Pastor's Meditations

THE REAL BLACK FRIDAY

        When I think of black days in my life, I think of sadness, destruction and despair. Why would we as Americans call the day after we celebrate Thanksgiving “Black Friday”?

       As I read in the dictionary the words “grateful” and “thankful” I do not read anything about darkness, but on the contrary about happiness, joy, appreciation and love for others.

       Merriam Webster defines it this way:

      Grateful - A feeling or showing appreciation for something done or received. The act of gratefulness is    memorable and can live for a long time

      Thankful - an appreciation of benefits received. It is a way of expressing appreciation with or without an act.

       We live in a world full of hate, despair, ingratitude, sadness, loneliness. Through all these we are called to be grateful and thankful.

        "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you”                            (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

        “Give thanks to the God of heaven, For His loving-kindness (graciousness, mercy, and compassion) endures forever” (Psalm 107:1 emphasis added)

       “Thank God that he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

        This year especially has been a tough one for our family during this thankful celebration. We have had death, sickness, separation, family problems and so on, as have so many others in the body of Christ. Yet we do not despair; we do not lose hope and we will not stop giving thanks.

        When we praise the Lord, we take the eyes off our daily troubles and struggles and trust in Him who bore all the pain of Calvary to give us life. He died on the real Black Friday, when the dark sin of mankind was placed upon Him.

        The fake and materialistic Black Friday is yet another futile attempt by the enemy to displace our desire to praise God on Thanksgiving Day. The real Black Friday not only displaced the power of sin and darkness, but destroyed it completely forever by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. The real Black Friday was not a one day sale, but it is an eternal fountain of Living Water from which God’s free and forgiving grace flows.

        Brothers and sisters may all our days be as clear, bright and merry as Thanksgiving Day in November. May we always be grate (full) and thank (full) for we serve a Great God.

        Alex and Mayra Gonzalez

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Homeless

                There is a global epidemic of homelessness all over the world. According to some official estimates, there are over 150 million homeless people worldwide. In the United States alone, there are more than a half a million homeless individuals, especially in big cities like New York and California.

                Over half of these homeless people find some form of shelter every day, while the rest live (and sleep) in dark alleys, highway underpasses and wherever else they can find a place to spend the night. It is hard to imagine and admit that there are so many homeless people in the richest nations of world!

                What causes homelessness?

                There are many reasons. Here are some possible causes:

                Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, etc.

                Fires and vandalism

                Divorces and domestic violence

                Lack of affordable housing

                Unemployment and poverty

                Laziness and negligence

                Some people are temporarily homeless due to fires and other disasters, but the majority of the homeless are so because of a result of the sin and wickedness of others, or their own negligence, irresponsibility and sin. 

             Jesus was homeless too. He was born in a manger (Luke 2:7) and during his earthly ministry He didn’t have a place where He could lay his head (Matthew 8:20). He was homeless because as John 1:11 says: He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

                Come to think of it, we are homeless too. You and I might have a beautiful house or live in a fancy apartment, but none of these are our real home. In fact, if you are a Christian, this world is not our home (John 15:19). Our real citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

                Brother or sister, do not get too comfortable in this world. Jesus has prepared a place, an eternal home for us in heaven (John 14:1-4). Remember that we are homeless until we reach our eternal and glorious home.

                Being homeless as Christians doesn’t mean that we are hopeless or Fatherless. Quite the contrary! Our home in heaven is safe and secure and it has been paid in full by the blood of Jesus.

                A. G.

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Anticipation

                                                                          

                In these last days of the year, many people are anxious with anticipation. They cannot wait for the holidays, hoping to receive many gifts, taste many delicacies, dance in many parties and become intoxicated many times.

                Businesses also relish those days with great anticipation. Most companies and stores make more sales (and money) in those few weeks than in the rest of the year combined. In fact, most businesses are considered to be “in the red” (losing money) until the end of the year arrives.

                Most people live with some form of anticipation or another. Students (and most teachers) live for 3:00 PM Friday and office workers languish for two more hours, anticipating the temporary freedom they enjoy on the weekends.

                What is it that you wait for with desperate anticipation? Is it the latest smart device? Are you waiting anxiously for the newest epic movie? Are you one of those sport fans that wait impatiently for the next game of your favorite team?

                What about living instead with heavenly anticipation?

                Weekends, games, movies, vacations, parties and all other events come and go, leaving us empty and unrealized. Our anticipation and our subsequent participation in those earthly activities end up in dissatisfaction.

                Let us focus our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and wait for the blessed hope of his imminent appearing (Titus 2:13). Let us walk with Jesus every day by faith, anticipating that glorious day when we shall see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

                In Philippians 3:12-14, the apostle Paul clearly defines a Christian life lived in godly and hopeful anticipation:

                Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  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.

                There is prize waiting for us on the other side. There is a heavenly home that has been prepared for us by the Lord Jesus (John 14:1-4). There is a Savior ready to welcome us with open arms into his glorious and eternal kingdom.

                Are you anticipating any of this, or are you too comfortable or too busy to even think about these heavenly things? I pray that all of God’s children will be filled with a holy and hopeful anticipation for the all the great things that our God has in store for us.

                A. G.

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“Nut-tivity”

                                                             

                The day of days is almost here! December 25th is just around the corner and everyone, or almost everyone is excited for many different reasons. Some are happy because they finally get a few days off, others are expecting toys and other gifts and another group wants to eat, drink and dance the night away during the festive season.

                This joyous season of hope, love and peace has changed so much throughout the years that it is hardly recognizable anymore. The “Silent Night” has turned into the Santa night; the “Joy to the World” has become the joke of the world and Nativity is now a “Nut-tivity.”

                On Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) the nut-tivity season begins. Almost everyone starts behaving crazy (like nuts) going from one store to another, buying things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress or please people they don’t even like.

                Nativity is the celebration of our Lord’s birth. I will not waste my time debating if He was born on December 25th or not. We celebrate his birth on this day, but we do not celebrate a day or a month, or even a season: We celebrate his birth. The only thing that matters is the fact that He was indeed born…regardless of the day.

                As Christians, we must celebrate the birth of Jesus in a meaningful, hopeful, peaceful and joyful way. If you like to give presents, do so in the name of Christ and for his glory. Stay away from the crazy nut-tivity spirit that drives most people into a shopping, eating and drinking frenzy.

                Nativity belongs to us, the followers of Christ. Let this world worship Santa and his elves; we will worship Christ, our King. Let the people of this world put lights around their houses and decorate a tree; we worship Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12) who died for us upon a tree (the cross).

                Let us take Nativity back (also known as Christmas) and celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Immanuel (Matthew 1:23). Remember that He is no longer in the manger, on the cross or in the tomb; He now lives in our hearts.

                What will you celebrate this year? Will it be the usual “Nut-tivity” with all its crazy activity, or will you remember the Nativity that is, the birth of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

                A. G.

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HEIRS

                We have recently studied about the Prodigal Son and how he demanded his inheritance from his living father. What a grave insult this must have been! He was saying in fact, “Father, I only care about your money and I don’t have time to wait for you to die, so give it to me now!”

                An inheritance is usually given to the surviving heirs of a deceased parent or relative. Only an evil child would dare ask for his inheritance before the appointed time. A good child---even though an heir--- rejoices with and enjoys his parents and never gives a passing thought to their potential inheritance. To do so, would betray the love and intimacy of the family bond.

                As Christians we are heirs too. We are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) of all the infinite riches of the glory and grace of God. We have a glorious hope in Christ Jesus our Lord; the hope of heaven and eternal life.

                Death must occur for an inheritance to be made effective. While the parent or relative is alive their heirs are only “potential heirs.” As long as the relative remains alive, there is no inheritance because everything belongs to him or her.

                In the case of Christ’s followers, we don’t need to wait for anyone’s death (except for ours). Jesus died on the cross to secure our eternal inheritance. We are not potential heirs, but heirs indeed and there is nothing that can separate us from our glorious reward.

                “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,  who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”                        (Ephesians 1:13-14)

                A word of caution is needed at this point. If it is evil indeed for a son or daughter to think of their future inheritance and ignore and mistreat their parents, it is a great evil for believers to think only of their future glorious inheritance and forget to enjoy the Lord here and now.

                Brothers and sisters do not neglect to walk with Jesus today on the Narrow Way, while thinking about strolling on the streets of gold with Him one day. Do not worry about your inheritance for it is safe and secure.

                Enjoy Jesus today

                Walk with Jesus today

                Talk to Jesus today

                It is good to think about our heavenly home, don’t get me wrong, because it fills our hearts with hope and confidence. It is also good to dream about our inheritance, but keep in mind that our greatest inheritance is Jesus and we already have Him…today.

                A. G.

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