Pastor's Meditations

“It is Better to Receive”

                 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”                (Acts 20:35)

                These words of Jesus spoken through the apostle Paul are faithful and true. This is God’s message to a wicked, selfish and evil world. There are more blessings for the givers than for those who receive.

                Our God is a giver and the more He gives the more glory He receives. The same is true for us when we follow his example in giving. The more we give with gladness and without expectations, the more blessings we receive. The giver becomes a Receiver and the Receiver keeps on giving.

                On the other hand, it is much better to receive than to give. When it comes to blessing, honors and praises we must always strive to be on the giving side, but in regards to suffering and offenses we must join the ranks of the receivers.

                I do not enjoy or pray for suffering, but I rather suffer than to make others suffer because of my sinful words or actions. I despise to be disrespected or offended by anyone, but I never want to be the offending party.

                In the Corinthian church there were many divisions and conflicts among brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of those conflicts were so big that Christians were suing other believers and taking them to court (1 Corinthians 6:1-5). Appalled by this unchristian and unbiblical behavior, the apostle Paul told them:

                Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7)

                The apostle Peter, whose violent temper had led him into trouble in the past and who once cut Malchus’ ear in an attempt to defend Jesus, spoke these words:

                “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;  not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

                There are blessings for the Receivers of insults, offenses and sufferings. There is joy amid the trials (James 1:2, 3) for those that suffer in Christ, and there is victory for those that relinquish their “right” to avenge themselves (Romans 12:17-21). Finally there is a great glory for the Receivers:

                “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.(Proverbs 19:11)

                A. G.

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“Here in my Heart”

 

Here in my heart I feel so alone

Guilt and fear are fighting for control

I need a Savior that can save my soul

I need a Healer that can make me whole

 

  Here in my heart I don’t have the strength

 To get up and fight again

  I want to run and win this race

  I need the power to reach the end

 

  Who can save me? Who can set me free?

  Who can give the strength that I need?

  Who has the power to take away this pain?

  Destroy my sadness and remove my shame?

 

   His name is Jesus; He is my Faithful Friend

   He died to save me; to forgive my sin

   My Great Redeemer is never very far

   He lives within me; here in my heart

             A. G.

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Empty Room, Loud Noise

                                    

                I noticed (or remembered) something recently: The emptier a room, the louder the noise. The simplest explanation for this is that furniture and other items in a room absorb the wave sounds and slow it down, but when you remove these obstacles the sound waves expand all over the room and therefore we are able to make and hear louder sounds.

                This is what has happened in our house. As we continue (when will it end?) our remodeling, some rooms have been emptied out in order to demolish/rebuild/remodel/repair. As soon as those rooms are empty, the sound level elevates by many decibels. An empty room is a great place to practice my preaching and my singing (my wife would disagree with this assessment).

                Our lives resemble overcrowded rooms most of the time. There is so much stuff inside of us that it doesn’t allow for the voice of our testimony to be louder and more effective. Our minds are filled with worries and doubts and our hearts crumble under the pressure of pain and suffering.

                What would happen if we would remove all the baggage and burdens from our souls? Hebrews 12:1 gives us a glimpse:

                “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

                When we bring our burdens to Christ (Matthew 11:28-30) we find rest and we feel lighter than ever before, so light, that we are now able to walk, nay, to run with Him. When we “empty” ourselves and get rid of sin, lust and our flesh, we are then ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit, means that we place ourselves under his full control. Being filled with the Spirit means that we willingly die to our flesh, renounce our former way of life and surrender to his leading in our lives.

                Do you want to have a “loud” testimony for Christ? You must empty yourselves of sins, passions and an inordinate appetite for human desires. In fact, if you want to be really alive in Christ you must die to sin, the flesh and the world, or as Paul puts it:

                 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:11)

               Keep the rooms in your house clean, organized and uncluttered. Remove all the junk and all the unnecessary furniture and furnish it with things that are simple, useful and necessary. Likewise, keep your heart clean and pure and available to only one Guest: Jesus Christ.

               Your testimony will be so loud and your light will shine so bright, that everyone around you will notice that the “room” of your heart is now occupied by the King of Heaven…and the former tenants are not welcomed anymore.

                A. G.

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   “Fear vs. Faith”

                                                        

                There are two opponents in the ring and they are engaged in a ferocious fight. In one corner, there is a large and formidable fighter. He is indeed an imposing figure! He is known by name different names, but today he is wearing his favorite name in his belt: “FEAR.”

                In the other corner there is a much smaller fighter. He is so small by comparison, that his opponent and most spectators are having a great time mocking him. There is nothing intimidating about him and even his name is a girl’s name: “FAITH.”

                The bell rings and the fight begins. FEAR erupts into a roar that sends chills to everyone in the stadium … and beyond. He advances confidently against his tiny adversary, relishing in his imminent victory. FAITH stands his ground and does not flee from the enemy.

                And then, it happens: One punch and the battle is over. The small fighter stands victorious over the large monster, who is becoming smaller by the minute. You see, FAITH was small but solid, but FEAR was filled with mostly smoke.

                This imaginary (and yet real) fight reminds us of the encounter between David and Goliath. The giant used the weapons of fear and intimidation effectively against Israel’s army, turning all the Hebrew soldiers into scared little children.

                Goliath wreaked havoc for many days, until a small youth appeared in the scene and dared to face and later on, defeat him. David represents faith in the same measure that Goliath is a symbol of fear, and on that day, FAITH won (read 1 Samuel 17).

                Many years later, one man battled against FEAR, evil, sadness, doubt and all the hosts of darkness and won, not only a battle (like David) but the entire war. The whole world fought against Him and He won. Death and sin fought against Him and He won. The devil and his armies fought against Him and he won.

                He cried: “it is finished” (John 19:30) and this means that He won. He completed the mission; He defeated all his enemies and He rescued us from hell. There is nothing to fear anymore for those who follow Jesus: The Conqueror.

                All we need is to have faith in Him. It might be small like a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), but if it is anchored in the Rock, nothing will move us (Matthew 7:24, 25). I have been attacked relentlessly in recent weeks and I would have been defeated, if not for that small (yet steadfast) faith in Jesus.

                I am weak and my enemies are vicious and strong, but I will walk (or crawl if I have to) by faith (Romans 1:17) and God will lead me to victory

                “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

                A. G.

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 “Good Failures”

                The story of the apostles of Christ was filed with many and varied failures. They failed to understand the teachings of their Master (Luke 18:34); they also experienced failure at exorcising demons (Matthew 17:17-21).

                Furthermore the disciples failed to exercise humility (Mark 9:34) when they argued about who was the greatest among them. They also fell asleep at the greatest hour of agony of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:43) and all of them abandoned Him.

                Peter denied Him

               Judas betrayed Him

               Thomas doubted him.

                One of their greatest failures is found in John 21. The group of disciples went fishing (instead of waiting at Jerusalem) and caught nothing. This was the second time it had happened (Luke 5).

                But this was a “good” failure because Jesus was there. There was a lesson to be learned and a blessing to be received. A “failure” with Jesus by your side is no failure at all. I rather fail and have Jesus in my heart than to win this world and lose my soul.

                A good failure is one that it is ordained by God so that He can show his glory. This is what happened to the blind man (John 9) and to the patriarch Job. This is what happened here in John 21, as the tired and frustrated disciples were unable to catch even one fish, but when Jesus spoke (and they followed his command) everything changed: There was more fish than they could handle in their boat.

                When you fail at anything, don’t look at it as an abject failure, but as an opportunity for God to work in our lives and show his glory. What we call “failures” are in fact doors that God is closing in order to protect us, or doors that He is opening to bring different blessings upon our lives.

                Paul spoke of one of his greatest failures in this way:

                And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

                He, who had been used of God to bring healing and salvation to the multitudes, couldn’t heal himself. He had to apply what he had written in Romans 8:28,

                And we know that all things work together for good (even our failures) to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 Emphasis added)

                A. G

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