Monday, July 9, 2018

Following New Blue Prints Devotional: Day 4 - I Choose to Work in Unity With God's People

Theme: I choose to work in unity with God's people.
Study Book: Nehemiah Chapter 3

Personal Reflection

Chapter 3 portrays a group of committed and dedicated people working together to rebuild Jerusalem. They are composed of family, friends, neighbors from different backgrounds and professions, men and women together. They come together for one purpose, laboring in one accord, helping one another.

This chapter records a long list of people's names which many are hard to pronounce. Honestly, reading their names was tedious. At the same time, I knew that every name mentioned has a purpose. Every name has meaning. Like for example, the name Eliashib, the very first name mentioned in this chapter. Eliashib in Hebrew means, "God restores." This chapter starts with the message of "God restoring" the Sheep Gate (which has a deeper meaning that I hope to dig later).

Camp Application

Feeling tedious of reading the names, I went back to my study guide. I read something that the contributor mentioned which totally changed my outlook in this long chapter which is full of names and list of repetitive words of the kind of work they did.

As I read the names, I envisioned the faces of the people that I will be serving with at camp. I visualized us, volunteers, working in our respective cabins, decorating, preparing logistics, and most of all, supporting each other in sowing the seed of God's truth and grace in the children's hearts. Like the people in this chapter, we came from different backgrounds. We have different temperaments and personality. Yet, in this five-day period, I make a personal decision to set aside my selfishness, my pride, my privacy, my comfort. Doing allows me to give what my fellow volunteers the support they need from me. 

"Following New Blue Prints Devotional is created for RFK Camp volunteers in preparation for RFKC 2018. Images used in this blog is a personal choice."

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Following New Blue Prints Devotional: Day 3 - I Choose to Trust God

Theme: I choose to trust God amidst opposition.

Study Book: Nehemiah 2:11-20

Personal Reflection

Nehemiah went to inspect the places affected by the destruction by himself. Seeing Jerusalem in total ruin encouraged him more, to move forward with what he intended to do—rebuild his beloved hometown. Nothing was going to stop him. When he came face to face with his brethren, he gave a speech that motivated their spirit to do the work. Nehemiah ensured his people of God's goodness and how God approved of their desire to rebuild Jerusalem. He also told them about how the king supports them all the way.

However, bullies came and downgraded their plan. They were right on their faces, throwing all the negative words they can say. Yet, Nehemiah was not threatened. He knew whom he stood for. He had so much confidence in his God, his detractors' words mean nothing.

Camp Application

When I told family and friends about my plan to volunteer for RFKC this summer, I do not know if there were people who thought in secret that it's a ridiculous idea. For someone who doesn't know these kids in distress, and what could happen during camp, some people may think  it's a "suicide." But like Nehemiah, I do not care what they think. What I care is the whisper of God in my heart. When He put that passion in my heart for it, I took steps to walk in the journey that He wanted my feet to tread. What I care is this exciting moment of my life that God opened for me. What I care is the love and the hope I can give to the kids God handpicked for me to have an impact on. God already prepared the way for me and these kids. Everything is ready for all of us. The oppositions' words and thinking have been silenced. Like Nehemiah and his people, we win. Our God made it so.

"Following New Blue Prints Devotional is created for RFK Camp volunteers in preparation for RFKC 2018. Images used in this blog is a personal choice."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Following New Blue Prints Devotional: Day 2 - I Choose to Trust God

Theme: I choose to trust God.
Study Book: Nehemiah 2:1-10

Personal Reflection

Nehemiah must have been looking depressed for months (from the time he heard the news) while serving the king, that one day the king asked his cupbearer the reason behind his dejected face. The king couldn't take it any longer. The happy Nehemiah doesn't look like the Nehemiah he knows. This sad face has been going on for months. The king sensed that his servant is going through a deep emotional struggle.

I love how Nehemiah responded. He didn't have any reservations. He did not let his fear stop him from telling the king the very truth behind his sorrow. Because of his boldness, the door to work out an answer to his concern was opened. However, his audacity was coupled with trust in his God through prayer. He didn't just thoughtlessly give the king a long list of what he needs, he started it all with a prayer. He is fully aware that anything he plans to do, will not be successful without involving God and putting Him first above everything.

Nehemiah is a man of great faith. The Holy Spirit included the story of Nehemiah's unwavering faith in God as a vivid illustration of what it is like when I put all my trust in Him. God never disappointed Nehemiah in his talk with the king. The king gave all that he requested. He even sent captains of his army and horsemen to accompany Nehemiah, to ensure the safety of his journey. He gave him a great success in all his endeavors because, in everything he did, he put God first. When I follow Nehemiah's example, God will surely do the same for me.

Camp Application

I've never been to RFK Camp before. I have a few pictures in my mind of what it will be like, but these are nothing compared to the actual scenario. I need the grace of God to remind me to put Him first in everything that I do or say. Doing this will bless all the people that I will be with especially the kids that I will be serving. I should not depend on my human efforts for they will bound to fail. But with God, I am bound to succeed in blessing the lives of the children and the volunteers.

"Following New Blue Prints Devotional is created for RFK Camp volunteers in preparation for RFKC 2018. Images used in this blog is a personal choice."

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Following New Blue Prints Devotional: Day 1 - I Choose a Firm Foundation

Theme: I choose a firm foundation.
Nehemiah 1: 1-11

Personal Reflection:

Nehemiah is one person who deeply cares for his own people, the Jews. Even if he lived in Babylon for several years after the Jewish people's captivity, Nehemiah never forgets where he came from and the people to whom he truly belonged. This attitude is displayed when fellow Jews from Judah arrived in Susa. He is so eager to hear from them the condition of the people and Jerusalem as a whole. The report shook his entire being, he struggled with emotional distress for several days.

Yet, Nehemiah didn't just limit his concern for his brethren through weeping and feeling dejected. He did something significant which made his cause succeed from day one to end. Every day that he was fasting, he chose to talk to God the concerns of his heart, not to people. He knew who deeply understands what he's going through, and he knew who will help him all the way. Nehemiah chose to start his journey on a firm foundation who is no other, but God.

Nehemiah's choices of actions in his time of anguish is a personal reminder for me. Sometimes, I tend to find a way to solve a problem without approaching and telling God about it. I forget that if there's anyone who has a deep interest of the matters of my heart, it is my Father God. If there's anyone who is eager to provide what I need, it is God, my Provider.

Oftentimes when I have a problem, I instantly plunge into my fleshly impulse. I want to solve the issues immediately which frustrates (and) or disappoints me all the time. Nehemiah was different. He took time. Many days. However, he didn't walk the journey by himself alone. He took God alongside with him. He chose the chief companion of all.

May my heart always remember who to go first when troubles arise; for no matter how high, how turbulent, how big the waves of obstacles threaten my security and success, the God who loves me is sure to tackle them all for me.

"Following New Blue Prints Devotional is created for RFK Camp volunteers in preparation for RFKC 2018. Images used in this blog is a personal choice."

Saturday, April 14, 2018

First Step to Faith

Hebrews 11:1-2 (MSG) 
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. 

Our need of God is the first step to the journey of faith. At some point in our God-less life, there will come a moment when our heart longs for something that the world doesn't have and cannot give. When the Holy Spirit touches our soul to help us discern what that inevitable need is, we are presented with a choice. Respond or ignore what the soul aches for. What will we choose?

When we choose to respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit, we are bound for a new, exciting ride. When we choose to ignore, we expect nothing but the same routine of the old self. We can choose to stay with the old, or go and meet the new (creation in us).

Stepping into faith is not complicated. It is not a step-by-step process. It does not have a long list of what-to-do and what-not-to-do. We don't have to study page after page on how to attain it. In fact, we do not do the work. The Holy Spirit does. Only one thing is required—a humble heart.

The moment we humble ourselves before God and admit that we need Him, the doorway to the wonderful mystery of faith opens. Simple as that. We don't have to struggle with what to do next. We can leave it all to the Helper whom the Father assigned to provide everything we need from that moment forward.

Life is not true life without plunging into the unknown world of faith. We will never know what the ultimate purpose of life is until we put one foot forward to the open door of faith. One step towards the invitation goes beyond what one can behold. Faith is the ultimate garden of life. Every beautiful thing life produces sprung from it.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos

 “I leave you peace. It is my own peace I give you. I give you peace in a different way than the world does. So don’t be troubled. Don’t be afraid." John 14:27

I was desperate to write something. I read my daily bible reading plan. I prayed for inspiration. I prayed to be motivated. Nothing. Worse case scenario, two little girls came out from their cave; noisy, chattering girls. One with an octopus puppet on her hand, the other with two plush dolphins and a shark. E came over and walked the octopus' tentacles on my head, while F, poked through the rocking chair's holes (where I've seated) her dolphins to my shoulder. They started talking about under the sea creatures. It was a mess (in my thought). This scene is not what I planned. "I want to be alone right now so I can do what I want to do. How can I write something with this chaos all over me?"

I told them to go to their room and give me some time alone. I needed to do something. F went in their room, talking to herself on the top of her lungs. E was two meters away right in front of me petting the cat with her octopus and shushing her little sister.

I prayed for peace. Peace inside the house. Meaning, no loud voice because it will drive my concentration crazy. More so, I didn't know what to write which was the major dilemma. I prayed that God will whisper in my girls' heart to keep quiet so Mama can write. That's the kind of peace I asked. I prayed hard. Nope...nothing...nada. The pandemonium worsened. Can you imagine my irritation boiling?

Then God whispered to my heart. "You want peace? I will give you peace. Ask your girls to come to you. Play with them." Well, that wasn't my plan at all. But I obeyed.

The sound of their laughter and shrieks as I pretended to be eaten by a shark and imprisoned in the octopus' tentacles; the glimmer in their eyes as they shared to me their favorite sea creatures; the bright minds I beheld as they told me what these creatures can do, that's peace. That's the peace my soul needed.

As we talked about these awesome creatures, God gave me the privilege to minister to my girls. I saw in their eyes and heard the excitement in their voice, their fascination for these animals. I asked why they like what they like. "Wow, how awesome are these creatures!" I exclaimed. "But do you know who is the most awesome? The One who created them—God!" Even if I didn't tell them it's God, they know. I told them how I marvel at the many creations around me: colorful sunset, beautiful flowers, majestic mountains, fluffy clouds, etc.. These things are just so breathtaking to look at. I told them, in all of these wonderful creations, let us not always forget to look beyond it. Let us always ask the question to remind ourselves, "Who created it?" The Creator is far grander than the creation,  so many of us missed to recognize.

Then they talked about how the smallest octopus in the world called the "blue-ringed octopus" is the most deadly in all of the octopus family. I made examples of how a small scorpion is more lethal than the big one; how ants, though itty bitty in size, are strong, know how to look for food, and find their way home to store their food. I told the girls how big and small are different in God's ways and the "world". The world considers the big ones as mighty and powerful. Meanwhile, with God, the small ones are mightier and powerful than the big ones.

It's funny sometimes how I push myself to do something I badly want to do, and yet, God has a different plan. However, the Holy Spirit does not push me to do what He wants me to do. He is not that kind of God. He waits for me to act on it. He does not fight tooth and nail against my will. He respects my decision of "yes" or "no." Had I not listened when He told me to entertain and play with my girls, I wouldn't find the "real" peace that I needed in that circumstance. Had I not obeyed, I would find myself frustrated with myself and my precious ones. I would find myself defeated for not being able to write something. The "chaotic" situation (which I thought) I was in, was actually the answer that led me to the peace I was looking for.

The subject matter my Father planned for me to write is not something from the Scripture I read today. Rather, it is finding my peace in the midst of complete disorder. "The peace I give is a gift the world cannot give."  The world may cause my world become chaotic, but Jesus gives me the peace as He promised. My part is to obey so I can receive His peace.