April 12, 2014

“Powerful” Speakers | She Shares Truth: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

For my devotional/reflections/response to Joshua 1:8-9 last week, click here.

Whenever we listen to teachings and sermons may it be online or at church,
we can say that a message is really influential when it is delivered by a “powerful” speaker.
We tend to lend our ears more specially if we recognize them and know that they have such and such degree
from such and such school and have written such and such books.
I am not saying like it’s a bad thing because I love listening to these powerful speakers myself.
I learned lots of things from the message they give and also from the way they deliver such messages.
We set goals for ourselves that one day we can become powerful speakers like them too.
Again, it is not a bad thing.
But if we wait to share the gospel only when we become like them, that’s where we got it wrong.

Truth is we can share the gospel no matter what our backgrounds and achievements are.
That’s what we do in the She Reads Truth community.
We don’t have to be very good in public speaking or feature writing to share God’s word.
We don’t need any theology degree so we can share the truth about God’s love and grace.
We only need the willingness to open our hearts and share with each other our successes and failures.
We reveal the beautiful and the icky stuffs in our lives and learn from it as a community.
We become vulnerable so we can strengthen each other.
We encourage one another and build each other up.
We allow God to work on our hearts and we as a community becomes a powerful speaker.
Yes we don’t have everything figured out but we don’t let that stop us.
Thank God that His mercy and grace is more than enough for us.
Always was and always will be.

So what are you waiting for?
If you are a woman, come join me and thousands of ladies all over the world at She Reads Truth.
If you are a guy though, I'm pretty sure you can still visit.
Perhaps you will be inspired to start a men's community.
He Reads Truth. 
Why not right?

Father, thank you so much that I am part of this community of ladies who yearns for you every day.Thank you for making yourself known to us. May you continue to give us the wisdom to know the right things to do and willingness to do these things. May your name be glorified in our lives and may the world see this and put their trust in You and You alone. Amen!

April 05, 2014

On the Right Track | She Shares Truth: Joshua 1:8-9

The scripture assignment for this week’s She Shares Truth is Joshua 1:8-9.

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

I have read these particular verses a lot of times but it never tugged my heart strings the way it did now.
Being someone that has been through depression, I can say that leaving it behind is not a cakewalk.
Choosing not to be depressed anymore is difficult to do when you are the one going through it.
It may seem super duper easy but the truth is it is quite very challenging.

You get to that point where you decide to surrender everything to God.
To not be depressed anymore
To fully trust Him and His promises for you
One moment you were depressed and the next you are walking away from it.
You finally have that wonderful peace in your heart and mind.
But things are not going to magically change right there and then.
You still have to keep pushing and living life.
It is still so much like when you were depressed only that your faith is in God now.
Not on yourself and certainly not on the things you can and can’t do.
You consult Him and include Him in your decisions.
Your every step is now guided by Him because you want Him to.
But like I said, it’s not a cakewalk.
The enemy is always there to pull you back on the depression pit.
It can be a bit scary huh?

And here is why these verses from Joshua really speak volumes of truth to me.
Even if these commands were directed to Joshua, it still holds so much truth even for us today.
The only way that I can be successful in leaving this depression pit is to meditate on God’s word.
I have to meditate on His commands every day and every night that it never departs my mouth.
Most likely, God’s word will not leave my heart and mind too that I follow Him wherever He leads me.
That I do the things He commanded me to do. 
And now He commands me to be strong and courageous.
Even when the journey of moving away from depression becomes too tiring that I would rather stay,
I have to be strong and keep pushing because He will be my strength.
Even when it’s scary that I am not in my “comfort zone” anymore (which is really not comforting at all),
I have to be courageous and trust that I am on my way towards the safe zone with Him.
God did not say the journey won’t be frightening and disappointing.
God did not specifically say it would be easy peasy.
Despite the threats along the way, He said that I still shouldn't be frightened or dismayed.
Because He is with me wherever I go
Yep, wherever I go.

My story is a lot like Joshua’s huh.
Maybe not in magnitude but still very much the same
He was scared then when he was leading the Israelites when Moses was gone.
But with God’s command and promises, Joshua kept moving.
And Joshua did many great things.
He was able to lead the Israelites into claiming the Promised Land for them.

As I keep saying in my previous posts, I still have a long way to go.
I look forward to the day that I will conquer my own “Promised Land”.
As long as I keep meditating on God’s word day and night, I am on the right track. 

March 29, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Longest Roommate Ever

I always wonder what it was like to be with you in Mama’s womb.
We know what it was like but we just can’t remember huh.
I look forward to the day when we see God and ask Him to replay that scene for us.
I'm pretty sure He has a video thingy to record those precious moments right?

Today marks a quarter of the century in our life.
Isn't that amazing?
25 amazing years!
I always thank God that I have a default best friend since the very beginning.
Remember when I was back at home after living with Lolo and Lola for a long time?
I was uneasy and didn't feel like I actually belong in the family.
But it all turned out okay because you were always there.
If I needed something from Papa and Mama, I would always come to you first and let you do the asking.
I guess that’s why I consider you my hero and why I always look up to you.
With the things you went through, I admire you all the more.
You are a woman of God.
I am pretty sure that God is soooo proud of the woman you have become.

There were times that I have probably looked up to you more than I should that I wanted to be you.
You seem to have everything figured out and I wanted that too.
I was not jealous of you but I wanted to be like you.
Talk about struggling on having my own identity.
But as always, you are always the first one to encourage me that I don't have to be you.
I will always be a second-rate Majvell because you are the best Majvell out there.
I can only be the best Hannah I can be.
I have finally understood how that works now.
You are one of the few persons I can truly thank for that.

You and me
Very much alike and yet very different in so many ways
I can't imagine a life without you.
Although I already feel complete on my own but it would be incomplete without you.
Strange huh.
That’s because you are always part of me.
Always have and always will.
So glad to be one of the few lucky ones who get to experience this twin life.
I love you forever and always. 

March 28, 2014

Anger to Pleasure | She Shares Truth: Jonah 3 & 4

For my devotional/reflections/response to Jonah 1 & 2, click here.

It is so great to be back to the She Reads Truth community after months of hiatus.
For the past two years, I have been suffering from depression.
And thus my spiritual walk with God suffered a lot too.
When I would read my Bible, I feel like I was not getting anything out of it.
I went through a lot of pain, guilt, worries and fears that it was so hard to make room for God.
It wasn't for the whole two years though.
There were good times and bad times.
But the thing about depression is if you don't cut its roots, it will just resurface over and over again.
When I thought I was making progress, I really was just swimming over the sticky mud, stood up then swam again.
I tried so hard to be in control of things but I just hit rock bottom.
And who was there to pick me up?

When I decided to go join the community again, the book of Jonah is the current reading plan.
Oh God’s timing is really always perfect, right!
He knows that I would learn a lot from Jonah and I did.
I talked about it in my previous post.

Jonah 3 & 4 are the assigned scriptures for She SharesTruth this week.
One word really stands out for me in this book: COMPASSION
At the beginning of the book, God just couldn't ignore the Ninevites’ wickedness anymore.
God was angry but He didn't just wipe them out.
He sent Jonah to proclaim to them the news about their wickedness: COMPASSION.
When Jonah finally listened to God, he went to Nineveh and shared God’s message to all the people.
"In forty days, Nineveh will be overturned {smashed to pieces most likely}."

Upon hearing Jonah’s message, the Ninevites believed God.
They believed God!
The greatest to the least of the Ninevites, even the king believed in God.
They repented, asked for forgiveness and wore sackcloth hoping that God would change His mind.
Hoping that God would show them compassion and not be angry with them anymore
Hoping that God would let them live
What was God’s response?
Plain and simple.

When I was going through that dark moment of my life, I was mad at God.
If He really is in control, then why am I suffering?
I had so many questions and doubts about Him.
It took me a long time to realize that I really was the one trying to control everything.
I am suffering because I refuse to let go and let God.
Finally when I let go, God picked up the pieces and put me back together.
I still have a long way to go but I continue to put my confidence in Him.
He is indeed gracious and compassionate.
I know this now not because Jonah said so but because I have experienced it myself.

This short book ended with Jonah being so mad at God because of His compassion.
Jonah was so mad he wanted to just die already.
Indeed God’s compassion is sometimes so hard to understand.
It may be too complicated for us, but to God, it’s plain and simple.
I love how The Message put it this way:

God said, “What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? 
You neither planted nor watered it. 
It grew up one night and died the next night. 
So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, 
this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, 
to say nothing of all the innocent animals?”

Jonah 4: 10 – 11 (The Message)

Nothing was really said on what happened to Jonah after that discussion right?
But I know that God is a God of second, third, fourth up to infinite chances.
I have no doubt in my heart and mind that God showed compassion to Jonah and eventually Jonah understood.
How lovely it is to serve a compassionate God!!!

God I pray that as we are blessed to enjoy Your compassion towards us, 
may we also learn how to bless others by being compassionate towards them 
especially to those who we think don’t deserve it. 
We too don’t deserve all the grace and mercy You give to us but You still give it anyway. 
Break our hearts for what breaks Yours. 
Help us to be gracious, to be slow in anger and to abound in love. 
I know it’s not an easy thing to do but I believe that 
even if we have just a tiny bit of Your compassion; it is way more than enough already.
Please work on hearts as we continue to serve you daily. 
These things I ask in Jesus name.

March 25, 2014

Perfect Peace in the Belly of the Fish | She Shares Truth: Jonah 1 & 2

God defined Nineveh in the book of Jonah as a great city
but despite being great, it also suffers from wickedness.
Probably so wicked that God cannot just simply ignore it anymore.
He clearly loved this city and is concerned about its people that He wanted to redeem them.
The thing about God is that He doesn't choose perfect people to love and
certainly doesn’t choose perfect people to carry out His plans.
He plans and then chooses the person to perform it, regardless if he is perfect or not.

God chose Jonah to carry out His plan and reach out to Nineveh.
Did God think Jonah is THE perfect person to carry out this task?
Maybe. Maybe not.
However, looking at how Jonah reacted when God’s word came to him,
I am not so sure if he is the right one.
I mean, he ran away to the opposite direction as fast as he could when he had the chance to do so.
In my limited human mind, if I was in God’s position, I would have chosen somebody else more willing.
Jonah would be so grateful that I am not God. LOL.
God really is a personal God huh.
When He works in our lives, no matter how willing or unwilling we are,
He just won't give up.
In fact, He would chase us until we realize that it is us that He really wants. 
Just wow.

As for Jonah, He sent a great storm after him so that Jonah will realize that
he is who God wants to do the job.
During all the chaos, Jonah finally began to see that
there is no place in the world where he can hide from God.
Upon realizing this, he started owning up to his mistakes and stopped running away from God.
He did not stop there.
He surrendered everything to God even his life when he asked the sailors to throw him overboard.
And yes, the raging sea grew calm.
It calmed down!
Praise be to God!
That was actually a very powerful event that the people on the ship started worshipping God.
What a story of redemption isn't it?
But, God is not done yet especially with Jonah.
He didn't just teach him a lesson and left him for dead, right?
 God was there to pick up Jonah and God must have thought
“What better ride is there than a huge, big fish?”. 
Uhm no thank you!
If this was a movie, oh I can just imagine the look on Jonah’s face when he realizes that
he is not going to be riding ON it but IN it.
I think I just died.

However, inside the fish, when it seems like everything is over when he surrendered to God,
Jonah started praying to no one else but God.
He knows that he wronged God but still he knows the much bigger truth:
God will listen and will answer to his cry for help.
Jonah was in a very unfortunate moment but he knows the one and only truth,
Salvation comes only from God.
So Jonah continued clinging unto God and with songs of thanksgiving,
he sacrificed himself to God and God alone.
Finally, God commanded the fish to spit Jonah out onto a dry land
where maybe finally he can be on safer ground again.

I realized upon reading the first two chapters of Jonah that
God did not choose Jonah because he is perfect.
God wanted to show to Jonah how great is His mercy and grace and love for His people.
That includes Jonah, the Ninevites and even the people on the ship Jonah was on.
God just loves loving His children. 
He will make Himself known to those who really wants to know Him.

Another thing I realized is that Jonah and I are alike in so many ways.
I was headed on my own little Tarshish until God told me that
“Hannah, that is not where I want you to go.”
Because of some decisions I have made in the past (not necessarily wise decisions),
I have experienced a great storm in my life and have been thrown overboard a lot of times.
Finally when I stopped climbing back to my ship, I rested on the water until it calmed down.
I believe that right now, I am inside the fish’s guts.
Ewhhhh. LOL.
But despite this awful smell, I have made a decision that like Jonah,
I will choose to praise God and cry out to Him for I know that He will answer me.
Despite of the circumstances I am in right now,
I have peace in my heart because I believe that my salvation comes from God alone.
While I’m waiting for that moment when I will finally be vomited on dry ground,
I will keep singing the songs of thanksgiving and
I will keep doing what is right and good and pleasing to God.

I still have a long way to go but I’d rather be in this stinking belly on my way towards realizing what God has in store for me than be on my own ship towards my own Tarshish away from Him.
Peace really is not the absence of troubles.
It is the feeling you have in your heart that despite the chaos,
God is with you and will never leave you.