Sleeping through the storm

Could you sleep tightly during a storm? One episode in the Bible shows how Jesus Himself absolutely could. He was so chill, so unalarmed He didn’t mind that the boat He’s sleeping right on was close to sinking, while everyone else could have had some sort of cardiac arrest while the chaos unfolded. Let’s read this passage and reflect on how and why  this anecdote from Jesus’ life is and should be of great significance to us.

(Read Matthew 8:23-27)

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Thoughts to ponder:

  • This passage paints a picture of Jesus’ humanity–He did get tired and need some sleep. He was absolutely human like us who felt the same feelings, who had the same physical needs. This fact validates His qualification as our intercessor between us and God the Father (Hebrews 2:17).
  • The disciples who were with Jesus in the scenario were scared to death as the waves broke into the boat. Even if they knew Jesus was with them, they were consumed by fear, and overwhelmed by anxiety that they seem to forget who they were with. Even after seeing Jesus perform miracles and supernatural things, they lacked faith and entertained fear before anything else.
  • This is a reflection of us, our humanity–it’s so easy to worry and doubt, to be frightened of the troubles and challenges that confront us day by day, even the ones that have not come our way yet.
  • Jesus had to wake up to rebuke His disciples, “You have so little faith!” Notice that He rebuked the disciples first before the actual storm. Many times in life, we must first be reminded that God IS ACTUALLY with us–He is our Lord who is always able, He is faithful and mighty to save, His kindness and mercy lasts for eternity; and we can trust Him.
  • We fail to remember how God has already shown His faithfulness and kindness to us in the past, how much He’s blessed us, protected us, delivered us and cared for us. We tend to not believe that He can do it again; that He can rescue us from our daily storms again. And again. And again.
  • Jesus knew a storm was coming; He wasn’t even shocked or panicked about it. In this life, God did not promise that we will not go through stormy weathers; in fact, Jesus told us to expect trials and sorrows in this life (John 16:33). All He ever promised is that He is and will always be with us amidst the difficulties, and He will neither fail us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  • This passage also captures a vivid picture of Jesus’ deity, His divine and supreme nature that “even the wind and waves obey Him”. Sometimes, God uses man’s extremities as an opportunity to perform His supernatural, to work His miracle, by just one word, in a heartbeat. We just got to believe that He is the Lord, and He is able. Wait and watch in awe.
  • Because of this we can lie down in peace and, like Jesus, sleep through the storm.

#HeCalmsMyStorms
#dirtybibles

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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.

mm

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.

A Christmas reflection

A Christmas reflection

Beyond all the yuletide fun, christmas shopping, massive clearance sales, Santa and the reindeers; foods, decors, toys and all that, there’s the story of JESUS—the Christmas kid who happens to be the Messiah, the Saviour. They say that the 25th … Continue reading

You are Beyond Compare

Comparing yourself to others distracts you from your own purpose and destiny. Comparison is the cancer to contentment. Comparison is opposite to wisdom. —Robert Madu (Paraphrased)

Robert Madu brought the house down at Hillsong church this morning carrying the Good News of paramount significance in this day and age. And that’s a small glimpse of what I drew up today. I was definitely dumbfounded by God’s message and it felt like it indubitably did stir something in my innermost being. This kind of message just propels you to rethink about yourself, about how you think, your current situation; what is and must be the way you see and receive the things around; and how to appreciate what God has wholesomely endowed you with. You are unique, a masterpiece  (Ephesians 2:10), created by God for a great purpose: and that’s to serve Him and love Him. Part of our job is to pursue God, dream big, aim high, work diligently and to the best of our ability while eschewing the bad habit of comparing ourselves with one another. Focus on your own stuff and be the best “you” you can ever be. Call it cheeseballs or cliché, but for me it makes a lot of sense.