Pastor's Meditations

Walking Home

           Almost everyone has heard the story of Little Red Riding Hood. In this tale, a little girl is sent to her grandmother’s house with provisions. She was told not to talk to strangers or stray from the path (depending on the version), but she did not listen to her mother’s warning.

          Christians are walking on a narrow and dangerous path (Matthew 7:13-14). We might not have to walk through a dark forest, but we walk sometimes through the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4)

          I have dreamed many times about returning to Cuba; to my parents’ old home. I see myself walking around the old neighborhood, dotted with dilapidated homes and buildings and “holy” streets.

          I also, and even more so, dream about the day when we finally arrive in Heaven: our real, glorious, perfect and eternal home.

          There is nothing better than coming home after a long and hard day at work. Home is the place where we belong; where we can rest and rejoice in the company of our loved ones.

          There is nothing better in this life than knowing with all assurance and certainty that there is a better, much better, infinitely better home waiting for us at the end of the road.

           A. G.

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“Can Dry Bones Dance?”

                Does man really have free will?

                Can lost people decide for themselves to believe in Jesus and be saved?

                These and other similar questions have been asked and argued over and over for last two millennia. I cannot begin to address or expect to answer them in this blog, but I will bring the Word of God to bear upon this matter.

                “As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
(Romans 3:10-12)

                And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1)

                “…having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;” (Ephesians 4:18)

                “…we were still sinners…we were enemies” (Romans 5:8, 10)

                These verses are just a small sample of the condition of lost humanity. They are lost like sheep without a Shepherd; they are also blind, evil, sinful, hateful and spiritually dead. Mankind despises the light of heaven and loves darkness (John 3:19), oh and before I forget, every unbeliever is also a slave of sin (Read all of Romans 6).

                …Which brings me to Ezekiel 37:1-14. In this vision, God shows to his prophet a valley filled with very dry bones and then He asks: “Can these bones live?” Now, you and I know that dry bones CANNOT live and therefore CANNOT exercise any kind of “free” will, because when you are dead in sin, your spirit is also dead and therefore you do not have the moral ability to choose what is right.

                A dry bone---which symbolically represents the lost soul of an unbeliever---can ONLY live again by the regeneration brought forth by the Word of God. It was the breath of God which gave life to the lifeless statue of Adam (Genesis 2:7) and it is the Word of God that brings faith and salvation to our hearts (Romans 10:17).

                This is exactly what is portrayed in this vision. God commanded the prophet to “prophesy” to the bones and as he did, the bones got together, new bodies were formed and the Spirit of God brought life to all of them (Ezekiel 37:1-14).

                These verses were a future prophecy for the reunification of Israel. After many centuries they returned to Palestine and became a nation. The prophecy is only partially fulfilled, as one day the remnant of Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

                Sinners---Gentiles or Jews---are the dry bones waiting to hear the sweet music of the Gospel that can give eternal life to those who repent and believe. Preach the Word and dry bones will dance.

                 A. G.

               

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“Fatal Attraction”

                Many years ago I had the profound displeasure of watching in the infamous movie “Fatal Attraction.” The plot of this movie is simple, sinful and sad; and yet it contains a powerful message to all married couples: The “greener” grass we seek is actually Poison Ivy.

                Beach balls---in a lesser degree---also hold a dangerous attraction over young children. I remember almost drowning when I was a young child, pursuing a capricious beach ball deep into the ocean. I was so captivated by this colorful ball, that I lost track of time and space. When I finally heard my mom yelling my name frantically, I turned around and suddenly realized that I didn’t know how to swim and descended rapidly to the bottom of the ocean before I was miraculously rescued by my uncle.

                Temptation is always a fatal attraction. We run after it like little children following a bouncing ball into a street bursting with dangerous traffic. How many kids have perished in this manner! How many believers fall into the same trap over and over!

                James recognized the fatal attraction of temptation when he said:

                But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”                    (James 1:14-15).

                There are many other attractions in this life that, although they may not prove to be fatal or destructive, they become a pesky distraction to our Christian walk with Jesus. These things may not be sinful in themselves, but if they turn into a constant distraction, they will eventually lead us astray into darker and more dangerous paths.

                We are the sheep and Christ is our only Shepherd. As you know, sheep are not very strong or smart and they have a tendency to deviate from the right path. We must be wary of every “attraction” that is a potential distraction which could lead to destruction.

                How can we avoid this danger? In the words of the apostle,

                 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28)

                Brother and sister, get closer to Jesus, so close that you can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd calling us to follow Him today. There is joy, life, power and many blessings for those of us who walk close to Jesus. There is no better or sweeter sound than the sound of His tender and loving voice.

                Let us also fix our eyes on Him (Hebrew 12:2) and set our minds on those “things above” (Colossians 3:1). We need to be focused and alert to avoid any and all attractions, distractions and temptations.

                A. G.

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Blind Spots

                 There is an eye disease or condition called Scotoma, which causes temporary or permanent dark spots in certain parts of our visual spectrum. These are more commonly known as “blind spots.” There are many people who suffer from this malady and if left untreated it could create larger and more dangerous complications.

                Vehicles also have blind spots. These are areas that are not covered by the side mirrors. That is why it is always a good idea to look back and sideways before switching lanes or passing another car. I have almost crashed a few times because I didn’t see the car next to me.

                Thank you God, for protecting me from those blind spots!

                There are two more blind spots that I want to mention before I leave you. The first one is the family blind spot. We love our children, grandchildren and other family members so much, that sometimes we don’t see (or don’t want to see) all the evil things they do. I know that the Bible says that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8), but this verse does not teach us to be permissive and blind to their wickedness. Permissive and enabling love is no love at all.

                The other blind spot is our tendency to fall for certain temptations. We know the clear teaching of the Word of God and we sense the warnings from the Holy Spirit in regard to sin and yet, we fail to see it until it is too late.

                Why do we keep having the same spiritual collisions? I believe it is the result of having spiritual “blind spots.” Before we were saved by Christ, we were totally and pathetically blind. The devil blinded us (2 Corinthians 4:3-4); sin blinded us (Hosea 4:6); false teachers blinded us (Matthew 15:14) and we didn’t even try (and couldn’t) open our eyes.

“For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed(Matthew 13:15, emphasis mine).

In Christ we are no longer blind. We have freedom (John 8:32, 36) and we have light. Jesus said:

“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12)

Let the light of Jesus wash away all the remaining blind spots of your soul. Let us walk in his light and reject the darkness and the dangerous temptations that are always “driving” around us. Remember: Temptation is really sin in disguise. No matter how good it looks, it is death incarnate. Do not be fooled by sin anymore and do not turn a “blind eye” to your surroundings. We must always be on high alert (1 Peter 5:8) and dressed with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11).

We are not omniscient; therefore we will always have some blind spots about certain future events or circumstances, but there is no need for us to willfully ignore temptation and the warnings of the Bible. This is utter foolishness and extremely dangerous.

             A. G.

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“You were…but now ”

                Have you ever considered the great work of salvation that our God has wrought in our lives? His great mercy and grace saved us from an eternity in hell and by his power we have been transformed into new creatures and we have been placed into the family of God.

                The following Bible verses clearly show what we were before Christ and what (or who) we are now in Him:

  1. From slaves of sin to freedom from sin

             But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered…having been set free from sin” (Rom. 6:17, 18)

  1. From condemned criminals to legally justified

“…nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:10-11)

  1. From dead in sins to quickened to a new life

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)

  1. From being far away from God to being in Christ

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.(Ephesians 2:13)

  1. From darkness to light

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”  (Ephesians 5:8)

  1. From enemies of God to full reconciliation in Christ

“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” (Colossians 1:21)

  1. From lost sheep to being back in the fold with the Shepherd

“For you were as sheep going astray, but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25)

       Brothers and sisters: This is what we were before and who we are now in Christ. Everything now is like the commercial ads: “New and Improved” but wait, there is more, so much more to come for us in the future. When we get to heaven we will be so much different than we are now, that our present Christian life will be what “we were” and glorious perfection is what we shall have in the eternal NOW.

       A. G.

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