Fall by Rie Manaloto #prayedup
Fall by Rie Manaloto #prayedup
Revive by Rie Manaloto #haiku
Tibi gratias ago Deo ad 2018. Consaluto 2019. Perseverare. Contra mundum.
When God speaks, you just know that He is speaking.
It’s a masterful, logical, and fervent voice.
You can’t ignore it nor silence it.
His words will pierce you right in the core, and catapult you to the things that need your attention, especially the areas of your heart that you’ve either been avoiding/hiding from or neglecting.
And it’s always coherent and full. Clear and compelling.
Even the metaphors and the analogies jump straight out to you; no need for complex analysis.
You just get it.
He enables you to get it.
Photo taken after an intense conversation.
Things to add to my creative bank. Salamat Yahweh! Cannot wait for everyone to hear these compositions soon.
At long last! The second (and first official public) staging of “Cabesang Tales” is happening this November. I have composed some music for this show (and lyrics are in poetic Tagalog, dude am I proud of myself) that I’m excited for everyone to hear the arrangements of. We also wrote a couple of new songs for this revamp.
Happy and grateful to have also given my artwork for the show’s main poster. Let’s make the Rizal saga relevant again. Make sure you see it! Tickets are actually limited so make sure you grab yours ASAP.
It’s 1:00 AM. Last day of 2017. And I’m sitting on my bed with my air cooler, repeatedly humming the lyrics from the music I’m currently obsessed with, “A million dreams are keeping me awake …”; alternating with, “Why don’t we rewrite the stars …”.
I just had an absolutely random thought. I’m propelled to write something on my blog, pretty much as a year-ender article, or something that could discuss the highlights of my year.
I don’t know. I feel like every passing year brings something so significant that affects my way of life in many, different ways. And I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about the people and things and events that I encountered this whole year that had impacted me in one way or another. Things that inspired me, made me value my life a little bit more, and enabled me to rethink my life’s purpose more carefully and thoroughly.
I mean, I don’t know who’ll get to read this blogpost, or if anyone would bother. But I guess, it’s really more for me. I need to write this for myself—to help me reflect on how every one of these (let’s call them) “subjects” had made my year an interesting one; or how each one had made a difference; and perhaps, why I will choose to keep them in my life for the coming years, the coming successes, the coming endeavours. Let’s start.
I think everyone knows that I’m a book lover. No. I’m a book addict. And a book hoarder. Sometimes, even a book maniac. A secretly imploding one. Well, this year was probably the year I bought the most books in my life. I purchased 24 new books in the last 365 days. Twenty-four. Christian life books, Bible study books, prayer books, selected fiction books. Have I touched each one of them? Yes. Have I finished reading all of them? No. Maybe if we had 8 more hours in a day then I’d be able to spend extra time on a couple more. But books give me so much joy. They inform and inspire and intrigue and impel my hungry soul. They’re my treasures. I simply can’t live without them. My love for reading has ridiculously escalated this year. I’ve never enjoyed it more.
2) Music albums
I don’t possess any luxurious things in this life. There’s only two things I treat as luxury—my library, and my record collection. For me, music albums are as much of a work-of-art as the music itself. If I really love the artist and his or her music, I have to have the physical copy of it. I enjoy how artistically the photos, lyrics, credits, and other cool stuff are put together in the one album. It makes you value the existence of the art and the artist a lot more. This year, I bought a stack of albums, old and new ones; some of them were gifts from friends and family. And they’re kept very safely in my room. Some of my favourites include Emeli Sande’s “Long Love the Angels” (2016), and Sam Smith’s “The Thrill of it All” (2017).
I’m in love with tea. Tea is life! It gives me peace of mind and absolute relaxation, particularly Green Tea. This year, I took it upon myself to learn to like the tea types I used to find intolerable like Jasmine, Oolong, Ampalaya (Bitter Melon) and Moringa. Now, I got a good, abiding, vital relationship with these guys. I also got more friendly with White Tea and Matcha. Oh, by the way, some of my favourite brands include: Yogi, T2 and Twinings.
I wrote a lot this year, both in prose and poetry forms. Many of them have not been published publicly yet, because I feel like I can still improve and/or develop them further. They are all stored in my journal. Thankfully, I got more comfortable writing short poems and song lyrics. I also started writing haikus, which was quite interesting, because for some reason, it’s the most challenging one to do. Additionally, I’ve attempted writing some poems in Tagalog; which just makes me realise how badly I need to be in a Filipino literature class to be good at it. Basically, I would write anywhere, whenever I get that unreflective urge to; even in my workplace while working (most of them were done and edited there, to be honest).
I always seemed to have some sort of fear when it comes to composing—fear of not being able to match my melodies and my lyrics, or of not finding the perfect rhymes, or of sounding lame and freaky, or of not living up to my own artistic standards through this medium. I don’t know. But in 2017, who would’ve thought that I would be able to compose, co-write, and orchestrally arrange a musical theatre piece that has been used for a play last September? I spent two days working on the score. It was a very smooth and spontaneous process, which surprised me because in the past, scoring an original piece was not always comfortable and smooth-flowing; especially for someone so fuzzy, scrupulous, over-elaborate like me. It was totally refreshing!
In the last two years, I have committed to investing in live concerts, and will continue to do so in the coming years. This year I went to quite a few significant events like Lea Salonga’s concert at the Sydney Opera House in February—this was phenomenal. I came to see Hans Zimmer and his fantabulous team at the Qudos Bank Arena in May. I also got to watch the sensational pop star, Ariana Grande at the ICC Theatre last September; and the extremely talented Leroy Sanchez at the Metro Theatre, mid-November. These concerts were all awe-inspiring and soul-stirring in their own unique ways. I look forward to more live events next year!
7) Ben Platt
Ben made a lot of difference in my life this year, more than I could fully express in words. Earlier this year, for some reason I felt like my love for performing was slowly losing its grip on me. I questioned a lot of things. What used to be meaningful and special to me seemed and looked so superficial and pointless. After watching him perform songs from Dear Evan Hansen, I just saw pure talent and exceptional prowess—something I had always aspired and strived for. He made me get in touch with my passion for performing again. His remarkable artistry ignited a new kind of love for the arts in me. And for that, I will always be thankful. He is my Broadway icon and I will always look up to him.
8) Dear Evan Hansen by Pasek and Paul
I just realised I haven’t formally written anything about this brilliant musical just yet. But I guess, by now everybody knows that I’m crazy for it and I’ve raved about it countless times. Dear Evan Hansen is simply the musical play of this generation that’s given a voice to people who felt inferior and insignificant. It has made a lot of people reflect on where they stand in the society; how each one of us is contributing to the solution and/or the problem with social anxiety, unbelonging, depression, suicide and relationship dysfunction. It mirrors us. Hence, we can take a better look at our own issues, our own dilemmas and rethink of how we deal with them. Furthermore, Dear Evan Hansen has redefined, if not, set a new trend for musicals today because of the amazing work of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul who seriously deserve the limelight for their genuine talents and innovative approach as composers.
9) The Greatest Showman
Another fantastic work by Pasek and Paul, which I recently raved about on this blog. I am just obsessed with this work of art, this enormous culmination of artistry, zeal, synergy and creative excellence. It’s taught me to “dream with my eyes wide open.” Here’s what I got to say about it.
10) Keala Settle
I said this before, and I will say it over and over again: Keala Settle is a formidable force of nature. This artist just blew me away and continues to do so. She has a divine touch on what she does. And like Ben Platt, Keala offers something inimitable and unique to her audience and to other artists she gets to inspire. Her fire is contagious, and her kind of fire is what our generation of artists need today. I am unspeakably thankful for what she does. Watch her electric workshop performance of “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman here.
Let’s talk about the people I’m thankful for, people I know in person and are related to me. And as expected, family’s always first. This year has been quite a challenging one for my family. And what I got to witness and appreciate is how my family stuck together through the serious hardships. No one’s bailed out. Everyone’s presence is all that mattered. I think our love for each other continues to grow and mature and expand as it also gets tested and measured by difficult circumstances that I can honestly be thankful for. I may not always verbalise it, but I love them inexpressibly. And I’m thankful that they’re the ones given to me in this life.
The sadness when Bimby left us this year was unthinkable. He would have turned 3 today, the day we found him and adopted him. He was an important family member that radically changed our home. Yet still, I choose to be thankful that the Lord gifted us to him for almost three years. Bim brought our family together, and would always mellow the atmosphere, whatever tension or drama arose. And even now, his memories bring solace to us, with a slight pinch in the heart.
Truth be told, I only have a handful of true friends. True friends who I don’t need to see often to keep a good relationship with. True friends who are altogether loyal, honest, trustworthy and reliable. True friends who make me feel loved, understood and accepted. And I’ve never treasured them more until this year. I don’t know why or how, but that’s how I’m feeling. And I believe when people say that you don’t need a lot of friends; just a few good ones you can count on and trust is enough. If they’re reading this, I want to tell them how important they are to me, and how thankful I am for standing by me in the jumpiest and moodiest points of my life. You guys are tops!
14) Second family
They go by the name “Filozart” (I didn’t pick the name, and I’ve always been honest to say that I wish it wasn’t it, Ha-ha!). These people give me a second home, a home away from home. They give me a second family that I laugh and cry with, a second family that I discuss the most random, sometimes unusual things under the sun. They taught me to be honest, to be truthful of what I really feel without fearing judgment by the cruel society. They taught me to face my fears, and work around my insecurities. They taught me to break out of my inhibitions, and leave my comfort zone. They taught me that only I can set limitations to myself; it is only I who will and can determine how far I can go, how fast I can run, how high I can jump. They helped me discover myself in interesting, dumbfounding and uncomfortable ways. I will always treasure them.
15) God’s Word
In 2017, I fell in love with God’s Word like I’ve never done so before; high up to a whole new level. It’s become my lifeline. I read it like my life depended on it (and as it should). My craving for wisdom and knowledge, for more of God’s say and involvement in my life had grown drastically this year. I recognised my weakness and dumbness, and my need for God. His say is all that matters at the end of the day. And He’s given us a chance to know Him and get connected with Him through His Word, through accepting Jesus, the true and eternal Word. I’m thankful that He’s given me that desire and hunger. I developed more consistent Bible reading habits; I read and studied more than ever; I gained more understanding of God, myself, the world, and why things are happening as they are. It’s not always fun and positive; sometimes God will confront you and make you realise the ugly things in your existence (like pride and envy), and how it is your fault that these things remain with you. And the learning does not finish. A verse or a chapter a day is not enough to solve my personal issues, all the more the world’s. Understanding the Word, living it out, obeying it—this is all just the beginning of a life-long seeking for God’s truth and will. And His plans and purpose always prevail.
16) Dirty Bibles
This is the product or the “overflow” of my quiet time with the Lord that came to fruition late in July. It’s like the Holy Spirit had finally succeeded with the persistent divine nudging. This is the place where I share my personal Biblical reflections and insights. I wanted to document what I’m learning and what I’m understanding from God’s Word that might enlighten or encourage whoever reads it; and to somehow help others who got the same questions and confusions as I have. And although I’m being interrogated with the name choice and all the potential “connotations” it may pertain to, the Lord knows the heart behind it. At the end of the day, it got people’s attention—but instead of finding something nasty, they are led to the place they’ve always been running away from: their appointment with God. And I will continue to do my best, use my research and writing abilities to bring the Gospel of Jesus to my own sphere and to the larger world. So help me God!
17) The G-O-D
This year, I went through some temperamental seasons—sometimes I’m awkward, awful and angry; sometimes I have it all figured out. This is my normal. This is my reality. But there’s always Someone who remains the same through these mercurial times. He is my constant. My faithful and consistent companion through life’s scornful roads. The One who reminds me of my identity and my inheritance. He is my Provider and Protector, my Guard and Guide. He is my comfort and pace, my joy and my strength. He is My Saviour and King. The One who was, is and will be in control. And I continue to seek Him and trust Him with my life. I continue to know and learn the things He wants me to do, the things He wants me to achieve, the places He wants me to go, the people He wants me to connect with. I continue to learn how to live for Him; how to serve Him and bring Him glory wherever He places me. I want to share Him with the ones who forgot about Him or turned their backs on Him. I want to be good for Him. I want to live out His grace, and love Him the best way I can. I am His, and His love for me has defined who I am and will be.
(Read Titus 2:11-12)
The best Christmas gift anyone has received and can receive is God’s grace. And it is the probably the most important concept that we must know, understand and live by.
Grace is commonly defined as God’s unmerited favour, or God’s love in action. But it’s beyond being just “unmerited”—it is favour granted to sinners who deserve His judgment and wrath, yet the Lord chose to show them favour. A Christian pastor said, “Showing kindness to a stranger is ‘unmerited favor’; doing good to one’s enemies is more the spirit of grace” (as in the concept of Love your enemies in Luke 6:27-36).
Grace is embodied fully and tangibly in the person of Jesus Christ (see John 1:17). The first coming of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate during Christmas, was God’s saving grace dawning upon this broken, sin-infested world. Grace means God sending His one and only Son, to die on the cross so that we unworthy sinners may be saved from sin and death (which what our sinfulness deserves), then be reconciled to God and receive eternal life and citizenship in heaven (see John 3:17, Romans 6:23, 1 John 4:10, 2 Timothy 1:9-10).
And that is the good news of the Gospel! When you understand and experience the grace of God in Jesus Christ, it propels you and teaches you to live a life that pleases Him; to live sensible, righteous, godly lives, so we can draw those who live otherwise to the Saviour amidst the sin-darkened age. Through His grace, God has blessed us with the abilities to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires” so that we can live out a sensible, righteous, and godly life (Titus 2:12). His grace also enables us to point people home to God and/or to draw them back to having a personal and intimate relationship with our Saviour.
And that is how what the grace of God does—it saves us, then it propels and teaches us to be godly people who do good deeds, as we look forward to second coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ who sacrificed Himself for our salvation. Remember what Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” This Christmas, take some time to reflect on how the grace of God works in your life, and how you can live it out right in and under His amazing grace.
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For more readings/references:
(Read Luke 1:46-56)
Mary’s hymn of praise, or commonly known as the “Magnificat” is one of the most iconic and celebratory moments in the Bible. After Mary was visited by an angel foretelling the birth of Jesus (see Luke 1:26-38), she met with Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist (see Luke 1:39-45). They shared the inexorable joy that’s about to come their way.
Mary’s song expressed her personal praise to the Lord for His treatment of her, and how the Almighty God had blessed the righteous through all generations. Moved with joy and gratitude, Mary sang of God’s favour and blessing in her life, and in the lives of the people who fear Him, who humble themselves before Him, and serve Him (v48-55).
Mary knew she was uniquely blessed, and magnified the Lord’s name, still recognising her humble state as a servant of God in a place of utter thankfulness. She declared the goodness and faithfulness of God over her life and her community (v48-55).
Mary knew and understood God’s consistent character and nature. She knew that the Lord loves and cares for the poor and the humble, always lifts them up, and never forsakes those who are in need of Him, especially His own dutiful servants (see Ps 102:27, Ps 149:4, James 4:10, Prov 3:34, Luke 6:20, 1 Pet 5:6-7).
Mary knew and acknowledged that everything that comes from God’s hand, is out of His mercy and grace (see James 1:17, James 4:6, Psalm 84:11). As one commentary says, Mary knew that “God owes her nothing; she owes God everything.”
Mary knew that when she accepted this blessing and responsibility, she had nothing to fear, because God Himself was her “Saviour” (see Isaiah 41:10, Ps 27:1). She trusted God enough to surrender her life, her future to His will, responding, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).
Mary knew that God’s plans always prevail, and He never breaks His promises (Prov 19:21, Isa 14:27). She knew that God is in authority and His Word never fails (Deut 4:39, Joshua 21:45).
Let’s all learn from Mary’s example of humility—a servant who fears and honours God, who joyfully remembers His goodness and love, and who trusts in His plans and purposes.
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(Read John 1:4-5)
In a world covered in spiritual darkness because of sin, we need the Light.
Jesus is this Light. He declares in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
Jesus came to a world of chaos, a world full of pride, hate, greed and self-centredness; divided and prejudiced; a world where the religious leaders were misleading the crowd, where people misunderstand and misinterpret God’s precepts, plans and purposes (Romans 3:23, Matt 23:23-24, Isa 64:6)
But in His first coming, Jesus brings in His light “that darkness has not overcome” even up to this day (John 1:5). He embodies hope in our despair; He whispers peace in the midst of the turmoil; He becomes the inextinguishable light in the surrounding darkness.
Even in our personal spiritual journey where darkness persist to break in, Jesus is the light we need to illuminate our skies, to expose the lies and snares of the enemy, and to free us from the bondage of sin. His Light does not in any way excuse our sins, but instead, His sacrifice on the cross propels us and brings us to a place of repentance, with a desire to change our life direction.
Jesus said in John 12:36-37, “Believe in the Light while you have the Light, so that you may become children of light.” When we receive Jesus and believe in Him, we become rightful children of God, “not of natural descent or human decision, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).
We become children of Light when we follow Jesus. When we follow Jesus, we believe and obey His Word even though oftentimes we cannot clearly see the next steps. But we can trust that His Word will be “the lamp to our feet and light to our path” (Psalm 119:105). We can be sure that Jesus will always lead us to the right direction, according to God’s will and purpose.
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(Read Matthew 1:23)
It was around 735 BC when the birth of Jesus was predicted by the prophet Isaiah to the nation of Judah (see Isaiah 7). And interestingly, Jesus was named hundreds of years before He was even born!
His name “Immanuel” translates to, and basically summarises the real essence of Christmas in these three words: “God With Us”. However, “Immanuel” is not really a personal name for Jesus, but rather a title or description of His role of bringing God’s presence to humanity.
When you look more closely into it, and reflect on this phrase more deeply, doesn’t it stagger you? The Lord, the Almighty God made a way to be physically with us, to dwell visibly among us. It speaks of the loving nature of our God—that out of His grace, He has given us a Messiah, a promise He had fulfilled us a long time ago because He is a faithful God (see Deut 7:9, Heb 10:23, 1Cor 15:57, Acts 15:11, Eph 2:8-9)
And notice how He didn’t send an angel or some sort of delegate or representative to do the job. He did it Himself, He came down Himself to rescue His people, to give life and hope to this desperate world. His name “Immanuel” merely signifies what kind of God we serve—a God who cares, a God who is personal, a God who is present.
Therefore, the best part of Christmas is not just the festivities or the presents we give and receive; but it is knowing that the presence of God with us. In sorrow and joy, in trials and successes, He is with us.
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(Read John 1:14)
We must realise that the Word of God is more than printed pages in a book. The Word of God is the person of Jesus Christ.
John 1:1-5 say, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The Word (or Logos in Greek) refers to no other than Jesus Christ. And this passage speaks of the relationship between the Son and the Father even before everything was created. Jesus was right in the beginning with the Father and was God Himself (v1-2); was involved in the creation (v3); and is the invincible light of all mankind (v4-5).
Jesus Christ is the divine expression of God, the complete embodiment of the invisible and incomprehensible God. Everything that God is, His truth and totality is expressed in His Logos (Word), and this expression IS God. In Jesus, we see God. Verse 14 says, “…We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus was the Word. The Word was God. The Word became flesh. In other words, God became human. Hence, Jesus Christ was fully human, and Jesus Christ was fully God.
John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God…” God the Father, the Creator of the universe is Spirit, and is invisible to the human eye. In Biblical history, the law has been given to Moses by God (v17); and Yahweh has spoken through the prophets, all His promises and precepts. But there came a time when people, including leaders and so-called law enforcers had violated His words, and easily disregarded these divine commands from an “invisible God”, that they continued living in sin and rebellion (Ezekiel 22:26; Matthew 23:37).
And in due time, the Word (Jesus), the total embodiment of the nature of God, became flesh, was born human, and came to live with us (Matt 1:23; Rom 8:3; Phil 2:5–11). God’s Word in the person of Jesus, the “one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known” (v18). And while the law came through Moses, “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (v17). God Himself came down to preach the truth about His goodness, love and redemption to all mankind in the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the gift of grace sent to mankind, to save us from sin and death, and to offer us eternal life regardless of our racial or social backgrounds (Colossians 3:11). Jesus—who experienced being human Himself, who got tempted, got hungry, got thirsty, became physically weak and tired, even experienced death—has become our High Priest who can empathise with us, having experienced all these, yet lived a sinless, spotless life, in complete surrender and obedience to God (Hebrews 4:15). And He offers us grace, He offers us mercy. He wants to forgive us, to be reconciled with us, to show us His loving ways, and share heaven with us. If only we will attempt to get close to Him, accept our need for Him, and embrace this priceless gift He is offering by His incarnation.
We must seek Jesus, and ask His Holy Spirit who dwells in everyone who’s placed faith in His name to make the living and active Word of God to be made flesh, and be alive in our own lives.
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Some substantial reads/references:
Growing up a devout Catholic (I am now a reformed Christian), my family observed some really important Christmas traditions. One of them was the Simbang Gabi (Night Mass), sometimes called Misa De Gallo—it is a series of nine dawn Masses celebrated for the Advent season, in preparation for Christmas Day, which commemorates the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Does that make sense? Just Google it for yourself perhaps.)
Now, I just thought it’d be interesting to design a Bible study plan via Dirty Bibles that is stencilled through the 9-day event, except that they will be Bible devotions (straight from the Scriptures, minus all the fuzz that comes with it. Also, no need to wake up before sunrise!)
I mean, this celebration perhaps is the pinnacle (apart from the Resurrection) of our Christianity—honouring and believing in the love and the grace of God revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man; the eternal Word who became flesh and dwelt amongst us, the real Saviour of mankind (no offense to the Justice League).
It’s the perfect season to get keep our Bibles open and busy again. Dirty it up with markings and annotations, with creases and tears. And pray with the very words from it, knowing and believing in our hearts that our God is alive, and He desires for us to get closer to Him each day.
Ready for this? Start here.
This passage is meaty, confronting and simply straightforward, containing glorious truths. Let’s go.
(Read Colossians 3:4-11)
This passage is meaty, confronting and simply straightforward, containing glorious truths. Thoughts to ponder:
(Written earlier in June 2017)
Prayer is essential in a man’s life. I think the Bible itself simply cannot emphasise that enough.
Jesus Himself needed to pray constantly, and always sought the Father in everything. He would breathe and speak it. His life is a perfect demonstration of complete dependence on God in prayer.
Is prayer a constant thing in your life? Or is it something that you’ve been missing all this time?
Has it been just a tedious religious routine? Or an actual expression of your faith and devotion?
Has it been your source of strength and encouragement? Or just a last resort when all else have failed?
We will never run out of things to pray for. There are always so many matters that you can and must pray for–your family, your job, your relationships, your dreams and goals, bigger opportunities, etc.
With the recent happenings, where people are ruthlessly killed after enjoying an amazing concert, or even while driving on a highway, you would want to pray for safety and protection. With the things happening in the economy, whether you understand it or not, you would want to pray for financial stability.
We need help. We need God. We need to seek His will more than ever. We need protection from the works of the enemy. We need our hearts and minds to be ready for the things ahead of us that we do not and cannot know about.
We need to increase our faith. We need to believe that God is with us to strengthen and comfort us (Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 23:4); that through the wars and storms, He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He is God who is in control; we can trust Him.
God is faithful. God is loving. He commands us to pray instead of worry, and He promises that He will give us His peace when we do so (Philippians 4:6-7).
And so I borrowed a list of 25 things that we all need to be praying about more from this amazing blog. When I saw this list, I knew I had to share it. It reminds us of the most significant life aspects that we must always take into account, including the areas that need God’s power and providence.
So please, find the time and motivation to bring these supplications and petitions to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you know how to pray for each matter, to intercede for people and life scenarios. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us everything (John 14:26), and He is able to intercede for us in accordance with the Lord’s will (Romans 8:26–27).
(Read Isaiah 40:27-31)
Let’s be honest. There are times when we would think that God doesn’t seem to hear or see our situation, especially when it’s challenging and chaotic, and everything just seems to be going out of control. You can’t help but worry and doubt and question, “God, where are you in all of these? Can’t you see me? Can’t you see how bad everything looks right now? Aren’t you going to do something about this? You know I can’t, but can you? Will you?”
Then disappointments turn to doubts, doubts turn to disbelief, and disbelief turns to resentment. And we find ourselves in a place where it is just so hard to trust God anymore, simply because He didn’t seem to respond when we called on Him. He didn’t give the answer or solution we were expecting. And we think we know better than Him–we know better how the problems must be solved. This is us; this is how we think very often.
But this Biblical passage by Isaiah smacks us in the face and simply reminds us that the Lord is the everlasting God–are we forgetting that He is the Creator of all? He is immeasurable. He doesn’t get tired out. He knows everything (also in 1 John 3:20). He sees everything (see Hebrews 4:13).
He is most definitely aware of what your whining about, and knows about all your worries and doubts. Before we even said a word, He knows it already (Psalm 139:4). And believe it or not, because He knows us, He understands us. He understands us perfectly.
God knows what He’s doing. We are limited, but He’s not (Psalm 147:5). It is us who have limited understanding. He said in Isaiah 55:9 that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. However, because of our undying attempt at control, we find this hard to believe. And we tire ourselves out in the process, and the waiting time becomes long and exasperating. Then we lose our patience; eventually, our trust in Him.
But here’s the main thing: Isaiah goes on and says that Yahweh energises those who get tired, and He gives fresh strength to the weak; and that no matter how young and old you are, you will get tired and fail. It’s inescapable. But all who plugs in to the Lord, the main and only legitimate source of power and strength, will renew theirs. They will continue to have the energy to wait, to hope, to trust, to praise and to serve the Lord in the middle of trouble. And the promise is they will not get tired, they will not lag behind.
And so, when God seems quiet and distant, know that this is the perfect time to learn how to seek His strength more than ever to enable you to trust Him with the things that you don’t understand, that don’t make sense to you. Remember how kind and faithful He already is to you, and hold on to how good He always has been.
His response may not be quick or instant, (as we all love instant, we live in an “instant world”), but know that He is never late, and He is never too busy for you. He’s heard your call, He’s never missed one. And His answer is on its way, and will arrive at the time and place He’s already set. Let your strength be renewed; let your faith be restored. He got it all covered, in Jesus’ name.
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(From Colossians 4:23)
Serve others like you’re serving God. Work hard for others like you’re working hard for God. Let everything you do be done unto God. Let everything you do be done in His strength. Let everything you do be done for His glory. He promised us a reward for sincerely and tirelessly serving Him, and all His promises are Yes and Amen!
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God is the only source of true wisdom. God’s wisdom, according to James 3:17, is “pure, peace-loving, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
As followers of Christ, we must endeavour to gain wisdom in our everyday walk with the Lord. We need wisdom to make moral decisions, to discern correctly, to live uprightly, to know God and discern His voice, to build our faith, and to do pretty much everything!
James in his letter encourages us to ask the Lord for wisdom if we think we need it or lack it. And he said that we ought to anticipate the Lord’s response, and not doubt that He will give it to us. And in this scenario, what Jesus said in Matthew 21:22 applies so well, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
In connection with this, Proverbs 9:10 says that the “fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Psalm 111:10 states the same, and adds that “all who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.”
In order to find or receive wisdom, it is our part to learn to develop the fear of God i.e., our reverence and respect to God.
When we revere God, we become in awe of His power, greatness and authority (Jeremiah 10:12; Job 9:4). We realise He is all-knowing, always present and constantly aware of everything, that He sees us and knows our every move (Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 139:2). And importantly we revere God when we sincerely commit to walk in obedience to Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15)
We must desire God’s wisdom to live a life that brings Him glory. Remember He is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. His thoughts are nothing like our thoughts, and His ways are far beyond what we can understand and imagine (Isaiah 55:8; Isaiah 40:28). Let’s seek His wisdom and direction. Let’s ask that our plans and desires be aligned with His divine plans and desires for us.
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(Part 2 of 3)
Read: Psalm 84:5-7
God is our strength. He is the source of real and true strength. He is our mighty and all-powerful Creator who gives us the strength to live, to have faith and believe, and to endure difficulties along our journey. And He blesses those whole rely on Him for strength.
I believe this pilgrimage to Jerusalem is symbolic of our own walk with God. And in this personal pilgrimage, the psalm says that we will pass through valleys of “weeping” (Baka); perhaps, referring to valleys of struggles, doubts, confusions, serious troubles and even more.
But because we placed faith in God and set our hearts on Him, we can walk through these life areas in His strength and grace. It is His presence amidst this long, eventful walk that gives us strength, and actually turn these dark, complicated places into places of refreshing springs, where His love and blessings will rain down and flood upon us.
Because He is present with us, we will go from strength to strength until we see Him face to face at the time and place He’s set for us.
Make Him your strength today. Obtain true strength by:
In what areas of your life do you need His strength today? God is still sovereign and faithful. Pray that He strengthens your faith, and enables His strength to dwell upon you daily.
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