Pastor's Meditations

The Last Five Minutes

                 The vast majority of the movies coming out of Hollywood today are worthless and ungodly. There is barely any redeeming value in most of them. These films have become a venue of all sorts of immoral behavior, unnecessary violence, extremely coarse and blasphemous language and many other unbiblical and improper teachings and conduct.

                The other day, I fast forwarded a particular film almost twenty times. This movie, mild in comparison to most other movies, had a quite a few questionable scenes. I believe that we only watched less than 10 minutes in total, including the last five minutes, when all of a sudden everything came together and there was a very positive message.

                Our lives before Christ resemble those awful Hollywood movies. We were totally lost and depraved. Our behavior was irrational, immoral and ungodly. We were sinners and we enjoyed our sinful lifestyle. There was nothing worthwhile “watching” in our pre-Christian life.

                Our salvation by the grace of Christ is much like the last five minutes of most movies. Jesus forgave all of our sins, redeemed our lost and depraved souls, gave us eternal life and adopted us into the family of God.

                Gone are the days of hopeless desperation and walking in darkness. Now we have an incorruptible and unbreakable hope in Christ and a purpose for our life. Our sinful past is gone, our present is free and our future is gloriously hopeful.

                We are waiting for the day when this earthly life is over. The “movie” of our life will not end on that day, for it will be the beginning of the glorious and never-ending “five minutes” of eternity with Christ. I am looking forward to that day; the day when the end will be the beginning and the beginning will have no end.

                Let me ask you a question: What about you my brother or sister? You and I must always be,

                “…looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)

                This earthly life of ours is short and it will end very soon, but we shall live forevermore with Christ. On the days where you find no pleasure in this life; when darkness and pain engulf your soul, fast forward to the end of our “movie”; to the day when we will see Jesus face to face.

               A. G.

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“Close your Mouth!”

                I have a bad habit, well I have many bad habits, but one of the worse ones (according to my wife) is that I allegedly chew food with my mouth open. I don’t know how many times she has brought this to my attention, but it has been more than a couple of times. Just the other day, I was eating my meal peacefully, when all of the sudden I heard a shrilling scream:

                “CLOSE YOUR MOUTH PLEEEEASE!

                In my defense, I don’t even realize when I am chewing with my mouth open. I notice this in other people eating around me, but I have no way of detecting this abominable behavior in my own life. I am not denying the fact that I do it; I just don’t notice it. One thing that I have noticed, however, is that when I do make a conscious effort to eat with my mouth closed, I feel very uncomfortable and the food doesn’t taste as good anymore.

                The reason that I and everyone else need to chew food with our mouths closed is mainly so that we don’t offend the people around us. You might feel comfortable and the food will taste better in your open mouth (it is a fact!), but those near you will be disgusted by the sights and sounds.

                And so, many of us refrain from chewing with our mouths open. We also do this when it comes to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. We do not want to offend others or to be offended by their apathy, mockery or insults.

                Perhaps we need to close our mouths at the dinner table when we are eating, but we need to pray that God will open our mouths to proclaim the Gospel to everyone around us. I know that the sound of our preaching is more disgusting than our food chewing to unbelievers, but we must continue to preach the truth in love.

                Open your mouth brother or sister. Declare your love for God openly to the whole world. I know this is a very scary thing to do for anyone. Moses didn’t want to do it (Genesis 4); Jonah didn’t want to do it (Jonah 1); Jeremiah didn’t want to do it (Jeremiah 20) and many others.

                Chewing food with our mouths open might be annoying to others and embarrassing for us, but proclaiming that Jesus is our Lord and Savior is the best thing we can do with our mouths. There have been many believers throughout the ages that were ashamed of being saved by grace, but not Paul. He testified in Romans 1:16,

                 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

                I need to close my mouth more when I eat, but all of us must open our mouths to praise God, preach the Gospel and proclaim that Jesus is coming soon.

                A. G.

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Reach Out or Reach Down?

                Lately I have been thinking a lot about reaching out to our church neighbors and invite them to our church services. My plan is simple: Go out on Saturday mornings around the neighborhood and talk to them about Christ and our church.

                I pray that we will be successful and that many will join our church either as first time believers or as mature Christians seeking a Bible-believing and Bible-preaching church. I also pray that at least some of our church members will join me in this outreach effort.

                Most churches engage in some form of outreach or another. Vacation Bible Schools, Block Parties, Yard Sales, Potluck Meals, Free Clinics, Movie or Concert Nights, Sport Tournaments, Super Bowl Parties, Halloween Festivals, Back to School Events, Recovery Groups, Car Washes, English Classes, Food Pantries and don’t forget Bingo Nights in Roman Catholic churches.

                I think that sometimes we confuse reaching out to unbelievers with the Gospel of Christ with reaching “down” to the world. We have watered down the Gospel message in many churches in America and the world. Our church buildings have become hosts of every imaginable kind of event under the sun, while the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word is neglected.

                Reaching down to the world does not work. What usually happens when we lower our standards in order to “win” others to Christ is that we lose our clear Christian testimony and the lost continue to be lost. A watered down Gospel does not save anybody, but it sure fills the hearts of millions with false hopes.

                There are very few Christian radio stations; they are now only playing “positive hits” about having a better life. The name of Jesus is rarely mentioned (unless they are asking for money in one of their “Share-a-Thons” fundraisers) and there is no Bible teaching programs. And yet, they do all this to reach others for Christ.

                The “Christ” of the water-down, prosperity, down to earth “gospel” is very easy to reach. This false Jesus appeals to almost everybody because He doesn’t make any demands. You just need to come to him. No repentance is needed. No mention of his blood sacrifice. No deep Bible study and no calls to be dedicated disciples and servants.

                Anyone can be a “Christian” like that.

                No wonder all these mega-churches are filled with so-called believers. This is the reach-down gospel at work. This false gospel has removed anything that might be offensive to unbelievers. Their churches (if they can be called that!) are centers of entertainment and secular fellowship.

                Meanwhile, churches that preach and teach the true Gospel suffer from lack of attendance and spiritual apathy from some members. I prefer to be a part of a “boring” church that preaches the Gospel than to attend a big church with many empty programs and ministries.

                A. G.

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Preservation or Perseverance?

                A few weeks ago, I addressed the theme of the assurance of our salvation in one of the sermons in the book of Colossians. In chapter 1 verse 23 the apostle admonishes the church to persevere in the faith:

                “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

                As I mentioned in the message, this exhortation in no way teaches that we are responsible to earn, keep or maintain our saved status by our good works or holy behavior. We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and this salvation and even the faith we have comes from God.

                It was the same apostle who taught us that our salvation and indeed, our very faith depend on God, because it comes from Him. Jesus is not only the Object of our faith, but He is also the originator and the cause of our salvation.

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

                     “…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)

                The Bible also declares that, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9) or to put it in other words, salvation and faith comes from the Lord and there is nothing you or I can do to earn it or keep it. The Bible also declares that we are kept by God’s power (1 Peter 1:5) and that we are safe in his powerful hands (John 10:28-30).

                This is what is known as the Preservation of our faith and salvation in Christ.

                On the other hand, we are encouraged in the Bible to continue in the ways of the Lord. We are commanded to walk with Him, to preach the Bible, to live in holiness, to serve our Savior, to love God and each other and to read, study and obey all that we learn from God’s Word.

                We are also commanded to grow and mature as Christians. The faith that we have received in Christ must be nurtured, developed and activated. We must live what we believe. We must never work to attain or maintain our salvation, but we must submit to God and see his salvation working in and through us, or as the apostle says:

                “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” (Philippians 2:12)

                This is what is known as Perseverance of the saints

                Let us then persevere, but not in fear but because we are preserved by the mighty hands of God until the day when we will see Christ face to face.

                A. G

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“Waiting”

                Right now I’m waiting outside the store where my wife and mother in law are shopping. I have been waiting for a while now and by the looks of it, it seems that I’ll be waiting for a long time.

                I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy waiting for anyone. Everywhere we go there is waiting involved. We must wait at a doctor’s office, at the store or super market, at restaurants and even in our jobs, as we patiently wait for the hour in which we get to go home.

                What are you waiting for?

                Perhaps you are waiting for a new job, a new home, a new car or for a new love in your life (if you are single). On the other hand, you might be waiting for a new baby to arrive or for the results of your latest test (medical or academic).

                “Good things come to those who wait”, so the saying goes. Waiting is a lost art in our instant gratification society. We don’t want to wait. We don’t want things today or tomorrow…we want everything and we want it yesterday!

                As Christians, we are admonished to wait on the Lord

                “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14)

                “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7)

            Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:7-8)

                Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23)

                The children of this world wait for nobody. They do not save for the future and are slaves of credit (loans and credit cards) in order to live the “American Dream” today.

                The children of God are saved by grace and they give all credit (glory and honor) to Jesus. We might never achieve riches and fame in this world, but we are confident in Christ that heaven will be our eternal home and that is worth “All” the wait!

                 A. G.

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