Friday, November 25, 2011

Pursue Not A Career, But A Calling

“The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you."

  I never thought this verse would make such a great impact on my life.

  On March 2, before graduating from college, I experienced this powerful revelation from God as regards to my plans/goals in life. You can read my previous blog for a more detailed story: http://iamphoebegil.blogspot.com/2011/03/if-you-seek-he-will-speak.html

  I did follow His command with all my heart and soul. I stayed in Singapore for almost a month. I “explored the Promise Land” and tried to discover God’s purpose for me. And as soon as I completed my “exploration,” I asked Him once again, “Lord what do You want me to do now?” He answered:

“WAIT.”

  I waited for days, even weeks, until I finally had to fly home to the Philippines. Things started to confuse me, especially when I was losing each opportunity in Singapore one by one. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from hoping and waiting upon the Lord. I was expectant of His mercy and goodness. All I can do was to hold on to His Word. Then, a new message came.


Devotions: “When God Promises” (Zondervan’s Women’s Devotional Bible NIV)
Scripture: 2 Kings 8:16-24


“But no matter how many promises have been broken, no matter how many people have let us down, God never will. He is faithful… even if His promises take time to come to fruition.”

My devotions left me questions to reflect on:
• What promise have you been waiting for God to keep?
• How have people’s broken promises made it difficult for you to trust in God’s promises?
• How does it comfort you to know that God always keeps His promises? How does it challenge you to know that sometimes His promises take time to be fulfilled?


  When God speaks to us and leaves us a promise to hold on to, we try to claim it right away without really understanding what that promise meant. That was a common mistake I made. But time helped me realize that it takes FAITH for me to clearly see His will. All I had to do was to take that step of faith, cross the river, and claim His promise! To my surprise, the promise that I was looking forward to was something I didn't expect to happen. In fact, it was something better!




1. Inspira
Inspira is a group I’ve been trying to organize since college. I had this vision of gathering creative people whose hearts are focused on creating art with a purpose. The idea started out as a "business proposal" I made in one of my classes back in college. It worked out for my friends and I, and I was determined to push through with it even after graduation. I pray that when the time is right, things will fall into place. This is something that I really look forward to!


2. Night Light Productions
This is a music production I’m handling with Strong Sabio, which we launched last Nov 3, at Route 196. My vision for this prod is to help our local Christian musicians show their God-given talents as they proclaim the gospel across the metro. Why Night Light? Matthew 5:14-16 says we are the light of the world. Therefore, we must shine upon men. Night Light will give Light to people lost in the dark.

Night Light Productions is one of the best promises God has fulfilled. I’ve always wanted to meet different musicians who are passionate about God. Who knows? Maybe someday, we will be the next Passion! Dream big! But my goal is to start small and to be intentiona about it. God willing, we might just start a new church too! :)

3. Music Career
When I left Harlequin last 2009, I completely surrendered my music career to God. I would rather have nothing at all if my music were just there to make me bigger than God. However, God affirmed me that He will help me face my struggle and that He will help me choose the right path! He doesn't want our relationship to just end with me being blessed. He wants me to attempt greater things for Him. My ultimate purpose in life is to know Christ and make Him known. Music is the best gift that He's given me. Therefore, I must use it in building His church.


“Go and leave your country.”

  I see Singapore as an  “Abraham and Isaac” experience. A testing of faith. God is not after the things we do for Him. He's after our hearts and He wants to see inentionality in our obedience.

  I went through and reflected on the stories of Moses, Abraham and Hannah. All of them were waiting for something. All of them had to surrender an important part of life. All of them had to acquire great FAITH to receive His promise. As for me, I had to surrender my life in the Philippines, particularly the Youth Ministry. When I finally took hold of His plans for me, He said:

“Wait. Since you have kept My commands, I will give you something better.”

  God gave me such wonderful gifts. I must not settle for less. I must strive to do more and more for Him. My prayer is that He will use me mightily in the "Kingdom Movement."

  To wrap things up, I would just like to share a few of my devotions this week.

**********
Nov. 20, 2011

Devotions: “Extravagant Love” (Zondervan’s Women Devotional Bible NIV)
Scriptures: Matthew 26: 6-13 (Mary and the alabaster jar of perfume), Genesis 22:1-19 (Abaraham and Isaac), 1 Samuel 1:21-2:11 (Hannah and Samuel), Mark 14:3-9, Luke 6:38

“Abraham loved his son Isaac, yet he willingly offered him to God; and God gave him back as a blessing. Hannah offered Samuel to the Lord’s service and has gone down in history as a woman most blessed. Mary had an alabaster jar of perfume. She broke it open and poured it out as love offering. Jesus praised her actions and promised she would always be remembered. What is your most precious possession? Are you willing to pour out your time? Your money? Your gifts? Your talents? When you give your best to Jesus, He will accept your offering of extravagant love with joy.”

“We can do great things- only small things with great love.”

**********
November 21, 2011

Devotions: “Expect the Extraordinary” (Zondervan’s Women Devotional Bible NIV))
Scriptures: Mark 1:14-20 (The Calling of the First Disciples), 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, 1 Peter 2:9-10

“When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He is looking for people who are willing to let go of the ordinary and look for something extraordinary. Sometimes that means we’re called to leave everything- our nets and our families- and go where he tells us. Other times, following Him means we keep doing what we've been doing, only with a shift in our perspective.”



S.H.A.P.E.: Finding & Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose For Life by Erik Rees (a new book I bought last Nov. 20):

“Your contribution is the unique service God created you to make, a ministry only you can perform. It is the specific mission God has given you to fulfill for Him on earth.”

“God longs to use ordinary people in extraordinary ways. That includes you!”

“Your Kingdom Purpose is way more than a career………. Your career could provide you the platform to direct you Kingdom Purpose, but it doesn't define it.”

“When we let others tell us what we should be doing, we are living to please then and win their approval.”

“In fact, your Kingdom Purpose is very much a reflection of you faithfulness to God.”

“For some people….. that means trading in a career for a full-time ministry. For most of us, however, finding and fulfilling our Kingdom Purpose means discovering how God wants us to minister in the paths and relationships of the daily lives He has given us.”

**********

  I can only do great things by FAITH alone. These are big dreams. But if I rely on God’s strength and power, I know I'll be able to accomplish a lot for Him. I am called to be a light that shines upon men. With that, I am inspired to pursue not a career, but a calling.

Monday, March 21, 2011

If You Seek, He Will Speak.

Singapore, May 2011 • © phoebe.gil

It’s been a year since I last went to Singapore, my second favourite country next to Japan. When I got home from the airport, I remember telling myself, “I’m definitely going back there to work and to earn for my  family.” There was so much determination in me, not until the end of 2010. Things started to change. I no longer wanted to leave the country because of one particular reason, or perhaps one particular person. Eventually, around Dec 2010, God had to break me when things were getting out of hand. I went beyond my limitations or beyond God’s instructions. I thought I was smart enough (or spiritually strong enough) to make decisions, thinking that my quiet time was enough to know God’s will. God had to break me for me to realize how much I was making a big mistake. But I am forever grateful. If it wasn’t for the heartbreak, I wouldn’t be led to do the 7-day Prayer and Fasting (at the start of 2011), which I would consider a turning point of my life. Well, ANOTHER turning point of my life. Indeed, God will break you for you to fall in love with Him all over again. Through the 7-Day Prayer and Fasting, I learned how to seek God with all my heart. Like, I can’t leave home or start my school works without praying or reading the Bible. Not to mention, the GCF Youth L.I.V.E. Bible 365 Campaign just started at that time, which helped my heart to be more devoted in reading the Bible. It didn’t bother me if I was reading more than 20 chapters everyday, because I was really enjoying it. I’ve never been so patient and passionate in reading His Word, and I thank Him for giving me a heart like this.

 It was after reading Deuteronomy 34 (The Death of Moses) that I noticed a change of faith in me. I’m a big fan of The Apostle Paul, and my favourite book in the Bible is Colossians. But right now, I could say that I’m really in love with Moses. He’s such a faithful and a humble servant of God! The way God spoke to him is what really amazed me! It’s just so awesome to be able to speak to God in the way Moses spoke with Him. After reading Deuteronomy 34, I prayed this prayer from the bottom of my heart:

“Dear Lord. I thank You for the life of Moses. If only prophets still existed now. I know it would be totally weird to ask You to make me one, but it would be really cool to be like Moses and Miriam. I want to be what a prophet is. Please speak to me the way you spoke to Moses. Well, not face to face, coz I know I’ll die. But speak to me, in a way that I would clearly know what You are saying. I’ve done so many stupid things because I misinterpreted Your Word. Please give me faith like Moses'. I really want to follow Your commands and be the Christian You want me to be.”

A week after that prayer, I listed down all my prayer requests and concerns before starting with my Quiet Time. I'd write down all the passages that somehow answered my prayer requests. Here's what happened i my awesome “encounter” with Him.



Singapore, May 2011 • © phoebe.gil

NOTE: I’m using a Zondervan Women’s Devotional Bible, so it had different devotional entries on it.

Wednesday: March 2, 2011
Prayer Concerns:
1. Where will I stay after my graduation?
2. I want to work in GCF to help the Youth Ministry but my parents want me to stay with them in Singapore.

Devotions: 
"The Lord said to Abram. Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others." - Genesis 12:1-2

* Hebrews 10:39 – 12:2 (Faith)
* Joshua 3 (Israel Crosses the Jordan River)
* Psalm 119: 97-112
* Exodus 13:17 – 14:31(Crossing of the Red Sea)
* Psalm 106: 1-12
* Joshua 4:1-7; Exodus 3:14-15; Psalm 72:11-12 and 78:5-8 and 145:4-5


In my heart, I knew it was Singapore. It felt like it was. But then I was told that God may be telling me to pursue a career outside ministry or my comfort zone. 

God spoke to me again a week after. It was during our Youth Service, wherein P. BJ Sebastian was our guest speaker. His message actually encouraged me a lot! It was about the Israelites' Crossing of the Jordan River. He mentioned that if we want our faith to grow, we must pray and study His Word. I know that’s what I’m doing and God knows that too.

“God already has a promise for you. All you have to do is to cross that river. Cross that step of faith and claim it.” – P. BJ Sebastian

Thursday: March 10, 2011
Prayer Concerns:
1. If Singapore, how long? I don't want to leave GCF Youth LIVE.
2. If Singapore, why? It would be hard for me to profess my faith, knowing that Christianity is just a minority in that country.
3. How will I know that it is really You who is speaking to me?

Devotions:
"So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you? ........Go and make a survey of the land and write a description of it. Then return to me, and I will cast lots for you here at Shiloh at the presence of the Lord.” Joshua 18:3, 8

"So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled." - Joshua 21:43-45

"For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your fellow Israelites but have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you. Now that the Lord your God has given them rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Then Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their homes." - Joshua 22:3-6

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures,which are able to m ake you wisefor salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." -2 Timothy 3:14-15


As of now, it is BY FAITH that these things will happen. May it be Singapore or outside ministry. I’m still trying to understand it. But one thing I do know, God has a plan for me. He has a PERFECT plan for me. I just need to be brave enough to follow what He’s saying. BY FAITH, I will do this. If it happens, then I’ll know that it is really His will, and may He be glorified by it. If it is Singapore, why not visit the country and really "explore" it right? I know I used to be a person who lacked in faith. I guess that's the reason why I get vague answers from Him. Perhaps this is an opportunity that God has given for me to deepen my faith. I really don't know what to do, but GOD KNOWS DEEP DOWN IN MY HEART that I really want to learn more about Him and His Word, and that I really want to change. 

So if you’re reading this, please pray with me. I need your prayers.
* Thank God for this change of heart and for giving me another chance to go back to Him
* That I would have a faith that will follow Him, even if I have to sacrifice things close to my heart
* That my passion to read and LEARN His Word would go on
* That I may love God more and more and more

I also pray and hope that God will somehow reach to you through this blog entry. Thank you for your future prayers for me. I thank God for you. Always know that if we truly seek God, He will answer us and help us. God bless you and your heart.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart?

Photo Credits: JOEL C. ROSENBERG'S BLOG (http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/isaiah-19-bible-prophecy-and-the-future-of-egypt-where-are-we-headed/)

   This was the topic I chose for my Theology Paper regarding the Catholic’s 12 Major Social Teachings, mainly 1) Link of Love and Justice and 2) Dignity of the Human Person. I used to have a hard time in choosing a topic for my papers, especially if it concerns Catholic teachings. Their doctrine and practices are different from mine. However, God always reminded me religion shouldn't hinder me from sharing His grace. I always started with a prayer before working on my papers. I wanted to make sure that it is God who is speaking through me, and that my writings wouldn't sound like I'm arguing with other religions.

For some weird yet awesome reason, my papers have somehow become my Devotions. It’s like instead of seeing them as Reflection Papers, I take them as extra Quiet Time-Journal writing, which I’m quite happy about. What I'm about to share is one of the devotions I had, which I felt the Holy Spirit  leading me to choose as my topic: Why Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart.

  • Aaron’s Staff Becomes a Snake (Exodus 7:13): “Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.”
  • The Plague of Blood (Exodus 7:22): “…and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses Aaron, just as the Lord had said.”
  • The Plague of Frogs (Exodus 8:15): “…he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.”
  • The Plague of Gnats (Exodus 8:19): “But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.”
  • The Plague of Flies (Exodus 8:32): “But this time also Pharaoh hardened his hear and would not let the people go.”
  • The Plague of Livestock (Exodus 9:7): “Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.”
  • The Plague of Boils (Exodus 9:12): “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.”
  • The Plague of Hail (Exodus 9:35): “So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.”
  • The Plague of Locusts (Exodus 10:20): “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.”
  • The Plague of Darkness (Exodus 10:27): “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go…”

And after the last plague, The Plague on the First Born, Pharaoh finally released the Israelites. However…… ‘And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them.” (Exodus 14:4)


The story of Moses is one of the most famous Sunday School lessons. It’s about the Egyptians’ persecution on the Israelites, the calling of Moses, the Exodus, the parting of the Red Sea up until the journey towards Canaan. Throughout the story, we have seen how the Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to God's commands. Despite the 10 plagues the Lord had sent, he still chose to harden his heart and do things his own way. As kids in Sunday School, we perceived Pharaoh as “The Bad Guy” who deserves to be punished. The question is, in just a blink of an eye, God could have swept the whole Egypt away. Why didn’t He? I never thought of that during my Sunday School days. I just knew that the Pharaoh deserved to die for his wickedness. It took me 16 years to understand why God even had to do the 10 plagues, when He could have just wiped out Egypt, bring out the Israelites from Goshen and deliver them to Canaan. If you have gone through Exodus Chapter 1-15, have you even tried to ask yourself that question? Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Just as much as the Bible mentioned that God will harden Pharaoh’s heart, the answer was mentioned that much too. Haha! Get what I mean?

  • “And the Egyptians will know that I Am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” (Exodus 7:5)
  • “…so that you will know that I, the Lord, Am in this land.” (Exodus 8:22)
  • “…so you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For by now, I could have stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you My power and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:14-16
  • “…so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.” (Exodus 9:29)
  • “…and that you may know that I Am the Lord.” (Exodus 10:2)
  • “All these officials of yours will come to Me, bow down before Me…” (Exodus 11:8)
  • “…and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I Am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12)
  • “But I will gain glory for Myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I Am the Lord.” (Exodus 14:4)
  • “The Egyptians will know that I Am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:18)
Therefore, why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? So that He could show that He is the One and only God, and there is no one like Him in all the earth. He loves the Israelites too much that He is willing to give them so many chances to run back to Him. But have you ever thought of the Egyptians' side? Why did God harden Pharaoh's heart? MAYBE it's God's way of allowing them to believe in Him too. I learned that the Egyptians used to worship frogs and the sun. The Plague of Frogs and The Plague of Darkness was sent to put an end to that one. MAYBE God wanted them to let go of their idols and to accept His invitation.

God loves both the believers and the unbelievers. He wants all of us to run back to Him. We, believers? Our hearts are hard too, you know? We declare that we love and trust Him, yet we often get distracted by our own idols (our families, our friends, our desires etc). My greatest idol is myself. I always tend to get all the glory from God. I've been doing it for 21 years! But God never stopped loving me. He continually gave me the chance to rebuild my relationship with Him. Yes, my sins are now forgiven, but salvation from God is more than than! It continually 1) delivers me from sin, 2) helps me grow in His love and holiness 3) transforms me into the Christian I am called to be. God didn't love me because I surrendered my life to Him. For while I was still a sinner, He already loved me that He gave Christ to die for my sins. If we were to talk about love and justice, we should all look to the Cross. It is a clear picture of the One and only Son of God, who was rejected, betrayed, persecuted, and crucified. He died and rose again, to save the sinners of the past, present, and future.

Now, that's love and justice. AGAPE.