“Fear not…”

“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

 – Isaiah 41:10 NKJV                                                           

This was the Bible verse I read this morning during my daily devotion. I was in awe while I read it because today was the first day of enrollment at our university. Almost every enrollment is a test of faith for me because you’re always unsure whether you’ll get the subject you wanted or not. But this semester’s different. This semester marks the beginning of my senior year. I have been tagged as a graduating student. 

I am really anxious about this year because I still have a lot of units to take up while I’m doing my thesis. I don’t even have a solid thesis topic yet. Classes haven’t started yet (they’ll start on Thursday) and I’m already worrying on things that are yet to come.

Then I read this verse in Isaiah. 

Everything seems so impossible and hard. But throughout my college life, everything had been hard and impossible. Yet every time, God pulled me through and proved that He is sovereign.

So for this whole year, this verse will be my motto. I will hold it in my heart. The road to graduation is full of twists and turns. But I know my God will hold my hand. I believe that I’ll be graduating this academic year!

My God will never fail.

He is my strength and my song. Through whatever, I have a reason to sing. His love and mercy is enough for me to make melody. He gives harmony to my restless being. He steadies the rhythm of my doubtful heart. He orchestrates the wonder of my life.

Worship Team Rehearsal Afterthoughts

Why do you sing? Who do you sing for?

Before mounting up the stage and leading the congregation to praise and worship, ask yourself, where is your heart?

Is it set on glorifying the One who deserves all honor and praise? Or is it set on bringing attention to yourself?

When you hit the high notes and execute flawless transitions, is it because you want to give your best to God, or is it because you want to show off your vocal prowess?

Think before you act. Examine your heart

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“When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.” – Corrie Ten Boom

In one verse in the Bible, it is said to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). In another, it is said to love our neighbors as ourselves ( Matthew 22:39). Why the variation? Not all our neighbors are agreeable and are worthy of love. We may choose to love some of the people around us because we agree with their ideas, share the same belief, we have common ground with them to simply put it. The others? Simply ignore them, if not explicitly show our dislike.

So God had to be specific. “Love your enemies.” The problem is we don’t do much of the love part. Jesus didn’t command, “be passive around your enemies and simply tolerate them”. No. LOVE YOUR ENEMIES.

Love is something that is in the active voice. It is a verb. When you love someone, you show it to them.You try your best to make the people you love feel that love. You don’t just sit around, stare at them, and expect that they’ll just get that you love them. In love, you do something about it. So, are we willing to love our enemies that way?

Love is God. That’s why when He gave this command, He knew it’s one that’s hard to keep. He wants us to come near to Love Himself and hang on to His word. We could try to work things on our own and believe that what we’re doing or showing to our enemies is enough to pass as love. Yet, we’ll always fall short. What we need is genuine love – a love so active and powerful that it will not only transform our enemies, but ourselves as well.

Our idea of love can never measure up to God’s idea of it. He came down to earth and humbled Himself to humans just to prove how much His love is. Even at the hands of persecutors Jesus, God in earthly form, still thought of everyone. He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. Amazing love.

With the love of God in us, and the knowledge of how vast it is, we can learn to genuinely love those who are unlovely to us. For we were unlovely and unworthy yet God loved us anyway. Let us keep in mind this: God’s love is so immeasurable that it will overflow to the people around us

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Being Single: Trying to Write A Love Story

This post is originally from http://goodwomenproject.com/singleness/trying-to-write-a-love-story. I chose to post this article here because the writer’s experiences are very similar to mine. I hope that this will give useful insights on singleness and waiting on God. 🙂

I have never had a boyfriend. Officially.

Yeah, there have been some crushes that have turned out to be mutual but they didn’t go far. Not as far as everyone else’s relationships did.

As I look back I really believe God was the one that made them stop. He always made something happen right before things would go to the next level. I have stories to prove it. But I know he did it to protect me.

At that time I didn’t like it. I would get mad. I wished that God would allow a relationship to develop at least once. Even if it was only going to last a little while. I wanted to be the girl that would get balloons and a present brought to her at school by her boyfriend. I wanted to be the girl that would have a boyfriend to lie on the grass with. I want to be the girl that felt someone wanted her forever. Thank God He didn’t listen to me.

Because of these desires I did little things to showcase myself in front of any potential boyfriend. They were extremely subtle but my desire was blatant.

As time went by, God began to speak to my heart. He told me that if I let Him, He would provide a future husband for me. And I loved the idea. I began writing letters to this man, reading books on how to be a good help mate, and tried to do things like cooking and cleaning on my spare time so that I would “prepare myself” for marriage.

Then it happened. God asked the question. “Can you put this completely in my hands? I want to write your love story.” What was he talking about?! Of course it was in his hands! What was I doing wrong that he would ask that?

So I threw the question to the back of my mind and let it sit there.

It took some time, but I finally realized what he was talking about.

I was on my bed writing in the journal full of letters that I would one day give to my husband and it hit me. If I have put this area of my life completely in Gods hands why am I holding onto this journal as my source of security? Why am I spending so much time trying to prepare myself to be a wife when I don’t even know if it’s in God’s plan for my life? If it is God’s will that I want, why am I still acting upon my own will?

That night I didn’t finish my letter. I let it go. I felt it all slip out of my little hands and into the mighty hands of my Father.

I’m not writing those letters anymore. I’m not spending my time cooking and cleaning (I’m not saying those things are not important – but you know where I’m coming from). Instead I’m spending my time doing things I like to do. And I love every minute of it.

I am playing the guitar, going to concerts, leaving on trips with short notice, making my own schedule, hanging out with friends (a lot), investing time in my brother’s life, learning about my parents, living an adventure.

That last one is the most important to me. I’m living this adventure of seeking God and keeping my eyes only on him. He’s been showing me crazy things and taking me to places I never imagined I would go. I am completely fulfilled in him. I don’t need anyone else and I love that.

We are not independent beings. We were created to fill a hole in our heart. But what most people don’t understand is that it can’t be filled with a guy or girl. It is to be filled by God, our creator. When hole is filled, you will know it. It’s the most fulfilling thing out there.

So I already have my partner. I’m not saying I don’t want to get married.

That is one of my greatest desires.

But it doesn’t control me.

It’s not in my hands, it’s in His.

-Jessica Echezabal

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 A gaping hole at the center of your being – each soul has it, and each soul tries to fill it in with whatever they think is suitable. There are souls who try to fix it with material things, but to no avail, still has leaks. There are people who are clever enough and figure out that love is the filler. But they come short with where that love should come from. In journalism, there’s the 5 Ws and an H – who, what, when, where, why, and how. They know the “what”, how about the other five? They only have 1/6 of the answer. Yet they thought – I thought –  it was enough.

It feels like every inch of your being is seeping through that hole. I feared that one day, if I don’t take action, there might not be anything left. What used to be me would just be a walking pile of joints, nerves, bones, and skin. I feared the melody would be lost from my eyes. So I tried swinging to a different song, filled that hole with what I think I need, what I deserve.

“I deserve love,” that’s what I thought. And love was what I sought for. Only, the love I was acquainted with wasn’t love at all. I only met pride and lust in the pretense of love. Desperation leads to misery. I was so desperate for the surface level kind of love that I thought would make me whole that I ended up destroying me instead.

Too late, I was gone too deep. In my attempt of trying to hold on to who I think I am and what makes me, I lost myself anyway. I was in a spiral of lies, pain, and depression.

Just when I thought I had it all figured out, my anchor snaps. The castle built on sand came crashing down on me. It stings

I’ve already gambled many – my innocence, my blood. I’ve drank too many, I’ve already cut too deep. There are scars on my wrists and deeper ones in my heart. I’ve given up on love. No, love betrayed me.

Deeper and deeper I sunk. Darker and darker I felt. The gaping hole has become a massive black hole pulling me in, sucking me inwards, towards a point of no return. I was used, cheated on, took advantage of… I was worthless. And love? It became something I don’t deserve all along. Who would care for a filthy creature like me? I’m shattered.

As things got darker, I knew there was no way but downhill. Inevitably, I’d hit the darkest.

One night, I did. The darkest night of the soul. Drowning in tears, gasping for air – feels like death but I’m not dying. No pain can ever tantamount to that. I scream but nothing comes out. In the last attempt for redemption, for having some dignity, I opened my Bible and cried out to God, “Lord, I’m sorry. I have failed.” He responded with a psalm that struck me. Psalm 42. It was the darkest night, yet in that moment I felt light. It felt like the hole inside of me was being clogged little by little. I read the psalm again.

“As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

6 My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

8 By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.”

My Lord! Just when I thought that love gave up on me, Love swoops down and reaches for me. No, Love came down and stayed with me, embraced me despite the grime and the filth. All along what I wanted, what I longed for, is something I never deserved – a love no one else can give, Love that is beyond our human perception.

Love was looking out for me all along, yet I ran away from it. Love was holding my hand through the thunderstorms yet I insisted I was alone. Love was giving out all the warning signs that I just sped away from. Love was there in my lowest, darkest, and most vulnerable. Love found me a way. Love has a name and it’s the sweetest of all. Love is God.

It has been almost 5 years since Love came down and rescued me. Now, whenever I look back at that night, I do not look at it with disdain or scorn. Darkness was all around, yes. But how could we see the light if it weren’t for the dark? How would we learn the value of light if we haven’t known what it is like without it?

The darkest night of the soul is the last purging of all that hinders from seeing the light. It’s the most painful, yet the most promising of nights. The tossing and turning of the storm that is the heart finally finds the calm and sets toward the horizon after the dark night. Finally, that hole will be slowly filled in. It was a God-shaped void all along. He will fill that space eventually. He is love. And love finds a way even when you’ve given Him up.

Guard Your Heart

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 http://8tracks.com/harmonyhannah/guard-your-heart

A mix created for those who are waiting on love, whether patiently or impatiently. Let it be a reminder that true love isn’t something that’s rushed. Actually, true love is God. God loves us so much and knows us too well. He knows if ever we’ll need someone to share His awesome love with and when that person will come into our lives. So just hold on and wait on the Lord.

Instead of praying for the perfect one, seek to be like the only Perfect One – Jesus.

(Fresh from True Love Waits seminar-workshop)