When you cry out to God…

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help,  and you listened to my cry.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;  the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God,  brought my life up from the pit.

 I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”🙏

Jonah 2: 2a, 6, 9s

Peace and good to all.

If I may share my personal reflection on the above passage from the Book of Jonah.

The above quoted verse is an excerpt from Jonah’s prayer, while he was inside the belly of a fish. We know about the story of Jonah, right? Jonah, a prophet who ran away from the Lord because he did not want to follow what the Lord our God instructed him to do. He flee as though he can hide from God. He boarded a ship to get away from the Lord so God hurled a storm against the ship where he was hiding. And, when he realized that he cannot flee from an all-present Sovereign God, and in order to spare the other passengers of the ship, he asked them that he be thrown  out into the sea.  And, yes, Jonah was thrown into the waters. Then the raging sea suddenly became quiet. And, while Jonah sunk into the waters,  the storm ceased.

It is said that it was while he was sinking into the sea that he cried out to God:  a cry of distress to the Lord.  Jonah remembered that he has a forgiving God; a God full of mercy that even though he deserved to be punished with his death being imminent, he recalled of the steadfast love that God has for His people; a God who is slow to anger; a compassionate God. And, thus he prayed for mercy and God heard him and, saved him. It was then that He was swallowed by a large fish (a whale probably)  and remained in its belly for three days and three nights. The Lord had mercy on Jonah and saved him miraculously in a fish’s belly.

It was while he was inside the fish belly that Jonah prayed and thanked God for listening to his plea of deliverance. It was while he was inside the fish belly that the he prayed and glorified God. 

This is because he asked for mercy in the imminence of his death as he sunk into the depths of the water and God answered him by sending the fish that swallowed him. The fish was Jonah’s  place of refuge sent by God for three days and and three nights.  It was his vessel in reaching the dry land. 

The story of Jonah is not fictional. It is not a parable. It was a real story which Jesus even mentioned in his teachings. Jonah’s story is a story of inspiration, a story of encouragement to all of us, particularly to God’s children,  that God answers us and hears our cries. That,  in the moment of our distress, we have a living God whom we can turn to and  who can save us, for God hears our cries to him. That He answers us inspite of our guilt, of our sins, of our shortcomings to Him. All we need to do is to pray and call His name. And, He will be there, yes, He will be there just when we thought we are not worth saving for. 

They say desperate times call for desperate measures. But if you believe in the power of God to save you especially in times of distress,  all you need is to cry to God and to rely on Him, to trust Him that He will save you and carry you in the most trying times of your life. And, believe me, He will. 

God’s promise is clear: Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).

Cry out for Him with humility, faith and sincerity and He will deliver you. God be with us. 

Jesus was carrying me, holding me close to His heart, all these times..

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: 

He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;

he gently leads those that have young.” 🙏

Isaiah 40:11

Peace and good to all.

If I may share my personal reflection on the above passage from the Book of Isaiah.

I  have thought before that I have been trained probably by my life experiences to be tough. 

It was 2002, I was driving my car alone following the ambulance that supposed to transfer my sick father from one hospital to another. He died after few hours in the ICU. I was alone. I was  in pain but I could not cry, I needed to fix my mother as it was a big blow for her to lose my father, I needed to arrange my father’s funeral, and many more.  I cried three days after his death. I cried a lot. 

The year was 2018, this same thing happened again, I was following an ambulance that supposed to transfer my mother to another hospital because I did not want her to die yet. I thought that by transferring her to another hospital,  I could prolong her life. But the moment the ambulance carrying her reached the hospital’s entrance, she stopped breathing. I was alone. I could not cry. I needed to take care of everything: pay the bills, fix the funeral service, take care of the family and things she left behind, etcetera, etcetera. Oh yes, I cried. I cried a lot, alone and only after I have taken cared of everything. 

Thinking about those experiences, I asked myself now, was I really alone in those times? The above Bible passage answers my query. No, I don’t think so. I was not alone in those separate times. I was with God.  I was with Jesus in those times. He was with me in my car as I followed the ambulance carrying my father. He was with me as I followed too the ambulance carrying this time, my mother.  He was calming me. He was guiding me, for me to have presence of mind.  He was with my father too and He was with my  mother as well when He brought them with Him in paradise. Not making them suffer through hospital tubes and machines. Not allowing me to suffer as well. 

In those painful times of my life, I know that Jesus was with me, carrying me, giving me support so I can stand and take care of my family.  So that I can stand and carry myself, so I can fulfill His plans for me. So I can be what I am now.  Just as our mothers carry us their children, in their wombs and hearts, God carries us too especially in the hardest part of our lives. 

And, no I was not trained by my life experiences to be tough. I just have a living God who walks with me in facing my life’s battles. He was with me then as He is with me now. 

Just when we thought we are alone facing our life’s battles, remember, we have Jesus who cares for us, we can cast all our anxieties to Him,  my friends, and He will give us rest.   Remember this, we have a God who pick us up and carries us all the way through, when we can walk no more.  He carries us when our bodies could not bear our pains anymore.

 Psalm 56:8

    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

“You keep track of all my sorrows.

    You have recorded each one in your book.”

God be with you. 

The enemy’s future..

” And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” 

Revelation 20:10

Peace and good to all.

If I may share my personal reflection on the above passage from the Book of Revelation. 

If there is one thing that is certain about the enemy, it is his ending. It is not a matter of probability but rather a certainty. The enemy is bound to lose and it is bound to be tormented in the lake of fire, forever. It is just but a matter of time, as it is written, his time is short : “He is  filled with fury because he knows that his time is short, Revelation 12:12. 

Knowing that his time is short, the enemy would do everything to bring and drag many into his pit, enticing humans, tempting them to turn their back on God, so that these people would be able to share with his misery afterwards, that is, of being tormented into the lake of fire. 

You know what makes  us, the believers of Christ in a better position as compared to non-believers? We know already what is the enemy’s ending. We know already that the enemy stands to lose and that his defeat is for sure.  We know already what is the enemy’s future, and that is to be tormented forever in the lake of fire. This truth cannot be changed and there is nothing that can change the enemy’s future. And, this is an encouragement for us, the warriors of God, in so far as our battle against the enemy. For we know already that we stand to win in this battle against the enemy for as long as we are with Christ. 

Thus, whenever the enemy tries to taunt us by reminding us of our past before we become followers of Christ, just remind him of his future. God be with us.

I have an unchanging God!

“In the beginning

you laid the foundations of the earth,

and the heavens are the work of your hands.

They will perish,

but you remain;

they will all wear out like a garment.

Like clothing you will change them

and they will be discarded.

But you remain the same,

and your years will never end.” 

Psalm 102: 25-27

Peace and good to all.

If I may share my personal reflection on the above passage from the Book of Psalm. 

People change. We all change: physically, psychologically, emotionally and, spiritually. Everything in this world changes. Seasons change, we all age, grass withers, the sun sets and  the sun rises. All God’s creation change,  but not God.

He is the same God we came to know in the Old Testament and the same God who revealed Himself to us in the New Testament. His plans for us since from the time we were woven from our mother’s womb up to this time, is firm and constant. His purpose for us has remain unchanged. 

God does no change. God the Father is the same as in yesterday, today and tomorrow and so does His Son. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”, Hebrews 13:8. 

If God does not change, what significance then it is for us whom He called His children? 

For one and  the simplest answer to that,  is  since we have a God that does not change, we can, therefore, rely on God’s promises, because His promises to His people will never change and He will fulfill them because God is faithful. 

So,  you can rely on the promises that: God will strengthen you; that He will give you rest; God will take care of your needs; that He will answer your prayers in the way that is best for you; that God will be with you, will walk with you even through the valley of the shadow of death; He will protect you  and, you will be with Him; and, that He is merciful and love us so much. 

We live now in uncertain times,  in an unprecedented times,  in a world full of fear. Yesterday you were just talking to a friend of yours making plans for next year, today you are hearing the news that he passed away. Plans change and fear aggravates it. 

But I find comfort to the fact that I have a God that does not change, an unchanging God, who keeps on His promises and, therefore, I will not be consumed or destroyed. When I fall, He will hold my hand for me to stand up. He will keep me company.  He is my protector, my rock, the stronghold of my life. All things may perish and banish but not my God who will be with me forever. And when fear knocks in my door, I will rely on my God’s promise in the Book of Isaiah:   (Isaiah 41:10

“fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

God be with us all. 

“Whoever is not against us is for us”…

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say  anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.

Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”🙏

Mark 9:38-41

Peace and good to all.

If I may share my insights on the above quoted gospel:  Mark 9:38-41

“Whoever is not against us is for us”. 

In the above gospel, while the man who was casting out  the demon in the name of Jesus was not among the 12 disciples, we can surmise, however, that he was  a believer. One who believes and accepts in the power of Jesus.  For it is in and by the name of Jesus together with his faith in Him that worked so that people are healed. And, His disciples want Jesus to stop this man. Jesus rejected them.

Jesus prefers unity than exclusivity and this is an important point that believers should not forget. To understand and to respect and not to vilify someone because of his beliefs and religious affiliations. To encourage and to lead in the way to Jesus rather than discriminate; to encourage works that lead to the Kingdom of God. As long as people are not against what He stands for, they are allies in the building of God’s kingdom.

How many times in the past that some people have been rejected in helping a christian community because of their different religious affiliations ? Or how one group of Christians have denounced or have spoken against other groups of Christians? Or of one religious affiliation vilifying another religious group.  That is bad, and, that is precisely what Jesus addresses in Mark 9:38-41. The “us” and “them” tendency of Christians to group together,  is against  the teaching of Jesus. 

We should not lose sight of the breadth and the depth of the power of God to work on anyone who truly call on His name. The community of faith is broader than we may think. And, those who are doing work in Jesus’ name should not  be prevented but embraced and encouraged.  

We should focus upon the works Christ and not encourage division. 

I have encountered people in the social media who are referred to as “nones”, they are those who are neither for nor against Christ and they have no formal religious beliefs or group affiliations. I show compassion to these people and greet them every morning with my daily post about the  Word of God. Because I agree to the saying that as we try to spread the good news of the Lord, first of all, we should not turn people against Jesus. God be with us all. 

“Here I am, Lord. Send me!”

Peace and good to all.

If I may share my personal reflection on the above passage from the Book of Isaiah. 

I first heard this Bible verse from  a  movie where a woman was asked by a colleague who boarded her car about the  post it-note in her car saying “send me”. The woman replied that it was from the Book of Isaiah. The woman in the movie is a believer. 

I read the pages of my Bible to this verse and the story of Isaiah in it. The words “Here I am, Lord. Send me”, kept reverberating from my mind even after reading it. Even after few days it has remained in my head. Even last night before I slept, even in my waking hours in the middle of the night,  and again, this morning, in my bed, in my car, in my office. I need to write it. 

How can we be like the prophet Isaiah in responding to the call of God in these times of ours? I think it is by being mindful of what God wants us  to be or what God wants us to do. For instance, what could be God’s call or message for us as a doctor, or as a lawyer,  or  a nurse, a preacher, a housewife ? Whatever we are at present is not just by mere confluence of events but according to God’s plan for us to play a role in God’s master plan. 

I believe that even before we responded to God and say to Him “Here I am, Lord. Send me” , I know that He has already sent us to where we are supposed to be. That we are already where God wants us to be. That it was just a matter of confirmation from our part when we say “Lord send me” , so that in whatever we do, we do it now in the name of God.  That, it was just a matter of being aware that God is speaking to us, communicating to us, confirming that God is alive and walking with us.

As a doctor, you are sent to heal and provide cure to those who are sick, in God’s name. As a lawyer, you are sent to make sure that justice is observed and done, in accordance to the will of God.  As a preacher, you are sent to evangelize, to lead people to one true God, to Jesus, for the salvation of many. We are all sent for a purpose, we just have to be mindful of God’s purpose for us. How are you going to be mindful of God’s message to you? Read your Bible, God will tell you what it is and when you came to know about it, be ready to say, “Send me, my God.” God be with us all.

Be careful how we listen to the Word of God ..

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed.  Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”

Luke 8:16-18

Peace and good to all.

If I may share my insights on the above gospel of our Lord.

The “lamp” as referred to in the gospel, is the Word of God. That the lamp is set to be placed in a lamp stand and not to  be hidden or put under the bed, for its purpose is to give light. Just like the Word of God, its purpose is to give light, to bring out the truth and not to hide it. It is meant to illuminate those in the dark so they may see the light. 

In the process of illuminating, the Word of God also exposes the dark corners of the human hearts. It exposes the evil that lurks inside the human hearts that no amount of hiding or pretension can successfully cover it. 

Thus, the gospel says, we have to be careful on how we listen or read  the Word of God. For while it illuminates, it also exposes. It means, we have to respond obediently rather than withdraw from it. Because if our response is to obey the Word, then we will receive more light. However, if our response is to withdraw or back away , whatever light or illumination that we already have will be taken away from us. There are so many of us who have responded to the Word of God by withdrawing or shrinking, because they can not accept the truth. They cannot accept of what is being shown or revealed to them by the Word of God. 

The Word of God are meant to illuminate our journey in life so that we will not  be wandering without any light  in this dark and dangerous world. But many would not want God’s Word to give light to their lives. Why? Because they loved darkness than light, because they love their evil deeds, they loved their earthly desires, and, therefore, hated light because the light would expose their evil deeds.

Listen carefully. Listen carefully to the Word of God. As we read the Bible, which is God’s revealed truth,  we ought not to just read it for the sake of reading it. No. Let’s listen to what God is telling us through the text we read from the Bible. For every word, phrase and sentence we read from it  will lead the to the road going to Jesus.  Hence, listen carefully and listen with a purpose of obedience. God be with you. 

Do not trust in riches..

“But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish.

Like sheep they are destined for the grave and  death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave,  far from their princely mansions.

But God will redeem my life from the grave, he will surely take me to himself.

Psalm 49: 12, 14-15

Peace and good to all.

If I may share my personal reflection on the above passage from the Book of Psalm. 

We all die. Rich or poor, we all die. No human is immortal and not even wealth can buy us life.  We do not last forever. 

We may accumulate all the riches here on earth but when death comes to us, we will leave them all: our mansions, our possessions, our cherished names, our successes here on earth, we will all leave them behind when we die. We cannot purchase our lives.

When it comes to death, rich and poor are the same, both are destined to die where death will feed on them. Whether one was buried in a mausoleum or ditched in a small space on  earth for the pauper or what you call cemetery slums, both will face decay afterwards. For despite possessions on earth, man perish. 

This means, therefore, that we cannot trust in our wealth in the same way that we are not supposed to trust on ourselves with the belief that we can change and purchase life for us to be immortal. That is foolishness. God is the only one who has control of everything, not us, not our riches, not our family legacy not even our names honored by some or by the whole world. 

If we trust our riches than God, then we are like an animal who live to die, having  no purpose at all except to go the grave when death comes. But if we trust in God, if we trust in Jesus, if we believe in Him who redeems and saves, then our life here on earth has become filled with purpose because we know that when we face our creator, He will keep us and make us stay where He is, in one of the rooms in the house of His Father where He reserved for us.  For when we are with God, when we are with Jesus, grave has no power to retain our bodies and death cannot feed on us for our bodies to face decay and hell will have no power to seize us, because upon our death, God the father, with His Son Jesus, will receive us. 

For a moment, let’s try to ask ourselves these: With the present state of my being now, can I assure myself that am here for a purpose set by God and not only to pasture, live and thereafter die?  And, when I die, can I say to myself now  that God the Father will readily receive me or will hell seize upon me, instead?  

May God be with you. 

We are but flesh,  a passing breeze that does not return..

“In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;  in spite of his  wonders, they did not believe.

Yet he was merciful;  he forgave their iniquities  and did not destroy them.  Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath.

He remembered that they were but flesh,  a passing breeze that does not return.” 🙏

Psalm 78: 32, 38-39

Peace and good to all.

If I may share my personal reflection on the above passage from the Book of Psalm. 

God has provided us of what we needed. We asked for more, and, He gave more. We were not contented, we asked again for more and, God gave us more. We became proud. We have forgotten God. We sinned and faltered. Then we came back to Him, begging for his mercy and He forgave us. But instead of remembering our past in order to strengthen our relationship with Him, we faltered and came back to where we were before – a sinner. 

We use our humanity to justify our weakness. That we are human and, therefore, we will naturally err and are prone to fall into temptation. In times of our successes and prosperity,  sometimes we  forget God and try to separate our relationship with God with that of our material prosperity. We have forgotten that God Himself was the one who gave us the power to get our wealth. 

But in all these, God has not forgotten His love for us. Despite our rebellions, our sins, our failings, God has not forgotten us, that was why He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to save us and His creations.  It was because of love of God the Father, that He gave his only Son for our ransom, so we may live, so we may be restored to life.  

Jesus is God the Father’s best manifestation or gift  of His love for us for only thru Jesus that we are reconnected to God every time we falter and fail. Jesus came not to condemn the world even if people have disobeyed and displeased God. Jesus came in order to redeem us from death caused by sins,  thru His own death and resurrection. 

Yes, we were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return, but God’s love has saved us thru Jesus Christ,  that whoever believes in Him will not be condemned but will have eternal life but those who do not believe in Him are already condemned. 

We are only a passing breeze in this world, a mist , a vapour that appears for a little time and vanishes away and not to return, but we can have an eternal life, yes, an eternal life, and that is through Jesus. 

God be with us all. 

Master-Disciple Relationship..

“He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?  A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher..”

Luke 6: 39-40

Peace and good to all.

If I may share my insights on the above gospel of our Lord.

Who are we learning from? Who is our teacher and whose disciples are we? And, from whom do we ask for guidance? 

Disciples or followers of Christ have only one teacher and that is Jesus.  And, no matter how learned are  we in the Word of God, we cannot be above Him from whom we have learned and will continue to learn. We cannot be above the source. 

We can be like Jesus when fully trained,  but not better than the Master, our Teacher, our Rabbi – Jesus Christ.  Thus, Jesus says in Matthew 23:8 “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers”. The purpose of Christ teachings to us is in order for us to be like him. To imitate Him. Jesus became like us that we might be like Him. 

But what is it that we ought to learn from Jesus that we cannot learn from our earthly teachers? I think it is how to live a life that is pleasing to God the Father, for Jesus does and did things that are pleasing to the Father. And, this is where He wants us to learn from Him.  For instance, while the world teaches us to judge and condemn, Jesus teaches us not to judge but to forgive; while the world teaches us to take and take, Jesus teaches us to give; while the world teaches us to be proud, Jesus teaches as to be humble; while the world teaches us that we are hopeless sinners, Jesus teaches us that there is a way to salvation and that is through Him. The world is tainted with sin and Jesus is our redemption.

If we consider ourselves students, apprentices, followers or disciples of Jesus, then we should learn from Him in order to be like Him. And we do this through a relationship with the teacher which is developed through prayer and the Word of God, a daily walk of life with Jesus. 

In your morning, are you excited with your appointment with  Jesus, your Teacher,  to learn  from Him? Or you are too busy that you cannot give up even few minutes of your schedule, to learn or just be with Him?  If this is so, then there is something wrong – there is, therefore,  no Master-Discipleship relation yet between you and Jesus.  Remember my friends, if you cannot make Jesus the first and foremost in your life, then you are not yet His disciple, you are not yet His apprentice. Reflect about it. May God be with you.