Secured

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Day 17: God says you are…

SECURED

College ako nung una akong naholdap. Medyo nakakatawa pa nga ang nangyari kahit na syempre, nakakatakot. Madaling araw na nun, kasama ko ang kaibigan ko and we we’re walking sa isang mahaba at napakatahimik na kalsada. Sa di kalayuan, may sumusunod sa aming tatlong kabataan.

Sensing na may kakaibang balak ang tatlo, medyo binilisan namin ang lakad para sana umabot kami sa pwesto ng mga nakatambay na lalaki sa isang bukas na gate. Ang kaso, pagdating namin sa pwesto nila, nagsipasok naman sila sa loob! Sa halip an tulungan kami ay hinayaan kaming ma-overtake ng mga kabataang na-confirm namin na may plano pala na holdapin kami. Ayun, wala kaming nagawa. Ang masaklap, bagong sweldo ako noon, at yung cellphone ko na kakatapos ko lang bayaran ang huling installment, ay naglaho nang ganun ganun na lang. Pero habang kinakapkapan kami ng mga kabataan, I can still remember that I whispered “In Jesus’ Name!” sa kanila. Prayer of protection para sa amin, at prayer of conviction para sa kanila. Buti na lang hindi kami sinaksak.

Pero kung mawala man ang lahat ng ito – material possessions, trabaho, status sa buhay, ang pag-ibig ng Diyos sa atin ay hindi mawawala. Protektado ito ng kanyang mga pangako.

Sa kabila ng lahat ng dangers na meron sa mundo, kaya pa rin ba nating sabihin na protektado tayo? Sa pagkain, may danger ng chemicals. Sa hangin may danger ng pollution. Sa mga public places may danger ng accidents. Kahit saan yata may threat.

Pagkatapos ng encounter namin sa mga holdaper na yun, pagkatapos naming mahimasmasan, naisip na lang namin na may mawala mang gamit sa amin, may mga bagay pa rin na hindi mananakaw sa amin, sa atin. Hindi naman nawala ang pagkakaibigan namin. May inuwian pa rin akong pamilya. May trabaho pa rin ako. Buhay pa rin naman ako.

Pero kung mawala man ang lahat ng ito – material possessions, trabaho, status sa buhay, ang pag-ibig ng Diyos sa atin ay hindi mawawala. Protektado ito ng kanyang mga pangako. He loves us so much and He has protected that love na hindi kayang nakawin ng anumang bagay mula sa atin. And this protection is all encompassing: mula sa ating mga emotions, sa ating mga dreams, at ang relationship sa Kanya. Hinding-hindi mananakaw ng kahit na sinuman ang Kanyang pag-ibig sa atin.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.“ 

Romans 8:38-39

Beloved

I bring you before a lot of people and I am so proud that I love you.

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Day 15: God says you are…

BELOVED

Are you familiar with the Sunday School song “His Banner Over Me is Love”? I used lead my little band of grade three students then – we’ll sing this song with corresponding actions, kahit sintunado pa ako, at least in their ears I am the authority sa song na yun.

All along, when I think of banners, I often associate it with flags that serve as rallying point and group markers. So when I hear about Jesus as my banner, I often think of Him giving me an identity that makes me stand out from the crowd, among those who doesn’t have any relationship with Him. As Jesus raise His banner over me, people will know that I am His and He is mine.

But getting the verse where the song came from, Song of Songs 2:4, and taking it from other translation is quite lovely:

Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.(NIV)    

He escorts me to the banquet hall; it’s obvious how much he loves me. (NLT)

He brought me into the banquet hall, and he looked at me lovingly. (NET)

More than just a rallying point, Jesus has this to say – I place my banner of love above you. I am so much in love with you. I am head over heels into you. I bring you before a lot of people and I am so proud that I love you. #MayForever

At times when you feel that even the Lord has rejected you whenever there are prayers left unanswered or when people ill-treat you or you just feel so unloved, remember that Jesus’s banner of love is above you. He brings you before the banquet hall of many witnesses, and He is showing them how He is really into you. You are never alone. You are His beloved. We are His beloved.

Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.(NIV)    

Song of Songs 2:4

 

Loved

Love and being loved will always be a good feeling to desire.

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Day 14: God says you are…

LOVED

Valentines Day, araw ng mga puso. I just noticed that unlike before when I was still in grade school, mas commercialized na ang Valentines Day ngayon. With all the roses and teddy bears on malls, streets and on almost everywhere, mahirap nga namang itanggi that V-Day marketing has really gone a long way.

Love and being loved will always be a good feeling to desire. C’mon, who doesn’t want to feel that sudden gush of emotion of kilig whenever you see your crush, or hold the hands of your special someone? When, as a married couple for a long period of time, you both reminisce your early moments as sweethearts, di ba sobrang nakakatuwa yun?

Pero on the opposite side of the spectrum, meron din talagang mga bitter sa araw na ito. Sila yung mga hindi pinalad sa naging partner, nadisappoint sa kanilang loved one, at talagang iniwang heartbroken.

Iba-iba man ang ating naging karanasan when it comes to human love, there is a kind of love that far exceeds all the efforts, all the mushy feelings and sweet-nothings we receive from a person. And this love is incomparable and unimaginable, dahil ang totoo sa lahat ng klase ng pag-ibig, dito lang nabigyan ng hustisya ang salitang forever. Marahil alam mo na kung Kanino galing ang pag-ibig na yun.

God loves you. 🙂

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

Jeremiah 31:3

God’s Kind of Love

Tama si Princess: tuwing ganitong panahon, sagana tayo sa 3K: may Kilig, may Kabog, may Kirot…. It’s love month once again and I am about to share with you something about God’s kind of love.

The world defines love in these three emotions:

KILIG

– the superficial indication of a “desired” love. I say “desired” kasi ang kilig ay something desired, kasi ito ay desirable. Hindi ka kinikilig sa taong ayaw mo, lalo’t hindi sa kaaway mo. Ang kilig ay nararamdaman lang kapag ang taong gustong-gusto mo ay kinakausap ka, tinetext ka o kahit lumapit lang sa iyo. But we all know that love is more than just the kilig factor. Jesus was never kinilig when He was praying in agony in Gethsemane, much more hanging on the cross. But we all can say that that act is the perfect demonstration of love.

Their pick-up line: “Para kang araw, bininigyang liwanag mo ang umaga ko.”

KABOG

– the unexplainable feeling of being tense because of someone’s presence. Kinakabog ka kapag dumadaan ang kinakikiligan mo. Dinadaga ka kapag kinausap ka na ng crush mo. This is the kind of feeling na kapag tinamaan ka, all sanity seems to leave you. Nawawala ka sa sarili mong katinuan. Hindi makapag-isip ng tama. The world thinks it’s cute. But God’s kind of love doesn’t change like shifting shadows. Hindi pabago-bago at hindi dependent sa kapaligiran. Though He’s head-over-heels in love with us, He still knows that we need to be disciplined if we need to. Never Siyang kinabog ipakita ang Kanyang pagmamahal sa atin.

Their pick-up line” Kapag nandyan ka, kinakabahan ako. Para ka kasing araw, kapag lumitaw na, alam kong late na ako”

KIROT

– the sudden gush of emotion that makes you swear you will never fall in love again. Makirot sa pakiramdam kapag iniwan ka ng mahal mo. Ang gusto mo mamanhid ka na at wala ka nang maramdaman. Ayaw mo nang makinig sa payo ng iba. Ni ayaw mo nang kumain. Nagiging bitter in the end. But God’s kind of love, no matter the amount of heartaches and pain He receives from us, still keeps us as if we never offended Him. He never became bitter on us.

Their pick-up line: “Para kang araw, pasikat ka na, masakit ka pa sa mata.”

The world defines love in these three superficial definitions. But God did not just define love. He exemplified love. He demonstrated it. While we were still sinners, He died for us.

Minsan sa mga Bible readings ko, o kaya kapag nagninilay-nilay ako, whenever I encounter verses telling me how God loves me, I am over-awed. Sobrang nakakamangha. Imagine the God of the universe loving me and making me feel loved? Hindi po talaga kayang i-contain ng mga mumunting isipan natin kung gaano kalawak, kalalim, katayog ang pag-ibig ni Hesus. I remember times in my life na papasok ako sa office, tapos bigla na lang akong kikiligin, ngumingiting mag-isa sa jeep o kaya sa bus. Kasi di ko ma-contain yung sarili ko. Kapag nag-uumapaw ang presence ni Lord, nag-uumapaw din ang emotions. What happens inside is revealed on the outside.

Heto ang ilan sa mga love notes Niya na makakapagpakilig sa atin:

  • “I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. Jeremiah 31:3
  • “People might let me down from time to time but God will always take me in.” Psalm 27:10
  • “Now I tell you to love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
  • Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
  • God’s love pardons us for the mistakes that we made, is we are in Christ, we will not be condemned because through Him we are set free from sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

These verses and many more are enough to convince us na mahal na mahal Niya talaga tayo. Pero bakit kaya minsan, kapag may mga trials na dumadating, I tend to forget His kind of love? Kapag kinulang ako ng budget, nakakalimutan ko yung mga time na dinala Niya ako sa Nueva Vizcaya with only 20 pesos tapos pag-uwi ko 120 pesos na. Kapag di ako mapakali sa dami kong hinahabol na deadlines sa church, sa school, I tend to forget na it was Him who made ways for me to miraculously finish college. Kapag may kinatatakutan akong kausapin na tao kasi baka sigawan ako, mapagalitan, nakakalimutan ko na minsan sa buhay ko, mga abogado at matataas na opisyal ng eskwelahan ang nakaharap ko sa isang dialogue. Mga mumunting bagay pero parang nakakapagpabulag sa akin kung gaano ba naging katapat ang Diyos sa kanyang mga pangako sa akin.

One thing we have to learn: God is faithful.

The Greek word for faithfulness is pistis and it means “firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality or faithfulness.” It carries the idea of giving someone credit. An English synonym is, oddly enough, reality. You focus your faithfulness on someone who seems “real” to you.

This faithfulness that we’re talking about is not the “saving faith” kung kaya’t tayo ay naligtas. This is the seventh quality of the Holy Spirit and it simply means “believing the believability of God”. Oo nga’t nanininiwala tayo sa ginawa ni Hesus sa krus: na namatay Siya, muling nabuhay at muling babalik. Pero sa mga “reyalidad” na nasa harap natin ngayon, do we still “believe” Him? Naniniwala ba tayo na he will provide kung kinukulang na? Naniniwala ba tayo na he will deliver us kung nandyan na yung aso at inaamoy-amoy na tayo? Naniniwala ba tayo na He will sustain us kung nagpa-follow-up na nga yung supplier, yung manager o yung customer?

Maybe the reason why we are sometimes finding it hard to believe His faithfulness is because we are basing our faith on the wrong thing. There are two bases for our faith:

Faith based on what God does.

This kind of faith is dependent on the obvious. To him, “if God is not obvious, then obviously He’s not God.” To him, to see is to believe. This kind of person shows faith kapag may gumagaling na karamdaman o mga panalanging sinasagot. Pero paano kapag parang inactive si Lord? Ayun, nawawala din ang pananampalataya. Sabi sa Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Faith based on who God is.

This kind of faith is dependent on the character of God. He knows that “Jesus is the same yesterday, and today, and forever”. His faith is not greatly moved because he focuses on a God not greatly moved! In the midst of a society where the only thing we can count on is we can’t count onto anything, God is his guarantee. He knows that God answers prayers in different ways: healing for one and not for the other. Victory for one and not for the other. But still, his faith is on God.

One reason we know God is believable is because of his incomparable record of fulfilled prophecy. Out of literally hundreds of prophecies which have arrived at their time, every single one has been fulfilled exactly as God said, down to the minutest detail. In fact the closest length of time between the major prophecies and their fulfillment was 200 years. More glorious still is the fact that at least 61 were foretold and perfectly fulfilled during the earthly life of His Son Jesus!

Now consider this. From the journal Science Speaks, Peter Stoner offered the following calculated figures: if you take 8 prophecies out the 61, the probability of all 8 being fulfilled is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. He illustrates it this way: take 100,000,000,000,000,000 silver dollars and lay them in face of Texas.  They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir up the coins. Blindfold a man and send him out to pick up the marked silver dollar. The chance he will pick u the right one is 1 in 10 to the 17th power.

If we add 40 more fulfilled prophecies to the 8, the chance would be 1 in 10 to the 157th power. Just imagine 157 zeroes! Yet all 61 were fulfilled just as God said it would be! Indeed God is believable! And He is coming back for us!

When He said I will provide, will you still doubt Him?

When God said He longs for you, do you still resist Him?

Now when God said He loves you, do you ignore Him?

And when He said I will come back for you, will you wait for Him?

This is God’s kind of love, a believable kind of love. Not the kind of love centered on superficial kilig, unexplainable kabog, and sudden kirot.

***

Note: Some points written here were taken from the book Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Holy Spirit by Beth Moore.

 

Privileged

We are privileged, and we got a message to share.

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Day 1: God says you are…

PRIVILEGED

I attended the Sunday morning service in spite of the body ache and drowsiness. I am not a morning person so waking up earlier than my usual routine, especially during weekends is a challenge. But enough of the introductions, I just want to say that I am very privileged. We are all privileged.

Naaalala ko pa yung unang love letter na ginawa ko years back (or decade na nga yata). Sa sobrang emotions na binuhos ko sa letter na yun, talagang siniguro kong maisulat siya sa maayos na stationary, magandang panulat at ang pinakamaayos kong handwriting. At sa sobrang pagkatuwa ko sa finished product, napagpasyahan kong hindi na lang ibigay ang bunga ng aking inspirasyon. Haha!

I tell you, when someone makes an effort to do things for you just to express his affection, I can say you are very privileged. May mga tao akong nakikilala na nagsasabing ang asawa nila or ang boyfriend/girlfriend nila ay hindi expressive, much more romantic. It is hard to prove one’s love kung hindi rin ito mabibigyan ng justice through efforts or kahit kaunting patunay.

He has proven His love in many ways but let me just start with His message.

Kung tayo gumagawa ng love letter for someone we truly dear, Jesus Himself became the message for us. His words became our anchor for life; His words became our source of joy, hope and everything we cling to for life eternal. At ang Kanyang mga Salita ay hindi nagtapos sa kanyang pagkapako sa krus – umabot ito sa panaho natin, napadpad sa mga tahanan natin, sa mga simbahan at eskwelahan, at sa iba’t ibang lugar.

We are privileged because through the years, courageous men and women of faith, in their love for God and His Word, made an effort to make sure the Word will reach our time – to the point of risking, or sacrificing their own lives. We are privileged because we are a generation who can listen to God in more ways than before.

We are privileged because God’s Word reached us and offered us an invitation for eternal life. We are privileged because we can hold onto physically the written Word of God – the Bible in our hands. We are privileged because through the years, courageous men and women of faith, in their love for God and His Word, made an effort to make sure the Word will reach our time – to the point of risking, or sacrificing their own lives. We are privileged because we are a generation who can listen to God in more ways than before. We are privileged. Isn’t it overwhelming?

Unlike me na hindi na nakuha pang ibigay ang loveletter na ginawa ko, we are privileged dahil ang Dios ay hindi pumayag na hindi umabot sa ating panahon ang loveletter na Siya mismo ang lumagda – sa pamamagitan ng dugo ng Kanyang Bugtong na Anak na si Hesus.

We are privileged, and we got a message to share. Please let others know that they too are privileged too, kahit pa kailanganin mong gumising ng umaga o kahit masakit pa ang iyong katawan.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

John 1:14