As I was crossing the street from our office around 3:30 pm today, I saw four fire trucks quickly driving by and heard their sirens ringing. My heart suddenly beat faster as I and the other people on the street watched them hurry to their destination. It reminded me of the time when our house in Kapitolyo, Pasig city burned down. It happened 10 years and a day ago.
Our helper woke my parents up when she noticed that the house was burning. It was around 1:30 in the morning when it happened. Then, our parents rushed to our bedrooms and gathered us all in the master’s bedroom. At that time, dad tried to fill up large pails with water and he ran to the family den (where the huge fire was) and back to the master’s bedroom to get some more water. After a few seconds, I think he realized that the fire was getting worse so he instructed everyone to leave the house immediately.
The smoke already filled the air by that time, so we couldn’t clearly see our way. My mom, siblings and I lowered our bodies, held each other like we were one big caterpillar, and immediately walked towards the main gate. Dad stayed behind to get a few things and after a minute or two, he got in the car that was parked in the garage and he drove it out to the street. I remember seeing the ceiling (that was covered with fire) collapse and fall to the ground a few seconds after dad got the blue car out. Whew! It took a while (maybe 20 to 30 minutes) before most of the fire trucks came, so the house was pretty much gone by the time they arrived. But, God still allowed this to happen because it was for the best.
Despite the loss of most of our material things that day, one of the major highlights that our family experienced together was the peace that God placed in our hearts while we were watching the house burn and crumble into ashes. It was a different kind of peace. We didn’t cry nor worry. We were just amazed and hopeful at the same time. God was in control and He will always be in control no matter how terrible the situation is.
When I saw the fire trucks drive by the street a while ago, I thought about how difficult it is for those who are experiencing a similar situation today. I still don’t know where the fire came from or what their situation is right now. But, seeing these things again reminds me of God’s love for us and how He graciously sent His son, Jesus, to save us from experiencing eternal death in the **fiery lake of burning sulfur. Jesus died and rose again to save us so we can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
**“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
I learned about this many years ago, even before our house burned down. By His grace, I repented, acknowledged my sins before Him, and I asked Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior. He has changed my life and heart ever since. It says in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Whenever our family would remember November 19, 2004, we would always thank God for his grace and faithfulness. We could have died 10 years ago, but God didn’t allow it to happen. And maybe one of the reasons why He added 10 more years to my life was because He wanted me to take this opportunity to share His love and grace to you, dear reader.
He loves you and I want you to know that.
He loves you more than you can imagine and wants you to have an intimate relationship and an abundant life with Him too. Don’t wait for a ‘fire incident’ to happen before drawing near to God. Don’t wait for the next day. :)
Before I go to bed tonight, I want to share a song that touched my heart recently. It’s called “You Are My Rescue” by Royal Tailor. :)
…would you still have to pay for it? Or would you simply receive it?
One of the prettiest things I’ve seen in Google Images is a picture of rainbow cupcakes. I guess there really is something about the combination of the colors: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet that sort of makes me smile. Interestingly, if you do some research in the internet or in books, you’ll find out that these colors have different meanings too. :)
This week, it has been raining like crazy here in Manila. Sorry to say, even though I wanted to, I was not able to see a rainbow after the rain. :( And it’s funny because somehow God told me “Hey, Nic. It’s okay if you didn’t see a rainbow. Why don’t you just make rainbow cupcakes instead? Just like the ones you saw in the internet.”, and boy did I smile. The next day, I went to the grocery and bought the ingredients that I needed to make the rainbow cupcakes.
I enjoyed my time preparing the batter of the rainbow cupcakes because my workplace in the kitchen looked so colorful. I couldn’t believe I was really making cupcakes because it actually seemed like I was just playing with paint. :)
After preparing the multi-colored batter of the rainbow cupcakes, I decided not to bake the rainbow cupcake batter first. I immediately went to my box of baking ingredients and gathered the following food colorings: Yellow, Black, Red, White, and Green. I did so because these colors remind me of something that was more beautiful than the rainbow; something that changed my life. I’ll be sharing more about these below.
I placed the cupcake paper liners in the baking pan and poured in one color at a time. :)
For the first layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the YELLOW batter.
It says in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
The bible didn’t say “For God SORT OF loved the world…” or “For God WAS FORCED to love the world…”. God clearly wanted me to remember how much He loves me; how much He wants me to have a personal relationship and a meaningful life with Him; and spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
And what’s cool about that is He didn’t say “For God so loved Nicole Obligacion only…”, He said HE LOVED THE WORLD, which includes you too! HE LOVES YOU and WANTS TO SPEND ETERNITY WITH YOU. :)
For the second layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the BLACK batter.
When ate Camille (my sister) went in the kitchen and saw the black colored cupcake batter, she immediately blurted out “WHAT?? BLACK? Why did you use black?” I just laughed and told her “Eh basta, you’ll see. Hehe.”
Personally, when I see black, God reminds me of darkness, emptiness, and the biggest problem on earth: SIN. Ate Camille was shocked when she saw the black cupcake batter. I guess it’s the same way too when God sees me enjoying or dwelling in sin.
When I fall into sin, it’s as if I can hear God telling me: “WHAT? You know that I love you so much, Nic, and I give you the freedom to choose. But why choose SIN?” Sadly, that’s reality. I admit that I am a sinner. I lied, I cheated, I stole, I did things that did not please God before. SIN. This is one big problem because…
Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death…”
Sin separates us from God. As hard as it sounds, the payment for our sins is death. The Bible even talks about two kinds of death: The first is physical (we all know this); but did you know, the second one is actually spiritual death? (This is eternal separation from God :( ) (Revelation 21:8 “…This is the second death.”)
Years ago, when I first heard about this, I started to feel bothered because I knew I’ve done so many wrong things in the sight of God. I just felt so ashamed before God. He has been so good to me and there I was sinning in front of Him. However, one of the many things that I am grateful for is the word “BUT” in the Bible. Why? Because Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God uses the word “BUT” here to remind me of hope and of His grace, which leads me to the third layer.
For the third layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the RED batter.
The color red reminds me of the blood of Jesus when He paid the penalty of our sin by dying on the cross.
When the red batter was poured in the cupcake liner, God reminded me of the hope that I have in Him. I realized that I really cannot pay for the penalty of my sin, no matter what I try to do (good works, religion, other efforts…).
This is because of Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is BY GRACE that you have been SAVED through FAITH – and THIS NOT FROM YOURSELVES, it is the GIFT of GOD – NOT by WORKS, so that no one can boast.”
I thought about it before and realized that even if I did try to save myself and try to go to heaven (after dying) through my own ways, such as doing good works (or others), how will I know when I’ve done enough already to save me? There is no security. There is no assurance. My efforts will not be enough to save me from the penalty of my sin. I really cannot save myself. ONLY ONE can save me. ONLY ONE can save us all. And that ONE is JESUS CHRIST.
John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus did not say “I am A way and A truth and A life.” He is not an option. He is the only solution. Also, 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 shows us that Christ’s resurrection proves that He is the Son of God, the Messiah, and the only Savior. It brings me to tears to know that someone took my place on the cross to pay the penalty of my sin, which is death.
Jesus didn’t deserve to die and yet He did because He loves us so much. So, what must we do now that we know: how much God loves us, how we have sinned, how Jesus is the only way for us to spend eternity with God in Heaven?
We must choose to be reconciled with God and accept the gift of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Jesus is personally inviting all of us to restore our relationship with Him. Years ago, I made a decision to fully surrender my life to Jesus, I admitted that I am a sinner and I cannot save myself; I believed that He died to pay the penalty of my sin and He rose again; I accepted Him as my personal Lord and Savior; and I claimed Jesus free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
If it’s your desire to have a restored relationship with God, I’d like to encourage you to tell God everything that’s in your heart right now. Even before we talk to Him, He actually already knows what we want to tell Him. Just like what I did years ago, you can also let him know the desire of your heart by praying to Him; admitting that you are a sinner and cannot save yourself; believing that Jesus died to pay the penalty of your sins and that He rose again; receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior; and claiming his free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
For the fourth layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the WHITE batter.
White represents cleanliness, purity, freedom, surrender, etc.
If you decided to sincerely place your trust in Jesus then I’d like to encourage you because…
YOU are 100% forgiven. All your sins are forgiven – past, present, and future. (Seen in Colossians 2:13)
You are a childof God and nothing will separate you from your heavenly Father. (John 1:12; Hebrews 13:5)
You are a new person! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
You will go to heaven. YUP! And you will live with God forever. Eternal life begins the moment you place your trust in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. (1 John 5:11-13)
For the last layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the GREEN batter.
The color green reminds me of GROWTH.
Now that I’ve surrendered my life to Him, I want to be able to maximize what He has given me to love Him and love others more. I want to grow more in my walk with Him. And I’d like to encourage you to do the same too! :)
Here are some of the things that we can do to GROW more in our relationship with Jesus:
Read the Bible regularly.
Talk to God through prayer.
Talk to others about Jesus and the free gift that He has given us. (Just like what I’m doing now: Sharing it through Cupcakes! )
Join Bible studies or groups of people who also want to grow in their relationship with God.
I didn’t want to let this day pass by without sharing to you what Jesus did and how God changed my life because I really, really, really, really, really, really, want to encourage you to KNOW HIM MORE. :)
I think it has been 5 years since I’ve fully surrendered my life to Christ. I actually grew up exposed to this truth, but I just didn’t really want to absorb it in my life back then. However, God changed my heart and life, and since then, I’ve been experiencing the best years of my life with Him.
Going back to my cupcakes, after preparing both batters, I finally baked them and placed vanilla buttercream frosting on top.
If I gave you these cupcakes for free, would you still have to pay for it? Or would you simply receive it?
God gave us the FREE GIFT of ETERNAL LIFE with Him through Jesus Christ. Would you still have to pay/work for it? Or would you simply receive it? :)
RECIPE: Billy’s Vanilla Cupcakes (featured in Martha Stewart’s Recipes)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE CUPCAKE BATTER:
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line cupcake baking pan with paper liners.
Using an electric mixer, combine both types of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined.
Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla.
With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients slowly.
Beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full.
Bake (for 17 to 20 mins), rotating pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Use a small spatula or a piping bag to frost tops of each cupcake.