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled. See here, it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day, rise from the dead." Jesus was probably showing them scripture from Hosea 6, Isaiah, and even Jonah! Imagine Jesus going through the Torah, thumbing through the parchment and scrolls of the Prophets and the Psalms. These are the very same readings we can have in our own hands today! And we can be sure that if we seek through it, with the intention of knowing the truth, seeing Him, we will find. That is His very clear promise in Matthew 7:7. 

Lord, our lives can be just as exciting as Your disciples. We can really get to know You through Your Word. We do not even have enough time to exhaust all the revelation You want to share with us, just as You did with Your disciples. Thank You that we can get to know Your victory, and we can claim Your promises because You sent the Holy Spirit to live and reign in our hearts.



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, April 18, 2017

Why are you Crying?

"Why are you crying?" John 20:15


 
It's fascinating to read the narrative of what happened after Christ resurrected from His tomb from all 4 Gospels. It's like trying to piece together the whole story from 4 witnesses who focus on different aspects of the events as they unfold. 

What scholars agree on is that even with other historical events, you can have irreconcilable discrepancies in secondary details, and yet the core of the story is present. What I particularly like in the Gospel accounts is that it was women who discovered the empty tomb, frightened, anxious women who got over their fear in order to serve Jesus at the very crack of dawn. 

It is always emphasized that women were on the lowest level of Jewish society during Jesus' day. Records will show that Josephus, a first-century historian, stated, “Let not the testimony of women be admitted because of the levity and boldness of their sex,” and this is repeated in the Mishnah (a Jewish legal text written in 220 CE)!!!

So why did all accounts put them front and center of the resurrection story? Because that was the truth! If there was any connivance as the Jewish high priests of the day claim, the writers would not have claimed that it was women who found the empty tomb! 

Jesus asked Mary Magdalene, "Why are you crying?" She did not recognize Him. Perhaps we are in a terrible situation right now, someone very close to us is sick, we don't have a job, we have to find a place to stay, whatever it is, we can be sure, Jesus is near. We just don't recognize Him. 

Lord, may we see Your face. I know You will never abandon us, even when it sometimes feels like that. And sometimes, You give us opportunities to be You to others. May we not pass by but be the good Samaritan to others in need. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Witnesses!

"...we are His witnesses." Acts 2:32

 
Peter, the weak-kneed man who denied Jesus three times, was now proclaiming before the crowd of Jews without fear. "God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that!" What gave him that hutzpah, that supreme self-confidence? Only that now he knew the truth and he was willing to die for it. Only that he was so filled with the Holy Spirit that people thought he was drunk with new wine. On the contrary, Peter could see clearly now, his eyes unclouded by doubt and uncertainty. His thoughts focused and unerring. So should we desire to be! 

Fredrick Nietzsche, the influential German philosopher, declared "I might believe in the Redeemer if his followers looked more redeemed." It is also said that a Christian's life is the world's Bible. How many times have I heard Christianity derided because of our actions? Too many times! 


 
Lord, yes we are your witnesses and we have failed You many times. Enkindle in us the fire of Your Spirit that we may be more like Peter! Brave and sure, loyal to Your teaching! Unwavering in our mission for You! 


Sunday, April 16, 2017

He is Risen!

"He is risen, exactly as He promised." Matthew 28:6


Yesterday the women were confused,  uncertain, huddling together for comfort, and too afraid to move. This morning was another day, not the same as any other day, certainly, for they would have to confront the reality of the tomb. It was just sunrise, and they decided to be brave together. They took burial spices that they had bought and prepared for Jesus' body. On the way, they were discussing quietly about who would roll the stone away from the tomb's entrance as it was heavy. When they arrived, they saw that the stone, the huge stone had been rolled away. 

They looked at each other, hesitated, then rushed to peer inside. Eyes wide, hearts beating fast, they saw the wrappings, two piles, NO BODY! Where was the body?!! Where could they have put Him?!! 

 
Everything was strange today! There was an angel there, his face shining like lightning, his clothing blindingly white. The guards had ran away in fear when the angel rolled aside the stone. The angel said, "Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus. He is not here. He is risen exactly as He promised. Now go tell His disciples!" 

The women ran quickly. They were frightened certainly, but also filled with great joy and excitement. The story is NOT finished. There is still more to come!

And so it is every Easter! The story continues with us! We too should be filled with fear and trembling at this amazing miracle God has done for us! Because Jesus lives, WE have new life in Him. This is not something to take for granted. We too like the women at the tomb, should be eager to spread the news! 

Lord, use me! To heal the broken hearted, to speak Your Words to those who need it, to bind up wounds, to give strength to the weary, sight to the blind! Anything is possible because You live! 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Alive in Christ!

"We have died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with Him." 
Romans 6:8


There is no Catholic mass on Holy Saturday and no readings either. We just have Jesus' tomb to ponder on. For us, we know that the tomb is empty. That is why, later, when we attend the Easter vigil, there will be an extravagance of 17 readings from Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Baruch, Ezekiel, Romans, the Gospel of Matthew and the Psalms. 

But imagine if we were one of the women at the foot of the cross. There was no uncertainty, Jesus, the One we believed was Messiah, the One who forgave me of my Sin, the One who healed lepers, blind men, paralytics, exorcised evil spirits, the One who brought Lazarus to life.....dead. Buried. Sealed inside a tomb. What could be the meaning of that? Was it all a lie? The anguish, the disappointment, and sorrow I feel is so real, it's almost as if a rock was crushing the very breath out of me. We are all cowering in fear right now. It's like all hope is gone, extinguished. We are left alone to face a cloudy future. 

 
Lord, that is the reality if You did not rise from the dead on Easter morning. We would all have no hope, and no future. But because You died, our sinful selves were buried with You in baptism. And just as You were risen from the grave, we also may live new lives! 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Little Details

"...immediately blood and water flowed out." John 19:34


It's the little details that make a true story. When there's a crime investigation, the examiner asks a lot of questions to see if the story adds up. Lee Strobel was a practicing atheist when his wife converted to Christianity. He decided to prove to her that her belief was sitting on a house of cards. First the crucifixion didn't happen, and of course, the resurrection was completely fabricated. He was an awarded investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune so he was quite confident of the outcome. The outrageous claims that Jesus was God, that He allowed Himself to be crucified, and that He rose from the dead, were all just plain, barefaced lies!!! So Lee decided to apply all his training from Yale Law School and all his years of experience as an editor for a prestigious newspaper to get to the truth. 


What he didn't know was that compared to other ancient historical events, the evidence and the proof for Jesus' life and death was so overwhelming, it pointed to the unthinkable! More than 5000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament are in existence today compared to just handfuls of the writings of the historian Josephus and Tacitus. And in some of those ancient manuscripts are the 4 gospels with its wealth of detail. 

John probably had no idea why he saw blood and water come out of Jesus' side when the soldier pierced it with his spear. But a doctor can tell you that because of so many distressing things happening to Jesus' body before and during the crucifixion, fluid in the membrane around the heart and lungs collected, and this is what came out of Jesus. And that's just one of the many many details in the fascinating record of Jesus' life. 

Lord, we don't have to be an investigative reporter, a phd, a scholar, a doctor, to know who You are and Your story. We just need to long to see Your face. You said, if we seek, we will find, and I know that as long as I keep seeking, and reading more and more of Your Word, I will find the greatest treasure the world has ever known! 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Upon Me

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me..." Luke 4:18


 
Jesus read this in the synagogue of Nazareth, His boyhood home, from the book of Isaiah (61:1-2). Afterwards He claimed, "This scripture has been fulfilled before your very eyes! It has come true in Your hearing!" How can this be, the people wondered, amazed and marveling. This boy grew up amongst them, they knew his relatives, his mother and father. 

Should we not be an amazement to others as well? When they see and hear us, should not our childhood friends think, "There is something different about him!" 

When we follow the Holy Spirit in our life, it should not be like some powdered juice we add to the water of our life. It just adds a bit of color and flavor, and that's it. Usually we pray, Lord, come with me, walk with me, and we go our.own.way. 

Should we not be more like Abraham? He obeyed God not knowing where God would lead him. He didn't know how long his journey would take, what it would cost him, or    what would await him when he got there. He just took one day at a time.  

This year marks our 50th year in the family business. Our tag line is "50 years of miracles!" Because truly, that's the reality of our business. Without God, His guiding Spirit, we would be nowhere! My mom, when she started out, she didn't know what she was doing. She had no money, no business background, no marketing skills, but she had a deep, abiding faith in God, and she would pray, pray, pray. Today we continue to pray,  that God would show us His face, that God would lead us where He wants us to go from here. Step by step. May His Spirit be upon us always!