Now, what?

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While on the train today, I pulled out my daily devotional. And everything that’s written there has astonishingly validated what God has been putting in my heart the past few days.

I’ve come to realise that lately, the Lord has been teaching me an important lesson: how to live one day at a time—how to prioritise nothing but the now, and just live in the moment.

Present tense

It’s great to be futuristic and always think ahead, but the future will be no good if the quality of the present isn’t well taken care of.

I believe that focusing on the now also helps us develop and strengthen our trust in the Lord—that He will be there from top to finish, that He’s in the beginning and in the end of every chapter, ’cause that’s what He promised.

Failures vis-à-vis Victories

I also learned that the mistakes of today do not define you solely for the rest of your life.

Your everyday triumphs help establish your identity and validate your goals, so do your mistakes. They’re both essential in the process.

Today’s mistakes are tomorrow’s learnings. Today’s victories are tomorrow’s benchmarks.

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R.

This sign

 

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When I look at this, I’m constantly reminded. I’m reminded that there’s enough reason to face another day with so much optimism, motivation and renewed hope; that I can put my trust completely on my Saviour.

I’m reminded that there’s someone who will look after what I am not capable of handling or changing.

That if my human abilities fail, His grace and faithfulness won’t.

That if my plans and dreams don’t succeed, His plan and purpose will take over.

That if I’m filled with fear and doubt, His promises will be my hope.

That if everyone has turned their backs, His comfort and His peace will be there to remind me I’m safe and valued.

That if the waiting time gets frustrating, His Word will constantly reassure me of His perfect timing.

That if I get lost, or refuse to find my way back, He will be waiting for me to come home.

And He will remain the same.

And He will remind me of these things again in case I’ve forgotten.

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R.

Timeout!

The start of the year has been pretty rough for me. I know, we’re only in Day 8.

Well, there are just things that are beyond your control, even your knowledge sometimes. Your limitations as a human being become utterly exposed no matter how hard you fight it and pin down the problem.

In all angles and views, you are weak. And nothing that you have can make you any stronger or wiser. The issues become incremental and remorseless; the issues just keep on piling up without the previous ones being resolved. And you’re caught in the middle somewhere, confused and distressed.

But if there’s one thing I have learned, experienced and practiced in the last few days, it is to seek God and His peace continually–to just sit down with Him and rest in His presence; to lay down everything: your pride, your fears, anxieties, inhibitions, your bare self before Him, and just take a break in His comforting presence.

I know to some that might not make a lot of sense. But it simply means that you call upon the Lord, and cast everything up on Him, good or bad. Bible says to cast our cares upon the Lord because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), and He’s always ready to sustain us (Psalm 55:22),

Be honest and bold before Him, keeping in mind that you are loved and forgiven and that He knows you from the inside out.

And the most important part of it all is to trust Him and hope in Him, give your complete dependence to Him, and His will and plan for you. Give to God what only God can handle. I always remind myself of Proverbs 4:5-6 that says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

When our thinking minds fail, when our weak hearts collapse, when our plans just don’t work out in these tough situations, there’s nothing we can do but rely on God and wait for Him to move, wait for Him to look after everything with us. Psalm 27:14 says to “wait patiently for the LORD; be brave and courageous.”

Our problems are designed to put us in our mettle immensely. But I believe that God allows this sometimes so we would know our selves a lot more, our strengths and frailties. And more importantly, so we would know Him a lot deeper, too–that He is God, He is almighty and powerful, and He knows us, loves us and cares for us, and is able to rescue us from the quicksands of life.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” And that exactly what I have strived for–to sit quiet, trust God and wait on Him.

Isaiah 40: 31 is also well embedded in my heart: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

And so, the Lord has become my lifeline, my nourishment, my counsellor, my psychologist and physician in all of these. Nothing and no one else but Him.

Resting in God

I have come across this article by Joyce Meyer that spoke to me in the middle of the chaos and confusion I’m going through. I’m sure Joyce wouldn’t mind me reposting this for the people who happen to be reading this post. If it is your preference to go directly to her site, find the article here.

But here it is. The article is called “Living in God’s Rest” :

God wants us to enjoy our everyday lives. John 10:10 (AMP) says that Jesus died for us so we “may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”. But it seems so many people who say they believe in Jesus are not really enjoying their lives. It’s tragic to think that Jesus paid the price for our sins, that He suffered to make that sacrifice, and yet there are Christians who are struggling just to get by and make it through each day.

The key to having abundant life in Christ is living by God’s grace through faith. Because grace is His power working in us that enables us to do whatever we need to do in life.

When we try to do everything in our own strength and leave God out of the equation, we just get worn-out and frustrated by our mistakes and failures. But when we lean on God, we actually enter into His rest and can enjoy our lives, no matter what our circumstances may be.

Hebrews 4:9-11 (AMP) says, So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God; for he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors…. Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves]….

Now the rest of God is not a rest from work—it’s a rest in work. It’s partnering with God to do what He is calling you to do by His grace, and leaving the part you can’t do in His hands, trusting Him to do it. Hebrews 4:3 says it this way: We who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest…. So we start by believing.

When I’m trying to believe, I haven’t entered God’s rest. But when I do believe, I have complete rest in Him. Living by faith is not a struggle—it’s rest. And you can enter into God’s rest in every area of your life.

I’ve discovered that the stress in my life is caused by the way I approach my circumstances and the attitude I have toward them. It was a turning point for me when I realized that the world will probably never change, but I could learn how to change the way I go about handling situations that are challenging.

One key to this is knowing that as believers in Christ, we are partners with God—we have a part and He has a part in everything He calls us to do. When we don’t do the part we can do and we try to do His part, that’s when we live stressed-out with worry, fear, anxiety, frustration, no peace and no joy.

The reason this happens sometimes is because we think God needs our help. We meditate on the problem—rolling it over and over in our mind, worrying, trying to figure out how things should work out. It’s like we’re telling God, “I kind of think You need my help, and I’m not sure You can take care of this situation, Lord.”

We need to realize that worrying is useless! It’s like sitting in a rocking chair, rocking all day, wearing yourself out and getting nowhere. Trusting God means we give up worrying, reasoning, and anxiety and we enter into His rest with simple childlike faith—we live by grace through faith!

Ephesians 2:8-9 is a great scripture that says we’re saved by grace through faith. And we walk out our relationship with God and His plans for our lives the same way we receive salvation: by grace through faith. This is possible because Jesus made the perfect sacrifice for us when He gave His life, taking our guilt and condemnation and paying for our sins. Through a personal relationship with Jesus, we access God’s grace so we can do what He’s calling us to do.

It’s so amazing to know that God is always with us, giving us His grace for everything we need to do in life. Trust God’s unconditional love for you today. Do what you can do and give Him everything else. And when you find yourself getting frustrated or feeling overwhelmed, like you just can’t do it anymore, remember to stop, get your focus back on Him and enter into His rest once again.

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Original photo can be found on WallpapersCraft.com.

R.

Fantastic news!

I am in seventh heaven right now. And it’s all fun and amazing up here! LOL. Just kidding.

Today, I’ve received one of the best news of the year. And that is the release date of the long-awaited and highly anticipated Hillsong Worship album, which we’ve learned today has the title, “OPEN HEAVEN / River Wild.”

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On their Facebook page, Hillsong Worship dropped the news that reads:

We’re excited to announce the upcoming release of our new album ‘Open Heaven / River Wild’ recorded live at #‎HillsongConf in Sydney! Available worldwide on 16th October! We pray this album will reach and impact the lives of many as they worship under an #‎OpenHeaven!

I mean, I know there’s still less than 2 months to wait. But it excites me so much to have Hillsong’s new music finally accessible any time of the day. We’ve had a good taste of it during conference. Also, the worship team has slowly introduced some of the new tunes during church services.

Can I just say that this new pool of songs is just simply irresistible (?). It makes you crave worship so much more. It makes your access to heaven and to God’s throne so much more dynamic and inexorable. The heartfelt and rhapsodic songs seem to make God’s Spirit and presence so much more palpable. In other words, it makes people worship and frolic in God’s love and presence in a powerful and extraordinary way.

The album is actually available for pre-order on their website. The track listing is already released as well.

One of the songs I’m very excited about is the one that goes “Holy is the Lord revealed before my eyes and my burning heart can scarcely take it in…“, which I believe is entitled “Transfiguration” (I’m still not so sure. I could be wrong).

Then there’s “Oh, what grace I’ve found in You, my Jesus, that my soul should entertain Your greatness…“, which I believe is called “What A Saviour.”

I am just incredibly happy because Hillsong Worship has done it again. Props to the brilliant team of God-inspired, Spirit-filled creatives! I mean, I thought it would be very hard top their previous album, “No Other Name.” But then I’ve realised, it’s not about which has better songs, and/or production and marketing components. It’s about the experience–both the musical and the spiritual aspects of it. If it’s music that speaks to the soul, and opens up the heart, mind, and soul to God’s voice and to His Word, then that’s IT. This album’s got IT.

So I’m looking forward to the release of this album, and to the fresh experience that it has to offer. And perhaps, the new revelations God has in store for His people, that I pray will be delivered strongly thru music. To God be the glory!

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R.

I attended Hillsong Conference 2015!

I am not quite sure if I have written enough or posted enough online about the Hillsong Conference that took place just a week ago. I can’t even begin to describe the kind of experience I’ve just had, registering for the very first time and completing the 5 nights and 3 (out of 4) days of encountering God in a very extraordinary way. It was unbelievable. It was life-changing, life-turning, soul-breaking, heart-changing. It was “spiritually bloating” as one of my friends said.

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I mean, just having the opportunity to worship with a high-octane crowd amplifying incredible, God-breathed music from the Hillsong team, and just hearing so richly and strongly from the Lord through the messages and teachings of amazing pastors and leaders. Seriously, what more could you have I asked for?

The theme for this year is “Speak: We’re Listening”, which I believe is about listening to the voice of God in this life and time. To be honest, at first I was worried that this “concept” would sort of struggle to top last year’s i.e., “No Other Name”, which was blatantly and furiously Jesus-centred, and was all about magnifying God and His true power and identity. But in the end, it didn’t matter which was “greater” or “more spectacular.” God showed up and showed out mightily in this year’s conference, and won many souls back into Him. It was incredible.

I feel very blessed and spoilt by God the entire week. Although, honestly, it was not easy confronting the many issues I’m faced with at present. It was awfully hard staring at them in the face. But in the midst of it, I was able to step out boldly, and witness how God has mightily transformed not the difficult circumstances—but my very own heart, my very own perspective by expanding my understanding of His Word, His love and greatness, His fatherhood, His divine plan, and what He wants in my life.

It was a week of absolute enlightenment, encouragement, love, reviving, restoration and healing for me. I have learned and re-learned a lot of things—things that I am usually afraid to think or talk about, and delve deeply into. I don’t understand how I’ve managed to face it, but it’s true, with God, nothing’s impossible.

None of it would’ve taken place without the power of God, the love of Jesus and the strong move of the Holy Spirit. And what an awesome time to reflect on His immeasurable grace and love. How amazing it is to realise how favoured, loved and valued we are by our Lord. His grace prevails. His mercy endures. His love overcomes.

To tell you honestly, it will be hard to summarise the very gist of the conference, or the main lesson that every individual must have taken home. I guess, it’s very personal and subjective for everyone. We all have different and distinct issues and challenges in life. I’m sure that God’s been able to speak to each person who attended in a powerful and personal way.

What I personally took home with me could be summed up into these points:

  • Learn to consistently prioritise listening to the voice of God.
  • Be honest with God. Present yourself as you are. He knows you from the inside out. He’d appreciate it if you come to Him with complete humility and honesty. He knows how to deal with you.
  • Grace is truly an unbelievable, mind-blowing scandal. (Open up your Bible and ask Jesus how and why for clarification)
  • Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life. He wants to be in the midst of our lives. We need to constantly seek Him and His will.

They don’t sound new at all, which validates that they are true. Simply divine truths that always have been, are and will forever be. And these are the messages that really hit home.

I think I sound so all over the place in all that. But anyway, I hope you get my point. My love and hunger for God are just stronger than ever. I hope it stays this way today and always.

Well, what I also like to share is basically a mosaic of photos taken during the seven days of the conference. I guess it serves as a visual attempt to share such a remarkable experience. And all thanks and praise belong to the Lord really.

Rie Manaloto

R.

vis-à-vis

Original Photo from Versify:Life

Original Photo from Versify:Life

Proverbs 4:23. Oftentimes the hardest thing to ever do and be consistent with. But that’s what the Spirit is there for, to be our Guide, Advocate and Counsellor (Luke 12:12, John 14:26). We still have the choice though, whether or not we want to follow His guidance. But one thing’s for sure: He’ll never lead us to sin or wreckage.

R.

Anástasis

Easter season. It’s that time of the year again that we remember the death and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross for the salvation of humankind from sin. However, oftentimes, many of us forget how the story’s ended. Luke 24:1-8 recounts,

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered His words.

The rest of the chapter talks about how Jesus, after abandoning the tomb, has appeared to some people including His own disciples. I can imagine Him entering his homies’ hub with a huge smile and His trademark hailing, “Peace be with you” (verse 36).

So the story ended with Christ ALIVE. Off the cross and away from the tomb. My God is back to life and has ascended to heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19). My Redeemer lives and reigns forevermore, and because of Him we are set free (Galatians 5:1)–we live under God’s grace (Romans 6:14); we’re ransomed from sin and reconciled with the Father (Romans 3:23-24, 2 Corinthians 5:18). We are able to obtain and experience salvation because of what Jesus has done, and by believing in the power of the cross and that Jesus is truly Lord (Romans 10:9).

He is the reason why we can celebrate and be thankful for being justified, free, saved and loved.

We may not fully understand why or how this all took place, or what it really means for us. But I choose to believe in what the Scriptures say. I choose to feel gratitude by reflecting on God’s goodness and grace–by recognising that I’m a sinner and I need a Saviour; that I am nothing without God; that everything is in vain if I don’t make God a part of it.

I choose to believe in God’s promises and what’s written in His Word as we wait for His return. I choose to celebrate His love and share that with others to the best of my ability, however challenging it may be. I choose to continue to seek Him and get to know Him better and deeper.

Let us not forget that Jesus did not only die for us; He also rose again to live and reign, to justify and to save us, to find us and direct our ways. He LIVES. His love saves.

It’s all about Jesus, it’s all about His love.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

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Rie Manaloto

R.