Tag Archives: prayer

It takes more than that

26 OCTOBER 2016, 02:09 PM

I really thought I would be successful that time. But I was wrong. My efforts were not good enough.

For some weeks already I was planning to have a fasting in a place far from home – an ideal haven where I could have a full hold on God. Though my determination still falters on the last few hours, I still believed I would finally have it.

It made me think then and have a deeper introspection. What contributed to my failure? Or more blatantly, am I that far from God already that I could not fast?

Maybe it would help more if I say first my reasons for fasting.

My first reason is the feeling of utter helplessness. I have become so desperate in my situation that I needed something powerful just to meet my spiritual needs. I was actively pastoring a Church for the past few months, and the time has come that I would like to be the sheep now and not the shepherd. I would like to be fed and led, and be strengthened. I need the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to heal my dying soul. I was like a deer panting for water (Psalms 42:1). The whole Psalm Chapter really says my condition.

Secondly, the ministry demands it. The last time I fasted about two months ago the gift of healing flowed powerfully everytime we prayed together. I do not mean that I receive more of God’s power when I fast; His miracles and healing are released by His grace and not by our good works. But, by fasting God is more able to prepare me first for His great works. Still I could not say that fasting is my little contribution, because I became successful in some of my fastings only because of His Grace. In God’s mysterious design, I fast and pray, and He moves more — yet I have no part in that. Maybe it is because God exalts the humble (James 4:10), and that fasting is basically the humbling of the soul before God (Psalm 35:13).

The third reason is that I really miss my intimate moments with the Lord. Since the advent of the wi-fi connection at home, my habit of long time spent in praying died with its coming. Much worse happened when I bought this Android cellphone. I am inclined into technology and it consumes my time heavily. I have to fast to break these addictions. I have to separate from the world and be silent to once again hear the voice of the Lord.

Lastly, I need guidance and answers. Does the Lord really want me to pursue my teaching profession while pastoring? My logical mind says no, for teaching will take much time from me — some quality time that I should spend with God and with the members of the Church.

Now let us return to the first question, why did my efforts to fast fail?

One reason is that I lacked all the necessary preparations. Before you fast, you have to prepare yourself spiritually and physically. I lacked both. I rarely prayed for it, and for some weeks already I was staying late at night then woke up late in the morning. Fasting demands that I saturate myself first in fervent praying, and that my physical body is prepared for it.

The second reason for my failures is that I have to make some things right first. Of course I know I will fast to ask for God’s help me to fix the wrongs in my life, but I do sense that I have to fix some of them now before I meet the Lord in prayer. Fasting is a sacred time with the Lord and for sure it has the spirit of repentance, but we will be able to show that our repentance is truly true if we start making amendments in our life now before the time of fasting comes. After all, my shortcomings in the family and Church really take the issues right back at the heart of self-denial and obedience. If I would really deny myself now and choose to obey, more than half of my shortcomings would be resolved now even before I fast. I hate to approach God in fasting with fake repentance, and much worse, to fast with no real intent of changing my ways, just like what God saw in Israel when they fasted in Isaiah 58. They fasted hypocritically with no repentance in their hearts.

To fast before God with a right heart is not a complicated thing, but not an easy one either. It takes more than sheer determination. It takes more than a simple sacrifice. It takes more than the usual planning. It will demand your everything — because you will meet your Holy God.

Let the Fire Glow

I have been preaching for several months already in my new local church, the Jesus Lamb of God Church. But, I feel that I lack the fire that has been present in my years of preaching.

I know that partly it is because of my lack of prayer. Also, that I lack the usual over two weeks of preparation that I had before every time I preach.

The biggest reason, I believe, is because even though I occasionally pray and study the Bible, my heart is very far from God. Many times I am guilty of disobeying God. Many times for consecutive weeks I am not able to fulfill my promise of fasting.

I know it will take much discipline and hard work, and of course God’s grace, but I will once again be close and intimate with my God and be a powerful pager again.

“A holy minister is an awesome weapon in the hand of God.” – Robert McCheyne.

God Moves Mysteriously

Right now my Church Members are decreasing in number. I don’t know if it’s because of God’s answer to my prayer – “Lord, visit the Church and uproot its false foundations.”

False foundations may sometime refer to church members? I don’t know. But God is revealing something. Maybe He is telling us that dependence on sponsors is wrong. Or too much formality is not His way.

I know that in His own ways He wants us to return to true worship.

God reveal your will to us!

All Things New

"Forgiveness 3" by Carlos Latuff.
Forgiveness – an essential element in starting anew.

We do not naturally want bad endings. We do not want to be hurt, and when we do, if we could only turn back time, we would have corrected it. But for us the only sure available option is to start anew.

To begin again, however, is not that always easy. Often it is harder than we thought. Being dreamers in nature, we are always in the illusion that it would be better this time – that we are capable of doing better while exercising the least of efforts. Wrong.

As we strive to be better, there are many things that would pull us downward. The thoughts of past failures are always there. The inward weaknesses, the fleshly desires which are often undealt, would shake our determination to succeed. Noteworthy to mention – the judgement of the people around – those people who have marked out how filthy you are based from your past mistakes and sins – always play insurmountable forces to hold you back.

The only incentive then is to look upward and realized that there is Someone who is capable of ‘forgetting’ your errors and would not judge you, seeing that you are truly repentant and really try to change. Your forgiveness and shame could be deeper than the sea, but His forgiveness is even deeper than the abyss. You may have not felt real love, but His embrace is wider than the sky.

His Person and love alone are great motivations for each one of us to be hopeful that as long as He grants us to live another day, there would always be hope for genuine change.

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Prayer Request:

A God-glorifying ending of the semester.

If You Pray Unceasingly, You Really Glutt on God.

“Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.” ~ John Bunyan

Strong words. Beautiful tension. True to every person.

These words primarily targets the battlefield of prayer that continuously is being encountered by Christians. The simple truth is this: the more that we pray, the more we can stay away from sin; the more that we sin, the more we stay away from prayer.

Or to put it in another way: the more we would like to stay away from then the more that we pray; and the more we would like to stay on sinning, then the more we avoid prayer.

This is the real Christian Life. Our new identity in Christ desires that we draw to God in holiness, but the flesh, still being alive in a Christian (in varying degrees respective to every Christian individual), desires to sin and to stay from holy living.

The battle of every believer.

Almost Four Days

Dr. Mariana checking the oral health of a woman.
Dr. Mariana checking the oral health of a woman.

God taught me wonderful new things during the recent four-day medical mission done at the place where our current local church is. The experience is overwhelming, fruitful, challenging, and uplifting.

It was headed by the Mercy Link and the Youth With a Mission, targeting the island of Mindoro for the dental, medical, and mission outreach. The doctors, nurses, and medical technicians were coming from different countries – Brazil, New Zealand, Korea, and the United States.

Their arrival to our place at Lumangbayan san Teodoro was truly God’s answer to our long-time prayers. We had been seeking God on how we could provide medical assistance to the community and at the same time offer them the friendship of Jesus.

Their outreach started on Monday morning, May 6 and ended on Thursday, May 9 at midday. Almost four days. Days  that granted me some helpful thoughts to live by.

1.) It is not about what we could receive, but what we could possibly give. The direction of love is always not towards the self, but always towards the service of others. I went there with very little pocket money and resources, challenging the provision of God. As I was trying my best to keep up with my physical needs, the unexpected happen – someone from the Church took away my reserved bowl of fish! I was expecting that they would be the ones who would give me assistance, but the opposite happened. Anyway, it is about what I could give, not what I could receive.

2.) Trusting in God does mean not underestimating Him. Continuing the first learning above, God showed me that my ‘trust’ wasn’t great enough. Truly trusting Him would mean being open to whatever ways God could open up and spill over His resources – in ways that we have not possibly thought possible. For my example I was worrying about my food – but God gave me extra that for two times my food was spoiled!

3.) Be always ready to Hear His Word and heed Him. On the second day of the Medical Mission, I was commissioned by God to take every opportunity to share His Word. That was very clear to me on His Word. Yet for so many times I let my hesitance and weaknesses took over me – how I regret those times that I could have shared the Gospel and invite them to the Church! Those missed opportunities – could never be brought back.

4.) Strive to build relationships.  Offering medical assistance means a lot to the needy people. But making them see and feel that their presence and friendship is special to us is a different thing – it will make them stay with us even after our medical resources are exhausted. The diagnoses and medicines provide physical healing, but when wrapped in love they will also prove to give spiritual and emotional healing.

5.) True humility always seeks out to serve – not minding the self. This is so true for the servanthood example of Jesus found on Phil. 2:5-8. Jesus took aside personal glory and instead embraced the life of a human servant all for the sake or true service. True service always has the heart of humility at its center.

6.) Give your best shot every moment. Every deed, especially those done for God and His Kingdom should truly demand the best of us. This is a helpful mindset. Not everything could be repeated, once done, that’s it. It’s either we exerted a mediocre effort of our very best. The same specific goals, in the same place for the same group of people – a specific ministry – once accomplished, could very rarely be expected to happen again.

God, You are the Supreme Lord of the universe. The Only One who is Sovereign. You have entrusted us so much, may You find us faithful and diligent. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This Summer will be Better than Last Year’s

What will summer be like for me this time?
What will summer be like for me this time?

Last year’s summer was a frustrating one, and history will not repeat itself this time.

I was so eaten up by the internet, movies, and other non-living stuffs that last year of summer’s  opportunity and privilege to hear from God was robbed from me. It was a tragic mistake, and it choked my life for the next whole year thereafter. It led me to wrong decisions and missed chances of service. It also took away some nice relationships.

And it’s summer again in the Philippines. It is still hurting me to remember that frustration, and all the aches it caused me. This time should be different, and that is my resolve.

I remember at this moment a nice thought from Facedown, a worship book from Matt Redman. It says that if we would like to hear from God, then we must ‘free’ ourselves from this busy world. we should go up higher and higher to relieve ourselves from the gigantic noises of this world to hear the silent and soft whisper of God.

A big challenge for me. No movies, no TV, no texting, and as much as possible, no internet. Ouch! Yes, that would really touch the most sensitive parts of my life.

But I have to do that. REALLY. That is my only chance of hearing from God. It would buy me some valuable time to pray, fast, reflect, and meditate on His Word.

God help me.