I can do all things with God who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

What I am is a gift from God. What I become is my gift to God.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:16.

Dec 30, 2011

2011 Rewind: A Year in Photo

It is good to look back at the events that mattered to me in 2011.


Most events in 2011 brought happiness to me and my family, especially as we traveled to different places and enjoyed family bonding.  We received many blessings, both personal and professional.

World felt nature's fury from March until the end of 2011.  It started with the earthquake in NZ followed by the tsunami in Japan. Philippines was not spared as Ondoy and Sendong caught most of us by surprise. People were kept busy helping those that were affected by the calamities. More people donated to charity and shared their blessings to the needy.

I received a personal blow with the sudden and untimely death of my eldest sister.  I know that time will heal the wounds left by her demise although it might take time.

Our family finished a successful advent journey. The lessons brought our family closer to each other and closer to God.

Information technology kept moving in a very fast pace. Social networking reached new heights with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and blogging sites getting most of the share.  Likewise, smartphones and PDAs were launched version after another version with Apple and Samsung leading the pack.

2011 has been a fantastic year and I will bid it adieu with a thankful heart. I am  looking forward to 2012 with fresh hope and a fervent prayer that God will continue to bless me and my family.

Here's to happiness, good times, good cheer and many joys untold.  Cheers!

Dec 24, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 28


The Story of Christmas
Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 

So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.



So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.


And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.


Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.


Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”


So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 

And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.


But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.





Dec 23, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 27


The Visit of the Magi
Matthew 2: 1-12



“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star* at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
Matthew 2:2

Let's each of us express our gratitude to our Godfor coming to be with us, for forgiving our sins,for saving us from the power of death.Let's ask that we might be purified of all self-lovethat we might receive his coming to us this week.
Thank you for these weeks of prayer.
In the spirit of the seasonmy waiting,
my patience,feels sacred.

Dec 22, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 26


Joseph
Matthew 1: 19-25



Little is said about Joseph.  After the birth of Jesus and in the early, he is rarely mentioned.  Through biblical stories, we know Joseph to be a godly man, law-abiding, courageous and most of all – loving and unselfish.  He could have had Mary stoned but he chose to obey God and accepted Jesus as his own. 

Prayer:
St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church, watch over the Church as carefully as you watched over Jesus, help protect it and guide it as you did with your adopted son. Amen

Dec 21, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 25


Anticipation
Luke 1: 57-60, 66-69, 76-79  


They say that every child comes with a promise.  Christmas reminds us that Christ is born to fulfill God’s promise that all nations of the earth will be blessed through Him.   Thus, this Christmas, we have to trust God’s promise no matter how depressing the headlines are.   

Part of Christmas is the excitement of the holiday.  We look forward to family reunions, get-together with friends, parties, gifts, new clothes and toys. We start to count the days until we can open up the presents.

The anticipation for Christmas is building up. Everyone seems excited; everyone is preparing something for Christmas.  What are you preparing and to whom are you preparing it for?  Have you prepared yourself for the coming of Christ?

May the Holy Spirit enlighten us so that we will not get lost in all the Christmas preparations.  Don’t forget to put Christ back in CHRISTmas.

Merry CHRISTmas to all!



Dec 20, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 24



Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield,
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust.   Ps. 33
The Visitation
Today, we discussed the 'joy' of Elizabeth when Mary visited her on the third month of her pregnancy.


Blessed are you who believed 
that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
With just days until Christmas, 
we listen to readings of joy and fulfillment.
We imagine the incredible meeting of Mary and Elizabeth.
With growing anticipation, we let ourselves simply believe that the Lord's many promises to us these weeks will be fulfilled.

from Online Ministries




Dec 19, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 23





Mary Praises God (Luke 1:46-55)


Prayer for Today 
Father, I thank you for those whom you've used to mentor me -- my parents and teachers.  I thank you for the people you sent to touch my life so that I will understand life's lessons well. You've been very gracious to me. And I thank you for those I've been privileged to mentor. Bless them today in Christ, I pray. I ask you for the people, who like me, are studying your Word and seeking to be used by you. I ask you to enable them to be godly mentors to many through your grace. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Dec 18, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 22


REJOICE! 


“The virgin is with child and shall bear a son, 
and she will call him Emanuel.” Is. 7, 14


Today is the last week of Advent and we have lighted the 4th purple candle, the candle of peace. Let us pray that God will grant us peace.

MEDITATION from Creighton University's Online Ministries

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 
- Luke 1

On this last Sunday of Advent,
we quietly reflect on the mystery.

We rest in awe, in wonder,
at how our God entered our world and came to be with us.

We pause to receive the gift offered us:
that the Spirit of God will open up our lives and
that Jesus will really come into our hearts.
May we have watchful hope today,
believing what the Lord promises us.
Let us pray today, that we might be God's servants,
that we might be instruments of God's love
for our families and all we serve this week.

I will give you rest from all your enemies  2 Sam. 7
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.

May it be done to me according to your word.” - Lk. 1 


God Bless Philippines

Lord, please comfort the people affected by the typhoon. Bring the Filipino people together in love & prayer and help them care well for each other. May people show compassion in practical and abundant ways.

Let those affected by the typhoon rebuild better than before. Let them be strong. May good come out at this time of calamity.


God, please bless Philippines!




As I watched the news about the typhoon in Mindanao, I was devastated. I felt the fear of the people trying to cross the raging floods. I imagine how someone would feel seeing a loved one being taken away by water currents. I imagine how surprised and frightened they must be when the waters from swelled rivers came crushing through their homes as they were sleeping. It must be a struggle for some and a quick death for others.  As I write this, the death toll reaches above 400 and still counting.  For those who survived the ordeal, it will not only be a bleak Christmas but a bleak future. They will have no time to be haunted by the experience as they are faced with the gigantic task of rebuilding their life. I trust that God will help us in this trying times and I have faith in Filipino's resilience.

There will be many questions. Why did this happen? Why are they unaware and unprepared? Who is to blame? BUT this is not the time to ask questions and to blame anyone. It is a time to comfort the people, to share whatever we have and to pray.  Politics should be set aside, animosities should be forgotten for a while and work together to extend help the soonest possible time.


PLEASE send donations to Philippines. 

Dec 17, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 21


RISE UP AND BUILD

Then I told them of the hand of my God, 
which was good upon me; 
as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. 
And they said, Let us rise up and build
So they strengthened their hands for this good work. 
Nehemiah 2:18

Help REBUILD the lives of the affected families.
SEND YOUR DONATIONS

It is a coincidence that the topic discussed during our family’s Advent activity today is about “rising up and rebuilding” when I heard the news about the typhoon tragedy that hit Philippines.  The devastation in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City is so massive; it is difficult to imagine how the people will move on with their lives after this.

The burden may seem too big.  The loss of properties is irrelevant compared to the loss of loved ones.  They may not understand why it happened to them of all people and they may ask God "why?".  The weight of rebuilding the infrastructures and setting up of facilities for the displaced is now put upon the government officials' shoulders.  This is the time that our country needs a leader who has qualities like Nehemiah.  We need someone who is a good motivator and team player. We need someone who will rally the Filipinos to work together and help in rebuilding the nation. More than rebuilding infrastructures and facilities, people have a greater task of rebuilding their personal relationship with the Lord, which may have been shattered because of the tragedy. Rebuilding faith might take time but surely God will lift their spirits so that they may be able to rise up again. 

Dec 16, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 20


Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”
John 11:25


Let’s meet Habakkuk



While we were reading today’s scripture for our Jesse tree, I can’t help but notice the many similarities of Habakkuk to the modern men.  It is as if Habakkuk is living at the present time.

In Habakkuk Chapter 1, Habakkuk asked the Lord:

2 How long, LORD, must I call for help,
   but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
   but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
   Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
   there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
   and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
   so that justice is perverted.

Many times, people feel that injustice prevails in the world.  Just like Habakkuk, we cannot understand why the evil people seems to be getting away with the wicked things that they do and still have everything they wanted and those that live a righteous life continue to suffer.  Is life really that unfair? 

In response to Habakkuk’s complaint, God said:

 5 “Look at the nations and watch—
   and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
   that you would not believe,
   even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,[a]
   that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
   to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are a feared and dreaded people;
   they are a law to themselves
   and promote their own honor.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
   fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
   their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
 9 they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes[b] advance like a desert wind
   and gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
   and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
   by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”

God knows what is happening.  He will take care of everything in His own time; He will judge everyone according to what has been done. Although God will not tolerate any wrongdoing, we should remember that God is also forgiving. We just have to welcome Him in our hearts and live by faith.

Lord, let my faith be strong as Habakkuk ‘s as written in Habakkuk 3:17

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.

Thus says the LORD:
Observe what is right, do what is just;
for my salvation is about to come,
my justice, about to be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
the son of man who holds to it;
Who keeps the sabbath free from profanation,
and his hand from any evildoing.
Let not the foreigner say,
when he would join himself to the LORD,
"The LORD will surely exclude me from his people."
Isaiah 56:1-3


Dec 15, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 19

Simbang Gabi

Instead of writing the usual Advent gospel and scripture that our family discussed, I am now writing about my kids' first Simbang Gabi. They may not have experienced the usual Simbang Gabi that Jun and I were used to but for now, this has to do. What is more important is the kids know the real essence of Christmas - the real reason why we have the Simbang Gabi.

Simbang Gabi  is a nine-day novena that culminates on Christmas eve.  It is not only a tradition but it is greatly significant as we complete our spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ.

The church is brimming with enthusiasm and as I hear the opening song , i felt genuine happiness and peace. I am with my Father and I am always welcome in His home.


Dec 14, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 18


Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 
Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? 
Then said I, Here am I; send me.
(Isaiah 6:8)





Lord I present myself to You today.  Allow me to encourage others and to glorify Your name in all that I do. Amen


Dec 13, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 17



Lessons from Today’s Story
(2 Kings 18:1-19:19, 32-37)

The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth.
Psalm 145:18

Have you been mocked? Have you experienced being left alone by the people you thought were friends because of what you believe in? Have you been challenged by people who invent lies and tell bad things so that others will turn away from you? 

It is not easy to be laughed at and to be talked about.  It takes patience and self-control to be quiet and ignore what is being said about you.  If there are people who keep on talking and insulting you, don’t fight back; just remember Hezekiah! Pray to God and tell Him all your worries.  He may not answer your prayers exactly as you would like but trust that God will provide what is best for you in His own time.

We only have 12 days before Christmas. May God grant us the grace to purify our hearts – take away the hatred, bitterness, jealousy & resentment, take away the pride, erase the hatred that divides people, and let us turn away from other worldly things that seem to take over our life as false gods. Let us pray that our faith be like that of Hezekiah and that we may be ready for the coming of Messiah. Amen.


Come, O Lord, do not delay;
forgive the sins of your people.


Dec 12, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 16


Lessons from Today’s Bible Story  
(1 Kings 17:1-16, 18:17-46)

      1.    Believing in God

Our God is the one, 
true, living, and powerful God!

2.   Recognizing God’s capability of doing astounding things
3.   Believing that we can live and act with courage because God is always with us
4.   We are not alone (God is always with us!)

“My help comes from the 
LORD,
who made heaven and earth”
Psalm 121:2)

The Old Testament narrates the various instances of people forgetting that God is the one true and powerful God.  It shows how easy it is for people to forget the amazing things that God has done for us; how easy it is to get confused and turn to things that displease the Lord.
The highlight of Elijah’s story is the challenge “The god who answers by fire is indeed God,” (1 Kings 18:24) that he gave to the people who worship Baal. They prepared the altar and chose a bull for the sacrifice. Elijah asked God to send fire that will consume the sacrifice so that people will turn their hearts back to Him.
Let us not wait for God’s miracle to happen before returning back to Him. 

Dec 11, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 15 - Gaudete Sunday




Rejoice in the Lord, always: 
again, I say, rejoice. 

Indeed, the Lord is near.


Happy Gaudete Sunday!

We are now on the third Sunday of Advent.  Our wait will soon be over and the Lord coming to us is near. Even our Jesse tree is almost complete!  




Reading 1(Isaiah 61:1-2A, 10-11)
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.

Reading 2 (1 Thes 5:16-24)
Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.


The story from yesterday’s post (Advent 2011, Day 14) ended with Saul being anointed as the first king by Samuel upon instructions of God. 

Today, we continue the story of Samuel with Saul’s rise to power. After some success, Saul became disobedient and conceited.  As a result of Saul’s arrogance, God instructed Samuel to start looking for the new leader of Israel. David was not chosen according to Samuel’s preferences but he was the one anointed as king by grace of God.

David is a popular bible character because of the story about his battle with Goliath.  The story is close to the people’s heart because it does not only narrate the triumph of good against evil but it also narrates the triumph of “small” against “giant”.  People have encountered many Goliaths in their lives.  This story reminds us that however big a problem is, we should not be afraid to face it because we can always overcome it with the help of the Lord.  The story also teaches us to look beyond appearances.


"The Lord seeth not as man seeth;
for man looketh on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looketh on the heart" (I Sam. 16:7)


Dec 10, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 14


Gospel of the Day
As they were coming down from the mountain,
the disciples asked Jesus,
"Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"
He said in reply, "Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands."
Then the disciples understood
that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
                                                               Matthew 17:9A, 10-13


The kids have drawn a crown for the 14th symbol of our Jesse tree.  The crown symbolizes the beginning of the kingdom (1 Samuel 3:1-21, 7:1-8:22, 9:15-10:9).  The story of Samuel responding to God's call begins his role as a prophet. When Samuel was a boy, he heard God calling to him and dedicated his life to serving Him.  He urged Israel to have a single heart and to look for the Lord in every need.  Samuel anointed Saul as the first king. Samuel instructed the people to serve the Lord with "all your heart" because if they didn't, no king would be able to save them.

Two important lessons from today’s story are: listening to God and becoming God’s servant.

"Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth"
(I Sam 3:9)


Dec 9, 2011

Advent 2011, Day 13


Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence.
Isaiah 48:17-19




The bible story for today is about Gideon taken from Judges Ch. 6-8. Gideon was called by God to free the people of Israel and condemn them from their worship of idols.  Although Gideon doubted God and himself at first and asked God for a sign three times before believing in Him and following His instructions, he is known as ‘man of faith’. He trusted God’s promise that they will win the battle. 

The Book of Judges narrates how the Israelites turned away from God many times and every time they call for help, God is there to rescue them.  Such is God’s love to us.  We may forget God many times in our lives but He patiently waits and continues to invite us to live our lives with His grace.   


I, the Lord, your God,
do what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.