Gratitude is a Divine Emotion—it Fills the Heart!

How can you know that God is with you when the world around you is in total chaos? What would you like to hear or see to comfort you and give you peace in these uncertain moments? Sometimes, when your world is spinning around you, even prayers and thankfulness become a battle and it feels like God is far, far from you. Yet, practicing even a quick moment of gratitude has the power to bring you to a deeper level of understanding of your situation. It comforts you and deepens your relationship with God. 

Most of my one-on-one conversations [Prayers and praise] with God happen when I go for a long walk at the beach by myself.  One day as I was walking, I began my prayers with a heavy heart. Tears, and worries—the “why, what, and how long” of my situation filled my thoughts… But soon things shifted.

I asked, “Lord, please let me hear you. What I should do? Why is there so much pain, hatred, and heartache …?” I wasn’t sure if I would get my answer right away. Then, to my surprise, I heard “I love you”. It was like a breeze. It wasn’t the answer I was waiting for; it wasn’t exactly the solution to my battle, but it was all I needed to hear, which is all that matters. As I humbly embraced the answer to my questions, I began to wrap myself with an attitude of gratitude. And honestly, the worry, sadness, and heaviness of heart began to dissipate. Knowing that God loves me was more than enough. I had the assurance everything else would eventually fall into place.  At that point I started to thank God, praising and worshiping him instead of complaining. By hearing those three magic words, “I love you”, I received the peace of God. The bottom line is: My problems and daily struggles did not immediately cease to exist, but my attitude of gratitude was enough to find peace in the midst of my struggle and hope for an eventual resolution.

My friend, not only do we need to express gratefulness to for our relationship with the Divine Spirit, we develop compassion and humility when we learn to be thankful for someone else’s kindness and care. When you get a phone call from someone who wants to check on you, or when you receive a text saying they’re praying for you, or you receive a warm meal while you’re sick in bed, or someone sends you followers; it all tells you that someone cares about you. You’re loved and valued. Practice gratefulness for their act of generosity in reaching out to you.

God cares even more about your well being. Because of his love for you, he sent Jesus who is the embodiment of God himself [his son], and he died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. So, when you come to accept Jesus as your savior, your sins are forgiven. Again, because he took your sins and died on the cross, you can have eternal and abundant life. That’s called love—no condemnation, no judgement, and no hidden agenda.

The Bible says in (Philippians 4:6)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When you and your loved ones are suffering, or you have a financial crisis, or marital problems, or other broken relationships, and you feel like nothing seems within your control, don’t lose hope. The good news is that God’s in the midst of your turmoil. You mattered to him yesterday, and you matter to him today, tomorrow, and the day after … What will your response be to God who is with you in your darkest hours? It should be thankfulness—you are not thanking God for your pain and adversity, but you acknowledge that He is sovereign and will never leave you or forsake you. You are thanking God because he is a good and loving God and he will use your situation for his purposes, bringing good out of even bad circumstances. Remember, there is a reason for everything that happens.

What are you THANKFUL for in such a time as this?

… And Then God Stepped in and Said, “You are Mine.”

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.” [Isaiah 43: 1]

God has summoned us by our names to belong to him and claim his name. We are all important to him. Some of us have responded to His calling, but some haven’t…  When we bear God‘s wonderful name, we must never do anything that would bring shame to it. 

The question is: What’s your calling in life? Or, how do you know if your calling is from God? As for me, I did not have the answer to this question in the past. I didn’t know, until God stepped in and said, “You’re mine”.

Like so many others, I wanted to know my purpose in life. I wanted to free myself from the bars which had enclosed me. But I couldn’t do it by my own effort, I needed a bigger power. So here, I would like to share a small part of my testimony with you. 

While I was craving for freedom from the chains of the world and the flesh, heaven was calling me, with new visions to consider. I dreamt I was sitting at the foot of a mountain for quite a long time. God was offering me a journey up to the top of the mountain. I meditated, prayed, and pondered if I should take the path God was offering me. When I woke up, I knew in my heart God was telling me, “Get up, it’s time to move.” I asked myself, “Do I want to stay here in this land of pain, in a land filled with empty promises, selfishness, fear, pretentiousness, and deception, or should I take this journey—a walk up to a path with signs pointing to hidden treasures along the way?” The treasures were love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I had no doubt that this path was filled with truth! I was eager to know my purpose in life, I wanted to know how to live a life filled with enduring peace.

I began my journey by making some difficult changes which needed to occur. These changes manifested themselves as crawling in my next vision. Moving slowly on my hands and knees up a steep road, the crawl in my dream mirrored the struggles that I was having in real life. I wanted to release myself from the stronghold of the world’s distractions and bondage. To be free from the need to always please others or the desires of my own flesh. To live my life concerned only with pleasing God. For I knew that if I could obtain this freedom, everything else would fall into place. Spiritual freedom sounds so incredibly sweet – sweet as honey and precious as a jewel. The craving for such a jewel was overwhelming! So I pressed forward in faith. There were many turns, twists and even a few setbacks. But it was in the detours that I learned the biggest lessons! I was slowly getting to know myself and others, and most importantly, I was beginning to know my God.  

During this journey I was completely aware of the visible world. But I needed to put all my trust into what I could not see with my eyes. How was I able to continue to trust and keep moving forward toward the heavenly promises? Praise God! I had an army of godly people who were each on their own unique journey, praying and supporting me. They all were witnessing God’s miraculous work in my life. I was getting fixed from the inside out. 

The changes were happening as the Lord was unveiling His mystery. I could hear that the “deep” was calling to the depths of my soul. (Psalm 119:45) “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”

The journey of the dark night of the soul was over, and I heard God said, “You are mine!”

A calling from God will always be accompanied by His peace, as well as anything else we need. Sometimes God will ask us to do something big or scary, and while we may feel afraid, our fears will be met by God’s overwhelming grace and peace to do whatever it is He’s asking us to do. He will also never call us to do something without equipping us to do the thing He’s asking us to do. Read (Matthew 11:28-30, Philippians 4:7) and you will be blessed.

Part two of “Why Do You Keep Going Back to Yesterday’s Pain?”

We all face difficulties in our lives from time to time. Life doesn’t always go as smoothly as we wish. The key to withstand the hard times in our lives is simple but not easy: we must go through it, realizing the process will take time. God allows these times of self-reflection to make us realize that He is the one who is in control, and to make us aware of how much we need His light to direct us. Most importantly, God wants us to learn from the experience and move forward.

Individuals from the very beginning of creation, our ancient heroes of the faith, not only lived righteous lives, but also moved and carried on with a steady eye on the future. What made their faith unflinching was not just the promise of salvation or eternal life, but also a steadfast hope in a better tomorrow.

David the prophet was one of these heroes, a warrior and king with a zeal for God’s glory and His kingdom. Even as a righteous man of God, he went through many battles in his life. His cry echoes in his words in psalms. “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation …” (Psalm 25:4).

Though David faced many hardships throughout his life, God used him mightily as a prophet. The lessons we can learn from David’s earnest plea for guidance is this: Cry out to God when facing trials of any kind, placing our troubles in the hands of the One who holds the future in His hands.

My friend, if your yesterday is weighing you down, put it down at the foot of the Cross [at the door of your faith]!

I pray that when you face unfortunate circumstances, you do not lose your focus on God; that under pressure, prayer would be the first thing to come from your lips; and that your words and actions would be directed by God. In His precious, mighty name, Amen!

Why Do You Keep Going Back to Yesterday’s Pain?

Yesterday has left, but you are the one who is still holding on. That boat has already sailed with people and things that you once thought in your way, interfering with your life.

Can’t you see? They’re no longer there. If you want to be free, leave your past in the past, keeping the lessons taught to you. Nothing that has happened in your past can stop you from planning a magical future.

A wise man once said, “Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on”.

Those who faithfully understand that God has their best interest at heart will turn to Him in time of trouble. When pressure comes and life squeezes them, prayers will come out of their mouths. Those who are not willing to release the past indulge themselves in self-pity, anger and bitterness. They are unable to see God at work in the circumstances of their lives. Their response is different—they keep going to their “yesterday’s pain”, rather than moving forward.

Holding onto previous pain results in unpleasant words and actions, causing even more pain for the injured person and others around them. Sadly, they end up damaging their character, relationships, and destroying their future. Sometimes they may not show an outward reaction or response, yet their silence shows that they haven’t let go of resentments and past pains.

As I learn to walk easily through the door of my faith, I am able to move through pain with my head bowed down in prayer, letting God’s favor [His word] surround me, guiding me along the path of His grace. Some days are much harder than others; I may be too tired physically, mentally and emotionally to deal with my or anyone else’s problems. In the past, I might have looked for a trouble-free life. But now as I drew closer to the truth, I realize God uses our life’s setbacks, trials, and conflicts to help us grow into the people He created us to be.

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO OF “Why Do You Keep Going Back to Yesterday’s Pain?”

Jar of Prayers!

Carefully I carried the jar of prayers

to the gate of Heaven

Sat there… 

Tired, my strength was sapped

as in the heat of summer

from the arduous journey 

Waited for an answer at his gate

An angel opened the door 

Asked, “What is troubling you?”

I looked up, with an ocean of tears, 

and said, “I had a dream”

The angel came closer…

I continued to speak,

“In my dream, I heard a commotion.

I went outside to look – everyone was running in panic…

I asked them, ‘What’s going on!?’

They said, ‘Look up!’”

I looked up…

Every star had become a clock (time)

I was astonished and amazed

As people were running, their voices echoed,

“It’s the end of time, Jesus is coming!”

I cried out and bowed down to the ground,

Praying “O Lord, forgive us all”

Then I woke up…

Now, before it is too late

I’m here to offer prayers

asking forgiveness for our transgressions, 

and salvation for many souls

The angel sat next to me 

Marveling at the great gift of 

the Lord’s salvation and forgiveness

And comforting me with the wisdom of house of Zion 

“The Lord has seen your tears and heard your cries”, said the angel

who declared the glory of God and his promises,

just as everything around me proclaimed the work of his hand

I washed my hands in innocence (with the ocean of my tears),

and went about his alter

Proclaiming aloud his praise, 

and telling of all his wonderful deeds

— Parveen H. Michalow

Note: the “dream” part of this piece actually happened a few years ago…

Pause Before You Judge!

The verse below is a call to be discerning rather than judgmental.

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” [Matthew 7:3].

Jesus’ statement is against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up. We should elevate our words and examine our lives before we judge others.

According to verse John 8:6-8, the Pharisees in order to have a basis for accusing Jesus brought a woman charged with adultery before him. Then they reminded Jesus that adultery was punishable by stoning under Mosaic law and challenged him to judge the woman so that they might then accuse him of disobeying the law. Jesus thought for a moment and then replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” The people crowded around him were so touched by their own consciences they left one by one, from the oldest to the youngest, without saying another word. When Jesus found himself alone with the woman, he asked her who were her accusers. She replied, “No man, lord.” Jesus then said, “Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more.”

Jesus set a perfect example for us. There is no doubt that this woman was guilty and the law required that she be stoned, but the Law also required that the guilty man be stoned as well [Deuteronomy 22:22].

Jesus, who is full of grace and truth, tells the woman to stop committing adultery, and He forgives her.

From this passage [John 8:7] we learn that we must not judge others unless we first thoroughly search our own hearts and minds to make certain that we are pure in every aspect of our lives. We ought to be careful and trust God to be the final Judge, as it says in [Matthew 7:1], “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

I had a Vision – Someone was Dancing in Heaven!

A question kept prodding my innermost being, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?”

The spirit was heavy within my soul for several days. I didn’t understand the cause of this uncertainty or why my soul felt disturbed for days. I kept searching for answers with the feeling I was being prepared for something. But what was it that I was being prepared for?  I did not know life would soon change for my family and me. But I had a feeling of impending events, a rush to get ready for what was to happen.

On that Friday morning during my quiet time with God, as I continued reading His word and meditating, I was urged by the Holy Spirit to pray as hard as I could. Again, the question was: pray for what? Other than my usual prayers: thanking and praising God, prayers for protection and the well-being of everyone, and for His blessings over our lives, what else could there be to pray for? 

Before long, I was to be led into the light. 

I was walking along the beach when suddenly waves of emotion awakened my somber spirit and elevated my soul to higher places. It was as if the cool ocean breeze had a secret to tell me. 

Never had I felt something like it before! I was astonished and amazed, as a vision of someone dancing in Heaven was revealed to me.  Along with the dancing, there were shouts of praise. It felt as if I was alone at the long stretch of open beach, witnessing the glory of heaven. 

The emotions were so real that I felt I heard the sound of heaven as it touched the earth; the sands beneath my feet, and the rays of the light on a beautiful clear day, and the twinkle of the sunlight over the waves, and every cell of my flesh was harmonizing the song of praise with the choirs of heavenly angels.

Was I oblivious to the fact that the divine forces were sending me a message; providing me a glimpse of eternity? The gift of the vision filled me with an overwhelming sense of glee. Was my acceptance of the gift of that blissful day nothing more than my enjoyment of the beauty of God’s creations? 

In my limited understanding, I accepted the magical walk on the beach with joy as a bestowing of God’s favor. I hadn’t an inkling of what had happened in those very moments beyond my immediate surroundings. Tragically, in the blink of an eye, everything changed. I would soon find out that this “someone” heaven was rejoicing over was one of my beloved ones.  A young man, dearly close to many hearts, including mine, had just passed away. No wonder there was a celebration in Heaven, he had just entered the gate of Paradise. He was the one who was dancing in Heaven. Yes, heaven gained one more angel whose life was cut down at the peak of vitality. Assuredly, it was not a celebratory day for us. How could this have happened? We were in a place of deep mourning.

Death brings great pain; no words could ease what we felt for the loss of our young one, who was so precious and loved. His faith was larger than life, speaking volumes about the absolute love of God. His death doesn’t make any sense, but his bold message of love and kindness left an enormous impression on those of us who love him. I intend to keep his wishes and dreams vigorously alive.  If he was worth loving, his hopes and dreams are worth passing on.

Now I see how our faithful, sovereign God was preparing me ahead of time for the incomprehensible death of a precious person in our lives. The gift of this preparation was not only for me, so I could hold on to the truth of knowing that he was happy, dancing in Heaven. The vision has allowed me to convey the message of this dear young man’s new reality in the heavenly realm to the rest of the family. 

RIP our beloved! 

Hope you’re filled with love and peace

Hope you’re dancing in Heaven without ceasing

Send us a sign that you’re at peace and more alive

I want you to know, your love story will always and forever abide in our stories. And your candle is always burning as a reminder of your sweet memory.

The Only Way You Can Change the World is…

Questions to ponder soberly: what are the changes that you need to make? What area of your life needs to change in order for you to be at peace with yourself and others? 

You may have heard it said, “You can’t change what is going on around you, until you start changing what’s going on within you.” It’s a nice sentiment, but the question is, how do you change yourself? This question may give birth to many more questions. 

For starters, if you are finding it too hard to change yourself, then what chance do you think you have in trying to change others?  

Or perhaps you wish someone would suddenly appear in your life and change everything for the better. Do you think that’s the right mindset and solution? In some rare instances, changes instigated by others may improve your situation but for the most part, you’re the one, the only one who can change your life!  It starts by changing your own mindset.  An anonymous Hasidic rabbi,who quoted on his deathbed this: “When I was young, I set up to change the world. When I grew a little older, I realized that this was too ambitious, so I set out to change my state. This too, I realized as I grew older, was too ambitious, so I set out to change my town. When I realized I could not even do this, I tried to change my family. Now as an old man, I know that I should have started by changing myself. If I had started with myself, maybe then I would have succeeded in changing my family, the town, or even the state and who knows, maybe even the world! “

Life is constantly changing, and so are people. Yesterday you may have had clever thoughts to change the world, but today you are wise if you change yourself — it happens when you start following God’s instruction. After all, He has the final say on all that matters.

Paul the apostle of Christ says, 

“That is how God wants us to change ourselves, by not conforming to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by renewing our minds.” (Romans 12:2)

Draw near to God and humbly ask for a new heart. Ask him to make your desires align with his. This is the first step toward meaningful change and to receiving answers to your prayers. 

(Isaiah 43:19)

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Your Faith is Beautiful!

“Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6).

Without faith, hope, and trust, there is no promise for the future. You may have witnessed the faith of someone in your life that absolutely has moved you and made you ponder about your own faith?

The Bible is full of amazing examples of faith. One of them is the Canaanite woman from that vicinity, who is another perfect example of someone with a beautiful faith. She knew with confidence that only Jesus could help her, came and knelt before Jesus crying out, “Lord, help me!” she said. “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. [Matthew 15:25-28 | NIV]

What did Jesus mean “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs” concerning the woman’s request?

In that era “Dog” was a term the Jews commonly applied to Gentiles [non-Jewish nation] because the Jews considered these pagan people no more likely than dogs to receive God‘s blessing.

When Jesus said these words, he was in Gentile territory on a mission to Gentile people.

The Commentary says, Jesus was not degrading the woman by using the term “dog”, he was reflecting the Jews’ attitude so as to contrast it with his own. The woman did not argue instead, using Jesus’ choice of words, she agreed to be considered a dog as long as she could receive God’s blessing for her daughter. Ironically, many Jews would lose God’s blessing and salvation because they rejected Jesus, and many Gentiles would find salvation because they recognized and accepted him.

Jesus was simply telling the woman that Jews were to have the first opportunity to accept him as the Messiah because God wanted them to present the message of salvation to the rest of the world. Jesus was not rejecting the Canaanite woman. He may have wanted to test her faith, or he may have wanted to use the situation as another opportunity to teach that faith is available to all people.

We must let the beauty of our faith be the evidence of God’s message to all people. Moreover, let us kneel down before the Lord with the assurance that the test of our faith produces perseverance and healing.  

James 1:3 “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

The Voice of Truth!

Flashback to December, 2019: I had no idea that I would see the color of sorrow, or taste its bitterness in the early days of 2020; I was not prepared to live in such a surreal time as this…

Life is a mixture of different colors—at times the hues are brilliant and breathtaking, at other times all is drenched in darkness, and numbness and emptiness overwhelm.

Grieving over a loss of a loved one is greatly painful. Yet even in times of grief, hope sees stars, and love can hear the rustle of a hummingbird’s wings, as it looks for signs from the loved one’s spirit.

Loss for some might mean a loss of time, money, a marriage, or the loss or the many dreams planned for this year. Rest assured that dreams will be realized, though they may take another form than what was expected.

I’m encouraged by this verse in the Bible, [Psalm 30: 5] 

“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

A famous quote voices pain and loss like this, “In the absence of light, darkness prevails.” Yes, it does. But eventually the murkiness moves on and the light peeks through the doleful clouds, making life even more beautiful. We can appreciate the return of colorful moments, when the memory of our loss provides a reminder of the preciousness of life and it’s many blessings. The laughter of your loved ones, the smile of a stranger, the smell of the flowers, or the warmth of the sunshine brings you hope and joy.

With all that we have been through already this year, I’m beyond grateful for the voice of TRUTH that whispers in the depth of my soul. I take comfort in the knowledge that we shall meet again. We will rejoice behind these four walls and behind the Veil in this season.

I have learned so many lessons, since my head has been bowed down in pain.

Prayerfully I say, “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” [Micah 7:7]614371F8-AB29-4368-88EE-FA45F0324BFB