Psalm 123:1 -"I lift up my eyes to You, O God, enthroned in heaven."
Isaiah 55:8, 9 -"My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the Lord. "And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts."
Matthew 28:20 -"I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Psalm 23:4 -"Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me." --Life Application Bible
A year ago, my child took this picture when we decided to explore what could be seen up on the hill. The view was great! We had seen places down below in the valley that we haven't known. I never knew that there was a big playing field and next to it, was a big reservoir of some sort of lake. It was busy that morning with lots of cars parked by the field and some kids playing football out there. Going up the hill was a long process as there was only one winding road that if we turn around, it would take us longer to where we came from. So, we decided to just keep driving forward until we were able to reach the other exit on the other side. After many, long, winding, narrow roads, it was a drive that my family and I knew in our hearts, was one that we would never forget. At times, we thought we got lost but seeing the many fruit trees down below and a new road that we didn't know even existed was exhilarating! How could we pass that opportunity of seeing the valley from up on top when we have lived here for many, many years?
From a spiritual point of view, God represents that big reservoir of water next to that huge playing field and the hill up above. We are the football players playing in this field of life. Whether we win or lose, God has been there watching us all along, always next to us as we play many, many games in our lives. He is like the "hill or mountain" on a higher level, seeing things down in the valley below. He sees everything that we, who are living down below, can't see. Going to that hill [God and His ways], has only one narrow, long road that we can take. But what better guidance in making life's decisions than to have it come from God by entrusting everything we care about to Him? Lord, thank You for making me see everything in Your light. Thank You for this song You have given me:
As I walk through the valley
I have no place to go
There are many roads to turn to
But I can't look back nor look ahead...but I know that...
Unto You I will lift up my eyes
To You Who dwell in the heavens
I will lift up my eyes to my Master, to my Lord, my God, my Redeemer
Joy replaced the fears in my heart
When I felt Your presence by my side
No matter how rough the roads in my way
My eyes will just look up to the skies far away....
So, together with the diabetics, those inmates whose refills were due, were called to come down to the clinic. And it was chaotic indeed! With the bodies slowly filling the small waiting area, one inmate came to my face and in a rude tone of voice, not even asked but sort of demanded, "Give me some toilet paper!". If I wasn't a Christian and if I had not allowed the Lord Jesus to mold me, that inmate might have heard profanities from me and it could even get worse, I could have put her in discipline for being disrespectful to staff.
While I responded to her in a respectful but firm voice, "Please have a seat and you have to wait for your turn when you are called. Do not come to me with that attitude!" So, she had no choice but obeyed. In the back of my mind, that's what we all must do, "surrender"....And this place would be a better place to live in.
The word "surrender" from the dictionary means "to yield to one's possession or power, to give oneself up". It sounds like we are big losers when we do so. But if Jesus' "Surrender 101" classes are offered, we are actually not losers but big time winners, more worth than winning a big lottery jackpot!
When we give in and surrender to Jesus Christ, our lives are transformed in big ways we can't even imagine. Everything happens because of God's grace, not of our own strength. When we yield to Jesus, by accepting Him in our hearts, and making Him our Lord in everything, there is peace, there is true joy despite the trials, and we know that the Holy Spirit will start His work in us by making us grow more like Jesus in our character.
2 Corinthians 3:18 - "All of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more."
Ephesians 4:15- "We will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, Who is the head of His body, the church."
Philippians 1:6 -"I am sure that God, Who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again."
Luke 9:23 - Jesus said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me."
How calming this picture of a beautiful sunset was and will always be! I wish I can say that about many things we encounter in this life's journey.
Few weeks ago, I had heard a devastating news from my brother-in-law. His child was critical and was very, very ill. As a nurse, I knew the dreadful outcome. But as a Christian, I know that there is always Someone Who knows everything and the things we don't know. Out of my own trials I had faced, I had no other means but to trust in the Lord. And during those times, He had shown His faithfulness and He did His promise of not leaving me nor forsaking me.
All of us will experience fear in different ways. There will be mountains of fear, of despair, of hopelessness and even of doubt. How can we be calm during stormy times of our lives? How can we feel safe when we are traveling on roads that leads to nowhere?
Yes, we can overcome all of these! Only in Jesus can we find serenity and the strength to overcome such fears! Thanks to the One Who answers prayers! Thanks be to the One Who unconditionally loves us all! My brother-in-law's child is doing very well now.
Next time you see a "sunset", may you remember that we can always claim Jesus' promise of "peace" when we are having turmoils in our lives. [John 16:33 - Jesus said,"I told you these things so that you can have peace in Me. In this world, you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world!"
His faithful promises [New Century Version]:
Proverbs 3:25, 26 -"You won't be afraid of sudden trouble; you won't fear the ruin that comes to the wicked because the Lord will keep you safe. He will keep you from being trapped."
Psalm 27:1 -"The Lord is my light and the One Who saves me. I fear no one."
Psalm 23:4 -"Even if I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid because You are with me. Your rod and Your walking stick comforts me."
Psalm 91:10, 11 -"Nothing bad will happen to you; no disaster will come to your home. He has put His angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go."
Psalm 91:4 -"He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection."
My child is in his teen years now. When he looked back and remembered the memories we had all spent as a family or as mother and child, he spoke of the times we shared laughing and sharing jokes. He mentioned how he would try to cut the spring roll wrappers and pretended he was making his own "egg rolls" when I would make him cook with me. He remembered the "Saturdays" that he and his dad spent making some pancakes of two sizes, one bigger, and the others were mini-sizes meant for him. He remembered the fun he had when we drove the car in Disneyland together and with me or his dad, carrying him in our arms, that was the only way he would take a picture with Disney characters. He remembered he used to say "yo...yo..." when he was only a tot, meaning "I love you" but it meant so much for me and my husband. He remembered the times when him and his dad would pretend they were racing with his "hotwheels cars" and his eyes would glisten whenever he won! He remembered every afternoon, he had his play time with his father, even though he was tired from work.
That was then...Now is the same. Material things do not give us the "happiness and the love" we long for...It is in those simple things, of making memories together, even without having anything, but just having love incorporated in every moment, is something that no money can buy nor any words can ever express.
I had bought this "Valentine's stamps" recently from the post office. "The words "all heart" caught my eye and a man, sort of running while carrying a big, heavy heart was enough for me to remember that not only on Valentine's Day nor on special occasions, but everyday, we must have a "big heart" and in everything we do or say, we must "give it or do it with all of our hearts." If we can learn how to love, we must look up to God first. He is the Author of love. 1 John 4:19 says, "We love each other as a result of His loving us first..."
The apostle Paul had expressed the true meaning of love [from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13, Life Application Bible]....."Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever..." "There are three things that will endure - faith, hope and love - and the greatest of these is love"...
1 Corinthians 14:1 - "Let love be your highest goal."
Mark 12:30, 31 - Jesus said, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself."
1 John 4:7,8 - "Let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God - for God is love."
Romans 13:8 - "Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God's law."
1 Peter 3:8 - "All of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds."
The Attacker (5/15/09)
The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies.
Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.
Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.
All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.
When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.
The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.
When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himseld and ended up injuring his attacker severely.
[Source: Life Application Bible]:
We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.
“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14
Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].
Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.
Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.
Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].