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Archive for the category “Little Blessings”

When You Choose Lust Over God

Beautiful things happened to me and my family last week. There were so many beautiful experiences that I should be thanking God for. But here I am choosing lust over praise. Here I am lazily choosing ingratitude over meditating on God’s word.

And being single doesn’t help. My mind would wander time and again, vacillating whether this act is indeed a sin or not.

I’m talking about masturbation.

Some days, I’d tell myself, “I’m not hurting anyone.” “My imagination doesn’t even star someone I know from the opposite sex.” “Better to do it this way than to have premarital sex, coz that surely will have regretful repercussions.” But right after the completion of sin, I am filled with shame. There is no peace. Only condemnation.

I know it in my heart that masturbation does not please

It is written in Romans 8: 5-8:

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

It pains me that I couldn’t get out of it. I neither have the wisdom to resolve the vacillating that has exhausted my mind, nor the power to overcome these desires.

But the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child (Hebrews 12:6). In the following days and weeks, I was bombarded with messages about lust and sexual immorality. God has been so proactive in giving me the wisdom and discipline that I need.

In my Tuesday bible study group, God used the story of Joseph to firmly rebuke me.

Genesis 39 says that the LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered. When Potiphar, Joseph’s master saw that the Lord was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and his master put him in charge of his household and everything he owned, until Potiphar’s wife tried to tempt Joseph into sleeping with her. Joseph refused. He FLED. HE RAN OUT OF THE HOUSE  even without his cloak on (Genesis 39:15). And yet he was put into prison despite of his innocence. But even while in prison, the LORD was with him and Joseph found favor in the prison warden’ eyes, and so Joseph was successful in whatever he did. By the end of the story, Joseph became the second highest official in Egypt, next to Pharaoh.

So how did Joseph gain victory over lust? These are the pointers we discussed in our bible study:

  1. The man/woman of God consistently walks with God.

Galatians 5:16 says, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Prior to this, I was in a week-long vacation with my family where I never really made an effort to meditate on His word. There was no quality time with my God, no intense Bible reading, no intimate prayer time. And when we got back home, instead of saving my time and energy for Him, I chose to waste my time watching movies, thinking lustful thoughts, and reading sexually-inciting articles online.

I was prepping myself for a sure defeat. The only way to overcome lust is to walk by the Spirit, and in order to walk by the Spirit, I should take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

Indeed, there is a great mysterious power that comes in reading the word of God.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

  1. The man/woman of God develops a very strong fear of God.

This new revelation brought great fear in me. It made me evaluate myself. Is my fear of God lacking? Is my understanding of what fear of God means right and biblical?

There was a time when all I know of God is that He is a punishing God. I had a hard time looking at the works of His hand with awe and wonder. There was no godly sorrow in me. These was no marveling at the height and width of His great love for me. I can’t go on living with a false knowledge of who God really is.

And I don’t want to live questioning myself time and again if my faith is real. I want to bear good fruit! And someday, I want my Lord and Savior to commend me for winning the race, for standing firm against the devil, and for rising in victory with him every after struggle.

To develop a strong fear of God, read and meditate on God’s word. I must take time to know God intimately if I want to worship Him not because He requires it of me, but because of His great love for me.

  1. The woman of God is willing to lose all things rather than yield to sexual sin.

Am I willing to lose everything to please God? Joseph lost everything the moment he stepped out of his master’s house. Paul said in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

There were consequences when I disobeyed God. Consequences that could have been God’s rewards. And I saw this at work: that in order for God to really get my attention, He would sometimes use my job to discipline me. There were accounts withheld, pitch lost, even good opportunities passed on to someone else…

But if losing career opportunities is what will take me to an everlasting path of sanctification and purity, then so be it. I am reminded of this quote I read a long time ago: God cares more about my character than my career.

But like David when his first child with Bathsheba died, he continued to pray and plea for God’s mercy, so am I in my prayers for God to spare me from the wrath of His discipline.

  1. The man/woman of God is rewarded for her victory.

The story of Joseph ends with such a motivating plot twist. Pharaoh entrusted all of Egypt to him. He was able to save his family from a 7-year famine. His life was blessed through and through. And who doesn’t want such a happy ending? Who doesn’t want to become an instrument of God’s blessings?

Surely, a few minutes of pleasure isn’t worth giving up a lifetime of God’s favour and blessing.

 

God didn’t just use our group bible study to get through me. He also used my best friend who is also a Christian to encourage me when I told her about the things that are happening at work and how they all seem like the consequences of my disobedience to God. No surprise, my best friend also used the story Joseph to pacify my heart.

At church, I was a bit startled to know that the message was about sexual immorality. Upping the ante, God also orchestrated for this same verse to come up not just in our bible study group but also at church and it totally settled all the questions about masturbation that have been bothering me all these years.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 1 Corinthian 6:18

God also used the sharer’s testimony to help me identify what triggers my desire to masturbate:

  • When I’m alone, idle, and unsure of whether to read God’s word or not
  • When I’m physically tired
  • When I’m stressing myself out over a problem that is not surrendered to God

I praise God for His mercy and grace. This has been a 360-degree approach to make sure that I will pick up His message. The world has been sinking so deep into sin that when I asked my non-Christian friends about it, they would easily tell how normal it is, and that it promotes good health, and there’s basically nothing wrong with it. But we, Christians, ought to live for a higher standard that Jesus Christ set not to cage us in but to protect us.

All of these lessons led me to recommit my life to my Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST. Only by God’s wisdom and power will I be able to overcome lust. I praise God for His patience and for not letting me go. I pray that my life will embrace this one true great desire, that is to please GOD, and to be more and more like His one and only son Jesus Christ.

May all who read this discover how Jesus loves us, and that we were bought at a price. It cost Jesus his life just so you and I can be in heaven with him someday. Let us then honor God with our body.

 

Moon and Stars

I did something crazy. In fact, for a woman it’s an upshot of desperation and foolishness combined. It’s a mixture of not being able to stay still and my unbelief on the power and sovereignty of God. So let’s just leave it at that–I did something crazy, desperate, and stupid.

I would like to draw some inspiration from the story of Abram in Genesis 12. Abram feared for his life, so he asked his wife, Sarai to tell the people of Egypt that she is instead his sister.  To preserve his life, he was willing to sacrifice his wife. I did the same thing to someone. I lied so I can escape further humiliation and embarrassment.

I wouldn’t know how my lies had ruined God’s good plans. I fear for its repercussions. Will I suffer the same fate as that of Abram and Lot, and Abram and Hagar? How much of what I did would spiral out of control? Well, just as I finished typing the last letter of the last word of that last sentence, I knew the answer is not as important as knowing that God is in control and that His ways are higher than my ways. My friend, as she patiently peruses through my rambling messages on Facebook, wisely summed it up with this verse from Psalm 139:16Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

God will never run out of love, grace, and mercy, and they are all there for the taking. I was a bit resolute to go for a short run today at the park, so I went. I was positive that running will somehow get my mind off my messes and fears. And by God’s amazing grace, under the pale light burst of the unusually big moon set on the dusty Manila sky, He reminded me of that special scene where God took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5) 

Just 3 chapters away from whence Abram took a detour and lied about Sarai being his wife and yet God, full of grace and mercy, still chose Abram to bear and experience His amazing love and promises.

The moon, the landscape, the lights, Oh! they were so magical and mysterious and awesome, just like God’s promises for me. I know He will keep His word in spite of what I’ve done. There is no condemnation in Jesus. I know He’s not finished yet. More good is yet to come.

 

“Follow your heart.” But should I really?

Three long years have passed by since Mark and I spoke to each other.

In that three long years, I knew that God had been disciplining me. He’s been revealing to me gems of wisdom that I wouldn’t have known had I continued on from one displeasing relationship to another. But despite of the many problems and humbling turn of events that I had to go through, I’d still say that these single years were good only because God is with me.

But, nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

A few hours before the year 2015 began, my mother reprimanded me about how I’ve failed to move on from the past. Of course, this was met with great indignation. I was in denial. I was afraid that the consequences of my disobedience and my impure relationships are just right in the corner, waiting for the most opportune time to get me.

But God, by His mercy and grace, is patient and loving. He led me to this verse from Isaiah 43:18-19:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

From that point on, I resolved to fight the fears I had in my mind and the condemnation I felt. I also made a decision to repress my thoughts about Mark; no more questions like “Is he thinking of me?” “Will there ever be a second chance for us?”

Then one late afternoon, a few months after I made my resolution, Mark (after his three years of absence in my life) sent me a message. I wish I could say I handled it very well, that I was able to hold up with some grace and poise to welcome a man whom I think deserves neither my love nor friendship. That could have been a fine anecdote. But that didn’t happen.

I was not prepared for this. I have conditioned myself that he will never again become a part of my life. That was his choice anyway; a choice, which I believe was forced upon me at the time.

The bittersweet memories of the time we shared together rushed in, from the very first time I met him to the last hateful message I got from him. The fast cut-to-cut sequence that tossed me in waves of confusion and anger overwhelmed me.

It took me by surprise to know that I still want this man to be a part of my life even if we’ve been separated for so long. I never really believed in getting back together; what’s the point of going through all the motions of desiring to move on, only to let your peace and joy be taken away the second time around. But for him…I want him to be the exception.

My struggle to keep my composure took so much energy. I love him and I want to keep him at a close distance as much as possible–a safe length where I can still keep my heart guarded, while being friends with him. But the problem is…

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

How sure am I that this will be good for us? I was down that road before, executing my own love story before God could even direct it.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

This inner conflict has shown me my own irresponsibility and flaws as well. If I were to put aside the fact that he is an unbeliever and put myself under the microscope, I’d see myself as a total wreck, unfit for the sort of commitment that I have been longing to have. Here I am wanting a man to commit to me–a commitment that can only be expected from marriage–while I, myself, couldn’t even do the same.

Through our week-long conversation, I had a glimpse of what our future could have been, say if we married each other without laying the foundation of our relationship in Jesus Christ. They said that your marriage can either be heaven or hell on Earth. And the latter was the picture that was painted before me as we go up and about our unsettled past and issues.

Even if I were to believe his love for me and my love for him, I saw how it can never be enough to support our relationship. I saw that without the love and grace poured out by Jesus through the cross, we shall never connect to the pains and needs of one another. I couldn’t bring myself to understand him and vice versa.

And how can he see Jesus amid the pain, anger and indecisiveness I hurled back at him? How could he see through the compromise I made years ago, when I suppressed my faith just so I could be with him? Thinking about it, how ironic that in choosing him over Christ, I have lost him.

We ended our week-long conversation as enemies. I wish I could have done everything differently. Be kinder, be more patient, more forgiving. Be the light by which he is able to see God’s love, grace, and forgiveness.

But this is how it should be for now, so I could learn, perhaps: to let go and to stop acquitting myself; just because I am a Christian doesn’t mean that I had no part, no role to play in this failed relationship. I am as guilty and at fault as he was.

The only consolation I could get from us parting (yet again) is the hope that I could turn all that I have learned into wise application; the hope that wherever he maybe, God will find him and bring him into His loving arms.

Ours is a story that started in the shallow plot of boy-meets-girl set on the flaky world of music and movies. And has any of it–the chemistry, the similarities, the romance, the perfect date night, the little black dress, the perfect kiss, his sweet short posts on my timeline, the efforts, the laughter, that one long night of warm embrace–mattered in the end? How could I have missed the most important element, that is Jesus Christ?

 

The Many Men in the Life of the Samaritan Woman–and in mine

After reading the story of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42), I drew out some parallelisms between my life and that of the Samaritan woman, and from there I tried to understand her backstory.

Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for some water. Confused or perhaps, surprised that this man of Jewish nature spoke to her–for Jews did their best to avoid Samaritans, despising them as half breeds who worshipped not in the temple at Jerusalem but at their shrine at Mount Gerizim (Women of the Bible, Spangler & Syswerda)–she might have replied with utter bitterness or just about the right mix of unfriendliness to throw this man off.

But then, at the height of their conversation, as Jesus was undeniably patient with her, He asked her to call her husband. This marked the turning point of their meeting. The Samaritan told Him that she has no husband. And Jesus knew this to be true. In fact, He told her that she has had five husbands and the husband she’s with at the moment they were talking is not really her husband.

How come the Samaritan woman has had five husbands? Maybe she was a beautiful woman with many suitors. Maybe she had been a widow. Or maybe, she was like me, who had been with more than five men in her early 20s, was looking for unconditional love, for security and untiring attention to fill in the hole in her heart.

Jumping from one man to another, men who differ from each other in terms of background, personality, economic status, I supposed that in these shallow qualifications was where my joy or happiness lies. I was enormously mistaken to think that I can have an everlasting inspired life with them, that having their love would complete me.

Maybe the Samaritan woman was tired of being with men who do nothing for her, not even to fetch some water for her. Maybe at the back of her mind, she knew she had tried all her options and found out that there is no man in the world that could ever satisfy the longing of her soul: the same thing I realized after going through the so many, unnecessary heartaches that sprung from being in a relationship with men who do not know Jesus.

Jesus knew what the Samaritan woman was thirsty of; He knew that perhaps at the very core of her heart was a dying flower that is desperately in need of water and she didn’t know where else to turn to–maybe that was why the structure of their conversation was designed this way: before He requested her to call her husband, Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Jesus perhaps was already hinting to her at this point, knocking on her heart, graciously allowing her to know that she can always turn to Him, that whatever her need may be–healing, provision, love, hope–He can give it all to her. Jesus will never deny us His love and His gift of eternal life, if we draw closer to Him and ask Him for fogiveness.

As their conversation progressed, she may have recalled this and said, “I know that the Messiah is coming. When He comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then she received what could be the most important revelation in her life when Jesus replied, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4: 25-26)

Back then, I knew who Jesus was but did I worship God in spirit and truth? Did I obey His will? No. I chose to go my own way, took shortcuts, grabbed tangible opportunities of worldly love for what? For security and intimacy, the very things that God so longs to offer and give us.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. (John 4:23)

 

True believers of Jesus follow His voice, obey His commands and do His will. And this is what I hope to do now, by His grace.

When His disciples came back to Sychar, they urged Jesus to eat the food they bought Him, but this was Jesus’ reply (John 4:31-34):

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about…My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”

 

And because Jesus did the will of His Father, He was refreshed and satisfied. This is how our thirst for an overflowing joy shall be satisfied: by being with our Savior and doing God’s will.

The Samaritan woman came to know Jesus and she shared her testimony among the other Samaritans and they also came to believe in Jesus not just because of her testimony, but because Jesus, full of love and compassion, stayed with them for two days.

Did the Samaritan woman ever marry again? Did she acquire a new husband? I, for sure, know that she did, for it is said in Isaiah 54:4-5,

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband–the Lord Almighty is His name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the Earth.”

 

Wow! The Samaritan woman and any woman for that matter could indeed have true love in Jesus Christ. ♥

Love After Valentine’s Day

Is it always a good time to talk about love? I didn’t really expect me to talk about such a mystical and yet ubiquitous subject matter like love but I got quite a handful of readings about it the other day, which I intend to share with everybody.

I’m reading the book Inferno for the second time. As I was going through Canto V, where one of the most celebrated writers in history, Dante Alighieri, illustrated the damnation the lustful suffers in hell, these lines caused me to pause for a little bit so I decided to read it over and over again:

Love, that can quickly seize the gentle heart, took hold of him because of the fair body taken from me—how that was done still wounds me.

Love, that releases no beloved from loving, took hold of me so strongly through his beauty that, as you see, it has not left me yet.

Love led the two of us unto one death.

Such beautiful composition! Aren’t they?

Then I remembered that for this week I’m actually studying the life of Rachel, Jacob’s second wife. And her story tells us of a predicament about love—presently a cliche—the love triangle. It was Rachel whom Jacob loves and adores but Leah had him first; it was her who bore Jacob his first sons. God sees the unloved Leah as He sees the barren Rachel, and both He blessed (Genesis 25 – 35).

All these make me wonder. Do any of us in this world know what love really is? Are all the definitions we have assumed, reflected, analyzed through the course of our experiences enough to grasp its full meaning?

Relationships isn’t really my strength. In fact, I already had six failed relationships and currently have several complicated ones with family and friends. I discovered that love is too big a word for me that I could never truly understand it apart from what Jesus did on the cross. The thought of love without God, without knowing who He really is is an impasse, a dead end. Love is too incomprehensible because that is who God is.

It is funny that as I think of ways to end this post, I found out that the devotional I read today was wrong. I accidentally advanced to the next chapter. But it did provide me a fresh insight about God who has purposefully plotted all the details of my life. I skimmed through the page that I was supposed to read today and I truly felt God’s love speaking to me.  Earlier this week, I was being skeptic about Genesis 30:22 that says, “God remembered Rachel; He listened to her and opened her womb.” And I felt dismayed because to me it implied that God forgot about Rachel, but I am wrong. To prove that He listens to my thoughts, He answered me straight to the point and with such great humor and love; my devo reads:

God remembered Rachel, but He had never really forgotten her. When the Bible uses the word remember, it doesn’t mean that God forgets and then suddenly recalls. As if the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe suddenly hits his forehead with the heel of His hand and says, “Oops! I forgot all about Rachel. I’d better do something quickly!”

No, when the Bible says God remembers something, it expresses God’s love and compassion for His people. It reminds us of God’s promise never to abandon us or leave us without support or relief. He will never forsake us. He will never forget us. He will always remember us. (Source: Women of the Bible, Spangler and Syswerda)

To give my short musings about love a perfect ending, let me part not with happily ever after but with this verse from Luke 1:49 which to me is equally romantic:

The Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name.

Turn My Water into Wine

I have cringed in shame.

In shame, a life under curse has lain.

Every day I labor and pray.

This heart, this soul needs change.

 

Truths frees and some stings:

Like knowing that inside, wickedness never flees.

This weight of sadness presses on,

like a jar of not so potable water that I have to drink on.

 

But before I came to be, you knew my water can never run as deep

So, you came in so much slick, in your own time, steady and humbly

while I’m being poured to my own reek;

married to darkness, engaged in a lifetime of ignominy

 

I have called and perhaps not,

yet you knocked and listened to an insolent pride.

You stirred me in love and gentleness

my empty jars, you filled with future and promises

 

From your truth, grace and peace whence emerge my Vine,

Always, you would invite, ‘Come and I will turn your shame into wine.’

You lifted my curse, patched waves into my staleness

and for this, I have longed and thirst for what all men have yearned so long ago.

A Savior.

 

In Sickness

In Sickness

Hi everyone, my sister had an episode today where she collapsed and almost lost her consciousness. We are waiting for her official ECG result which will be given to us tomorrow noon. Please help us pray for her health. Thank you.

Is He Asking You to Stay?

Is He Asking You to Stay?

Most of the time we think that waiting is only a waste of time. But for God, waiting on Him is proof that we trust in Him and that we depend on His power and might rather than our own strength.

To Rejoice is to Live

To Rejoice is to Live

The Enemy in the Self

The Enemy in the Self

Hello readers!

I’m inviting you to visit my new blog, Impart with an Umbrella, where I generously and unabashedly share my walk as a Christian. It is my desire that my work will mirror God’s love and His great power that never fail to transform lives. I hope that more and more readers will be able to relate to my stories of victories, struggles, and failures and that they may be a beacon of light filled with the warmth of God’s hand embracing you with the encouragement and comfort that all of us desired to have. 🙂

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