Thursday, January 29, 2015

I Know...

A week ago the Holy Spirit planted in my heart Psalm 46: 10, “Be still and know that I am God.” This is one of my top 5 Bible verses of all time. It is one of the few that I have been able to commit to memory. It is one that in its simplicity ALWAYS speaks volumes of fresh words to me. It is the one that stayed with me throughout the rigorous scanning I had done the next day.

As I laid strapped and silent with a flat surface less than an inch away from my upper torso, this verse kept me sane.

As the flat surface of the scan almost imperceptibly moved sluggishly about my whole body, this verse gave me strength.

As my mind began playing tricks on me, wondering if the pictures this machine was taking of my insides were tainted by the fireworks of malignancy, this verse kept me focused.

As I was about to lose my composure overflowing with anxiety and restlessness, this verse gave me the strength to remain still.

It’s funny how God works in themes. A few days after the whole ordeal was over and I received good news that I am clean, I opened a new calendar for my office desk which has a verse from a Psalm for each month, and unknowingly I discovered that the Psalm for January is…yes…”Be still and know that I am God.”

I am trying, Lord…but many times I fail. I know that you are God, but my flesh is weak and I am easily distracted by the schemes of the enemy. The story of my life is filled with promises fulfilled, and I can’t still completely shake off the shadow of doubt. But praise Your Mercy and Faithfulness, you are Patient with those who belong to you, and you continue to gently remind us that You are the One who rules our destiny…You are the One we adore…You are the One who never will abandon us…You are the One who leads us home.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lift Each Other Up

I always enjoy reading and learning more about Exodus, so I am glad that at church, our Pastor is doing a sermon series on this book. This past Sunday, however, his words were particularly poignant for me. The commentary that spoke to me the most was on this section of Scripture from chapter 17: 10-13

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Something that jumped at me as our Pastor spoke about this passage was the fact that: we don’t have to fight alone, but we do have to fight.

God was with the Israelites, no doubt, and God’s mighty hand led them to victory, but that didn’t mean that they didn’t have to do their part. Joshua still had to take up the sword and stand in front of the armies of the Lord. He still had to be in the midst of the carnage and war had to be waged regardless of what the outcome would be and of how much they realized God was beside them. That is such a profound thought for us, today, thousands of years apart from that event.

This piece of Scripture reminds us that we are not exempted from the battle. We are God’s warriors and we can expect a fierce fight. It may not involve a literal sword or any type of fire arms, but we also, at times, land in the midst of a war…and we got to fight. We put on the Armor of God and march on to the battlefield…be it at the office, at home, in our family living rooms, at the dinner table, at a doctor’s waiting room, in a hospital bed, on an examination table, in the loneliness of our bedroom, in the crowded sidewalks of society, in the choppy waters of counter culture…we ought to be ready to fight.

However, we never fight alone. No matter what, there is always someone by our side. Even if the world abandons us, Jesus is our constant companion. As the Word, Jesus provides the main weapons in our war. He is also the Truth that we wrap around our waist. He is the Gospel that makes us ready. In Him we put our faith that protects us from the flaming arrows of the enemy, and He is our Salvation! Therefore, Jesus is no ordinary companion. As a matter of fact, He is our full armor.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6: 14-17. 

We never fight alone either because the Lord Our God gives us brothers and sisters that go to battle with us. He gives us those who find us a place to rest and prop our arms up when our strength fails. He gives us those who lift us up to Him so we can finish the task and get to the other side.

As we go through our valleys of shadow, our deserts, our fires, our storms, our wars, let’s acknowledge the fact that we don’t fight alone. Let’s recognize those along the path who shoulder by shoulder walk with us into battle, those who lift our arms up when we lack endurance. Let us also examine ourselves and see if we are accomplishing our own mission as helpers and companions in others’ struggles. How well are we lifting others up to the Lord in their time of trial?

We all ought to fight…but we don’t have to fight alone.

Friday, January 23, 2015


God’s unique expression of love for us includes tests that will bring out our true nature, to then expose it to Him and to ourselves, so we can realize that without Him we are nothing, that we need a Savior and that we need to surrender it all to Him. Regardless of their purpose, tests, however, are usually not easy to take. Some of us have high levels of test-taking-anxiety and the sole mention of the word “test” gives us the jitters.

As a teacher, I know that I have to assess my students’ progress somehow. One of the main ways I use to evaluate them is by giving them lots of tests. The process is a bit different, though. I generally teach the lesson first and then give a test to see how much my students have still to learn (as every teacher knows most students hardly ever come fully prepared to a test; therefore, the test result is an indication or a measure of how much they have yet to study).

God is the Great Teacher. As such, He is constantly presenting lessons that we need to master. The only thing is that most of God’s assessment comes to us before we truly understand the lesson. In my case, I almost inevitably score a shameful “criteria not met” the very first time…the very first many times… Eventually, though not always, I begin to see the lesson appear, followed by another test, then more teaching, and then another test until I finally, hopefully, learn whatever it is He is teaching me. You would think this reverse protocol would be more effective because of the shock value. In my case…not so much…

For instance, I think God has been teaching me a lesson on trust for quite a LONG time...needless to say, I have yet to master it. Almost every test I have been facing during the last couple of years has had trust as its main theme. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I keep re-taking the test on this subject over and over and over again…for I have proven a slow learner. With each test, fear, doubt and anxiety continue to creep up…and I am exhausted.

Today, though I can honestly say I perceive a change. I am not on the same spot I was way back when I first began this period of testing. I look back and I see that with each test God has taken me along a path of progress. He has showed me that the result is not the point. He knows how many times I have to re-take the exam until I pass it…so a sense of guilt should not overwhelm me. The important thing is that with each try, I get closer to where I will one day be…to where He will one day take me…and the assurance of this truth fills my heart with peace.

I praise the Lord for the evidence that shows I may, finally be starting to get it (I guess I’m not that different from my students since I have much to learn still). I sure pray I learn this lesson well and fast because I do not want to take the test again.

Today I cling to this Scripture:

Praise our God, all peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
9he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
10For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
11You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
12You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance. 
Psalm 66 8-12

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Like a Tree Planted by the Water

Today I’m clinging to this passage of Scripture from Jeremiah 17,

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” 
Jeremiah 17: 7-8

I can’t believe that I have never really read this passage before. I remember I heard the lead singer of Casting Crowns talking about it being the foundation for their new song “Thrive,” but even then, I didn’t go read it. Today, I did a search for Bible verses that are about trusting God’s plan and this came up as the first passage. What a blessing! As I read it, verse by verse, carefully, I began to exhale and I felt the anxiety that had built-up through the awaking moments of the night…start to leave my body.

My trust and confidence in the Lord make me like that tree planted by the water that never dries up. In times of trial, when the fire comes, the tree planted by the Living Water does not fear the heat or even the years of drought because it is tapped into the Water that satisfies and that quenches the thirst forever. Even in hard times, the tree that is connected to the River of God does not wither, turn or become barren. Its fruits pop up regardless of the conditions of the environment around it because the water that sustains it never runs dry.

Like the song says, “we were made to thrive.” No matter what, we are not supposed to live in fear or enslaved by our circumstances. We are planted by the water and we trust our roots are deeply submerged into the source of life and hope…overflowing in that peace like a river, and gripping that Solid Rock that is our Lord!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

God Always Wins!

Today I cling to the words of my friend Geniene who told me she is fighting for me as I am in the middle of my battle against the “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6: 12) Geniene told me to “put on the armor of God, and not to let the enemy gain ground in me…God always wins!”

My dear friend’s words have stuck with me. God ALWAYS wins, indeed! And as a small reminder, we can visit Romans chapter 8 and bask in His victory, which is in turn, ours too.

Today I make the words of Romans 8 mine! Today I cling to the promise that we are more than conquerors in Christ! If God is for me, who can be against me? Whom then shall I fear?

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

I consider that my present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in me.

In the same way, I know that the Spirit helps me in my weakness. I do not know what I ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for me through wordless groans. And he who searches my heart knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

And I praise Him and thank Him because in all these things I/we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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 me/us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord…and that assurance is enough for me to have a heart filled with peace.

Thank you Lord Jesus, for in You we all find victory, even a sinner like me! Thank you for the knowledge that God ALWAYS wins…for He always wins, indeed!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The God of All Comfort

Today I am clinging to the words my dear friend Glenda sent to me guided by the Holy Spirit. She found these words by Rick Warren and she thought of me, as she has been lifting me up in prayer during my time of testing. I praise God for Glenda and for all the people from my church, my friends and family, who are keeping me covered in the warm blanket of their prayers for that is how God is providing for me right now. Our Heavenly Father IS, indeed, the God of all comfort, and as such, He makes sure we lack nothing we need. Therefore, like Pastor Rick Warren say, I won’t give in to my fears!

Don’t give in to your fears

God is watching over you, so don’t listen to your fears. This is a choice. Trust God, and don’t give in to your fears.

He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 2 Corinthians 1: 10

God’s promise to believers is that, no matter what happens to us, he is working for our good — if we love him and follow him. If you're a believer, the Bible says all things are working together for good — not that all things are good but that they are working together for good.

That means we can stop listening to our fears. There is no difficulty, dilemma, defeat, or disaster in the life of a believer that God can’t ultimately get some good out of. There is no need to fear the future.

Your fears reveal where you do not trust God. Today, make a list of your fears, and ask God to help you identify why you have fear in those areas. Then, ask him to help you replace your fears with trust.

In order to make the choice to stop listening to my fears I must start by only listening to God’s Word, instead. That is the only thing that will mute the loud screeching of my fears. Clinging to God’s Word, clinging to Christ by reading scripture is the only certain way to fill my ears with the sound of His voice and tune out the noise of the enemy.

Only by knowing the truth I can counter the lies.

I know that my fear reveals that I lack trust, and for that I feel convicted. Therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in me and aided by those who God has sent to me to encourage me, I am taking a stand against my trust issues. I am hanging on with all I’ve got to the promises of God in the Bible and I am pressing on. He Who delivers me from the paws of the lion and of the bear is not about to abandon me now. (1 Samuel : 17-37)

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Monday, January 19, 2015

God is Good, All the Time!

Today I cling to the words from Scripture that my daily devotional brought to me this morning:

“Father God, according to Your Word, without faith it is impossible to please You, because anyone who comes to You must believe that You exist and that You reward those who earnestly seek You (Heb. 11: 6)

Lord, I want to please You. Build faith in me so my life will honor the life of Your Son at all times, in every way.

Help me not be like the ancient Israelites who willfully put You to the test (Psalm 78:18). They did not believe in You or trust in Your deliverance even after all the wonders You had shown them. (Psalm 78:22).

Please swell my soul with belief, and help me to trust emphatically in Your deliverance.”

I read this today after I woke up heavy with worry and anxiety. It was the perfect combination of words to bring me out of the fog the enemy uses to blur my vision every day. I closed my little devotional, sighed a deep sigh and repeated the Name of Jesus aloud several times until I felt the tension begin to leave my body.

I am not going to allow the enemy to hold me prisoner. I am free! And it is for freedom that Christ has set me free, not to continue to dwell in the dark dungeon the enemy has carved for me in the depth of the abyss.

I believe in the plan God has designed for my life, and I believe it is a beautiful and perfect plan, regardless of the hardship and temporary suffering that it may contain. I believe He loves me and I believe He is Good, ALL the time.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8).

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever 
(Psalm 107:1).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Only for a Little While

Today’s Scripture that I am clinging to is 1 Peter 1: 6-9

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 
1 Peter 1: 6-9

Peter is, by far, one of my favorite people in the Bible. I once heard someone say something like: “the fact that Peter exists, gives me hope.” I really liked that because I feel the same way. Peter made so many “mistakes.” He was always impulsive, too quick to react which often led him to say and do the wrong thing. He suffered from what I once heard one Pastor, half-jokingly said, “hoof-in-mouth-disease.” But look how Our Lord used him. Peter is a major example of what Christ can do through faulty fools once He enters their hearts.

In this passage, Peter talks to us about rejoicing in our trials because the suffering we experience is nothing else than the refining fire that will purify our faith and make us strong children of God. I often pray for God’s hand to be seen in a supernatural way so my faith would be strengthened. Peter tells me here, however, that is not necessarily the best way. The detail that will bring us the most joy is that…even when we can’t see Him…we still believe! Our faith is therefore rewarded with that inexpressible and glorious joy of the certainty of our salvation when we live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7). I see here that through the trials and suffering, the important thing is to remain in His love. An astonishingly profound statement by a fisherman of Galilee...

Peter would know about faith. He is actually, an expert on the need to keep your eyes focused on Jesus, whether visible or invisible. He knows, better than most, the consequences of shifting your sight from His face to the crashing waves. He knows the scary results of listening to the howling wind instead of His voice. (Matthew 14: 22-33) Peter is, therefore, seriously qualified to tell us about it, and also to tell us about the mercy, faithfulness and patience of our Lord, of whom Peter himself has been one of the most prolific recipients.

He knows what it feels like to fail in every possible way, to then be restored and filled with the most inexhaustible love.

I pray I can learn from Peter. I pray the Holy Spirit will guide me to have faith even when I don’t see. I pray Christ, my Lord will get me through the little while of suffering, and bring me out of the storm unharmed. I pray I can see Jesus revealed in my faith and that my joy may be complete in the assurance of the fact that my name is written in the book of life since a long time ago.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Victory Is Won!

One year ago to the day, I took a radioactive iodine pill as a treatment for Thyroid cancer. After I took the pill, I had to go in isolation for 5 days. During that time I was not allowed to be in contact with anybody. So I spent those 5 days alone at my Mother in Law’s house since she was away for the winter. At that time, God held my hand every minute and He sent me His angels in the persons of His children who showed their love for Him as they served me.

I had my friends from church coming in every day to bring me food and treats and presents. I had phone calls and people sending me messages, reminding me that they were holding me in prayers. I had so many demonstrations of solidarity and care that I can honestly say that, even though I was in isolation, I was never alone.

Today, I sit here, one year later, praising God for carrying me through that. I am also nervously awaiting a follow up scan next week which is making me anxious. I know, however, that all will be well. He, who carried me through the fire last year, is not about to abandon me now. But…even though I am confident that God’s healing Hand will keep me well, my mind still plays tricks on me. That’s why I am intentionally clinging to Scripture with all I’ve got.

My devotional reading for today, which I read a year ago as well, had this passage in it:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7: 21-25

At the end of the reading, the meditation said:

“Please help me understand that the battle which rages over my body originates in my mind. Help me surrender my mind to You and Your truth.”

That’s exactly it! There is a battle raging inside of me. And the war is beyond the reaches of my own control. It is the battle between God’s law and sin’s law. It is the battle between the truth of Christ and the lies of the Devil. It is the battle that steals away my peace and my trust in Him. Even though I know Christ is victorious, in my weakness, I allow myself to be carried away by the current of fear that makes me doubt. Therefore, I need Him to help me surrender to the Truth of His Word. I need His power to make me keep my eyes on Jesus, The One who will deliver me from this darkness that covers His victory.

One year ago, God rescued me and restored me. I have to be confident in the fact that He will do the same today, for He doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, now and forever. He is Faithful and He loves me.

I’d like to take this moment to thank you if you are one of the angels Our Heavenly Father sent to me last year as I was going through my trial. And thank you if you are one of the angels He has sent to me at this moment to help me navigate through the murky waters of this battle until I come out into the Light of His Victory on the other side.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Power of the Hooves!

Today, I am clinging to a segment of Scripture that has spoken to me ever since I first landed on it; many years ago while listening to a teacher go over it on the radio. It is the last verses of the book of Habakkuk, a short book that I find extremely intriguing and almost eerily timely. I cling to these verses because they speak to me in so many ways, and I pray they will speak to you as well:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. 
Habakkuk 3: 17-19

I love everything about this passage, but one aspect in particular caught my attention today: the analogy of the “feet of a deer.”

In the Bible, we see that David also uses the feet of deer as a precious attribute, and refers to them as a most valuable gift by which God provides safety and security in times of hardship and while traveling through frightening places.

Both in Psalm 18 and 2 Samuel 22: 34, David rejoices in the sure-footing, like a deer, that God gives him so he can stand in the heights:

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. Psalm 18: 33

Living in Western PA, of course I am familiar with deer. There is actually a small herd that lives across the street from our neighborhood (if the hunters haven’t gotten to them yet, that is). I know deer are graceful, elegant, fast and strong creatures that move about in the woods with utmost agility and discernment (except when they decide to cross the road, of course). But I cannot say that I am really intimately acquainted with their feet.

Therefore, I did some research and I found a really good read published on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online back a few years, on November 21, 2010 by Scott Shalaway. The writer was able to engage even a deer-feet-unenthusiastic person like myself because he explained how deer hooves make everything deer do possible… which, coincidentally, it is quite a lot. Shalaway says how, “whether galloping across an open field at 30-35 mph, jumping an 8-foot fence in stride or clearing a 7-foot fence from a standstill, white-tailed deer are impressive athletes which seldom slip even though it is usually impossible for them to know where the best footing is.”

He then goes on to explain the particulars of the wonderful hooves, which are as utilitarian as well as elegant, and provide cushion, while remaining extremely strong. The author also points out how hooves could also be used as formidable weapons. No wonder David, a man of the field, who spent long years studying all the animals of his wilderness selected deer feet as his foot-wear of choice.

I’ve always admired deer and marveled at the reality of having such big animals running wild around our places of residence. But next time I see one of my neighbors on the field across the street, I will remember how enviable their feet really are…so much so that we pray God would make ours just like theirs, so we can stand high upon that Rock!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Anxiety, I'm Taking a Stand!

Anxiety is not an easy struggle to overcome. Although different in every person, we all have to deal with it at some level. In my case, my anxiety levels are very sensitive to anything that has to do with health issues. I can handle almost anything else rather well (usually through an outburst of yelling and screaming which doesn’t last long at all), but when it comes to health…things are different. I’ve always known this, but I have recently become truly aware of how it may be some kind of deeper dysfunction. I’m not sure, but I think it is in the genes that were passed down to me through my Mother’s side of the family, where depression and hypochondria are very present. Whatever it is, though, I am tired of it. I don’t want to be a slave to my fears about health issues. I want to be free of this bondage and the Only One who can break all those chains is Christ.

Today, I’m making a stand. Today I resolve to counter my anxiety with truth. As Jesus, Himself tells us:

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 
John 8: 31-32

Truth will set me free! And truth is not a thing. Truth is a person.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 
John 14: 6

Therefore, now that I am feeling anxiety tighten around my throat, and begin to choke me, I will, by the power of Truth, break its grip by clinging to the Word, that is Jesus and by claiming His power in me! I will go to the Bible rather than to the Internet, and I will meditate in Him who is found in the Word, rather than concentrate on test results. I won’t let statistics, blood work or physicians’ thoughts determine my destiny. I know who holds my future, and I know who holds my hand!

And, even though I know that my resolve will waiver, it doesn’t matter because it is not by my own strength, but by the power of His Mighty Hand that I will accomplish this. I don’t need to be strong enough to overcome. He has already overcome for all of His children…even for me.

Today, I cling to psalm 139 for he has known me since before I was formed in my Mother’s womb, and…even so, He still loves me...and that truly is too wonderful for me… too lofty for me to comprehend.

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Power in the Name

It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'" 
Romans 14:11

Well, as the preparations for my checkup approach, the all too familiar anxiety is taking over my body. Physical reactions are starting to creep up and I’m having a hard time staying calmed and controlled. I know I will be fine. I know My Father takes care of me. I know He will set me high upon a rock. I know I can do all things in Christ. But I still worry.

I don’t want to. It shows lack of trust and lack of self-control. But the enemy surely knows how to push my buttons and how to manipulate me in a way that I end up setting all the evidence of God’s goodness and love aside, to concentrate on the fear and negativity that comes with the unknown. Today, however, I want to make a stand. I am tired of falling for the enemy’s schemes. Today I say no to his intimidating tactics. Today I am going to cling to the Name of Jesus and to all the power that just saying His name aloud evokes. Today I will call onto Him to combat the attacks of the Devil and I will overcome, by the mighty sound of the Name of Jesus!

Because, there is something about His Name…

There is something that makes the unbeliever shiver, contort, stir, flee…

There is something about the Name of Jesus that is uncomfortable…

There is something that brings about respect, wonder, and even fear.

It is hard to explain,

But it is there…

There is something about the Name of Jesus that grips you, grabs you and won’t let you escape.

His is the Only Name that can fill your heart with love while at the same time make you tremble in awe.

His is the One and Only Name that can truly save.

His is the One Name that has power.

His is the Only Name that is worthy.

His is the Only Name that has might.

The only mention of His Name brings hope, recovery, restoration.

The Name of Jesus is the sword that slashes the enemy and makes his demons run away.

By the power of His Name, He will set me high upon the rock of His salvation, and the rising waters will not get to me.

From now on, one of the strategies that I will use as soon as I feel the cold sweats of fear rise up my spine, is to say His name aloud, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus ... to allow His power to calm me down.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10: 13

There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might. Jeremiah 10:6

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[a] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’
Exodus 3: 14

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Feel-Good, Daily Moments

2015 is here. The doors of a brand new year are finally wide open right in front of us, and whether we are ready to embark in the journey or not, time waits for no one. As if standing on a conveyer belt, we move into the unknown. No matter what we do, we are forced to enter this new adventure of another year…and…


some of us may feel…a bit…hesitant, at best. The New Year brings too much uncertainty for the natural born pessimist…and unfortunately, that’s what I am. The glass-half-empty person sees the beginning of a new year as a threat to stability. Therefore, I can’t help but wonder what kind of hardship, pain, sorrow, loss, suffering, this New Year will bring to my life.

I know…I can’t live life like that. But left to my own power and devices, that’s exactly how I would live it. Left to my own negativity, my days would flow more like a sewer line than a river. Fortunately, I don’t have to, because the redemptive power of Christ is in me, and The Holy Spirit picks me up and reveals to me that Jesus is alive, and that there is hope. The Holy Spirit grows His fruits in me, slowly, but surely and as He makes progress in my soul, I can begin to experience the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that keep me from the abyss, and against which no evil can ever endure. (Galatians 5: 22-23)

God, in His goodness and faithfulness, not only gives us Himself, but He also gives us others to help us in our journey. He populates our path with individuals who have divine appointments with us and who are in our lives to deliver portions of God’s message for our growth. In my case, Our Heavenly Father has been graciously generous and has given me a lot of people who have helped me in my voyage. Today, however, I’m thinking particularly about my friend Indira.

Our paths crossed a bit over 25 years ago and ever since our lives have had many parallels. I praise God for her friendship every day and I don’t know what I’d do without her presence in my life. God knows what and who we need, and He knew I’d need Indira with me.

Well, I had the privilege and joy to spend the first few days of 2015 with Indira and her children who came to our home to visit. We had a great time having fun at an amazing water park, but most of all, we savored just hanging out at the house. The kids played endlessly while Indira and I spend good quality time chatting and strengthening our friendship.

Unfortunately, both of us know the pain of illness and the inevitable stress and anxiety that comes with having gone through a cancer diagnosis. Indira, once again, has been a pillar of strength and wisdom that God has put in my life to guide me through the choppy waters of life with cancer. So, as my checkup approaches faster than I would like to, Indira gave me a homework. She said, “you have to do at least one feel-good thing every day.” “It does not have to be anything elaborate or big or planned,” she said, “it could be something as simple as spending a few minutes reminiscing one of your favorite memories.” “The important thing is that it brings you to a place where you feel good.”

I know that we are supposed to put ourselves last and that life is not about us. God, in His glory, works everything for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8: 28). Even the pain and the suffering, all of it has a purpose. His plan is perfect because He is Faithful and He loves us, and He wants us to draw closer to Him. But I also know that we ought to love ourselves. When inquired about the greatest commandment in Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus replied:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

So, if we don’t love ourselves, where does that leave us? How are we supposed to love others? The main indicator of how we must love our brothers and sisters is the way we love ourselves!

We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20). Therefore, we need to consider ourselves as such, and treat ourselves right, so we can spread the love that God has so abundantly poured out on us. We are the overflowing chalice of God’s mercies, so we better take care of that chalice so He can have it and continue pouring Himself into.

People who have gone through traumatic events of any kind, abuse, violence, illness, accidents, nature disasters, wars, brokenness, loss and so on, have a hard time loving themselves appropriately. Sometimes, the pain is so strong and it cuts so deep that the wounds are slow to heal and the scars are way too visible. The traumatic experience leaves the person paralyzed with fear and it becomes too difficult to let go of the event that causes such extreme anxiety because they don’t see it as over and done with. It keeps coming back to haunt them. And depending on what it is, it becomes harder to re-learn how to love oneself again in a way that brings us to a place where we can begin to love others well too.

I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, and I’m not pretending to be one. I’m just a child of God who knows that everyone struggles with some kind of pain. I wrestle with letting go of fear and anxiety, and I think one good first step to take on the road to freedom is to realize that we have Jesus walking with us. I need to remember that freedom is already mine as He, who is the author of that freedom, lives in me! He wants me to shake off all the lies that the enemy tells me and to believe Him and only Him. I want to hear only His voice, and as I do, as I concentrate on hearing the Voice of Truth, I will begin to enjoy the daily, feel-good energy that comes from trusting His Love, Power and Mercy.

I’m still a bit scared at what 2015 may bring. After all, one thing I’ve learned in my walk with the Lord is that, in my life, change doesn’t happen overnight. But I think I am more excited than scared. I’m excited about the possibilities of the new adventure that this New Year will bring. And I am confident that He will be there at every step to make it all worthwhile.

What would be some of the feel-good things you could do every day to help you get your mind off of the daily grind of your pain?