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A TESTIMONY

By Rufino Jong Selmo

We are all created uniquely and differ in many aspects. Each of us has a
story to tell whether good or bad. Oftentimes, we end up having the same
experience/s. Indeed life is full of surprises as they say. Every day is a challenge
that we have to face, I would say, it even gets tougher or sweeter [ waray smiley
sheyay enya..hehe.. ] for a Christian. As we grow in faith with God, along comes the
enemy who will also try to intimidate us with all sort of evil schemes. He will do
anything to weigh us down. But praised be to God who is ever faithful who promised
that He will never leave nor forsake us. 1 Cor. 10:13 even tells us that He will not
allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able and He will even make an escape
out of it and thereby, giving birth to a testimony. Not to make us look good but one
that will glorify our heavenly Father and I thank God for allowing me to share our
story.
June 21, 2016 around 2:30 am, my Claire breathed her last. It was a painful
hour where all we did was to put our hands down, bow our heads, cried and wept
bitterly. I can't recall the exact thoughts that I had at that moment, all I know
was it hurt. I just told myself " there goes the one whom I thought I would spend
the rest of my life with and make memories together." The miracle that we all have
been praying, believing and expecting for did not happen. From day one, we have
believed that God will heal her. "The word miracle do happen and do exist" as I
remember telling her. So we continued to ask God day and night at home before
her confinement in the hospital. We even agreed together not to accept the
options that were given us by the doctors and that we will stand in faith knowing
that God is able to take away the cancer out of her body for nothing is impossible
with Him. There were also nights that we woke up to present our petition before
God and cast the cancer out of her system in Jesus' name, partake of the holy
communion. Oftentimes, I would see her also worshipping the Lord by herself,
writing down verses on her notebook, listening to preaching and Christian music.
But amidst all of these, at the end of the day, God allowed it to happen that way.
A couple of hours prior to her passing, I stood by her side as the doctor did
their thing. The pain that she was going through caused me to feel a sense of guilt
and was about to blame and condemn myself. I was even inclined to question God
why. That time, Pastor Thim was there and I invited him outside Claire's room and
asked him about it. As I was listening to him, I felt relieved and comforted
especially when he quoted a passage coming from the word of God which says, " the
steps of the righteous are ordered by God." Hearing these words made me accept
the reality set before me and my family. It was only then when I was also reminded
of the scripture that Claire showed me during our stay in the hospital. It is found
in the book of Isaiah chapter 55 and it was verses 8 till 13 that has caught my
attention. I just yielded to His ways and thoughts; there's nothing more I can do,
but to only believe that all things work together for good for those who love God
( Romans 8: 28 ) and that I know that He still loves my family.
God's love was so real and evident during and after our trial. He sustained us
with His overwhelming love and support through the presence of family, relatives,
friends and everyone else who knew us. It even opened a way for my younger
brother to have that hunger to know more about God for I heard that he's been
attending church lately. Even in our finances, as I was also on leave for more than 3
months back then, the Lord provided all our needs. Right now, I am back here
abroad temporarily away from my children. Leaving them was also a bit of a
struggle but only for a short while. Hopefully this year or early next year, we will
be together for the Lord has granted us our permanent residency here in
Australia. So we will just wait patiently for He alone knows what is best for His
children.
Finally brethren, Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us " trust in the Lord with all your
heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths ( NKJV )." I believe you all know this already. What
struck me in this passage are the words "heart" and "trust". Romans 10:17 also tells
us that faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God ( other
translation says word about Christ ).If I put this in an equation, it will be
FAITH=HEAR+ ( I hope you get the point ). So when we have a heart that is full of
faith, you can't help but to let it overflow and manifest outwardly by trusting God
even more. If we take out Christ ( + ) from the equation or from the very beginning
of our trial and handle it all by ourselves or believe what the world tells us, what
happens now to "trust"?. All that is left will be "rust", which is not good because it
represents limit or expiration, uncertainties and restlessness. Therefore, choose
life by partaking from the tree of life which is Jesus Christ and keep singing an
endless song of His goodness and mercy for we are all loved by the King. God bless
you all.

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I AM NOT CONSUMED
BY Joan C. Milo
What could have been your reaction as you read the Old Testaments account of
the Israelites attitude towards God in their journey from Egypt to the promise
land, Canaan? Back in Egypt, God heard their cries and had dedicated to save them
from their slavery. But, along their journey in the wilderness, whenever confronted
with challenges, they easily got discouraged and bluntly expressed their wanting to
go back to Egypt as if they wanted their slavery back. It was like the promises of
God were easily clouded by their lack of faith that God could not do what He told
them He would do. So they backed off and shrink because of fear. Still, God
showed His faithfulness to them despite their behavior. Finally, when they
settled in the promise land and experienced Gods abundant blessings in their lives,
when they felt secure and at ease, they gave in to the worldly influence of the
people in their neighboring lands. Eventually, they forgot to obey and live up to
Gods statutes and commands. They forgot about Him who had brought them up out
of Egypt and exchanged him to other gods. And, when God punished them of their
sins and disobedience, was put under oppression under their neighboring people and
was faced with tremendous difficulties, only then they turned and cried out to God
for help. God showed them how much jealous, righteous and holy He was, as well as
how much compassionate, loving and faithful He was towards them, His chosen
people. God heard their cries and faithfully sent help.

I sighed with amazement many times while I read how these Israelites behaved in
such ways when they had the security and privilege of being close to the real God.
How could they easily turn to dead idols in exchange of the living, miracle- working,
and prayer-answering God? How could they repeatedly live such a see-saw like
faith, turning to God and after a while veering away from Him, without learning
from their experiences?

As I ponder on this, I realized that somehow I am like these Israelites.( And this
keeps me from being arrogant thinking that I am different from them and will
never do what they did.) I have to honestly admit that I can relate so much to
their tendencies, but not exactly to what they have experienced. I have this
inclination to complain to God about so many things. I get to question Him a lot
when things do not go the way I wanted and prayed for. When I am confronted
with difficult situations, instead of facing it with His strength, I cower in fear and
resort to the worldly solutions. I easily forget how much he has blessed and
redeemed me from the bondage of my old life. And think that I may be better off
to not serve Him and do instead what the ungodly people are doing than to face all
the challenges in ministry and life as a Christian. And so many times, I exhibit this
see-saw like kind of faith being so good and eager to praise and worship Him when
things are smooth and comfortable, but not when faced with tough times and
difficulties.

Yet, I am to boast in this that Gods faithfulness remains despite my waywardness


and feebleness. That to keep me from totally turning away from Him like those
Israelites who had turned to other gods, He orchestrates all situations to point me
back to Him. He disciplines me when I sin. He aligns my twisted perspectives to
His. He restores me back to His presence whenever I go astray. He calms me down
in the comfort of His promises when I complain and feel anxious about my
situation. His gentle care and love touch my being when it feels like He is not there
and I am all alone. He uses people and all events of my life to let me feel and
embrace the truth that I am His beloved child and He is faithful to me. His
ultimate desire for me is to be transformed into the likeness of His Son, Jesus
Christ. Thus, I can always claim:
Because of the Lords great love I am not consumed, for His compassions
never fail. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness (Ecclesiastes
3: 22, 23)

God exactly knows our natural bent, He knows our weaknesses and limitations, He is
pretty much aware of our tendencies and our responses to situations in life.
(Psalms 103:13-14) This same God who created and knows everything about us also
knows how to help each one of us to be faithful in serving Him with all of our mind,
soul, strength and heart. Indeed, we will never be consumed because of who He is,
a God who remains faithful even when we are faithless. (2 Timothy 2: 13)//

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OPEN HEAVEN THE DESIRE OF WORSHIP


BY OFELIA QARAH PACIO

Open heaven, this is the ultimate desire of worship. Yes, it is lifting the
name of Jesus, giving Him all the praises, thanksgiving and adoration that He truly
deserves through dancing, singing and all other acts of worship but I believe that
it is not limited to our expressions of worship alone. It also involves the expression
of the Father in response to our act of worship. Worship desires to touch God who
in turn brings down His glory, an experience of open heaven. The psalmist says that
God inhabits the praises of His people. He basically lives there in the place of our
celebration and adoration. His presence is what fills the atmosphere of worship.
Our worship becomes His dwelling, a little heaven on earth where He manifests His
splendor and majesty, His glory divine. Our worship becomes an avenue of the
supernatural as the glory of God fills it.

Praise and Worship was pioneered by great singers and musicians who
received this new wave of musical revolution from the usual hymns to new songs
with pop music-styling, singable melodies and conversational lyrics that allow the
believers to express themselves more freely in worship. It became readily
accepted by most churches as a regular part of Church Services. The challenge is
that because of the usual set-up in our praise and worship celebrations, it was
understood by many as just definitions of two kinds of songs we use during worship
time the first 2 fast songs being the praise and the following 2 slow songs being
the worship. Its sad that some believers still have this kind of notion to this day.
They are missing a lot of glorious moments in Gods presence because of this
limited understanding. I believe that it is now time to get out of this limited
knowledge of worship. It is time to have a more sensitive awareness of His
presence and experience more of Gods response to our act of worship. Worship
and its expressions has evolved so much to date and Gods response to this act of
sincerity in seeking Him has catapulted the church into a new level of experience
where the veil that separates us from the spirit realm is lifted and the people of
God is able to bask in the richness of His glory. This should be the desire of every
believer because He is seeking worshipers who will worship him in spirit and in
truth, worshipers whom he can pour out his Spirit and manifest His presence. Glory
doesnt just fall, we have to go after it in all earnestness. We should want it so bad
that our singing and dancing becomes useless if we didnt even touch the spirit
realm. We should desire to experience it ourselves and not be satisfied in hearing
what other believers experienced. We should thirst and hunger for more and not
be satisfied living in yesterdays encounter. When there is hunger and desperation
for God, He will invade the atmosphere with his glory and allows his people to
experience a foretaste of heaven.

May we not limit our services to the same singing, prayers, and readings that
has become a church culture, almost like a routine but instead have a genuine
desire that our eyes and ears will be opened and our hearts to be aware of the
growing manifestation of Gods glory in every service, in every gathering and
sharing of His words in every church.

The heart of the Father is to open His church to glorious realities of


heaven, the even greater things that He has prepared for His people. This desire is
expressed in the Lords prayer Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it
is in Heaven (Mt. 6:10). Also, in Ephesians 1:18, Paul prayed that the eyes of our
hearts be enlightened that we may experience the presence of the Lord in such a
way that we see Him and all the richness of His glory. May it be done to us
according to Gods Word. Lord, let it be.

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EXCELLENCE

BY REGINE A. BUYUCAN

Excellence is performing at your highest level, going the extra mile, doing
more than what is asked, and taking extra steps. Our hearts desire is to honour
God who deserves our very best. Pursuing excellence is not about being perfect; its
about honouring the Perfect One through it. He then connects you to purposes and
goals way higher and way grander than what you want you have imagined. By grace,
He causes you to think what you wouldnt have thought, and desire what is
impossible for humans that is possible for God. He opens your eyes to see His
glory. He opens the door to His kingdom. He calls and empowers you to display His
Excellency.

We often find in Scripture the call to abound or excel in Christian


character.

But as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all


eagerness and in the love from us that is in you make sure that you excel in this
act of kindness too. 2 Corinthians 8:7

Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all you might; for there is
no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.
Ecclesiastes 9:10

The above verses clearly state that God wants us to do our best with
whatever we do. Jesus modelled excellence when He was here on earth. We can
read how people were astonished for what Jesus has done during His time in Mark
7:37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. He has done everything well. We
call ourselves followers of Christ so we must therefore follow His footsteps.
Excellence is something to be strived for and we need the Spirit of God for us to
be able to operate in this realm .Without the Holy Spirit everything we do is just
ordinary but with Him things will become extraordinary, natural becomes
supernatural, and the impossible becomes possible. When you feel like you are at
your lowest level, the best thing that you can do is to ask God to give you the
Spirit of Excellence, believe that you will receive it and the Lord will surely give it.

Not pursuing excellence means we are settling for mediocrity, being


contented by just enough and settling for less, which is not the will of God. He
wants to upgrade us in every aspect of our lives, He wants His Children to be on top
and not at the bottom .Those who perform in Excellent way will serve before kings;
they will not serve before officials of low rank. According to Proverbs 22:29 God
takes pleasure seeing His children excelling in everything they do but they
dedicate their excellence to God giving Him the Glory for their excellence and not
taking the glory thats supposed to be His.
Pursuing excellence is never easy but we should persevere and strive for
more. Lets remember we are doing it for the King of kings and for the Lord of
lords. It was clearly stated in Colossians 3:23-24 that whatever you do, work at
it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you
know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord
Christ you are serving.

Reading, meditating, and hearing the word of God every Sunday uplift my
spirit to pursue excellent to exceed what I accomplished yesterday. The Word of
God is alive because it opens my eyes to see that there is more in me that I have
yet to discover. God speaks to me through Scriptures that He is ready to elevate
me if only I allow Him to work in me. Surely if I do, He will bring me to a level
higher than where I am today. The best thing is that God will not just elevate one
aspect of my life but he will allow me to experience greater things in my studies, in
my service to Him, and in everything that I do.

We Pursue excellence because Our God is an Excellent God, His name alone
is excellent (Psalms 1148:13), and we are His image and likeness. His excellence
should manifest in us for Jesus even declared that we can do greater things. We
please God when He sees us being elevated, being transformed. God is very willing
to elevate and transform our situation; we just have to desire it first But
earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
(Col 12:31)

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