Hope that Lasts

HOPE1

Reading: Job 18-21

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)

Have you ever been accused of something you know you did not do? Or, have you been falsely judged for doing what was right? How did you feel? How did you deal with it? Think with me for a moment.

Job 19:23-27 must be the pericope in this book best known and most loved by bible readers. Then at its very heart, we find Job’s confession of faith. Scholars may have some contention as to the identity of the “Redeemer” being referred to, but on a larger perspective, we can clearly see that Job expresses his confidence that God will ultimately vindicate (meaning, to clear someone of blame or suspicion) his servants in the face of all false accusations.

The Apostle Peter also exhorted us to stand firm in the midst of trial and injustice. He reasoned that, “this is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong. Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross, so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:21-25 MSG)

We may suffer for a while, but remember that our hope in Christ lasts. It is unchanging, imperishable and sure.

After Silence… Hope.

Image

The silent years that bridged the gap between Old and New Testaments must have been excruciatingly difficult. Those who’ve long waited for the Messiah might have already asked, “will He still come to save us?”… That I can only guess. Yet as we open the Gospels, we are reminded that what seemed silent to man was not at all silent in God’s perspective. Above all, He did not forget His promises. God worked throughout world history. Believe it or not, I believe the Roman roads and the Greeks’ affinity towards education were part of His master plan. His sovereignty was displayed in the midst of the “400 years of silence”.

Then after centuries of waiting, the seemingly deafening silence was broken by the voice of one crying in the wilderness (cf. Mark 1:2-3). His name was John the Baptist – a man known for his unusual appearance, eating habits, and boldness! This caught the attention of the religious people, so they inquired, “Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet? Who are you?” Then he humbly replied, “I am not… I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said. I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie”.

God’s purpose for John was clear. He humbly came to usher in the entrance of Jesus Christ, the Savior of this broken world. John both had a proper view of his calling and a high view of the King he wholeheartedly served. He placed his trust on the promise-keeping God, while the vast majority might have been losing faith. He chose to point to the light while darkness seemed to have covered the earth. Insignificant as John may seem, I find myself deeply grateful while reflecting on what Scripture says about him. Through him, a bright ray of hope was ignited through the testimony of this man who served as the Messiah’s forerunner, which the Old Testament has foretold.

Because of John the Baptist, I am convinced that nothing could ever silence the Living Word (cf. John 1:1-5). God is real, and God is faithful. In Him, we can always have hope.

Day 1: Refuge and Fortress

June 15, 2012.  Friday.

At 7:30 A.M, I left the house going towards a place, which I know would be the start of the journey I’ve began praying for since December of 2007.

It was quite a “wrestling match” with the Lord.  No audience involved. No referee.  Just me and Him.  It was never easy coming up with the decision to work not in a clinic, a hospital, or do “home health”.  This time, by God’s grace and mercy, the Lord called me to serve Him full-time in a local church as part of their pastoral staff.

Anxiety, anticipation, fear and joy – a strange concoction of such feelings crept in as I stationed myself inside my cubicle.  I honestly don’t know where to start.  Even if I’ve been in the ministry (as a volunteer) for more than eleven years now, everything just seemed different.  Everything’s new.  I was only left with one thing to do. I grabbed my bible while whispering a prayer to God, uttering words like these:

“Father, please speak to me.  Affirm me today.  I’m scared, but I know You have called me by name. I really need You.”

The passage assigned for me to meditate on that day was Psalm 91, which I want to share with you here. It’s a little long, but I enjoin you to read along and contemplate on the words of the psalmist.

My Refuge and My Fortress

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his pinions,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

You will only look with your eyes

and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—

the Most High, who is my refuge—

no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the adder;

the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;

I will protect him, because he knows my name.

When he calls to me, I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him

and show him my salvation.”

Today’s the 17th and I can already feel both the fulfillment and the tension in this phase of transition.  It’s difficult.

But no amount of fear nor difficulty could surpass the peace that the Lord gives – especially when you know that it is God who calls us.  Furthermore, we can remain confident that He shall provide us with whatever we will need to accomplish His agenda.  It may be hard to believe, but it’s true.  (Oh, what a great God we serve, right?)

My prayer for you today is that your heart would burn as you open God’s Word, just like the people at the road to Emmaus.  May God meet with you wherever you are and in whatever situation that you may be.

I pray that you would be refreshed with the truth that He alone is our refuge and our fortress, which we can always trust!

“A Mother’s Heart” by Jill Duco-Miller

While I’m still at a period of fervently seeking and waiting on the Lord regarding the next steps I’ll need to take (which explains why my blog site has been very quiet during the past two or three weeks), here’s something that is totally worth sharing.  This was written by my dear sister, Jill, for Mother’s Day. Be blessed!

—————————————————-

I remember when I was little Nanay (my mom) gave us birthday cards and these words were written, “The 4 of you are my only treasure”.  Tatay (my dad) passed away when I was 8 because of a massive heart attack.  Nanay never remarried, and dedicated her time in raising all 4 kids.  She’s always told us that all she hoped and prayed for is that eventually we would find jobs that we will love doing, and have good families.  For me and my sister, she has always told us that we need to find a husband who will pursue us, will want to spend time with us, and will be good to us and to our future children.  Nanay’s prayers were definitely heard and and answered.

Yesterday in church, Mick Stockwell talked about Hannah and Samuel.  Most of us probably knows about this story.  But yesterday was the first time when God spoke to me through her story.  Read the following verses and look at how they show that God is an all-knowing God, He knows every little detail in our lives.

“They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah.  And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.  And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said “I have asked for him from the Lord.”  ~1 Samuel 1:19-20

“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him.  Therefore I have lent him to the Lord.  As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” ~1 Samuel 1:27-28

“Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore 3 sons and 2 daughters.  And the young man Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.”  ~ 1 Samuel 2:21

“Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.” ~ 1 Samuel 7:15

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the people of old received their commendation.  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”  ~ Hebrews 11:1-3

“And what more shall I say?  For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets – who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”  ~Hebrews 11:32-34

Yes, God heard and answered Hannah’s prayer.  There have been many times in the past, especially this past month,  when I did not trust God for His plan in my life.  I heard God’s voice telling me, “This is not the time.  Just trust in Me, and when the right time comes you will be ready.”  When I heard Him saying these words, I would cry and they would hurt.  I wanted MY plan, and I was impatient.

Thankfully, God has showered me with people who prayed for me and with me.  Edwin and I have been diligently praying for our family, and our future children.  God has given me peace, and patience.  It is still a work in process.  But I know I can rely on God’s truths to comfort and encourage me.

I hope we will all be encouraged of Hannah’s story.  Remember that God is our Jehovah jireh, He is our provider and in His sovereignty, He knows what’s best for us.

 

*Written by Jill Duco-Miller

 

A Father’s Love.

Other than being a minister largely to the student and young professional populations, I work as a Speech Pathologist on a part-time basis.  In this season, I work primarily with children and adolescents with disabilities.  I guess this is a facet of my life I hardly talk about in my blogs.

Here’s a confession.

I remember myself wanting to quit three months before graduation.  I wanted to enter seminary to be a pastor.  I could vividly recall crying out before the Lord on New Year’s eve, inquiring of Him since  I practically don’t know what to do anymore!

After comtemplating and seeking sound counsel from people whom I’m close with (i.e. family, accountability group), I decided to finish my studies.  I started working in this kind of profession in less than two months after college graduation.

I had my share of ups and downs as a newbie clinician, I must say.  Until today, I’d grope at saying that I’m really good at what I do.  I have caused joy on some days; disappointments on most days.  I still got a long way to go.

Nevertheless, I admit that doing what I do now transformed me in many (and I mean many) ways.  Some may think or say that, since I’m the “service-provider”, it’s generally a one-way “transaction”.  We get paid for the job, and that’s it.  But that’s not how it works!  We learn so much from these people, just as we try to help them in their process of learning to be independent.  (If you are one of my colleagues, I’m sure you’d agree!)

So tonight, I’d like to share a video about a father’s love for his daughter, who’s been diagnosed with autism.  It likewise represents one of the many reasons why I press on in this vocation.

I may not have a “Pastor” attached to my name.  But I believe I’m doing the work of a pastor not within the walls of the church, but in the company of hurting families who have a member (or members) with disabilities.

The Lord knows my desire to do more for them.  But my capacity’s limited.  Therefore, I decide day-by-day to serve these kids — giving my all for a few which I personally wish I could do for everyone.

I enjoin you to begin doing something for our differently abled brothers and sisters. It can be as simple as not laughing at them, and just showing them some concern. Help them instead. Love and accept them, regardless. I implore you to start acting on it… today.

May the Lord bless your heart!

“Roof Off. Walls Down.”

Out of the blue, I visited my old Multiply site.  I revisited my blogs and others posts (pictures, videos, etc.).  Apparently, this was the last “piece” I wrote back then.  In recall, I was pretty much in a bind when I wrote this.  It took me more than a year before I was able to write this, because I was exhausted in a number of areas of my life.  I guess you’ll better understand my predicament as you read along.

To my surprise, too, it was exactly a year ago when I posted this blog.  God really has His sense of humor, don’t you think? 🙂

As I spent time to read it with fresh eyes and to remember what has been happening then, I couldn’t help but be saturated with awe of God’s lovingkindness and His being in control of our life’s details.  Today, I could honestly say that I haven’t arrived at my “promised land” yet.  But my heart’s more intact now, and my faith has been made stronger during this entire span of time (July 27, 2010-July 27, 2011).  There’s much room to improve on and so many things to learn from the Lord, but I’m thankful that I’m on the right track.

May you be reminded of the Lord’s grace, as I impart to you a portion of my life journey

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

“Roof Off. Walls Downs.” (circa 2010)

It’s been quite a long “wilderness” experience on my part in the past six or seven months, earnestly asking the Lord for clearer directions.  My heart has been often in an agitated state, to the point of getting frustrated with myself and with the situation, breaking down before the Lord in my personal times of prayer.

My job’s inconsistent. The small business I started seems to not work.  I couldn’t get clients.  I feel like a failure in every attempt to rise again.  My wallet rants here and there. Bills are scattered on my office table. Obligations surround me. I fear what my family might say about the way I handle my budget. (I hardly have the money to spend in the first place!) I appear so clueless.  I simply can’t wait for an answer, because I want a solution now.

Yet when I go pick up that thick leather-bound Book, I lose the courage to question the Lord (or even blame Him or other people) about what’s happening in my life now.  As I meditate, it’s as if I resemble a Moses who never runs out of excuses or just another stubborn Israelite who never runs out of complaints.  Reading through excerpts of the Lord reminding people to not fear was a common scene as I sought and strived to read the Word from cover to cover.

“What now”?  What should I do with all the bills and obligations that I need to settle?  I get strength and encouragement, yes.  Those have been momentary solutions, perhaps.  The “right now” attitude keeps silent for a while, but still surfaces when pressure creeps in, as you notice.  Equally, however, the Lord pours out His Word into my heart giving me hope, whispering again to keep still.

“Fine, Lord, I will wait”, I muttered.

About a week ago, I stepped into a coffee shop with my Bible, another book, and my journal.  I read for about two or three hours, I guess.  There, the author of the book and the Author of life tackled a profound lesson on brokenness.  More so, a lifestyle of brokenness was, in a way, proposed.  “Okay, let’s see where this will lead…” I thought.  I wrote down my ideas in response, and honestly put my present struggles into writing.  As I surveyed through my writings, I never imagined how much pride and insecurity I’ve been carrying inside of me.  I ended up just closing my eyes, in fervent prayer, and allowing God to strip me off anything that keeps me from getting His main point.

Roof off, and walls down.

The Lord wanted me to be straightforward and sincere – to Him and to myself.  From the outside, I may seem patient because of the nature of my profession, but in the unseen recesses of my heart, I am not.  I might have thought I was humble, yet my level of humility as of that moment was not enough.

You see, the present trouble is not finding the destination.  The problem is that I don’t get the point why I had to wait.

God never fails to educate me (and you) on the lessons of humility and in having an authentic relationship with Him.  To be frank, I still don’t know where I’m being lead to now.  No staff.  No clear pillar of cloud, nor a pillar of fire yet.  But I believe the invisible roof I have placed between me and God, and the invisible walls I’ve put up – so that people would not see my state of brokenness and rottenness – are both on the process of breaking down.  That’s a good start.  And for that, I am grateful to God.

How about you? Maybe you can join me in this journey of learning to live a lifestyle of waiting and of brokenness.  Maybe you can likewise start tearing down those unseen roofs and walls in your life.

*Link to the original post — http://unashamed.multiply.com/journal/item/13/Roof_Off._Walls_Down.