Pastor's Meditations

Voices

                                                

                In the late 1970s, David Berkowitz, also known at Son of Sam killed at least six people in New York City. Later on, after his arrest, he claimed that he was hearing voices that were telling him to commit murder. We all have watched similar events in movies or in the news. Many people today claim to hear voices in their heads. This can be attributed to mental illness or to the fact that they might be somehow involved in occult practices.

                If we are honest, we must confess that all of us hear voices in our heads at one point or another in our lives and most of us hear them on a daily basis. I am referring to the voice of temptation; the voice of fear; the voices of doubt; the voices of deceit and lies and the voices that remind us of our failures.

                These and many other similar voices attempt---sometimes successfully---to torment us and to lead us away from the straight and narrow path. These are the thoughts that are replayed over and over in our minds, until we feel defeated and discouraged.

                There is another way to deal with these silent, and yet loud voices or thoughts. We may not be able to stop temptations from coming our way, or avoid all evil thoughts from knocking at our door, but we don’t have to give in to temptations or yield to any wicked thought. When the “voices” of our enemies try to infiltrate our souls we must respond decisively by…

                 “…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

                This is the key for victory in our spiritual warfare. We cannot entertain (or be entertained by) evil thoughts and ideas. We cannot allow any unholy idea to enter our mind, thinking that we can control it or play with it without danger or harm. These little ideas are like Trojan Horses, filled with a host of bloodthirsty adversaries, ready to bring chaos and destruction upon us.

                 Every time an evil thought or temptation tries to “speak” to you, do not listen to it. Cast it down and put it in prison. When you are being tormented by lies, fear, doubts and depression, call on Jesus and He will set you free.

                 He is the only One that can and will give you victory over the enemy and his fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16). If you notice, the verse says to bring every evil thought into captivity “to the obedience of Christ.” Obedience to Christ and submission to his will empower us to resist the devil in the name of Jesus and win (James 4:7).

                  Finally, if you and I listen to the Voice of our Good Shepherd, we will follow Him (John 10:27) and walk closer with our Lord. When this happens, we won’t hear the wicked whispers that incite us to sin anymore. Then our adversary will roar like an angry lion to call our attention or intimidate us, but we won’t fall for this obvious trap and the real lion, the Lion of Judah will protect us and lead us to victory.

                  A.G.

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The Special Glasses

            There once lived a Christian by the name of Clarence, who had a grand imagination. In his church Clarence was affectionately known as “the inventor.” This dreamer was very different from the other members of his church and considered a bit odd. For one thing, he always had a positive outlook on life.

            One day at a church picnic Clarence ate more than he should have, or as some people say, “His eyes were bigger than his stomach.” When he went to bed that night he fell into a deep sleep full of strange dreams. First, Clarence dreamed that he was a missionary in Syria and that Saddam Hussein was a member of his church. Later, he dreamed that an army of baked beans was chasing him.

            But of all his dreams, one left a great impression on him. In this dream Clarence was a real inventor. He invented a pair of glasses he called “FPI” (False Prophet Identifiers). These special glasses were designed to allow the wearer to identify and distinguish between the “sheep and the goats,” that is, true Christians and false Christians.

            The way the glasses worked was simple. A minister using these glasses could identify a false Christian by looking at the person’s heart. If the heart looked white and clean, the person was a true Christian. But is the heart was dark, it meant that the person was not of Christ, but was instead a false prophet.

            The impact that this invention had on the church was extraordinary. Church pews emptied dramatically as false Christians fled upon being uncovered. In some cases, ministers had to leave churches as they were discovered to be false prophets. All this resulted in a great revival in the churches. Freed from these evil influences, congregations grew in love and in faithfulness to the Word of God. Divisions evaporated, contentions ceased, and the sweet and real presence of Jesus was felt more and more.

            You and I know that only God can see the heart of a believer. When Samuel went to anoint the new king in Israel, he was told:

            But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7)

            We don’t need to have special glasses at church for our job is to preach the Gospel and not to go around like the Inquisition trying to identify who is a Christian and who is a false prophet. The Bible lets us know that:

            You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16) 

            Let us proclaim the Gospel to all and God will use it for his glory. Those that reject Christ and those that are false prophets will perish, while those that listen, repent and believe in Christ will be saved. We will never know with certainty all that are true Christians in this life, but one day we will be together in heaven forever and we shall rejoice in our eternal salvation.

           A. G.

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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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Red Paint

In a certain city there once lived a man who was a very hard worker. His dearest goal in life was to buy and own a house. To realize his dream, he dedicated himself to work day and night. Eventually, through his hard work, he was able to put away and save some money—enough to buy his dream house, he thought.

With great excitement he started to look for that dream house. But he was greatly disillusioned to find that the beautiful houses that most appealed to him were still beyond his means. And worse, the house he could afford were dilapidated “handyman specials” in need of much repair. He became very sad.

But just about the time he was ready to give up; he happened upon a vacant house on a corner with a sign that read, “For Sale.” He fell in love with the house at first sight. It was a white house, spacious and grand and its price was so low that it seemed they were giving it away. It was a real jewel, a dream house come true. According to the seller, it had only “one little defect.” It seems that the interior walls were all black? Every wall in every room was painted black. That was the reason the house was so affordable. No one, it seems, wanted to buy a house that was white on the outside, but all black on the inside.

But the man, eager to own the house, gave no importance to the little defect. He thought to himself that he could easily fix the problem of the black walls. So he bought the house right then and there.

Unfortunately, he soon found out that he had been mistaken; those black walls were not easy to change. You see, what made them black was not paint; rather, the walls were covered with dark stains and spots so dirty that they indeed looked like black paint. And nothing would get rid of those stains. First he tried soap, but that didn’t work. Then he tried a strong detergent, but that didn’t remove the stains. Then someone suggested he use white paint to cover the walls; surely that would do it.

So the man painted the walls once, then twice, and eventually, ten times. But instead of making them better, the walls looked worse. The dirty walls absorbed the paint and looked gray and blotchy in some places, but just as black as ever in other spots. The walls actually looked dirtier than before!

You can imagine how the man felt. But in his most desperate hour he found the answer to his problem. In a nearby town there lived a person who had invented something truly amazing: a special red paint. The man saw that the price was exorbitant. But he made a decision. He sold all he had (except his house) and purchased the red paint.

When he returned to his house with the black walls, he dipped his paintbrush into the red paint and applied it to the dirty, stained wall. Then the most amazing thing happened—the wall became clean, white and shiny with a stroke of the brush. Every place he applied the red paint the stains disappeared, and the wall were left clean—with just one coat! The man was overjoyed. Finally, the inside of his house was as white and beautiful as the outside. It was truly a place worthy to live in, and he did, happily…forever.

The house in our story represents our life and the black walls symbolize the dark stains of our sins. You and I might look good on the outside, but our spirits were dead (Ephesians 2:1) and our souls were utterly contaminated by our sin (Luke 11:33-36).

And what does the red paint represent? Yes, you guessed it; it is the precious blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord (1 Peter 1:18-20). His blood, shed for us on the cross, is the only cleansing agent that is powerful enough to wash away our sin. If you are in Christ, then you are free, forgiven and freshly cleansed forever.

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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