What do we Really Deserve?


“The best Medicine against Many of our Headaches”

 

            I am learning that the “bad things” we face in life; whether self inflicted, a product of demonic attacks or the testings of the Lord; are all designed to bring out the junk that is already in our hearts. We waste too much time blaming others and making excuses for our exposed ugliness, but at the end of the day, it is God bringing our hidden “stuff” to light in order change us. We fail to understand that we must die to ourselves. This is not an option, this is not a recommendation; it is indeed a Biblical MUST! It is so easy to adapt a victim mentality when faced with troubles and injustices. Many times we use those uncomfortable experiences to justify our carnality based on what we have been through. However, when we look at things through the glass of the word of God and not through the glass of our opinions or the cultural values of our society, we run into a very rude awakening. It is then that we find ourselves so full of self and so far away from Biblical truth that we adapt value systems that are totally against the truth of God. It is that value system that sets us up for great failures and disappointments as we begin to live away from the righteousness and holiness of God.

            Very often we hear people saying: “I deserve this and I deserve that,” so they go after those things with all of their hearts. We even set expectations on what people should and should not do for us. James 4:1-3 reminds us the danger of these selfish desires and expectations:

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

             So what do we deserve? The answer to this question is the root of many of our troubles or the declaration of our freedom. Because “…we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” according to Romans 3:23; we deserve eternal punishment according to Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…” When we get an understanding of what we really deserve we can no longer use the sins committed against us as an excuse to whine and act like now we have a green light to do and say whatever we want. America is filled with an entitlement mentality based on the social injustices committed in the past; these behaviors are expected from the none-Christian community. We as Christians however, must understand that whatever injustices we face, whatever bad marriage we are engaged in, whatever position we did not get, whatever rumors are spread about us, whatever discrimination we suffered, whatever tragedy we endure, whatever unjust accusations we find ourselves victims of and whatever ugly thing you can think of, these things are nothing compared to what we really deserve. My brother, my sister, we deserve ETERNAL PUNISHMENT.

 

What Are You Waiting For?


What good is it if the boxer spends hours in the gym, but never competes; never even engages in a sparring session? What good is it if the baseball player only plays catch; or if the quarterback never throws the ball? So then, what good is it, if a Christian is doing nothing for the expansion of God’s Kingdom? It amazes me how mystical we are when it comes down to serving God. We jump into a job in a minute just because it pays us a little more, we engage in ungodly relationships just because she or he looks good. We even move out of a city or even a country looking for better opportunities without much thought. However, when it comes down to serving God in any capacity… “Oh, we are not ready,” is what we commonly say!

What are we waiting for? A revival? A move of God? The next wave? To get this or that straight in our lives? For our troubles to go away? For our characters to be fix? If you are waiting on these things, you will never serve God! How long did Jesus wait before using His disciples for the expansion of God’s Kingdom? Think about it!

Now, I understand that the boxer doesn’t go for the world’s title on his first fight; that we don’t become professional baseball players and NFL stars overnight. We all have to go through the amateur process, get a little stronger, be involved with the minor leagues first, etc. The point is that these professional athletes did not become stars by dedicating their lives to the art of the “Couch Potato,” they all started somewhere.

“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things…’ (Matthew 25:21)

Wake up and do something! Stop the excuses, stop talking so much, stop criticizing without giving tangible and practical solutions, stop complaining and stop acting like Monday-night-quarterbacks. Ministry is not only a privilege, but ministry is also a personal responsibility as we respond gratefully to the goodness of our God in our lives. It is the “loving your neighbor” thing, remember? Take a good look at your talents and start right there! Your talents and abilities are the path that will take you to your ultimate calling. If you are doing nothing for the Kingdom of God, your faith is dead!

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26)

The Indescribable Love and Faithfulness of God


Do you doubt God’s love for you? Are you convinced of His love and faithfulness towards a fallen humanity? Consider these facts from God’s Word:

     In the Garden of Eden, God showed us His idea of the true “Good Life”. He told us to be fruitful, to conquer, to enjoy, to care for, and to have dominion over the Garden.

     Through Adam, mankind opened the door for the Enemy to battle our minds, striking our heels and affecting our stride. From the beginning, God provided a window for us to view His redemptive plan for repairing the tragedy of a fallen humanity.

     Through Noah, God gave us the rainbow as a symbol that He would not give up on His quest to bring salvation to mankind. No matter what we do, the rainbow still stands as a supernatural symbol of hope, reminding us that God is still working in us and through us.

     Through Abraham, God showed us the power of one man’s faith. In His awesomeness, God gave us a new and peculiar nation and made them an object of His favor. It is through Israel that God’s blessing continues to be released to the world, even today.

     Through Moses, God revealed His high standards, His power, His expectations and His heart. Through His precious law, His ways were made clearer to mankind. He provided humanity with wonderful blessings and terrifying curses, and gave us the choice of which path to take. His law shows humanity the bleak existence we have without Him, but his immeasurable love stands as a banner of hope for those who accept Him.

     Through David, God established His kingdom forever and announced to the world the coming of the King of kings. When all hope was almost vanished, and the descendants of David were no more, Jesus opened the Covenant to the world.

     Through Christ, the veil of the old is broken and the new wine is served. Through the Holy Spirit, the law is no longer external, but speaking softly in our minds and written in our hearts. We can now see for ourselves the magnitude and splendor of our God, and His indescribable love and faithfulness.

Do you Consider Yourself a Leader?


 “Two Fundamental Characteristics of an Effective Leader”

            In this article we will be able to see that being a leader goes beyond telling people what do. We will be able to see that just having people following you is not enough.

         Many followers are satisfied with this concept of just following somebody, because it takes away the responsibility that they also have to do their part in God’s Kingdom. This mentality seems to also satisfy many of our current leaders as they are comfortable with the idea of members over disciples.

             All seems to be about the number of members and the size of the building. It is perhaps the reason why in our churches we have so many brothers and sisters doing absolutely nothing with their God-given talents.

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” Mathew 4:18-20 (KJV)

Let’s consider the following points:

1.    An effective leader is able to see in people the potential that few are able to see.

 

        Jesus reached out to a completely disqualified group of folks according to the world’s standards. Why? Because Jesus was able to see beyond their current condition.

 

2.    An effective leader invests in the process of building up people to the realization of their call in life. 

 

            Many leaders feel that all they need to prove in order to show that they are leaders is to have people following them.  As we look closely at these kinds of leaders we quickly notice that they have a new group of people following them by the month, as others leave them by the week. They are unable to keep followers for too long. Why? Because these leaders are emphasizing in the “Follow Me Mentality;” the “Serve Me Mentality,” the, “It’s all About Me Mentality” and the “I tell you what to do Mentality.”

          Jesus did not only say, “Follow me.” Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus invested in these men and out of twelve disciples He kept eleven, who were faithful to Him until the very end. Even through the many persecutions and hatred from the world, they stood faithful until the end.

            We conclude then, that the greatest evidence of an effective leader is found in the productivity of his/her spiritual children; not in the number of followers and the size of your building. If you are a leader reading this article today, asks yourself this question: If you die today, who is ready to take your place? Jesus’ disciples shined the brightest after Jesus was gone; but they shined with God’s glory; the only glory that counts.

          You can’t be an effective leader if you are intimidated by your disciples; you can’t be an effective leader if you are jealous of your spiritual sons and daughters; if you are afraid of letting them go. A mature leader understands that all glory belongs to our God. Jesus understood these principles and was not afraid of saying…

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

John 14:12 (KJV)

           

Beyond the Red Roses of Valentine’s Day


(First Corinthians 13:7-8)

In an age with so many disturbing definitions of love; everybody loving everything everywhere; it is so easy to move away from what love really is. It is so easy to engage in the confusion of this world and lose sight of what is beyond the red roses of Valentine’s Day. This secular approach of love will give you very little to gain even if you spend millions. It is this love that survives in the better, but always flees in the worst.

The love that I am writing about is the love that gladly gives it all without hidden agendas. A love that gives, expecting nothing in return. It is the love that sacrifices, the love that carries the heavy burden of longsuffering, the love that is able to see your greatness in the Lord beyond your current humanity, and the love that sets our own dreams on hold for the sake of our brother. It is an unselfish love that can’t be comprehended by the world: it is in fact what should separate us from them.

It is easy to go through life without ever having to really prove this kind of love. A love where you can find yourself satisfied with a sporadic hug; growing up in a typical American family where everything is well; children growing up normal with no major issues. To see the day, to see the night, to see death, to see our existence, to see the normal victories, the sure failures, frustrations and shortcoming of life, but never having to prove anything.

What would we do if placed in Abraham’s position as he was getting ready to sacrifice Isaac?  Would we send any of our children away for the sake of loving God and protecting His promises to a nation that our eyes will not even see as Abraham sends away his oldest son Ishmael? Are we willing to give up anything for the sake of our wives? The thought of loving this way terrifies me! The thought of having to prove my love by sacrificing my life and what is important to me for the sake of love, agonizes my soul. This love suffers long (1 Corinthians 13:4). Who wants to suffer? Is there anyone raising their hands? This Love tells us to lay down our lives for our brothers (1 John 3:16). Who volunteers for that one?

Do you feel that you are bearing much? Do you believe the impossible as everybody ridicules you? Do people doubt your sanity because you hope for what seems to be hopeless and because you endure what you should be getting out of? Are you known as delusional for standing in great expectation of victory when all they see is defeat all around you? The Lord tells you this day: “Keep going! No matter what people say; no matter the pain; no matter how things look like; no matter where you find yourself…Love never fails! Your victory is sure; your reward is great! Your love goes beyond the red roses of Valentine’s Day.”

Are You Ready for the Next Storm or for a Great Crash?


Many of us have seen the two paths so very clearly; one focusing on self and the other on God. One is sold out to the loud counsel of our will, our emotions, our feelings and our desires. The other path show us an ugly cross resting on top of the horizon line. That cross seems so un-important, un-charismatic, un-attractive and distant.  Little-by-little, we move away from it, distracted by the affairs and tribulations of life.  The deceitfulness in the boat-of-self has carried us so far away from the way of the Master. Our hearts feel so cold. The waves of bad decisions and the arrogance of our will, has left us without a sense of direction. We are unable to find the compass that faithfully points to the north, to the way up.

            Many of us have experience some storms in our lives and have developed an arrogant confidence that the house of our character is strong enough to stand against the rain of bad news and terrible circumstances. We have even redirected the rivers with our own ways, as we defiantly challenge the natural flow of nature. We foolishly look out the window as the winds blow, beating against our homes with great fury. Our will, our emotions, our feelings and our desires were strong enough to carry us through some severe weather as they were tangled up with our well groomed forms of godliness. But the day of the perfect storm is near and at that hour many will be like the foolish men destined for a great crash:

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them to practice

is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat

against that house and it fell with a great crash.” (Matt. 7:26-27)

 

            Self will always crash! When are we going to learn that? When our will is locked on self, when our emotions take the place of the guidance of the Holy Spirit; when our feelings become our light and our desires carry the crown of our hearts, falling with a great crash is inevitable. Matthew 10:39 gives us an answer that is totally contrary to the “I did it my way” mentality of the world and at the same time, gives us the formula for real success: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

            This means that we are called to live a life consecrated to the realization of other’s dreams; a life that does not look for his own, a life of one who does not defend himself, that never makes it about him or her, that is not interested in wining; but a life who is fully aware of what pleases the Lord and has given him or herself to that purpose. Perhaps you already faced that shameful crash and now you look around at the sudden destruction and how all that you thought was significant is now gone. That my friend, could be the end of self and the beginning of a great castle for the glory of God, an unmovable castle with a strong foundation on Jesus, strong enough to resist any storm; a castle that will never crash, not because of your strength, but because of the strength of our King.

Are You Bored?


“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

            In life, we attach ourselves to so many things; our jobs, our families, our hobbies, our cars, the way we look, our clothing, our “Toys” etc. We passionately hold on to many things that are not necessarily bad according to society. However, our un-negotiable attachment should be to God and to God alone.

            Our faithfulness will be measured according to our obedience to God. Many are doing the same things for years; they live in the same neighborhood, they have the same friends that look like them, they have the same jobs year after year, holding on to the same boring position. Yet, perhaps in your funeral someone will characterize you as faithful? However, God is a God of change; a God that takes us from glory to glory, a God of risk, a God that takes us from revelation to revelation, from level to level, God is an exciting God.

            Are you bored? Is it hard for you to wake up in the morning to go to work?  Are you sure you are where you are supposed to be? Perhaps God is calling you for something new. Perhaps today God is dealing with you about resigning from your current job and accepting that new job; perhaps today God is dealing with you about accepting that promotion; everybody can see that you are ready, but you are afraid that you will fail! Perhaps God is calling you to a new kind of ministry or to do something different with the ministry you already have, but you keep insisting on holding on to what you know and refuse to surrender to the one who knows it all.

            Our refusal to let go, to try something new, to move on, to take chances and to trust God are indicators that our attachments are in the things of this world. If your attachment to things and people go above God, you will always be disappointed, unfulfilled, empty, un-happy and very dissatisfied. Faithfulness to God not only equals material promotion, but also spiritual promotion. Faithfulness to God is the path to maturity. It is scary, but never boring! In John 17:14-16 Jesus says as He prayed to the Father,

“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

Above the Mountains and the Seas; Faith is!


“Inspired out of Hebrews Eleven”

Faith gives us the assurance that what we hope for will become a reality. Faith is not limited by what our eyes can’t see.

Faith caused the ancients to be commended in the mix of their humanity.

By faith God spoke the words that form our universe; He spoke what was not and it became substance.

Faith makes our acts of worship more than a religious Sunday exercise; it goes beyond our natural lives.

Faith is what pleases our Father.

Faith looks straight at our hearts and causes us to believe that our God is real and that our reward is sure as we earnestly seek Him.

Faith is the premonition of things yet seen; causing you to go to unknown places.

Faith challenges the ages of men and causes them to be fruitful when science runs out of explanation and the logic can’t be explained.

Only faith causes seas to open, walls to fall, great kingdoms to be conquered by the least and the mouths of the lions to be shut.

Faith prevents the rage of the flames and the edge of the sword.

Faith turns the weak man into a terrifying army; calling out the dead and they come into existence once more.

Faith stood valiantly against the hateful torture of its enemies. Mockery could not bring it to a standstill.

Faith took the beating, the chains and the humiliation of the prison.

The stones of disgust could not touch its power. Even when faith is cut in a million pieces it will never lose its integrity.

Faith overpowers silently the denial of the comforts and the injustices of our days for the sake of an invisible promise.

Faith goes beyond our dimension of life; gives us an eternal prospective and is not bound by our present circumstances.

When the miracle doesn’t happen right away, faith is! When all that can be done, is done; faith is! Above tangible results, above success or failure, above the mountains and the seas…faith is!

 

Scars of Honor


For many of us, it is an understatement to say that we are in a tough season. If we choose to be totally honest, the statement must be changed to the fact that we are surviving a very tough season.  If we want to take it to a higher level, it actually feels like we are losing the battle at times. Some of the predicaments we face in our lives are in fact, because of our own doing, but we must search for a deeper revelation. There must be more to this! Whether you strive daily to live the Christian life, you repent within seconds of sinning, pray for hours a day, read your Bible or in public sin; you will always have your own battles. It was established that way from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, as part of the consequences for our sinful nature.

“I will make you and the woman enemies to each other. Your descendants and her descendants will be enemies. One of her descendants will crush your head, and you will bite his heel.” Genesis 3:15

“The enemy will bite our heel.” The word, bite, here means: “To strike. To oppress”. Have you ever felt any discomfort in your heels? I have, and the first thing I notice is that it always affects the way I walk. Satan is always in the business of showing the world that our Christian walk is not sincere; that we are all a bunch of hypocrites.   But I want you to rest on this biblical truth: you may be limping today; you may be feeling a great deal of oppression, but know that it will all go away one day and that it just comes with the territory. I know that this does not match the Prosperity message that we all commonly hear on TV, but God will work it out. For the enemy, on the other hand, he has no hope. The word, crush, means: “to pulverize; to press together; to crack in pieces; to smash; to burst.” Your wounds are temporary; the Enemy can’t say the same thing by the definition of what is awaiting him.

You and I may be limping today. We may be walking with an uneven, funny step as the Enemy finds pleasure in striking our heels. The world may laugh at us. Our brothers and sisters may judge us at times; don’t be ashamed; our glory is not that we were not wounded in battle, but that by the power of God we are still standing today. Our scars are scars of honor like survivals of a great war. We are soldiers with military uniforms, standing in attention, in love and reverence to our God, even if we are standing with the help of a cane.

It is Time to Walk with God


“God is Calling us to Get Closer Today”

            I am in a personal journey where I am pursuing God like everything is brand new; like I know nothing. It seems like I am learning all over again. What I thought I knew I really did not! I must accept that it is a humbling process, but I am experiencing a personal awakening that is blessing me in the mix of the fire, in the mix of the lions and in the center of a great desert of pain and suffering.         

            Your Christianity is not defined by your denomination, the building you went to do “church” on Sunday, how anointed the pastor was, the size of the congregation, the home group that you are a part of or how long the service lasted. Your Christianity is defined by your personal relationship with God, your commitment to pursue living life according to His ways, trusting HIM in-spite of how the circumstances look like and having a constant willingness to mature while you die to self and be more and more like Jesus. This, my friends, challenges us to do more than just go to church! I am afraid that we have become spiritually lazy and morally irresponsible as we believe that we are able to delegate our spiritual exercises to others in leadership, to our moms, our dads, our pastors, etc. The spirit of the Samaritan community must be develop in our hearts as they stated in John 4:42 “Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”  

            This is an hour where the Spirit is making it clear that in order for us to be able to face the challenges that are coming our way; we must be in HIM and not full of ourselves. We must be able to recognize the voice of our Daddy by ourselves, above the voices of opinions, cultural values, family traditions, political preferences, intellectual approaches, religious confusion, denominational compromises and whatever Hollywood has to say. It is time to walk with God; it is time to talk things over with Him, listen to what He has to say and stop just carrying our Bibles for our Sunday Services or engage in One Year reading programs of Scripture without taking the time to wait on the revelation of the Spirit. It is time to study and to show ourselves approved. (2 Timothy 2:15) God is calling us to get closer today!