“This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.” Isaiah 58:6-7
Philippine Daily Inquirer reports an inspiring story about a government employee going beyond what is expected. Below is an excerpt of the report:
In a statement, the DSWD said Nerio Salaveria was recognized as the agency’s “Best Technical Staff” in the sub-profession category for his work as a house-parent at the DSWD Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth in Western Mindanao. Salaveria, whose task was to instill discipline among children in conflict with the law who are living at the center, went “beyond the call of duty” when he also taught them practical skills such as haircutting as well as some agricultural work so that they could be self-sufficient when they are finally released from the center.
Based from Isaiah’s prophecy, this is the kind of fasting God desires. Going beyond what is required from us. Mr. Salaveria could have boxed his work in his job description, but he walked an extra mile. He gave the rehab residents skills….no he gave them life. It is okay to abstain from a single meal or from watching TV, or any other personal pleasure and stop just right there. But what will you do with the savings you got from skipping one meal. What will you do from the reduction of electricity bills from cutting your TV time? If you give up buying some personal pleasures for yourself, can’t you allot your budget for others? When fasting, share your life with others. Go beyond yourself. Walk the extra mile. Share the burden of others. Free others and you’ll get free. Have life by giving life. Don’t let your fasting expire. Do fasting that’s lasting.
“He………..overturned their tables.” John 2:15
Imagine a table properly arranged for display of things for sale or carefully arranged for a sumptuous dinner. Then someone overturns the said table.
We have a life arranged very well. My parents stay at home, our oldest brother takes care of our small business, three siblings are working full time secularly and if I am not mistaken our youngest sibling is about to finish her college that time. We were financially secure and five out of seven of the Cano kids are actively serving the Lord in various ways. When we were growing up, Tatang, my father, takes care of our small business and had to come home around 6 pm when we are all busy with our school work or household chores. We had no time to share time with him unless we were watching the same TV program. We never had the chance to tell him how much we love him or how much we appreciated his love for us. We never even had the chance to kiss him or hug him.
And then our tables were overturned. I still remember vividly when Tatang was having a heart attack. He suddenly lost his speech and mobility. We rushed him to the nearest hospital and doctors have to operate his brain to take out the clots of blood. That year, we spent Christmas in the hospital with Tatang in the ICU. And after that, for almost eleven months Tatang was bedridden before he passed away. I personally sought the Lord in what He is trying to convey to me or to us as a family. And for those months Tatang was bedridden, we were able to love him and serve him. We took turns in taking care of him. We expressed our love for him in words and actions. We were able to touch him, hug him and be romantic with him. In return, Tatang also expressed his affection to us even he had hard time talking. When Tatang died, we believed it was the right time, for God allowed us to have time to express our love and service to our father.
When God overturns tables, He has better arrangement in mind. Hardships, difficulties, trials, financial lack, health problems, relationship concerns are some of His ways of overturning tables. Jesus has the power to make all things work for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). And when He overturns your tables, put your faith in Him and watch His wisdom on the better arrangement He is working on in us.
Friends, we are blessed for He overturns tables so we can turn over our lives to Him.
“Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.” Mark 2:4
They were determined Jesus seekers. They tried to enter thru the front door but the crowd prevented them. They had an idea, they wanted to get into the house thru the back door (if the house had one) but likewise the crowd prevented them. They saw the window (if the house had one) and maybe they can pass by that but likewise the crowd prevented them. They must have given up, but that is not in their hearts. They must gone back home, but inside of them they know home is with Jesus. And then they went up the highest level, they climb the house top and opened the roof. And as they raised the roof, Jesus raises His eyes towards them and raises heaven’s healing of the soul and body.
What are the “crowds” that prevent us from seeing God’s healing grace. What keeps us from seeing Jesus? What keeps us from receiving his forgiveness? Are we as determined in seeking the Lord?
May God bless our hearts and minds that we may seek him with all we have, with all possible opportunities and with all possible ways. Let us get out from our comfort zone in going after God’s face. Let us hurdle each obstacle that blocks us from walking out from our own mats. Or if you think you are weak, allow your friends to bring you to Jesus. Seek the Lord while He is near. Be determined. Do not give up and do not go back. Go to the highest level. Raise the roof.
“It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more.” Isaiah 43:25
When driving in a snowy or rainy day, you need to make sure your wiper works well for you to drive safely. A clean and clear wind shield is needed for the journey to be complete. Notice that there is a portion of the wind shield that the wiper does not reach. And this glass shield wiper really does not clean well as stains of drops still exist in the glass if you look closely. This kind of wiper has truly its limitation as there will be traces.
God conveyed His message loud and clear thru Isaiah – God wipes out our offenses. And there is no portion that will be left unclean. He makes sure that our hearts are clean and clear a hundred percent. He does the wiping and He leaves no trace or stains produced by our sins. His wiping reaches every corner of our souls. He remembers our sins no more. There will be no drops of unholiness in our being. We ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy and He wipes away our sins and iniquities. We are given hope that we can complete the journey, as we have a God who wipes our sins – without a trace.
“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.” Isaiah 43:18-19
When we dwell on our past, we lose our vision of hope. You do not see what is coming forward or ahead but as you walk you see clearly what has happened yester time ago. We always see the future as a replay of the past. We cannot comprehend on how the future will be different from our past. We are boxed in the past and we can’t see how the future will be entirely unlike the past. We say we have done this and it did not work; and we readily conclude that it will not also work in the future. If we have been a failure in the past, we will remain failure in the future, that’s simply a humanely approach. We always see something old in the future. We remember the past vividly and do not understand on how God can change the course in our lives.
Isaiah prophesied on how God can change the course of our lives even if our past is not does not lead to the light. God encourages His people to forget the events and things of the past as He is preparing something new for us. When we are stuck in the past and we do not see a way, God makes a way in the desert. He builds a route for us to be renewed. He maps out a trail for us to find hope in Him. He allows us to go through a new track different from our old track. And when it seems we are having a wasted life, God rebuilds geology for rivers to run into our barren lives. God washes the dirt of sin and doubt in us to provide a new landscape in our hearts. Imagine a wasteland turning into a new frontier.
Tired of your old past? Rejoice, my friend! God is doing something new.
Read Mark 8:22-26
Jesus invites us not to go back…..
The blind man’s experience:
- They brought Jesus to me….
- Jesus led me out the village….
- He touched me and I can see people like trees….
- He touched me for the second time thus I can see clearly…
- He told me not to go back to the village and sent me home…..
Our personal experience:
- Somebody has been trying hard to bring Jesus to our lives….
- Jesus led us out from our old sinful lives……
- He touched us and saw He was crucified on a tree…..
- He is touching our hearts again and again thus we see His glory clearly…..
- He tells us not to go back to our old lives and go straight home to Heaven…..
Friends, let us commit to no going back…… and let us go straight home to Heaven.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
I am amazed with the hunger and thirst of this world with power. Engineers and scientists are getting to outdo one another by milking power from the earth – geothermal, from the wind, from the sun-solar, from the ocean waves and from gas, natural or fossil. People of this world can’t just live another day without power. If you live in Angeles City, Philippines and got your power out for one day you will have pails of sweat out from you. If you live in Niskayuna, New York and got your power out in a winter cold night, you will have to wear five fleece jackets to get you through the night. This world lives and dies with power.
We hunger and try to search for power everywhere. We look for it from our degrees, from our money, or from our position. And yet all these things do not satisfy nor empower. God’s love for us is ever available thus the power of His love. God’s perfect and unconditional love for us drives out fear. God’s love is all out. When we recognize His love for us, we have the power of His love. There is power to defeat temptation and weakness and not fear the spiritual enemy. There is power to overcome difficulties and not fear failure. There is power to go beyond our abilities and not fear limitation. There is power to face each problem and not fear solving it by mistake. There is much confidence in living in God’s love and favor. You and I live forever and will never die with the power of His love.
Let me close this message with Hill Songs’ Power of Your Love. Sing with the video and if you feel like celebrating or praying please do so.