The One Thing that Impressed Jesus


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God is not impressed with anything we do. He is not impressed with how much we read the Bible or our knowledge of Scripture or how much time we spend in the building we called the church or how much money we give to the poor or, even how much we pray. When Jesus walked on this earth there was only one thing that impressed him. In Matthew 8:5-10 we find an amazing story of the only man who impressed Jesus while Jesus was amongst us.

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him,and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. (NASB)

The word Marveled is the Greek word, thaumázō; meaning “To wonder, to marvel, to be struck with admiration or astonishment.[1] What was about this Centurion that struck Jesus with such admiration and astonishment? One thing and one thing only… his faith! The word faith is the Greek word, pístis; meaning “Firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality or faithfulness (though rare). Objectively meaning that which is believed, doctrine, the received articles of faith.”[2] We are many amazing things through Christ, but the only thing that impressed Jesus is our trust in HIM.

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that “…without faith it is impossible to please him.” The word please here is the Greek word euarestéō; meaning “Well pleasing. To gratify entirely, to please. To take pleasure in, to be pleased with.”[3] Do we really trust God? These days of the Coronavirus has shown that fancy worship teams and fancy preaching could not bring many folks back to the church. Many are still hiding; they are paralyzed by fear, talking about “fear not!” while still hiding and holding services via Facebook Live and Zoom! Where is our faith? Where our trust in God?

 

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

 

The Example of Christ: The Hope for Every Marriage


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When it comes down to marriage, we must understand that we are dealing with an impossible situation; that to make a marriage work is one of the most difficult things to do on this earth. Psalm 127:1 comes to mind, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.” I add, unless God is in our marriage, our marriage will not be successful in His standards of success.

In a previous article entitle, The Value of a Marriage that Sucks I spoke about two ingredients that are needed for a successful marriage. The husband is to bring unconditional love for his wife and the wife is to bring respect for her husband. These two ingredients formed a glue a thousand times stronger than the Gorilla Glue.

In order to understand marriage, we must take a look at Jesus; we must take a look at the gospel. In the marriage, the husband represents Jesus and the wife represents the church. The Bible describes the husband’s function in the marriage as the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23). On the other hand, the Bible encourages wives to look to their husbands as if they are Jesus themselves. Ephesians 5:22 tells us, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (NASB) The Bible also tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” Ephesians 5:25 (NASB)

To be able to understand the dynamic of marriage we must look at Jesus and his example. Jesus gave his life for the church before the church even existed and before we surrendered our lives to him. Jesus demonstrated Agape love by giving us his all, without receiving ANYTHING in return. What about the wife? How can we expect the  wives to respect their imperfect husbands? Well, Jesus have a thing or two to say about this also. In Hebrew 5:8 the Bible tells us about Jesus, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” (NASB) Obedience will bring forth suffering. The Bible tells us that Jesus truly started subjecting to his parents at 12 years of age,

“Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it,44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:41-51 (NASB).

This word “subjection” is the same word used for wives in their relationship with their husbands; it is the Greek word, “hupotássō meaning “To place in order. To place under in an orderly fashion.”[1] If Jesus, the Lord of lord, the King of kings and all-knowing submitted himself to his imperfect parents; how can wives not submit to their imperfect husband? On the other hand, if husbands want to learn how to love their wives, even when they are disrespectful; look at Jesus… He did it and continue to do it for the church. Through HIM is possible. Is all there, is all possible… through Jesus!

 

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

 

The Value of a Marriage that Sucks


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We are surrounded by people who are marry; but how many marriages have we seen glued to each other? I am talking about they are holding hands, when they are in public, they stick together and, without a doubt, they are each other’s favorites. I don’t know about you; in my 52 years of life I can’t count with one hand marriages like that. Ephesians 5:31 tells us,

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (KJV)

The word “joined” here is the Greek Word, proskolláō; meaning, “To glue. To glue one thing to another. To be joined with or to join oneself unto, equivalent to cleave to, such as a husband to his wife.”[1]  Sadly, this is not what we see in the great majority of marriages. The husband seems to cleave to his hobbies, friends and/or toys and, the wife to hers. When they are together in a party, they are not next to each other; the wife is in one side of the room and the husband in the other. When they do talk to each other; their conversations are not really important, they can be interrupted by anybody; as a matter fact, it seems like they can’t wait for the conversation to be over. They are married, but they are not together; there is really no glue between them. They are both in their own worlds.

That glue is important; is made of two ingredients; husbands and wives are responsible for bringing those ingredients into the marriage in order for that glue to work properly. The husband is to brings love and the wife is to bring respect (Ephesians 5:33). Those two substances together formed a glue a million times stronger than the Gorilla Glue.

Marriage points directly at Jesus; the wife represents the Body of Christ (The Church). The husband represents the head (Christ). The greatest struggle of the church is to truly embrace the Lordship of Christ; that’s also the wife’s’ struggle towards her husband. Ephesians 5:22 tells us, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (KJV) The word submit here is the Greek Word, hupotássō; meaning “To place in order. To place under in an orderly fashion.[2] That means that, as long as that husband is not telling you to do something unlawful or ungodly, what he says goes. That’s a tough cookie to swallow, especially in today’s culture; but that is not even the toughest part.

The toughest part here is of the husband, because he is challenged with an impossible task; that is to love his wife like Christ love the church. Ephesians 5:26 tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (KJV). What the Bible is asking a husband to do here is harder than taking a bullet for his wife or protecting her from physical harm and so on. Humans, even unbelievers, have placed their lives in danger and even given their lives for the protection of others. What we are talking about here is much deeper.

Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (KJV) Jesus demonstrated his love for us while we were cursing him; Jesus demonstrated his love for us before we could give him praise, before we could honor and acknowledge Him, before we utter any prayer to Him and before we asked Him permission to do anything. Jesus gave his life for us while we were in our sin, while we did not even consider doing his will and, while we were drunk in our sin. Beloved, the greatest struggle of any husband is to love his wife without getting anything in return.

There is no way around this; the wife must find a way to submit to her imperfect husband while the husband must find a way to love his wife while she keep disrespecting him, while she keeps placing others above him, while she keeps denying him sexually and when she does give it up, she is not even into it and, while she honors every other men; daddy, brother, uncle, friends, co-worker… above you. Now, it is not God’s will that we remain in a marriage that sucks; it is God’s will that we learn the lessons that we need to learn and keep moving forward. In Titus 2 Paul is speaking specifically about Sound Doctrine; he starts his teachings by addressing the older man and then the older woman,

But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Titus 1:1-5 (NASB)

Notice that the men must be 1) temperate, 2) dignified, 3) sensible, 4) sound in faith, 5) sound in love and 6) sound in perseverance.

The women on the other side is called to be 1) reverent in their behavior, 2) they must teach what is good with a focus on teaching the young women how to love their husbands. Now, is the Bible now telling wives to love their husbands; was that not the responsibility of the husband? Thank God for Greek dictionaries! The word love here is the Greek word phílandros; meaning “Loving as a friend.[3] Friendship keeps peace at home, and this is what the older women should be teaching the younger ones. Not only that, but this makes the point clear that when it comes down to friendship, husbands and wives must be each other’s best friends. On the other hand, when the Bible tells us to love our wives is in the context of the Agape love, the unconditional love. 3) The older women are also called to teach the younger ones to love their children; again, bringing that friendly atmosphere that is such a blessing in a home. 4) The older women are also called to be and teach the younger women to be sensible, that is a person of a sound mind (Mature in the Lord). 5) Pure, that is a call to holiness. 6) Workers at home, a wife’s focus should be at home and how that home is run as she is raising her children and embracing the role of suitable helper for her husband. Sadly, the woman is no longer at home; she is out attempting the get off her role and embracing the role of the man. So, we now have two people in the house fighting for the role of a man. Weird! 6) Older women are called to be kind. This is the Greek Word, agathós; meaning, “Good and benevolent, profitable, useful.[4] Lastly, 7) the older women are called to be subject to their own husband and, again to teach this to the younger ones. I must point out the impact that a good wife has in society, Paul stated, at the end of these characteristics, “…so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 1:5 (NASB) Wow!

In closing, what shall we do? Our marriage sucks, the husband doesn’t know how to love, the wife is disrespectful, so now what? Don’t divorce… LEARN! Learn the lessons that you need to learn in marriage; they are actually more important than your marriage. These lessons have eternal ramifications. Work on that glue! Wives bring that respect to your husband and husbands bring that Agape love to your wife. Focus on Jesus; his sacrifices on the cross, his resurrection and the glorious future that is awaiting the church. As we both look at Christ, Christ will indeed help us to do what we are called to do and to be what we are called to be. Some glues take more time than others, but soon enough, it will do its work. Soon enough we will be glued together! Can I get an amen?

 

 

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

 

ALL Black Lives Matter


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I agree that black lives matter and, I do see the insensitivity of stating that Blue Lives Matter and that All Lives Matter as an argument against this simple statement. Some in the Black Lives Matter Movement have made it clear that they are not minimizing the value of life; they are just trying to make the point that it seems like the life of a black man does not have much value.  That seems to be the way some folks in the black and white community are interpreting this cry to the conscience on America.

There have been many videos and investigations of black men killed by police officers; but the death of George Floyd left no doubt that the police, in this particular case, murdered a man that was not supposed to die that day. Not only that they murdered George Floyd, they also attempted to cover this thing up.

The police officers involved will serve long sentences in jail. However, the cry is far from over; it will not be enough. No justice, no peace, but even when justice is served, at this point, it will not satisfy or be able to take away the anger of a community that have felt the accumulation of injustices for over four hundred years. This is far from over!

We can’t find common ground anymore, not even in the flag and the national anthem of our United States of America. The iniquity of America is here! Iniquity is what comes after sin and transgression; is the effect, is the curse and the consequences. The flag and the national anthem surely do not mean the same for all of us. Many of our ancestors fought under that flag for the freedom of this nation, but they were heroes without honor; they were discriminated and humiliated just as much as they were before serving in the military. They did not receive that sense of honor and admiration that the white soldier received.

            I am a black Puertorrican, I am a Born Again Christian and, politically speaking, I identify as Conservative Independent. I voted for Trump and will vote for Trump again; not because he is perfect, we all know he is not; but because, in many areas, he is actually doing a great job and… common’… the Democratic candidates are not all that hot. From a charismatic young black man to Hillary and, now Biden?

Let me make this point very clear before I go on, I DO NOT SUPPORT THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT. Why? 1) They are not Believers in Christ Jesus, so their message is filled with hate and unforgiveness. 2) They do not have their facts straight; they are willing to lie, manipulate the truth, ignore the truth or, maybe they are unable to see the truth. The numbers do not support systematic racism. According to the law there are situations where police officers are justified in using lethal force.  4) They are against freedom of expression and use intimidation tactics, even violence to keep others who do not agree with them quiet.  6) They seem to only care about a black life when is taken by the police. 7) They are nowhere to be found when a black man kills another black man. 8) They are completely silent when it comes down to abortion amongst us. In an article written by Walt Blackman entitle, “Abortion: The overlooked tragedy for black Americans”, he writes:

“Abortion impacts African Americans at a higher rate than any other population group. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an Abortion Surveillance Report. According to that report, black women make up 14 percent of the childbearing population. Yet, 36 percent of all abortions were obtained by black women. At a ratio of 474 abortions per 1,000 live births, black women have the highest ratio of any group in the country…A study by Protecting Black Lives, in 2012, found that 79 percent of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of minority communities.”[1]

            Yes, pointing out that black lives matter is a justifiable cause, but we must expand our cause and cry out that, ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER!!! We are fighting the wrong fight; we are fighting the wrong people. Yes, things can always improve in the way police interact with us, but we are focusing on the wrong thing. When are we going to address the abortion rate amongst us? What about black on black crime? Why are we not loving one another? Shall we mention the lack of fathers at home?

Beloved, all black lives matter; there is a reason to say it, it should not be minimized, it should not be ridicule or ignored. So how do we fight? We must go back to God and what He did in South Philadelphia in the 1950s. I believe that there are great lessons to be learned there. I invite you to listen to civil rights leader and inner-city hero Robert Woodson, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHTJSMJqC04

I am convinced that before the coming of the Lord, God is going to do something amazing with us all around the world. The Bible tells us that the last shall be first (Matthew 20:16). My hope is not in the current civil right leaders, my hope is not in the democratic party, my hope is not in our president or any government program, my hope is in God.

[1] https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2020/02/25/abortion-the-overlooked-tragedy-for-black-americans/

We are All a Massive Disappointment


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I get the sense that men have engaged in a philosophical argument for their entire existence, arguing that God is bad while making themselves look like good people… a total contradiction of Scripture. The Bible tells us over and over that God is good. The goodness of God is well documented all through Scripture. David declared the goodness of God all through the book of Psalms. When Moses wanted to see God’s glory and insisted before God in doing so; while God was showing Moses his glory, He uttered the following words, “…The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth…”  Exodus 34:6 (NASB)

            On the other hand, there is not one human who is good in comparison to God. We seem to go through this life pretending that we are who we are not; we seem to insist in our own goodness. However, In Mark 10:17-18 Jesus addresses this argument when the rich man called Him good, Jesus tells the rich young man, “…Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18 (NASB). In Romans 3:10-12, Paul tells us,

“as it is written,

“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.” (NASB)

            We need to think that even when humans were at their best; in the Garden of Eden, they still fell short. The reality is that if you look at humans in history or today, one thing is for sure; we will all disappoint at one point or another; that is our reality. Husbands will disappoint their wives, wives will disappoint their husbands, our children will disappoint us, we will disappoint our children, friends will disappoint, politicians will disappoint, celebrities will disappoint, and the list goes on and on.

           We are all guilty and our only hope is Jesus Christ; HE is the only one who can resolve the mother of all of human problems; our sin, transgression, and iniquity problem. He is the only one who can make us righteous through HIM. He is the only one who can remove our guilt through Him… all through HIM.

          But make no mistake about it; the Gospel is offensive because it takes you out of your bubble of self-righteousness. Without Jesus we are all sinners deserving of all that Jesus went through on that cross. Without Jesus you are under the curse of the law. Galatians 3:13 tells us, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (NASB).

          Jesus took the punishment we all deserve on that cross. Jesus followed the law; the entire law; he never sinned, he did not die for his sins, he died for ours. But why does Paul speak of the Law as a curse? It is not that the Law is a curse within itself; this means that those who are living their lives without Jesus are judged by the Law of Moses. The reason there is none good is because goodness is defined by God according to his Law and no human in history has been able to follow the Law to perfection” “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

          The Bible is very clear, nobody is able to successfully apply the Law in their lives… Nobody. Have you ever heard the expression that nobody is perfect? Well we serve a God who demands perfection. In order for us to make it to Heaven with Him, we MUST be perfect. The Law failed to make us perfect, therefore we stand separated from God because of our sins, transgressions, and iniquities. However, when Jesus died on the cross, He carried our sins and now through Him we can get near to God. Hebrews 7:18-19 explained this principle the following way,

“For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (NASB)

           How do we draw near God? By repenting of our sins and believing in Jesus; we can’t even do that on our own. That is why Paul tells us “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB) If God is touching your heart while your read these words repeat this prayer:

“Jesus I am a sinner; please forgive me of my sins. I believe that you lived among us 2000 years ago and that you die for our sins on the cross. I believe in your resurrection and that today you are seated at the right hand of the Father. Jesus, save my soul, come into my heart, be my Savior and be my Lord… In Your name I pray… Amen!”