Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Nothing To Lose!

I'd like to start this post with a simple (but profound) question: "What do you have to lose"? Think about it for a second: Would you be willing to lose (forsake) everything (for real) to follow Christ? As Christians, we use the Bible very lightly, as if the words we quote from the Bible had no real meaning or we just ignore the context. E.g.: Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength, Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me, etc. We are very good in "quoting" the Bible, but most of the time, we are very bad in "living" the Bible. I'd like to compare ourselves (for the most part), with a parrot. A parrot can learn to talk like a human and yet, will neve become a human being. When it comes to Christianity, we (Christians), like to play the "imitation game", we love to sing "meaningless" songs (if we're not living what we're singing, it's meaningless for us) even if those songs are full of extremely profound words and meaning. E.g.: "Where You go I go...", "I want to be like Jesus...", "Here I am down on my knees again, surrendering all, surrendering all...", etc. Jesus Christ never "sugar coated" His Gospel, HE IS the Gospel (Word of God)! When He taught His disciples, He "showed" them what He was saying and some of His teaching they only understood after His resurrection. For me (it's personal), one of the most profound and difficult to assimilate teachings is found in Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Let's think about the cross. The crucifixion, in Jesus' time, was the preferred roman way of punishment by death for the "criminals". It was (some say it still is) the most horrible way of dying. The word “excruciating” comes from "crucifixion". It was a slow, painful, shameful death. Since it's Easter (Passover) time, here in America, considering that we're still a "christian" nation (even if, as a nation, we have abandoned Christ to follow other gods, our temples are filled with entertainment and Jesus Christ is outside, at the door, knocking), we're constantly remembered about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The cross became a "symbol" in our religion, but, as Jesus said, it is much more than a symbol, it is for the Christian as it was for Jesus Christ (for Him it was literal). Jesus said: "I am the way...". The end of the earthly life of Jesus Christ was the cross and so it is for His followers (Christians). Whoever does not "deny him/herself" and "take up his/her cross", is not following Jesus Christ, that's an absolute truth! It's a lifestyle of going to the "church" (religious organization), talking about Jesus, singing "songs of joy", but it is not being Jesus' disciple (it's a slave of a man's religion). The purpose of "taking up" the cross, is to be crucified in that cross. Pay attention to what Paul says in Galatians 2:20 I have been..., that's a "present perfect tense" verb. "Present perfect tense" verbs are used for past actions that are related to or continue into the present, meaning: "I was and I am crucified with Christ". When I was born again, I was crucified, died and became a new creation. Today, I am still crucified (dead) in that same cross! Do you understand meaning of the cross (crucifixion)? So let's go back to the question, considering that you and I are dead in the cross: "What do we have to lose"? In the cross we lost it all! Self pride, self reliance, self ambition, self sufficiency, etc. We must die so Christ can live IN us and as Paul wrote, the life we MUST live is by faith ("without faith it is impossible to please God"). When in 1 Corinthians 15:31, Paul says "I die daily", he's not speaking literally, he's talking about what Jesus said in Luke 9:23 "take up your cross daily". If we don't understand that the cross is part of our daily lives, we'll NEVER allow Christ to live IN us. So, do you still have anything that you need to surrender (give up, to lose) in order to receive the life God has for you? Luke 9:23-26 Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels".

Monday, November 23, 2020

Yes, Amen and Faith.

2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. To corroborate this assurance, we can add other verses, like: Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Nowadays, we can hear many people, leaders or "commoners", saying words like this: "God is telling you this or that", "God sent me to tell you this or that", "God will do this or that", etc. I remember someone told me this story (I think it was my brother-in-law): "I was in a meeting, the pastor was very excited, preaching and calling people to be healed. I (the person) had a strong toothache at that moment, so I went to receive prayer and be healed. The pastor prayed, but at the end I was still feeling the pain, nothing changed. Than the pastor said that I wasn't healed because I didn't have faith. So I answered him: 'If I had faith why would I come to receive prayer? I would have prayed and be healed!'". I know that you might be thinking about what the Bible says about faith and remembering passages that talk about people being healed by their faith, like the woman who bled for 12 years and was healed after touching Jesus' garment, Jesus said to her: "Your faith has made you well". Also when Jesus didn't perform many signs and didn't heal many people because they didn't believe Him (lack of faith). What I'm trying to say is this: "One should never say that God will heal someone else and if the person is not healed, blame this person for not having enough faith". When God says He will do something, He will do that! The assurance is not in the person's faith, but in God Himself who promised! I have already written about God's promises for me that already happened (my son, for example), but now I want to tell you about something else God promised me. When I came from Illinois (I live in the USA), my brother (Pastor) had just started a Hispanic service in our church (Georgia), he found a hispanic pastor to lead the church and asked me to help him with the worship. So we started a worship group. After a while, one Sunday the pastor invited a friend of his, a singer, to preach and sing, she is from Cuba. She was preaching and singing, at one point she stopped speaking, looked at me and told me: "God is saying that He will give you the gift of writing songs, you must believe it". That's was not unusual for me, it happened other times, people looked at me and prophesied saying that "God was telling me...". I kept that in my heart. I tried writing songs before, wrote two songs, but was sure that I didn't have that gift. Well, again, the pastor invited another musician, he played harp and guitar. He introduced himself (that was weird) by saying that he had no clue what he was doing there, since he was an "acclaimed musician" and only played for "princes, kings, presidents and high authorities". He was doing his thing, when suddenly he stopped, looked at me, point to me and said: "God is telling you that He will give you the gift of writing songs, you will compose beautiful melodies. You must believe this because God will do it". I believed it because I heard the same thing before. Well, time passed, nothing happened, until I got injured in my job. Long story short, I hurt my knee (meniscus) and was out of work, from my couch to my bed for 3 months. This was the hardest time in my life. I Cried my heart out. No money for the surgery, sometimes just enough money for the basic things, just a hard time. But God told me He was going to reveal Himself as my Provider. God is good and faithful. We didn't lack anything during this time. God provided for the surgery, medication and all our needs. One day I was crying before God and heard clearly the Holy Spirit saying to me: "Get your Bible and your guitar". I barely did, I became an "one legged person"! So I opened my Bible, got the guitar and wrote a song. Next day these same happened. For a few days it happened just like that. Up to this day, I wrote about 30 songs in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Well, for a few years I tried to release those songs. Showed to different people, tried well-known artist, but without any success. Even already written a post called The Purpose, the Time and the Way", I still didn't fully realized what it says in Ecclesiastes 8:6 For there is a right time and way for every purpose. God already had prepared a time and way to release those songs. Few years ago I met a guy, Junior Amaral, here in Georgia, a friend introduced him and told me he was a song producer. I saw Junior once and never saw him again. I contacted him October 2019 but I didn't follow through. Then, in April 2020, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said that it was time to start releasing the songs and He was going to provide the means to do it, that I had to call Junior. So I did, I called him and he said things were very difficult in Portugal (where he lives), because the pandemic, the country was in a lock-down, that he and his wife were praying that God would send some help and I was an answer for their prayers. What can I tell you more than "God is amazing", "God is the provider"... So Junior started producing, arranging, playing and his wife Daniela sings some songs. Also, there's another friend , Viviane Wiederstein and her daughter, Isabela Zoe who sing some songs. God's been providing all we need to release our songs. So far, we have 10 songs released. Also, God told me very clear the day I wrote the first song, that I had to give those songs for free, He spoke very clear to me and reminded me that Bible verse, what Jesus said to His disciples: Matthew 10:8 ... Freely you have received; freely give. I know, nowadays, it's not popular to do it (it's countercultural), most things in Christianity are for sale (books, music, sermons, concerts, etc.) and you don't have to tell me about the cost to produce/release a song, book, sermon, etc., I know how hard and costly it is to do those things and I'm not judging or condemning anybody for doing it, but at the same time, I (that's personal) don't believe we, Jesus' disciples (those who are) should sell anything related to the Kingdom of God, because if you pay attention to the verse I quoted, that's a commandment! Jesus is not "suggesting" that His disciples would give it for free, He is commanding them! The same commandment applies to us, Jesus' disciples today. I grew up in the catholic church (until I was 8 or 9 years old) then my parents became evangelicals. At that time in the evangelical church, they used to say that the catholics even sold Jesus' mother. Today, the unfortunate truth, is that the evangelicals are trying to sell Jesus' father! I'm not being a fundamentalist, I'm just clarifying that God's Kingdom is not for sale! If you think that Jesus expelled the sellers, buyers and "merchandise" from the temple for no reason, you're mistaking. If you don't realize that YOU ARE THE HOUSE OF GOD and your heart is not a MARKETPLACE, you'll be in trouble when you meet Jesus! The reason there's so much buying and selling in christiany today, is because this COMMANDMENT is not taken seriously and also because most leaders don't see it as a commandment. If you disagree with me, answer this question: "How much did you pay God for the gift He gave you (whatever it is)?" If the answer is "Nothing" than this COMMANDMENT IS FOR YOU. If you paid Him anything, then this COMMANDMENT IS NOT FOR YOU. Please, pray about this. Our songs are available in all the major online stores for download and streaming. If you think that I'll profit from it, you're wrong! Our Ministry/Group is called "Boundless Love" and these are the songs released:


Here are some playlists:

I hope you'll be blessed by our songs and take it to heart that when you're committed to do God's will, He will provide for your needs.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Expecting the unexpected

"Expectation is the root of all heartache". William Shakespeare. I happened to disagree with this statement. If i may, let me correct it (i'm not trying to discredit or compare myself with Shakespeare): "Wrong expectation is the root of all heartache"! Of course i'm saying it in a Christian perspective. If you don't "expect" to receive something (faith), you'll receive nothing! James explained this when talking about wisdom, in James 1:7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. When he talks about wisdom, he says that the will of God is to give wisdom to everyone who asks for, but on the other hand, he says that if you don't have faith (assurance, certainty), you'll never receive it! James 1:5-6 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James goes further and says that this "double-minded" person won't receive anything from the Lord. Let's bring this to our daily lives: Let's say that we have a bank account (checking), in that account we have $1000. Let's say we need $100 cash to buy food (forget about the card). What do we do? We go to the bank and get the money, right? Why? Because we know we have $1000 in our account. This may sound silly but it is a reality. Let's say we don't have any money in the bank, but we are so confident that we will get the $100 we need to buy food that, even conscious that we have no money in the bank, we go to the bank to get the money. I'm speaking to reasonable people, will we ever go to the bank if we don't expect to get the money? If we're not crazy, we won't go because we already know we don't have any money in our account! But, let's say that i have a "phenomenal" expectation and, because i am a devoted christian dude, i "believe" (even if God didn't say or promised anything to me) i'll get the money and go to the bank anyways. Let's imagine this dialog between i and the cashier (teller): I: "I want $100". Cashier: "No can do it, Sir!" I: "Why not?" Cashier: "You don't have any money in your account! Nothing, nada, nein, 没有" I: "I expect to get $100 from you" Cashier: "You're crazy, get out before i call the cops". End of dialogue... Can you say i didn't have any expectation? No, it was a "phenomenal" expectation, but, i it was a wrong expectation! In that case, Shakespeare was right, it would have caused me a huge heartache and lots of aches if i argued with the cops. So, why our expectations, most of the time, are not met? Because they have no "foundation", no "grounds", they are just "wrong". So, why James says that "God gives generously to all without finding fault"? Because God's will is to give us wisdom, we just need to believe that. Once, in a prophecy, a prophet said i was "fluctuating like a yo-yo", or as James said, i was "like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind". That was I. Thank God the prophet also said: "because i decided to concentrate on God, God was blessing me and was going to use me". Check this post: Personal Testimony: Fasting. Why did I have so many "heartaches" before? Because of my wrong expectations! I've been learning with Jesus Christ to "expect what God is expecting", to "dream what God is dreaming", "to do what God is doing". This is the reason why Jesus Christ was 100% successful in His ministry. He said this: John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; He can do only what He sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does". That was Jesus Christ's "secret"! If i could tell you the many, many, many, many... times i had wrong expectations you would call me a fool, and you you'd be just right, because i was a fool! By the grace of God, i'm not that fool anymore, in fact, God has given me wisdom. My "take" is this: "Human wisdom is the capacity of managing one's own intelligence. God's wisdom is the capacity, given by God, of managing God's will for one's life". We are ALL intelligent human beings, but, we're not all wise human beings. So, going back to the title "expecting the unexpected", i believe God will not always reveal things beforehand, that's where faith kicks in, as it happened many times with me, God will tell us "Do this", "Say this", "Go there" but many times He will not tell us why. We must know "who" is speaking to us, "ourselves", "God", "devil", "people", as the Bible says: 1 Corinthians 14:10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. When we discern where the voice is coming from, undoubtedly, we won't have a "heartache". To expect the unexpected is to rely on God and sometimes, be surprised by what He will do, which is way more or different than we expected. Aren't you tired of been disappointed by people you trusted? Aren't you tired of heartaches caused by people who said they loved you? There's no friend like Jesus Christ, He will always be reliable, trustworthy, kind, generous, truthful, He will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. He will heal your wounds and give you new life, an abundant life. If you don't believe me, test it! I think the worst thing for us is to hear our own voice and think that is God's voice. That causes many heartaches and disappointments. So, "expectations based on God's will" are the key to never be disappointed and to receive what we ask for. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Three Stages of Faith

Just like the life itself, faith has also stages (phases). I'd like to share what god taught me about those stages and i would call those stages "Infant, Mature and Mature like a child" faith. First of all, let's see what's the Biblical definition of faith: Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Also let's find out what is the biblical source of the Christian faith: Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Resuming, the real Christian faith is the assurance that comes from hearing the word of Christ. We can either hear Christ's words by hearing the Bible or straight from Him. Question: How do we hear from Christ? Again, the answer is found in the Bible: Romans 10:14 How then will they call on (turn to) him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching (teaching)? So, the most common way to hear from Christ is hearing from someone sharing about Christ, but that's not the only way to hear from Christ. As you probably heard, in this last days, there are many people hearing from Christ Himself, trough visions and dreams. The other way, is hearing from the Holy Spirit, sent by Jesus Christ: John 16:7,15 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you; All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He (Holy Spirit) will take of Mine and declare it to you. To hear from the Holy Spirit is necessary to have intimacy with Him, the closer we get to Him, the more we hear from Him. Now let's talk about the three stages of faith:
1) Infant: 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready. In this context, Paul is calling the Corinthians "infants" and explaining why they were "infants". There were all kinds of gifts in the Corinthian Church, but also all kinds of sin. Because they had the gifts being active, they thought that was enough! Paul addressed that and explained that the gifts only reveal God's character, not the Corinthians one. This is also true for us, it doesn't matter how many gifts we have, if we don't have Christ's character, it mans nothing! And the essence of Christ's character is love. Because God is love! 1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
 2) Mature: Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Ephesians 4:13 Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. In the beginning of my christian life (i recounted this in some posts), the Holy Spirit spoke to me (taught me) about a subject and after that i open my Bible exactly in the text containing that subject (read post "Personal Testimony: Fasting"). Here the teaching was practical, the Holy Spirit led me to "practice" fasting and then taught me about it (usually the theory comes before the practice). But, as i grew in faith, the teaching got more profound, as when i prophesied to people, i had to believe that the things i spoke would come to pass, even if things were going good with them, as if i was going crazy by saying those things. That's why most people (with few exceptions) didn't believe what i said, for them, there was no way it could happen, but it did.
3) Mature like a child: Matthew 18:3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. I have something to share that fits this "stage of faith": Once the Holy Spirit told me that we (I and my wife) would leave the church and go to another one. I believed it and spoke to the pastor. Problem was that the Holy Spirit didn't say where to go, so, when i spoke to the pastor he was shocked. As i was part of the worship team, he asked me to talk to my fellow worshipers. When i told 'em that we were leaving, not knowing where to go, some were very "unkind" (not to say rude) and refused to believe that the Holy Spirit spoke to me. But i was immovable in decision to obey. In our last Sunday at this church, the pastor again asked me about where we were going to, i told him that i didn't know, so he kindly gave me a list of the churches (american and hispanic ones) around our area (Lake County, Illinois). We left not knowing where to go. So i started praying even more about it and one day i was reading that booklet and found a church right by my town, in a township that i didn't even know that existed and the Holy Spirit told me to go to that church (a small hispanic church). Next Sunday, we went there, as i entered the sanctuary, the Holy Spirit spoke to me saying that we were to stay there for a little while. During the service, the pastor asked us to stand and introduce ourselves. We did and told 'em that we were originally from Brazil and were visiting 'em. Next Sunday, we came back. At the end of the service i asked the pastor to talk with him. We went to his office and before i said anything, he started speaking: "When you entered the sanctuary and i saw you, God told me you were the guy He was bring to lead the worship team, because we were praying for a while for a leader and God said He was going to bring a worship leader. You are God's answer to our prayers. Besides, when you said you were brazilians, God remembered a promise He made for us (family). He is going to send us to Brazil. God told me He didn't forget about it. But, let me tell you something, you are going to be here for a little while and God tells you to leave, just leave!" I started crying because from the beginning was very painful the decision to obey and leave the church where i was born again and go to an unknown church. That's a genuine Mature like a child kinda faith, when you decide to obey no matter what, to believe to impossible, to trust "God will make a way where there seems to be no way", as the song goes. This is what Jesus is talking about when He said to "become like a little children", to trust without hesitation.
 How to receive what we ask for? Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. 1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence (assurance) we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him. That's the key, asking according to God's will. Then you ask: "How can i know His will?" By knowing God! The more we know Him, the more He reveals His will for us. On the post that i showed above, there are specific things that God revealed about His will to my life.
 How to receive without asking?: Psalm 37:4-5 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. The best example i have is my son (read post "Personal Testimony: My Son"). I always desired to have a son but never wanted to get married, of course, that was not God's plan. First, He gave me a wife and then, even if my wife couldn't get pregnant, He (God) intervened and gave us a son. If you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart that are in accord with His will.
Some examples of Faith in the Bible: Abraham (Genesis 12), Abel (Hebrews 11:4, Genesis 4).

ConclusionReal Faith is always according to the Will of God, and if faith doesn't lead to works, it is dead: James 2:26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

On The Mount Of The Lord It Shall Be Provided.

Genesis 22:14 So Abraham called the name of that place, "The Lord will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided". The context of this verse is when God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. This story is very profound, because until this point, Abraham had been faithful to the Lord, even having another son, Ishmael, which was not what God intended for him, yet, everything God told him he did. Abraham had been growing in faith by walking WITH God. But God's plan for Abraham was for him to be "blameless" (perfect, guiltless, impeccable, etc.). So, at this point Abraham already knew the Lord enough to believe that Isaac was not the sacrifice God wanted and that even if he (Abraham) had to kill his son, God was going to fulfill His promise and had the power to raise Isaac from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named". He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. What is very interesting to me, is that it took three days to get from the place Abraham was to the mount of God. Do you perceive the resemblance between Jesus Christ's and Isaac's sacrifice? Jesus LITERALLY rose from the dead in the third day and Isaac FIGURATIVELY rose from the dead in the third day. We can say that in this manner Isaac was a "shadow" of Christ. Through Abraham God was announcing the death of His Son, the "Perfect Lamb of God" for the redemption of our sins. I always wondered about the meaning of this saying: "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided". Is the mount a literal place? Is it a symbolic place? What could we call "the mount of the Lord" today? To me (personal), this saying refers to a "place closer to God", the higher in the mountain, the closer to God. Moses had an encounter with God on Mount Sinai; Elijah had an encounter with God on Mount Carmel; Jesus had and encounter with God on the mount of transfiguration (some say it was Mount Hermon). Those are some account about men of God meeting their God, for them it was a literal place. For us today, not always is possible to go to a mountain to encounter God, so, the mountain can be any place where we can be quiet in God's presence, as Jesus Christ said: Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. We christians, most of the time try to "sanctify" a place, as if God really cared about the place. Sometimes, we've been living a selfish lifestyle and yet "go to the mountain" thinking God will someway, somehow, overlook our lifestyle and send "fire" on us. God is so merciful that He doesn't send "fire", otherwise we would be "consumed" (killed), not "purified". The closer we are to God, the more we will experience His provision. Intimacy with God brings us everything we need. That's what Jesus said: Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Is Jesus saying that we don't need to work? Of course not! He is talking about "where the provision comes from". According to Jesus, our provision comes from God. Yes, we need to work! But if we cannot work (disabled), we don't have a job, etc., What shall we eat or wear? Again, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided". If we are the "house of God", 1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, would God NOT provide for His own house? Lack of faith creates anxiety. The times when we are the weakest are the times when we see the most of God's faithfulness, His provision, His love, His care, His goodness. If we don't trust God is because we don't know Him, the more we know Him the more we will trust Him. Abraham is referred as the "father of faith" because one day, he decided to "take the first step": Genesis 12:1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to To a land that I will show you, and "step-by-step" he walked WITH God and became His friend: James 2:23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness". And he was called the friend of God. Next time when you sing that song "I am a friend of God...", think about what it took to Abraham to be called "friend of God".

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Walk Before Me And Be Blameless.

Last Sunday i was visiting a local Baptist Church and the youth pastor was in charge of preaching. He started saying that for 20 years he DID the work of God as a pastor, to him, all those years he did it right. Then, after 20 years he realized that what he did (work), was something FOR God, not WITH God. few weeks before, God started speaking to him about the ministry. One day at the youth ministry, he was asking the kids about working for God, when one of the kids said something that shook his "faith": Working WITH God instead of working FOR God. Paul wrote this in 1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are co-workers in God’s service. Co-worker means: A person with whom one works. The work (service) belongs to God and we suppose to work WITH Him, being Him the Head (Leader). The weekend of this account, the youth group had a "retreat", Friday night they went to a meeting with youth groups of other Baptist Churches in the vicinity. When the speaker started "preaching", this youth pastor said he was "blown away", because he heard the preaching he had prepared for Sunday morning, even showed to his kids his sermon's outline. The speaker's preaching was all about "working WITH God". Sunday's preaching was very profound, probably a few believers in the church really understood what he was talking about. Anyways, since we set our feet in the "church", we are taught that we must DO something FOR God. IF WE DON'T DO, WE ARE NOT! What i mean is this: IF WE DON'T GOOD DEEDS, WE ARE NOT CHRISTIANS. Don't get me wrong, IF WE DON'T GOOD DEEDS, WE ARE NOT CHRISTIANS! Let me explain the difference between the two statements: Doing good deeds do not make someone a christian, BECAUSE WE ARE christians WE DO good deeds. Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Good deeds are the result (fruits) of the "new birth". Jesus explained this in Matthew 7:17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. I wrote about this in this post: "The Tree, the Branch and the Fruit". To work FOR God is not the same as to work WITH God, to walk FOR God is not the same as to walk WITH God. Let's give an example: You can "Walk to End Alzheimer's" (annual event) and yet not be "engaged" to "end Alzheimer's". You can walk just because you "like" walking, because it is a "good cause", but you heart is not committed to "end Alzheimer's". A good example of this is Abram: Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless". To walk before means to have a "relationship", "to walk with". On the other hand, we cannot walk before God unless we walk by the Spirit, Galatians 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Only if we walk by the Spirit we will be blameless. What does it mean to walk by the Spirit? It means to walk by faith: 2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. But how can we trust (faith) God if we don't know Him? How can we know Him if we don't have a relationship with  (walk before) Him? Since the beginning God wanted to have a relationship with mankind, Adam broke it, Jesus Christ restored it. In Christ we can walk before Him and if we walk by the Spirit we will be blameless. John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent". Our work is to believe in Jesus Christ and to walk by faith. Unfortunately, we make things hard for ourselves and for the new believers. When we're born again, we're "on fire", we "walk by faith", we "love" our neighbor, we are willing to "die" for Christ, etc. As time goes by, the "fire extinguishes", the "faith" becomes "works", the "love" becomes mere "acceptance" and we're not even willing to "live" for Christ, much less, to "die" for Him. We must "go back to our first love". Read also the post: "Go Back to Your First Love!".

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Fly and the Perfume

Ecclesiastes 10:1 As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. The word perfume comes from the Latin "per fumum" which in English means "through smoke". The ancients used to burn herbs, which released various scents, it was in this context that the word "perfume" came to exist. Whenever i read Ecclesiastes 10:1, i remember Paul's words: 2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. In the wilderness, God told Moses to make "incense" to burn in the altar (tabernacle): Exodus 30:7 Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. God was specific on what to use and how to do it: Exodus 30:34-35 And the Lord said to Moses: "Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each. You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy". God did not permit any personal use of this incense: Exodus 30:37-38 But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition. It shall be to you holy for the Lord. Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people. Scriptures tells us that the burning of incense was a type of prayers going up to God. Revelation 5:8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 8:3-4 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Now, let's talk about the "flies". One of the plagues in Egypt, the fourth plague, was a judgment against the Egyptian god called uatchit, the "fly god". Another ancient god (idol) was baal-zebub of Ekron, the lord of the "fly". Later, baal-zebub was know as the "prince of demons", as in the Gospels (Matthew 10:25; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15). Before writing this post i didn't know how bad even the house flies can become, this is what i learned: "House flies are strongly suspected of transmitting at least 65 diseases to humans, including typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, poliomyelitis, yaws, anthrax, tularemia, leprosy and tuberculosis. Flies regurgitate and excrete wherever they come to rest and thereby mechanically transmit disease organisms". Wow, before i thought they were just annoying. Now let's talk about the "bad smell". If a decomposing fly can give a perfume a bad smell, so our sins can give us a "bad smell" (lose "Christ's fragrance"). Whenever our sins are not dealt with (repentance), they start "corrupting" our values and morals, until they become "part" of our conduct (practical sin). What would be "Christ's fragrance" in us? To me, it means Christ's character (fruit of the Spirit) being displayed through us. When we show love, joy, peace, etc., towards other people, we are "exhaling" Christ's fragrance, people can "smell" Christ in us. When there are "practical sins" (iniquity), instead of "exhaling" Christ's fragrance, we will "exhale" the devil's "bad odor". Jesus Christ addressed this issue when talking to the pharisees: John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. So, don't be deceived, as a "little fly in the perfume", so it is a "little lie" in your life, and believe me, there's no such thing as a "white lie". As the TRUTH came through Jesus Christ, so the LIE comes from the devil. Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. Through Isaiah, God is saying that our "practical sins" (iniquities) give us a "bad smell", so God won't hear our prayers. 2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. Can people "smell" Christ's fragrance in you? Are your prayers ascending to God as an "incense"? Are you "displaying" Christ's character to other people? It is very easy to be a light in a sunny day or a good fragrance in the midst of a flowery garden, in other words, to be a believer in the church. But, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:15 ... among those who are perishing, are you the "fragrance of Christ" among the unsaved? Are you the "light" in this present darkness"? Are you the "salt" of this insipid world?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Revival: Cause and Consequence.

I remember as if was yesterday. I was part of a small hispanic church in Illinois, a "family" kinda church, the one where people "spend" themselves taking care of one another, where needs are  promptly met. At this time, we started praying, we had prayer 6 days a week. The most amazing thing was that we didn't have an "agenda", no "script", just prayer and worship. As time went by, we started seeing God's move among us, we saw things that i never heard before (doesn't mean it never happened),  PRAYING WAS A PLEASURE! We delighted in God's presence, there was days of joy, days of extreme brokenness and days of peace were we just stayed in God's presence without saying anything (started praying and this happened). I already spoke about this in other post, so on this one I will talk about what brings revival and what it does to the people involved in it. In our case, we MISSED God's revival, sadly,  we're were unprepared for it. Let's talk about the real revival they had in the Early Church (Acts 2). Where did it start? The answer is: With John the Baptist! He was the "pioneer", the one who open the way for the Lord. It was prophesied by Isaiah many years before his birth: Isaiah 40:3 A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God". What did John the Baptist preached? REPENTANCE! Please, read the Gospels about it, you'll see that REPENTANCE is the "foundation" (cornerstone) of a true revival. Then came Jesus Christ and in his "first sermon" He preached REPENTANCE: Matthew 4:12-17 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned". From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "REPENT, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". See that Jesus didn't started His preaching with another "subject", He continued were John the Baptist stopped. From this point Jesus announced the Kingdom of God. So REPENTANCE is the first step towards a true revival. The second step is UNITY (oneness). Only after achieving repentance we can have unity. Jesus in His last priestly duty, prayed to the Father for His disciples to become ONE as He (Jesus) and the Father are one: John 17:21 That they may all be ONE, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. Paul describe very well what Jesus prayed, when he taught about the "church as a body": 1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. In this chapter, Paul talks about the need for the church to be one, as our body is one, though we have different members in our bodies. Pay attention to yourself and see how amazingly perfect your body works, when there is any problem (sickness, brokenness, etc.) you feel the effects (or should i say "defects"). Because we failed to understand and practice UNITY,  our churches are defectives! The "organization" (we call church) works wonderful, but the "organism" (body of Christ inside the organization) is malfunctioning. The "main" problem (malfunction), is that the HEAD (Jesus Christ) is out of place, as Jesus Himself said to the church of Laodicea: Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Sad as it sounds, many times Jesus Christ is at the door of our churches, we don't even allow Him to enter, much less to be the Head of the Church. The third step is LOVE: Colossians 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Love is the only thing that will keep us together, will "bind" our hearts towards one another. Paul tells us that we can have every gift, gain everything and yet without love we will gain nothing (nothing will remain). I believe revival is not an easy thing to accomplish, but the "formula" God gave to a true revival never changed, even knowing it from the back of our minds, we fail to practice it, that's the reason we don't experience revival as the Early Church did: 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Of course you are intelligent enough to realize that even with the revival the Early Church experienced (2 Chronicles 7:14), God didn't heal Israel (political land), maybe that's why even John the Baptist was "disappointed" when he was in jail, the nation (Israel) was expecting a POLITICAL MESSIAH, someone who was going to restore the political kingdom. In fact Jesus restored the Kingdom, just as He said, His Kingdom was not of this world. Nowadays, there are many prophets "prophesying" that God will "restore" our nation (country) when the Bible says that this world (system) lies in the power of the devil: 1 John 5:19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. Besides, Jesus Christ said that when He returns, the world will be like in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot, any expectation that things will turn good is a false expectation. Things maybe temporarily good, but don't be deceived, they are not. The LAND God wants to heal is our lives, He is interested in saving lives, restoring lives, to give us eternal life. John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. The Consequences of the revival in the Early Church is described in Act 2, they "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved". The Church was alive, had no physical or spiritual needs, they were ONE BODY being Jesus Christ the HEAD!

Friday, October 19, 2018

The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet

This is one of the most profound and misunderstood subject in the whole Bible. I, myself, had a hard time understanding this matter, to be honest, it took me about 18 years, since the first time i came across with this subject. Why did it take so long? Because it is IMPOSSIBLE to understand (discern) the profound meaning of this biblical passage, the understanding comes only by revelation (by the Holy Spirit), which i had in this past few days. Let me humbly try to make as clear as possible, what the Holy Spirit taught me: A couple weeks ago, I was working all by myself those days, and one day this Bible verse came to my mind: 1 Corinthians 14:32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. Again, I try to "logically" understand the meaning, but as always, it was too much to understand, thank God, at this time, the Holy Spirit started teaching me about "spirit, soul and body". He led me to Genesis, to the creation of man: Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Pay attention to what you're reading. First: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground...", here is talking about the body, our body came from dust and to dust will return (physical death) : Genesis 3:19...For out of dust you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return. Second: "...and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life", here the Bible is talking about the spirit of man, or his "life" (this is what this post is all about). Third: "and man became a living being", that's his soul (consciousness, emotions, etc.). I know this subject is very profound and people have different opinions (beliefs) about it, so, I'm not here trying to persuade you to believe what i'm writing, please, read and pray about it and let the Holy Spirit speak to you. Let's talk about about "spirit". First of all, all starts in and with God: John 4:24 God is Spirit... See that, in the beginning, we were created in God's image (attributes or character traits, not divinity) and because God is Spirit, we were created spiritual beings, and in his "likeness", we were also created to be persons (with personality). Therefore, One God, three Persons (Triune God). We also are three distinct parts (not persons): Spirit, soul and body. The best passage in the Bible to explain the difference between body, soul and spirit is John 11, where it talks about Lazarus' death and resurrection. Martha said he was dead for four days, there was a stench, because Lazarus was already decomposing (it is impossible to be more dead than that). His brain was dead (not just unconscious), meaning, his soul (consciousness, emotions, etc.) wasn't in the body anymore. So, to what "part" of Lazarus Jesus was talking when he called him out? To Lazarus' spirit! His spirit heard Jesus' voice and react (life), then his soul (consciousness) react, but his body had to be made new again (it was decomposing). Got it? let's dive even deeper: Ephesians 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. What type of death Paul is talking about? The spiritual death! The death God spoke to Adam that would happened if he ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Adam physically died many, many years later). When (if you did) you were born again, were you physically dead, brain dead or even unconscious? Of course not, but you, as much as I, were spiritually dead. I wrote a post about the steps to new birth, called "Enlightenment: The Power to Become a Child of God". Read also the passage were Jesus explains to Nicodemus about the new birth. In 1 Corinthians 2:11 For what man knows the things (thoughts) of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God, Paul is talking our spirit, that our spirit knows everything about us. Jesus says this about our spirit:
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing (ready), but the flesh is weak. I had an experience this past few days, where everything the Holy Spirit was teaching me came alive (real), it was one of the most "profound" experience I ever had (spiritually speaking). Let me try to recount it: My older sister was filling ill and had to be hospitalized, her appendix had burst, it happened few days before, she already had infections because of it, just the fact that she was still alive, it was already a miracle. At the hospital she had surgery to remove the infection, she was treated and was sent home under medication. At home, after a few days, she had a condition (some would call hallucination, schizophrenic, psychotic or nervous breakdown), I would call it "spiritual takeover". Why is that? Because I literally saw her spirit taking control of her soul (consciousness) and body, something I've never seen before. She was speaking all the time, and according to my brother-in-law, she was like that for almost 24 hours. I started listening to what she was saying, some words came from God, no doubt about it, but some did not! Then it was like Paul's experience, a veil was taken from my eyes, the Bible verse about "the spirit of the prophet (person) being subject to the prophet (person)" made sense for the first time in my life, i saw before my eyes the spirit of my sister taking control of her, she couldn't subject her own spirit. It was like a tornado were the wind cannot be controlled (subjected). I stood there speechless, trying to discern when was a word from the Holy Spirit and when it was a word from her spirit. Then all of a sudden, came a thought in my mind to pray, lay hands on her head and minister peace, quietness and rest to her spirit. When i did that, she looked at me, closed her eyes and was able to rest (keep quiet for a while). Then i realized how profound was that experience. All those years trying to understand it, and it only took a few minutes to get it. Now everything make sense to me, all the words (prophecies) i heard in the past that i knew were "spiritual", but at the same time I knew it didn't come from the Holy Spirit, it didn't come from the devil either, some prophecies were just Bible verses that the "prophet" thought were for us, even if (i knew that) God was speaking something different, because our CONTEXT and TIME, also because everything God was doing IN and AMONG us. We fail many times because we don't discern (understand) the will of God (purpose), the time and His way (read the post "The Purpose, the Time and the Way"). Please understand what i'm saying, the whole Bible is God's word, except for a few parts, where, for example, Paul clearly says that is coming from him: 1 Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. So, let me try to be even clearer: Nowadays, there is a "teaching" that is becoming more and more prevalent, that "everyone" is a prophet, you just have to get the Bible and start "prophesying" what the Bible says. Again, this teaching is new, it wasn't in our churches decades ago. Of course, just like every other teaching, the ones who are teaching this, have their own view (belief) about the subject, and try to prove that what Paul said does not apply to this view. So, what did Paul say? 1 Corinthians 12:29-31 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.  If you're just a little intelligent (everyone is), you know that's a rhetorical question. So, why even in light of this passage those people insist that every believer is a prophet? That answer is very complicated, because it is a matter of belief! Just like the pre, mid and post-tribulation, you can prove you point if you know the "right" Bible verses! God used me many times with "prophecy", that's why to me (personal belief), not everyone is a prophet, only those God called them to be! Of course, the Holy Spirit can come over a person and lead the person to prophesy, for example, king Saul: 1 Samuel 19:24 He stripped off his garments, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night. This is why people say, "Is Saul also among the prophets"? What do you say, was king Saul a prophet? To be "among" prophets, pastors, miracle workers and apostles does not make you one of them! God's calling and gits do not come by osmosis (the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, knowledge, etc). It comes through "impartation" (read the post "Impartation: You Can Only Give What You Have!"). If you have the gift of tongues (I don't have it), you know that you can "control" (subject) when to start and to stop speaking in tongues and maybe you never stop to think about it, since after a while, it became "natural" for you. Now, in light of everything i said here, you know that when you're speaking in tongues you are allowing "your spirit" to take over your body!!! How crazy is that??? That's why your mind becomes "unfruitful" (barren, unproductive, inactive). 1 Corinthians 14:14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. In the same manner, when a demon "possesses" a person, this wicked spirit (demon) shuts off the person's mind (understanding), it becomes unfruitful (barren, unproductive, inactive), the demon then uses the person's body. Then you ask, "what about that person's spirit"? If your asking this question is because you didn't understand the text you read above, so here we go again: Ephesians 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. What about that person's spirit? According to God, the person's spirit is dead! The person is spiritually dead! The person still have the "breath of life", as written in Genesis 2:7, but because Adam's sin, the person is spiritually dead. What about Adam, you ask? Easy to answer: Adam was not the "final product" God intended him to be. Adam had to choose between life and death (spiritually speaking), symbolized by the tree of life and the tree of good and evil, which trees, symbolized Jesus Christ and satan. 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. The reason God placed cherubs in the garden's entrance, was to block men from entering and eating the tree of life, then sealing his choice and never having a change to be born again. As for my sister, when she went back to the hospital she was diagnosed with pneumonia, besides the infection that was still in her body. In her case, I believe (and that is personal), that her spirit knew what was going on, that she was going to die if wasn't treated soon. God is good, all the time, even when we don't realize, He is taking care of us. We need to pray for discernment (knowledge) more than ever before, and seek the knowledge of God and His word: Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me. Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

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.