Pastor's Meditations

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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A. C. T. S.

        Recently I came across the A.C.T.S acronym for prayer in one of my devotional readings. In an acronym, each letter represents a different word and sometimes they are arranged in such a way that they spell a word (like A.C.T.S.) to aid our memory.

         In this case A. C.T.S. is a very effective acronym to describe what prayer should be like.

         The A stands for Adoration. Whenever we pray, we must begin our prayers with worship and adoration.

         “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come. Your will be done
         On earth as it is in heaven.”
(Matthew 6:10)

         The C stands for Confession. After we worship our Lord we must repent and confess our sins to God in order for our prayer to be heard and received.

         “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

         The T stands for Thanksgiving. It is always good and wise to thank the Lord for all his blessings. Prayer is a way for us to express our eternal gratitude to our Savior.

         “…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20)

         Finally, the S stands for Supplication. There are petitions in every prayer, but they must be reserved until the end. We must first Adore, Confess and give Thanks and then we can begin to intercede for others and ask for ourselves.

         “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
          And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”
(Matthew 6:11-13)

         There you have it! Whenever you are in doubt about how to pray correctly, remember the A.C.T.S acronym to help you remember and then pray, pray and pray. Oh, and don’t forget to pray for me!

          A. G.

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Side Effects

                I laugh aloud (and cry inside) every time I watch one of those medicine commercials on TV. To begin with, everything about the video is fake and unrealistic: Everybody is smiling and everyone is very nice to each other. They are usually walking in the park and enjoying life, thanks to the cure provided by the pill or vaccine.

                Then, the funny (and ridiculous) part begins. As the couple strolls along the park, mountainside or beach shore, they list all the side effects of the “miraculous” medicine. Sometimes this list is so big, that it takes most of video to explain the potential side effects ranging from headaches and diarrhea, to major complications and even death.

                We do not need medicines that can cure one ailment and give us twenty more. We reject medications that instead of aiding our health and well-being are the main cause that our hospitals are filled with sick people today.

                When we look at the cross of Jesus Christ, we can also see many side effects for those who believe in Jesus. He died on the cross for the satisfaction and glory of the Father. The righteous wrath of the Father was poured over the Son, who being perfect and blameless became the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for the sins of his people.

                Most medicines have negative side effects, but the Cross only has good side effects for Christians. Because of the cross of Christ we enjoy the following side effects or benefits:

                Forgiveness of sins

                Eternal life in Christ

                Adoption into the family of God

                Union with Christ forever

                The cross of Christ is the divine “medicine” that fills our souls with love, joy, hope and peace. As Jesus paid the ransom of sin, He is now able to save all those who are given to him by the Father (John 6:37) that come to the cross to seek salvation.

                The cross satisfied the Father and reconciled mankind with God. The unreachable gulf of separation that was there between us and God, was bridged by the perfect sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God, who is the only Way to heaven (John 14:6)

                The apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 1:19-20:

                 “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all          things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace                              through the blood of His cross.”

                We have peace with God today because of the cross. That is one side effect that we can live with (pun intended), because the death of Jesus brought life, liberty and all the blessings of God’s grace to his children.

                A. G.

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Waste of Time

             I have a confession to make: I like sports and sometimes I watch a game here and there. I am not happy or sad with this situation; I guess that I just have a competitive nature. I don’t believe that watching or playing sports is necessarily a sin, although the following situations can be sinful or pretty close to it:

             Skipping church attendance because of a game (to play or watch).

             Not paying attention to sermons because you are thinking about sports

             Gambling hard earned money on different competitions

             Idolizing a team, a player or a sport

             Wasting too much time watching sporting events

             I fall into this last category sometimes. I have wasted time in the past while watching my favorite team lose time and again. Thankfully, I have only wasted my time, but there are many that have wasted thousands of dollars in tickets, parking, airfare, hotel accommodations and meals.

             The Bible encourages us not to waste our time in idle pursuits. The time that we spend (waste) on sports, videogames, and all other forms of entertainment have very little, if any, lasting value. I do not regret, however, the time that I have spent playing with my children and grandchildren or the “date nights” with my lovely wife.

             Family time is never a waste of time, for it can often be a time for bonding and for teaching the ways of the Lord. Perhaps this is what the Bible calls “redeeming the time” as we use our time wisely for several things at once. This is exactly what Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians:

            “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15, 16)

             And once again in another letter,

            “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” (Galatians 4:5)

            Moses, the man who spent a great deal of time with God, admonishes us in the book of Psalms to become good managers of our limited time. If Fortune 500 companies value time management skills in their leaders and employees, the followers of Christ must learn to use the time that we have been given for the glory of God.

            “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

            What are we going to do with the rest of our time? Use it wisely or waste it unwisely?

            A. G. 

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“Honorable Discharge”

                   There are two ways in which soldiers usually leave the Army: Dead or alive. There are also two different ways in which a soldier may be able to retire: They can have either an Honorable or a Dishonorable Discharge.

                Deserters, traitors and rebellious soldiers are usually dishonorably discharged. In addition to this, many of them are sent to prison and they lose most (if not all) of the privileges afforded to veterans for their service.

                On the other hand, a soldier that retires with an honorable discharge enjoys a plethora of benefits and honors. Retired veterans have access to pensions, medical benefits, financial aid for education and preference for many civilian and government jobs.

                Every believer in Christ was once a soldier in the enemy’s army. We were God’s enemies ourselves (Romans 5:10) in our unredeemed state. Moreover, we served in the kingdom of darkness (Colossians 1:13) until we were delivered by God and placed in his kingdom of light (1 Peter 2:9).

                Any soldier with our tainted record of sin and rebellion would be dishonorably discharged and hanged. Additionally, an enemy soldier captured by the opposing army, would be imprisoned and promptly executed.

                This is exactly what we deserved for deserting God’s army (Genesis 3). God created man and placed him (and his wife) in a paradise, but Adam (and all of us in him) chose to follow a dark prince (Ephesians 2:2) instead of worshipping the King of kings (Revelation 17:14).

                We deserved (and still deserve) death and hell, but the grace of God in Christ turned sinners into saints; worms into worshippers; apostates into apostles and deserters into dedicated believers.

                Only God’s unfathomable love can give an honorable discharge in Christ to an enemy soldier. In Colossians 2:14 we read that Christ gave us life and forgave all our sins, “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross.”

                In Christ we are honorably discharged. Hell has no claim on us. Satan has no dominion over us. Sin has been defeated and we are forgiven in Christ. Furthermore, we have more benefits, blessings and privileges as Christians than all the veterans put together.

                What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).

                A. G.

               

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