Monday, May 22, 2017

Intercession: To Stand In The Gap...

The English word "intercession" is derived from Latin intercedo, which means "to come between". A very good illustration of it is what God spoke to Ezekiel: Ezekiel 22:30 "I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one". If you're familiar with the story of Nehemiah, you know that He came back from exile (around 445 B.C.) to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. So, the first thing he does is to "assess the damage". Nehemiah 2:13 And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. The second is to "reveal" the plan and gather people around to help him to do the work. Nehemiah 2:17-18 Then I said to them, "You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach". And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. The third is to "stand against" (resist) the enemy, because they tried to discourage and make them afraid in order to stop their effort. Nehemiah 4:1-3 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish stones that are burned?" Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, "Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall". Nehemiah 6:9 For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, "Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done". Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. Nehemiah 4:21 So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared. The fourth is to deal with people's oppression, that came from their own rulers and governors. Nehemiah 5:7-8 After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, "Each of you is exacting usury from his brother". So I called a great assembly against them. And I said to them, "According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?" Then they were silenced and found nothing to say. Nehemiah 5:15 But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God. The fifth is to deal with the enemy's conspiracy: Nehemiah 6:2 That Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, "Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono". But they thought to do me harm. When the enemy sees the progress of their work, they knew they couldn't stop them, so they tried to deceive and kill the "overseer" (Nehemiah). Do you remember the prophecy of Zechariah 13:7 that Jesus Christ spoke about? Matthew 26:31 Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered"'. The enemy knew if they killed the leader (overseer), the would manage to stop the work and defeat the people. Of course in Jesus' case, it didn't happened because Jesus Christ interceded (prayed) for them, just as He told Peter: Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren. Pay attention that Jesus said "when you have returned", not "if you have returned", because Jesus' prayer was according to the will of God. The sixth is to stand against the false leaders and false prophets who made Nehemiah afraid: Nehemiah 6:14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid. The seventh is to finish the work: Nehemiah 6:15-16 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God
Now, after reading all of that you might be asking: "What does that have to do with me?" Good question! Please, bear with me, because this is extremely important if you are "rebuilding the walls of your life or your church". In the same manner, it works for us just as it did for Nehemiah and his people, those seven "accounts" happen to all of those who are in the process of "rebuilding the walls". The first thing to do is to "assess the damage" and "count the cost". See what Jesus Christ spoke about "building" (rebuilding): Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it. When we start "rebuilding our spiritual life", we must know what needs to be repaired (rebuilt) in our lives and the only way to know that is asking the Holy Spirit to reveal it to us, otherwise we'll never change, because our hearts are deceitful: Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? But, before we start "rebuilding", we must answer this question: "Do i have what it takes to finish the work?" In other words, "do i have perseverance, patience and commitment to endure anything in order to finish the work?" God is working IN us: Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s buildingFellow workers means "to be involved in the same activity", God wants to work within and through us, our work is (if we are children of God) to allow Him to change us and to do His will. The second is to "reveal" God's plan and gather people around to help us to do His work: We cannot work alone, there is no "lone rangers" in the Kingdom of God. We need each other to be able to "rebuild the walls" of our lives and our churches, Paul addressed this issue when he wrote: 1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. Individually we have to work to "rebuild" our spiritual lives, or as Paul wrote, work out our salvation: Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. But as a church, we are a body, as members of this body, we cannot function (work) by ourselves. The third is to "stand against" (resist) the enemy, because they will try to discourage and make us afraid in order to stop our effort: If your read the Gospels, you'll see how many times Jesus Christ Himself dealt with his "enemies", not only with satan and his demons, but also against the people who opposed His ministry: John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of lies. We are told to resist the enemy: James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. The fourth is to deal with people's oppression, that sometimes come from our own leaders: Matthew 23:1-4 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers". The fifth is to deal with the enemy's conspiracy: Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you when people revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Acts 23:12-13 And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy. John 10:10 The thief (devil) does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. The sixth is to stand against the false leaders and false prophets who will oppose us and try to bring fear in our lives: Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. The seventh is to finish the work: James 1:4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Matthew 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. God is calling us to pray and intercede (stand in the gap), and the best way to learn how to do it, is to learn with the Holy Spirit, who intercedes for us: Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Here is the key to a successful intercession: Interceding according to God's will! Our worst mistake when praying and interceding for ourselves and other people (church), is that we pray for our (people's) desires and don't ask God to know what is His will for us (people), and most often, we are not successful. Why not? Because we should know better that God will always answer our prayers according to His will and not according to ours. On the other hand, there is a way to have our desires fulfilled: Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Why is that? Because when we "delight" ourselves in the Lord, we will for sure, delight ourselves in His will, meaning, we will understand that His will is good, pleasing and perfect! Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. When our minds are renewed by God, we start thinking and desiring His will for us, we are no longer satisfied with our own will and desires, even when they are good (don't get me wrong). Do you remember what God said? Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. We don't need to be a genius to realize that our thoughts are here on earth and God's are in heaven, meaning, He sees and knows everything, from eternity He already "preordained" (predestined) what we should do and be, we only need to "conform" (from the Latin conformare "to fashion, to form, to shape; modify"), ourselves to His will. Now i can see clearly how i failed (there times), when God was moving (revival) in the churches i was part of. Those first six "accounts" happened in these churches. The first time i was a baby (spiritually speaking), the second i thought i was mature, but i was naive, and in the third time i just badly failed, i didn't "stand in the gap", i didn't endure (persevere) to the end, i gave up too soon. I thought it depended only in the pastor to see "revival", but actually, we were all guilty of failing to stand and prevail, to "seek until we find", to persevere to the end. God is not interested in "revival" for revival's sake, "revival" is only the result (consequence) of obeying His commandments, which is summarized in two: Mark 12:30-31 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength". This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself". There is no other commandment greater than these. As a church (body of Christ), we are failing to observe those two commandments, that's why when revival starts, the result is either division or numbers (lots of people), either way, it does not prosper, because the "foundation", which is love, is not there. Today we want "revival" without "renewal", as Jesus said: Mark 2:21-22 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins. We pray a lot, we fast a lot, we have many "worship" services, we read the bible a lot, but when it comes to love our neighbor as Jesus loved us, we fail. If you pay attention to Jesus' ministry, everything He did, He did it all for love. Every teaching, every healing, every correction, every miracle. He showed the way to His disciples, the way of love, a sacrificial love. That's why when "Pentecosts" came, the disciples were ready for it. Jesus prepared them for that day. That's why they experienced God's glory "in" and "through" their lives. They reflected Jesus: Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. Today, we are filled with pride (my church is bigger/better than yours), education (my pastor is a PhD), we have our churches filled with "skeptical" believers (we talk the talk but don't walk the walk), we value the organization more than the organism (body of Christ, people), etc. It is time to wake up from our spiritual slumber and start loving as Christ loved us.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Not Of This World...

This may sound nonsense to you, but just think about it for a minute. Have you noticed how many movies are dealing with aliens (i mean "beings" from another planet, not people from another country) and outer space life? If you are a movie lover, you probably did, if not, this will definitely sound nonsense to you. There is one movie, i think, is a very good example of what i want to talk about. It is called "Elysium". The movie's storyline is this: In a far distant future, year 2159, there are two places to live in, "Elysium" and the devastated earth. The ones living in "Elysium" are the wealthy and privileged ones. In this "space station" people are free, happy, enjoy everything good life has to offer, "but wait, there is more" (as they say in the infomercial), they have a cure for any kind of sickness, meaning, no more pain, no more suffering. Meanwhile, on earth, people are living a miserable life, barely having enough to survive, be controlled and slaved by the ones "up there". Of course, the "poor" ones are always trying to reach the "paradise". If you didn't watch this movie, do it, and pay attention to the things i'm saying. This is not new, since for a long time, this is played in the real life here on earth. There are the "third world" countries (poor ones), were some "tugs" (politicians and filthy rich) enslave the population, deplete the country's resources,  kill and steal to get richer and more powerful. On the other hand, there are the "first world" countries (rich ones), were you have freedom, opportunity to improve your way of living, have access to health and wealth, you only have to set your mind on becoming successful and you will be. So, if you live in the "poor" country, you are told that your country is as horrible as it is, because the "rich" ones (countries) are making you pay for their "health, wealth and happiness", and they don't want your country to "break free" from "slavery". If you live in the "rich" one, you are told that's not the case, the "poor" countries are "poor" because their people don't work, don't make any effort to improve their quality of living. Because of this, migration occurs, "poor" people want to get into the "rich" countries to improve their (and families) lives, and not just that, but also to save their lives, due to wars and famine. That's the "fictional and natural" part. But there's also the "spiritual" one, and this is as real as the "natural" one. If you read and believe the Bible, you know that in the beginning God created heavens and earth and created mankind to take care of His garden and expand it to the ends of the earth, and all God did was good. So mankind rebelled against God and "died" (spiritually speaking), but God knew before it happened, even before creation He already had a plan to rescue humanity, 1 Peter 1:20 He (Jesus) was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake; Ephesians 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love. His son comes in the form of a man, to "serve" and give His life for all. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For the ones who believe in Jesus Christ, He is preparing a place to live with Him eternally: John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. Of course, for the ones who don't believe in Jesus Christ, there's also a place, which was never God's will for them to live in that place, because it was prepared for the devil and his angels: Matthew 25:41 Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels". So, there's only "two" options for humanity: Eternal life with Jesus Christ and eternal death with the devil! So, if you heard the question "is there life after death?" and didn't have an answer, here is the answer: YES, THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH! The flip side of it is that there is DEATH AFTER DEATH ALSO! Do you remember what the Lord told Adam in the "garden"? Genesis 2:15-17 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die". Do you remember what the devil told Eve about God's commandment? Genesis 3:4-5 "You will not certainly die", the serpent (devil) said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil". Question: Did Adam and Eve die? Was God primarily speaking about the "natural" death? The answer to the first question is "yes, they did". To answer the second one, we have to pay attention to what happened after Adam and Eve sinned against God. The blame game starts, Eve blames the devil, Adam blames Eve, but the truth is that God's commandment was for Adam, he (Adam) was the responsible party and if you read your Bible you will see that the "original sin" was attributed to Adam, as in this verse: 1 Corinthians 15:21 For since death came through a man (Adam), the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man (Jesus Christ). Answering the second question, God was primarily talking about the "spiritual death", the natural one came as consequence of the first one. Since, all humanity comes from Adam, we're born dead (spiritually speaking), but to all of us who believe in Jesus Christ, He raised us (born again) from death and gave us eternal life. So, when we die, we are "confirmed" in our present (the time of death) state. If we are "born again" we will live eternally with Christ, the ones who rejected Him and are "spiritually dead", the natural death will only "confirm" their actual state: Revelation 21:8 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. There are lots of opinions about the subject, but to me, it is plain and simple: First death took place with Adam and that separated us from God: Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. So, when we "naturally" die, we only confirm our actual state, dead or alive! There's is no "second life", if your're born again, you already have ETERNAL LIFE, but there is the "second death". From the "first death" that came from Adam, we had no choice but to be born spiritually dead, but we all have a chance to be "resurrected" (born again) and have eternal life, but from the "second death", which is the "confirmation" of ones rejection of Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross, there is no more chances, only eternal separation from God. Ok, what does "Elysium" have to do with all of this? Good question! If you pay attention to the "subliminal" message that is been propagating from the movies and tv series, you'll see that the devil is "luring" the masses to believe that God's justice is actually an injustice, that God does not care for the human beings, that God will only save the "privileged" ones, that God chooses a few ones and forsakes the vast majority, that God is the one to blame for all the injustice, wars, famine, poverty and disgrace that we see everyday. God, in eternity already chose all humanity, when He gave Jesus Christ to pay for our sin and to give us eternal life, now we must choose between life and death. As for me, i chose LIFE: Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. Remember the words of Jesus Christ: John 15:19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Monday, May 15, 2017

What is the Will of God for Your Life?

Knowing the will of God for us, I believe, is a matter of the "heart". What do i mean by that? Let's God Himself answer that question: Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Many preachers nowadays are saying that if you just read the Bible you'll find the will of God for you, that's all you need! I personally believe that, as much as holiness, it is a process, the more you seek Him, the more He will reveal Himself to you, the more you know Him, the more you will be "conformed" to His will. This is what Paul the apostle wrote: Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. The "renewal of our mind" is a process. When we're "born again" our spirit becomes ready, but then the process called "holiness" starts. Our "mind", "feelings" and our "will" need to the changed (renewed). In the process God will start to "reveal" His will for us, the "holier" we get, the more we will know His will. Now, pay attention to what the word "holy" means: It mean to be "set apart for God". Of course the more we walk with Him, the more we will change, the more we will abandon the "works of the flesh", as Paul mention in Galatians 5, to the point that we will achieve the goal of Christianity, that is: Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. See some examples of people who walked with God:
Abraham, Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless;
Enoch, Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
Noah, Genesis 6:9 "a just man, perfect in his generations, who walked with God."
I know that there is a lot of controversy in the church about this subject, but you will only know the "truth" when you "walk" with Jesus Christ. Here are some Bible verses that talk about the will of God: 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Peter 2:15; 1 Peter 3:16-18. If you want to know God's will for your life, you must start reading the Bible. In the Bible we will find what we need to live the life God planned for us to live, but, even if some scholars disagree, I believe there's also a specific calling (ministry, work, etc.) God planned for us to do. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Don't try to be "holy" by doing something, just walk with Jesus and He will "sanctify" you. I'm not writing this post to try to convince you to do what i want, but i want you to "prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" for you, because i've been "proving" His will for my life and i can tell you that there's nothing better than that. Here one post that shows you what i am talking about: "Personal Testimony: Fasting".

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Other Hand: Wasting Your Eternal Reward.

Matthew 6:1-4. "Secret giving" is becoming a thing of the past, more and more we're seen charity becoming a way of self-promotion. What is really impressive (to me) is that in human history, we never had so many charitable organizations live we do today, everywhere we look we find one. One day I was watching tv and was impressed by what I saw: A very famous Hollywood actor in Haiti working hard to improve the lives of those affected by the January 2010 earthquake (that left over 314,000 dead, 300,000 injured and 1.6 million people homeless). He is there since 2010 spending his money and giving himself away for the sake of people who will probably never repay him (financially speaking). Is he doing that for self-promotion? Is he truly helping the poor because he is a compassionate man? What is he gaining by doing that? God knows the answers, but one thing is for sure: He is doing what God told us (Christians) to do!  Here are some verses that shows what God thinks about helping the poor: Proverbs 19:17; Deuteronomy 15:11; Proverbs 22:9; Hebrews 13:16; 1 John 3:17-18. When Jesus says that those people who gave, were only interested in self-promotion (to be seen), He said that there will be no other "reward" besides the one they already received. He is implying that whatever we do that brings us "earthly rewards", it won't be counted as a reward in heaven. I'll use myself as an example: I am a musician and I play a few instruments. Before, I tried to write songs (I wrote 2 or 3), but never had the gift (talent) to write. A while ago, few people prophesied that God would give me the gift of writing songs and I would write beautiful ones. Well, I started writing and already have some (if good or bad, it's just a matter of taste). Let's say I write a beautiful one and then record it. The song is a hit and I am nominated for the Grammy's and I win. If I accept the honor, I already received my reward! Why? Because the song was inspired by God, for His glory and honor and if I receive the honor, that is God's because He inspired me, I already received the reward that I would receive in heaven. In this case, because God inspired me to write it and it was not written by my own ability or talent, the glory or honor is God's alone, it doesn't matter how many "glory to God" I give during my acceptance (speech). You may disagree on this, but as you are an intelligent person, think about this: Why did Jesus say that many will tell Him that they prophesied, healed, sung, prayed, preached, etc., in His Name and He will say "I don't know you"? Because those people already received the glory (honor) that was God's alone and God says He does not share His glory with no one else. Jesus called those people "workers of iniquity". We're living the last days, where many times, the "sacred" is as "profane" as the profane itself! In a world where churches are filled with "stars" and "idols", where it's hard to find someone who is committed to worship God despite the money and recognition. When Jesus says "take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them", it goes far beyond charitable works, it encompass everything that is done for God. Why do you think Paul the Apostle said this? 1 Corinthians 4:6-13. He said that because he refused to receive any honor or glory coming from man, just like Jesus Christ did, and for that cause they were despised and rejected. What did Jesus mean when He said "do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing"? Are we the "body" of Christ? If we are the body of Christ and the body has two hands (persons), then He is saying that one person shouldn't tell the other about his (her) charitable deeds, much less to the world! Let's go back to the beginning where Christians glorified God, not other Christians.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

From the Mountain to the Valley: Recharging the Spiritual Battery.

Did you ever experienced the glory of God in a way that you didn't want to leave that place, that you hoped it would last forever? I did and i can tell you that i felt like that! That's what i call, "the mountain top experience". Jesus revealed His glory to three of His disciples and they were overwhelmed by it and wanted to stay there forever. Matthew 17:1-4. As you can see, Peter told Jesus that it was good for them to be there and he had the idea of building "tabernacles". That's what usually happens when people have "the mountain top experience", it's not enough for them to have Jesus Christ, they have to build something to prove that Jesus is (was) there, thinking they can "confine" Him in their "tabernacles" or "shrines". That's one of the reasons why we see so many "tabernacles" (church buildings) nowadays, of course other reasons are "money", "control", "entertainment", etc. Of course, as Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God cannot be confined, right after they came down to the "valley" and already faced some challenges. Some people are against "mountain top experiences", they say that it is just "emotionalism", that it doesn't do any good for the believer. I completely disagree with that, i think the "mountain top experience" is not just necessary, it is vital for every christian to have that experience once in a while. Why? Because you will realize how sinful you are, how awesome God is and how much you need HimThe mountain is as real as the valley! Unfortunately, most believers think that the "mountain top experience" is just for Moses, Elijah and Jesus' disciples, that it does not apply for them. That's why most believers are unhappy,  ungrateful, spiritually empty or lukewarm. Why am i saying that? Because i used to be like that! But when Jesus Christ revealed His glory to me, i realized that He is the most Loving, Beautiful and Peaceful person i ever met. I think without the "mountain top experience" we will never experience the JOY OF A TRIAL: James 1:2. Is it possible to be joyful in trials? If we believe in the Bible it sure is: Acts 5:41. One of our problems here in America, is that Christians think that persecution and trials are just for believers that live in communist or islamic countries (among others). That's why even if the Bible is not clear about the subject, the vast majority of christians here believe in the "pre-trib" concept, because in the bottom of their hearts they don't think that we will ever have persecution here in America, if we will, it will be after the "rapture"! Am I suggesting that you have to pray to be persecuted or reviled? Of course not! What I am saying is that once you "enlisted" in God's army, you must go through an intensive training in order to become a soldier, well prepared for the battle. See what Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:4. If you are wondering why you don't grow spiritually, here is the reason: Luke 8:14. There's a parallel between what Paul teaches about the soldier and what Jesus teaches about the Parable of the Sower. If the soldier does not forsake everything to be prepared for the battle, he will never be. The same way, if the seed grows among thorns, they (thorns) will choke it, there will never be a mature fruit. If our hearts are divided between our lives here on this earth and the Kingdom of God, THERE WILL NEVER BE A MATURE FRUIT (fruit of the Spirit). That's the reason Jesus said this: Luke 14:33. It is time to bear fruit, otherwise we will be cut of from the tree (Jesus Christ). We must be willing to pray Habakkuk's prayer: Habakkuk 3:17-19. If Job (Job 1:21), Paul (Philippians 4:11-13) and many others were able to pray like that, so are we, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Righteousness: The Proper Garment for the Wedding.

Matthew 22:1-14 In this parable, Jesus is saying that we can have the INVITATION (calling) for the wedding and yet, not be PREPARED (garment) for it. We can even be the bride, as the five foolish virgins (read the post: "Wisdom vs. Foolishness: What kind of Believer are You?"), and yet not be ready for the marriage. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Christians believe that once you receive the calling (ministry) and gifts (healing, prophecy, etc.), you are already saved (married), but this is far from the truth! Calling and Gifts are only the evidence of God's character. Because God loves us He speaks to us (prophecy), because He loves us he heals us, because He loves us and we don't know how to pray (talk to Him), He gives us the gift of tongues, etc. Our calling and gifts are not evidence that we are saved, our CHARACTER is! Matthew 7:22-23. I can give you a personal example: I grew up in the church. When I was about 19 years old, I went to my friend's house and there I saw a lady from the Presbyterian church I used to go. When she saw me, she hugged me and said: "Julio, I am praying for you my son". I thought that was very nice of her and even if I felt loved by her, I wasn't impressed because I knew there were other people praying for me at that time. Many years latter, after God's work in my life (deliverance, salvation, anointing, etc.), I was praying one morning and asking God why He didn't allow the devil to kill me (a demon told me he was going to kill me), and God showed me that scene, the old lady (her name was Canuta) hugging me, and then He said to me: "You didn't die because there were many righteous people praying for you!" For me it came true the verse that says: James 5:16. What am I trying to say with this example is that our faith has to be followed by our works. Because people believed that God could save me (even if many times I didn't), they prayed for me, and because they were righteous, God answered their prayer. I love king David's story, because I can relate to it in many ways. There's a proverb that David quoted that is very interesting, is found in 1 Samuel 24:13. When David said this proverb, he was saying that Saul's works were showing who he (Saul) was, because Saul was wicked he practiced wickedness. That's a principle, it works for everything else. If we are lovely, we will show love, if we are peaceful we will show peace, if we are evil, we will show evil deeds. OUR WORKS WILL EXPRESS OUR CHARACTER. We can fake for a while, but sooner or latter we will show our character. James also says that faith has to be followed by works: James 2:20. So, why am I saying that "righteousness is the proper garment for the wedding"? Because we can only practice RIGHTEOUSNESS (works) if we are RIGHTEOUS (faith). Do you remember what is said about Abraham? Genesis 15:6 (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23). If you remember Abraham's story you know that his works (deeds) were the result of his faith. If you got an invitation to Jesus Christ's wedding, check you works (acts), if they are righteous then you will be the bride: Revelation 19:6-8. God is calling us (His people) to a life of holiness, Jesus is coming for a "spotless bride" (church), if we are not wearing the "proper garment" (righteousness), we will be "cast into outer darkness". Holiness is not an option for the believer, is a commandment: I Peter 1:15.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Love Isn't Love 'til You Give It Away.

If you are a fan of Reba McEntire you probably know that song. It carries a profound truth, that we can say we love but if we don't show it (give it away), it doesn't exist. Jesus Christ used another words to describe this truth, when He dealt with a lawyer who came to test Him in Luke 10:25-37. The lawyer asks: “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replies with another question: “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” The lawyer got it right but like every lawyer (well, maybe there's an exception out there), he was evasive and tried to justify himself. As Jesus knew his heart, He went straight to the matter. Most people, when Jesus Christ told a parable didn't understand, but this lawyer did, when Jesus asks him who was the neighbor of the man who was wounded, the lawyer said: “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” In other words, Jesus showed him that OUR neighbor can be the one we don't associate with, maybe we even consider our enemy, as Jesus commands us in Matthew 5:44. He (Jesus) also made it clear that our involvement with the "church" does not justify ourselves, when He spoke about the Priest and the Levite who didn't care for the wounded man. Why did Jesus used the Samaritan as the "good man" in the Parable? Maybe to fulfill a prophecy that came from Moses: Romans 10:19. The Jews considered the Samaritans to be their enemies because Samaritans were half-Jews. The race (Samaritan) came about after the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel (its Capital was Samaria) in 721 B.C. Certain people from the nation of Israel stayed behind. These people intermarried with the Assyrians producing the Samaritans. They "worshiped" YAHWEH but not in Jerusalem (Mount Zion), instead they had their temple on Mount Gerazim: John 4:20Maybe Jesus was trying to tell the lawyer that knowledge (faith) without works is dead. Maybe Jesus was showing the lawyer's hypocritical way of living. Whatever the case might be, one thing is for sure: It doesn't matter how big our knowledge about the kingdom of God is, if we don't practice what we know, it will only count for our condemnation. God's love is practical not theoretical! As faith without works is dead, so is love without works
James 2:15-16. There's a beautiful song by Steve Camp that I love, that talks about the love of Christ, a compassionate love. The song is called "Don't Tell Jesus Loves Them" and this is the chorus:
Don't tell them Jesus loves them till you're ready to love them too;
Till your heart breaks from the sorrow and the pain they're going through;
With a life full of compassion may we do what we must do;
Don't tell them Jesus loves them till you're ready to love them too
.
That's Jesus' feeling or attitude for the people, just like it says in Matthew 9:36. What kind of Christianity are we living: A theoretical one? A hypocritical one? A denominational one? Or a Christ-like One? Let's put Christ back in our Christianity! Revelation 3:20.




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Signs, Wisdom and Christ Crucified.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 I'd like to start this post by asking you a few questions: Are you following Jesus? If you are, what Jesus are you following (read the post: What Jesus: The Narrow Way or the Broadway?)? Who do you love the most? Is your faith growing or stagnated? If Jesus told you to forsake everything to follow Him, would you do that? Do you believe in the signs that Jesus spoke about it? We're living in a very strange time, more and more we're been "induced" to "seek after signs and wonders", to "live in the supernatural", to "experience the power of God". To be honest with you, before writing this post i was asking these questions: Is it wrong to seek after signs and wonders? What did Jesus teach about it? Let's see: Mark 16:14-18. The question is: To believe in Jesus or to believe in the signs? My take on this is: BOTH! If you believe in Jesus but don't believe in the signs, how do you expect that those signs will follow you? On the other hand, you may believe in the signs and yet you may not believe in Jesus. How come? 2 Thessalonians 2:9. Paul is saying here that people will believe in the anti-Christ because his power, signs and wonders, the problem is that they are all lying! Another problem is that he (anti-Christ) and the false christs will be very convincing when doing it, because what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:24. Do you thing that the signs Jesus Christ and Paul spoke were not real? Of course they were (are) real, but the source (power) is the devil, which means that they are lying (deceiving) in essence since the devil is the a liar and deceiver. According to Jesus Christ himself, if we are not careful, even we the elect, will be deceived. I believe this is the right way: We believe and follow Jesus Christ and the signs will follow us. If we don't believe in the signs He spoke about it, we don't believe in Him. But if we believe and follow the signs, Jesus Christ will never follow us, in fact, we will be following the devil and as a result, one day we will hear these words from Jesus Christ: Matthew 7:21-23. Miracles, signs and wonders have been done since the early age. Even among God's people there were false prophets performing false signs: Deuteronomy 13:1-3. So, if you see a miracle, sign or wonder and the miracle maker does not preach Jesus Christ crucified (unconditional obedience to the LORD), don't follow this person, he (she) is a deceiver, a false one, an anti-Christ, it doesn't matter how "holy" this person might look. My advice to you is: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and mind, take your cross and follow Jesus Christ wherever He sends you and allow the Holly Spirit to transform your heart and mind that you will prove the good, perfect and pleasing will of God and if anybody tries to teach out of the way (Jesus Crist crucified), reject such person. What are you seeking? Signs and wonders? Wisdom? Power? Supernatural experiences or Jesus Christ crucified?

The Perilous Times and the Loveless Generation.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 Two thousand years ago, both Jesus Christ and Paul painted the portrait of this current generation: A Lawless and Loveless Generation. The question is: How can this be a lawless generation if we never had so many laws and regulations as we have today? The answer is very simple: This generation is despising God's Law. Of course if we read the Gospels we'll find out that Jesus' generation was already crooked, even the religious Pharisees were adulterating God's Law because a thing that we are always creating, called tradition: Matthew 15:3-9. What makes it different today is that the whole world, at once, is rejecting and becoming hostile to God's Law, and as a result, we are heading to a perilous time as Paul described. Jesus Christ also said that this last generation will become as sinful and corrupted as Noah's generation (read post as it was in the days of Noah). Unfortunately, today even the religious system called "Christianity" (fortunately Christ came to give us life, not tradition), just as the Pharisees did in Jesus' time, is adulterating God's Law to take advantage and rule over its followers. Jesus "hit the nail on the head" when He said that they transgressed the commandment (law) of God because of their tradition. We see the same pattern today: "Christianity" is filled with traditions, rules and commandments of men and that is leading God's people AWAY from Him. Again, Jesus already spoke about this "system" and its rulers: Matthew 23:13-15. Every religious "system" that entangles with a yoke of bondage is NOT from God and its ruler is NOT Jesus Christ: John 8:36; Galatians 5:1. We are on the verge of "collapse", the "system" (both world and religious) is corrupted to the core and it's about to break and as a result we'll face dangers and disasters as never seen in human history, the world will be chaotic and then the last tyrant, the man of sin, the anti-Christ will be revealed. You may love watching "Left Behind", but if think just for a second (it's not a sin) you'll reach the conclusion that "you don't need a savior if there's no need for salvation", "you don't need a doctor if you are healthy", "you don't need food if you are not hungry", etc. The same way, "there's no need for the anti-Christ if the world is as ok as it is right now". CAOS IS COMING TO THE WHOLE WORLD! Just pay attention to what is going on around the world (it's not sin to watch the news), countries that were ok few years ago are now in turmoil. If you really think that this "false peace" that we have right now is going to last, you are deadly wrong. So, cheer up my friend, if the church is going to be under the worst persecution in human history and you are a true Christian, you won't be "left behind", you will be under the same persecution. If the church won't be under the worst persecution in human history and you are a true Christian, you won't be "left behind" either, you won't be affected. In either case, you will know if you are a child of God or not. 1 Peter 4:12-14. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hipster Christianity: Is There a True Religion?

It's amazing how we talk and act according to our perception, even if we are not aware of it. I'm saying that because there's a video on YouTube called "why i hate religion, but love Jesus" with over 24 million views (cool like Rob Bell). On this video, the guy (a poet) makes his case on why he hates religion and loves Jesus by talking about sin, the poor, single moms and the people who killed Jesus, but because he mixes the good with the bad just to prove his point, he failed to recognize that there is a difference between TRUE and FALSE RELIGION and by doing so, he proves that he can write nice poems but ignores the FACT that Jesus Christ practiced TRUE RELIGION, what Jesus despised was the HYPOCRISY of the religious people, so much so that He told His disciples to do what the religious taught them but NOT to do what the religious did, because they did not do what they taught: Matthew 23:3. The Bible is clear about TRUE RELIGIONJames 1:27. Malachi 3:5. If your perception of religion is the same as the world's, then you're already being corrupted by the world (same perception), you're not being transformed by Jesus Christ but conformed to the world: Romans 12:2. Why most people here in America (christians included) care more for their pets than they care for orphans? PERCEPTION! Most people here don't think that orphans are more valuable than pets and most christians care more for their pets than orphans, widows and poor because their pets have something to OFFER them, e.g.: Loyalty, companionship, etc. Casting Crowns has a song called "While You Were Sleeping" that says: "United States of America, looks like another silent night, as we're sung to sleep by philosophies that save the trees and kill the children... America, will we go down in history as a nation with no room for its King, will we be sleeping?". Unfortunately, that's the reality not just in America but across the globe, pets and trees are more valuable than children and the church is SLEEPING! Soon, God will  "shake" the earth and the REAL church will WAKE UP! Haggai 2:6I have the privilege to be part (sponsor) of an amazing ministry called "Oasis For Orphans", a TRUE RELIGIOUS institution that is changing the lives of abandoned and needy children in Africa, giving them a future, treating them with love and respect. I love TRUE RELIGION and i think we as christians, should the be ones who care for the "least of these" (orphans, widows and poor). I'm not against having and caring for pets, i just think that human beings are more valuable than pets and if you call yourself a christian and care for pets but forsake the "least of these", what's the difference between you and the hypocrites (they loved themselves) who killed Jesus Christ? Don't you say you love God and your neighbor? I think is cool and right to save pets and trees but i think RIGHTEOUSNESS is saving and caring for PEOPLE! If you think I'm been harsh, wait until you meet JESUS CHRIST! I hope, instead of thinking that you are right by caring for everything else but the "least of these", that you become a RIGHTEOUS person and make a difference in the lives of the orphans, widows and poor, because if you do that, one day you will receive your reward: Matthew 25:31-40. Are you a Hipster Christian or a Righteous Christian?