Pastor's Meditations

Incomplete Houses

                I love my home and I give thanks to God every day for it. There are many people in this world that are homeless and millions that live in deplorable places, that cannot be called “houses” by any stretch of the imagination.

                My house is perfect for me: It is not too small or too big. It has everything that I need to live comfortably, but it is not complete. As all homeowners know, there is always something to do around the house. There is a never-ending and growing to-do list of chores and projects. I am talking about home repairs, paint jobs, mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, cleaning the house, cleaning the septic tank, cleaning the windows, etc. I am not even mentioning the “extra” projects needed to keep the house up to date.

                As I reflect on these things (and all the money that it’s going to cost me), I remember my time as a missionary in Guatemala. As we drove through the towns and villages, we noticed that most houses were incomplete. There were steel or iron bars sticking out from almost every roof. When we asked about this strange phenomenon, we were told that the houses were incomplete in order to avoid taxes.

                In a sense, all Christians are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). We have been born again and saved by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8). In addition to this, all of our sins have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:31, 32), we are now children of God (John 1:12), we are heirs of eternal life (John 6:47; Romans 8:17) and our salvation is complete and secure (John 10:20-30).

                There is so much more that I can add to this, including that the Holy Spirit dwells in us (John 14:17), that the Word of God is our guide for everything (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) and that nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8). Shouldn’t all of this (and so much more) be enough for us to lead victorious and fruitful lives?

                Christians are imperfect and incomplete saints. Some of us are further ahead on the road of holiness and sanctification, but all of us are still unfinished diamonds. One day, we shall possess unblemished and imperishable perfection in heaven, but for now we can rejoice because God is still working on us and He will make sure that none of his children will be lost.

                Two Bible verses come to mind to illustrate this point and conclude this writing:

                “…that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

                “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” (Philippians 1:6).

  1. G.

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Use His Strength

                                                      

                I started to watch the movie “Samson” a few days ago (I’ve got to finish it) and so far I like it. Now, before you say anything, I know that watching a movie is not the same as reading the Bible, but sometimes I enjoy watching films about the Bible and other Christian themes.

                Samson was known for his supernatural strength. He killed lions with his bare hands, defeated armies and brought the temple of Dagon down (Judges 16:29, 30). Samson was a real man and not a myth, like Hercules and all the other mighty men and women of Marvel or D.C. Comics.

                Our adversary, the devil, is a powerful and wicked being. He uses all of his power and strength to fight against the church (since he couldn’t defeat God), but he will never prevail (Matthew 16:18). His greatest weapons of mass destruction are his lies (John 8:44), feelings of doubts (Genesis 3:1-4) and an ample arsenal of temptations.

                What can we do against such a powerful enemy? He commands a vast army of dark and evil spirits (Ephesians 6:12) and millions (one could say billions) of lost souls are blindly following him in one way or another.

                Christians are a small flock of weak and defenseless sheep, surrounded by the hordes of ravenous wolves, hungry lions and wild dogs. The Bible declares that the church, although a great number in heaven, will always be the minority in this world.

                “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14)

                The Bible also instructs this weak and often divided minority to:

                “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7)

                We can resist the devil and overcome temptation in our lives not by using our strength, but by relying in the power and strength we have in Jesus. Yes, we are weak, but Christ is strong; so strong, that He is Omnipotent.

                Here are some verses that we can use when we feel powerless and defeated:

                 “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

                “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).

                “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

                You and I can be more powerful than Samson ever was, but to accomplish this we must use all the strength and power that we have in Christ.

  1. G.

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    Why are you angry?

                “Aghh!”

                A frustrated man cried out in the middle of his yard. It was already the third or fourth time that his chainsaw stopped working, or to be more precise, that the chain was lose. He tried repeatedly to fix it, but the chain and the bar didn’t cooperate with him, which in turn led him into more anger and frustration.

                “Aghh!”

                He yelled even louder this time. He was so angry that he was ready to punish the stubborn machine by sending it into orbit. At the zenith of his anger, he felt a small hand on his shoulder and heard the voice of his grandson:

                “Papa, why are you angry?”

                The confused and angry man was shocked by this simple question. He was furious and enraged because he couldn’t fix a chainsaw. In his mind, he justified his anger by thinking that he was just trying to do something good for his wife and now all he wanted to do was to throw this chainsaw…

                “Don’t be angry, Papa”

                Anger is a big problem for many people in this world. Uncontrolled anger has been responsible for countless deaths, from road rage assaults, to “domestic” (or wild) violence and all kinds of wars. Anger in the heart is worthy of eternal hell (Matthew 5:21-22), for anger is the seed that blossoms into a tree of violence, revenge and murder.

                This is exactly what happened with Cain and Abel. God accepted Abel’s sacrificial offering, but rejected Cain’s fruit basket (which represents works-based religion). Cain was incensed with the turn of events (instead of repenting) and God asked him,

                Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?” (Genesis 4:6)

                We all know the end result of his anger: He killed his own brother, in one of the most despicable acts ever committed upon the earth. If Cain would have listened to God the story would have been different!

                Anger is a burning fire that destroys everything on its path. Anger has led nations into war with one another; anger has broken up millions of marriages and families; anger has even brought senseless divisions in Bible-believing churches!

                God still asks today the same question the young boy asked to his grandfather, and the same question He posed to Jonah almost 3,000 years ago:

                “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4, 9)

                It is not right, holy or wise to be angry for the wrong reasons. Be angry against sin, idolatry and evil, but do not allow sinful (and foolish) anger to control your emotions or your attitude. Choose joy.

                 A.G.

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The Glutton, the Bland and the Upright (a church parable)

                Once upon a time, a man was transferred to a new city and being a Christian, he began the difficult, but rewarding process of looking for a new church for him and his family. He visited three churches before deciding to become a member in one of them.

                On the first Sunday, he arrived at a church on the outskirts of the city. The first thing he noticed was that everyone in that church was extremely obese and glued to their pews. No one came to greet the family; in fact quite a few of them looked at the newcomers with disdain.

                The worship service was rather dry and uninspiring (only a few people sang), and the sermon while orthodox and biblical, lacked energy and vitality. It reminded the family of a fundamentalist church they had visited before.

                At the end of the service, the youngest in the family asked his father why was everyone so obese. The dad replied, “It is because they are gluttons for the Word, but are too lazy to apply it to their lives”

                The next Sunday arrived, and the family visited another church. This congregation was very active and lively. The music and the preaching were dynamic, but the message was lacking biblical flavor. In addition, this mega-church had all kinds of “ministries” and activities for every possible age group or special needs.

                The family noticed that in this church everyone was extremely skinny, almost anorexic. The father explained to his family that this condition was the result of too much labor and very little feeding. In this sense, they were the complete opposite of the first church. They had the committees, the activities and the ministries, but they were undernourished with the Word.

                When the third Sunday came, the family had almost lost hope of finding a good Bible-believing, Bible-preaching and Bible-applying church. Notwithstanding, they made one last effort after much prayer and deliberation.

                As they entered the sanctuary, they were greeted sweetly and softly by several believers at the door. While they were being ushered to their seats, they were impressed by the welcoming faces and by the reverence that was evident in this holy place. Some were praying, others were reading the Bible and some were greeting each other quietly, while the musicians made last minute adjustments.

                Was the church perfect? By no means, but they knew that God was in this place. Their suspicions became reality as they experienced a vibrant worship service that was saturated with love, joy and the Word of God.

                The great majority of the church members were in great shape.

                The moral of this parable is clear. The Gluttons represent those who hear (and know) the Word and do almost nothing with it (James 1:23, 24). The Bland are like Martha (Luke 10:38-42), in that they forget the Word when they serve. The Upright are those that hear, do, live, love and apply the Word.     

                A. G.       

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A Matter of Focus

                                                             

                What is the difference between a good and a great chess player? Well, other than natural talent and years of practice, focus or intense concentration is responsible for success. A chess master has only one goal: Play chess; learn more about chess; study every chess move and all its different variations.

                A world class bodybuilder spends hours every day at the gym. A chess master devotes the same amount of time to the game. You can probably say the same about professional athletes, expert musicians and famous actors.

                Single mindedness and intense focus is vital to become great in any enterprise. This focus and dedication is what shapes our talents, gifts and skills into a formidable force on the way to success. Most of us have the talents and the potential to achieve great things, but most of us lack the focus, effort and dedication necessary to attain our goals.

                To put it simply: To win the Prize of success we must pay the Price of suffering.

                The Bible has a thing or two to say about focus:

                You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3)

                But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33)

                “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2)

                 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2)

                Jesus called his disciples and is calling us today, to follow Him. The only way we can do that is if we focus our minds, eyes and hearts on Him. The Christian way is narrow, the trials are difficult and the dangers are real; but our Savior has left his footsteps for us to follow (1 Peter 2:21) and his Word is a “lamp to my (our) feet and a light to my (our) path.” (Psalm 119:105 emphasis added).

                Ours must be a laser focus and devotion. As the laser is one single beam of light pointing into a single direction, we must focus all of our attention upon Jesus. Perhaps we can learn from the apostle Paul in this regard. He learned to focus and to do just one thing:

                “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).

                The “one” thing we must do is to forget the past, focus on the Lord Jesus and finish the race.

                A. G.

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