Pastor's Meditations

Citizen of Heaven

                      The other day I engaged in a very interesting (and controversial) conversation with one of my students. It went something like this:

                Student: “Where are you from, Mr. G.?

                Teacher: “I am American”

                Student: “Ok, but where were you born?”

                Teacher: “I was born in Miami, Florida”

                Student: “Yeah, yeah, but where is your family from? Aren’t you Cuban?”

                Teacher: “Well, let me ask you a question. Are you British, Irish or Scottish?

                Every time I say that I am American, people keep pressing me to know my “real” ethnicity. I don’t remember asking other Americans about their country of origin. You see, in America we are all immigrants and even though I will never be ashamed of having Cuban parents, a Spanish grandfather and a Lebanese grandmother, I am also extremely happy to have been born in this blessed nation.

                The next time someone ask me about my nationality, ethnicity or race, I will respond in a more biblical and relevant manner. You see, since I came to Christ, nothing else matters. I do not care about my nationality, race, language or anything else that many people attach great importance. I will say:

                “I am a citizen of heaven!”

                If you are a Christian like me, you have been born again (John 3:3) and therefore you are a brand new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Furthermore, we do not belong to this world anymore since Jesus called us out from the darkness. We now belong to Jesus and we are a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9-10).

                Jesus once said to his disciples:

                If you were of the worldthe world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the worldtherefore the world hates you.” (John 15:9)

                I am a citizen of heaven. My heart is in heaven; my home is in heaven; my hope is in heaven and my Lord and Savior is in heaven. We are pilgrims in this world and ambassadors of the Lord. Our mission is to proclaim the message of heaven to the citizens of this dying world.

                I am happy to be an American citizen, but I am forever blessed and eternally grateful to be a child of God and a citizen of heaven.

                “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20)

               A. G.

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“Inside Out”

                      

                Human beings normally live their lives in an unbiblical manner; even Christians follow this pattern many times. The Bible commands us to love and we hate. The Bible also tells us to die to sin, but we play with it and sometimes we are burn by it.

                Most people live according to their flesh (sinful nature) and are consumed by their lusts and passions. This humanistic and naturalistic orientation is what is known as a sensual life, because it is driven by our senses and emotions.

                An unbeliever follows the dictates of his or her body, which in turn fills their souls with the desire to sin and to seek pleasure at all costs. The spirit of such persons is dead; therefore they can never rise above from the level of the senses and passions...unless they are saved by Jesus.

                Adam and Eve were created sinless (not perfect) but when temptation appeared they forgot to live from the “inside out” and chose instead to follow the desires of the flesh. They chose to live from the “outside in” and soon afterwards, sin was IN, they were OUT and their spirit was dead.

                So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6).

                Adam and Eve didn’t listen to God’s warning and the world changed from a saintly paradisiacal Garden into a sinful pile of Garbage by the time of Noah (Genesis 6:5). The Bible admonishes us to stay far away from sin and the world today.

                “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16)

                The fleshly and worldly life is not for us Christians. We must live from the inside out. The right and biblical way to live must begin in our spirit, which is in direct communication with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16). Our spirit then must control and direct our soul in the ways of God and our sanctified soul must move our bodies to walk in obedience and holiness before the Lord.

                Adam sinned and his spirit died instantly (Genesis 2:17) and his soul began to die and eventually his physical body died as well. In Christ, our spirit was brought back to life, our soul is being sanctified and our body will one day be glorified in heaven.

                This is what I call living “Inside Out” in Christ.

                A. G

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  “Pride Week”

                                                                           

                You have probably heard people say to their family or friends: “I am proud of you!” Perhaps you have said so to your children more than one time (I know I have!). As I reflect upon this, I find no biblical basis for continuing this practice.

                Every time pride is mentioned in the Bible is in a negative manner. Pride is a sin, or better yet pride is the essence of what sin is like. It was pride that turned Lucifer into a Satan (Isaiah 14) and it was pride what caused the downfall of mankind (Genesis 3).

                A few weeks ago the LGBTQIA (and the list keeps growing!) community celebrated yet another “pride week” to accentuate their growth as a movement and their pride in their sexual perversions. Even liberal churches joined in the festivities, by proclaiming their support for this “minority” and to reject the intolerance that the church of Christ has had towards this aberrant behavior.

                Yes, the homosexuals and their friends are “happy” and proud. They came out of the closet a long time ago and now there is not even a closet anymore! You can see them everywhere. They are the greatest “evangelists” of our day, by proclaiming the “message of the rainbow” (not to be confused with the Covenant God made with Noah) on TV, at the movies, in books and textbooks, in libraries and schools. They are “happy” and they are proud!

                Meanwhile, the majority of the church has gone into the closet to hide in fear and shame. While it is important to go into the prayer closet every day, it is also vitally important to come out of that holy closet every day and live out our Christianity unashamedly before the world.

                The LGBTQIA community is proud of their sinful lifestyle. Are we going to be ashamed of the Gospel? Jesus was not ashamed. Paul was not ashamed (Romans 1:16) and millions of believers throughout the ages have not been ashamed to identify with Christ.

                We are not called to be proud or to celebrate our faith in Christ one day a week, or one week a year. We have been called to be:      

                The salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13, 14)

                Ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)

                A holy nation for Christ (1 Peter 2:9-10)

                Joyful in Christ at all times (Philippians 4:4)

                I pray that all of us can begin today to proclaim the living Gospel of Christ with our words and our deeds. We are the true evangelists certified and commissioned by the Lord.

                 A. G.

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“Personal Life”

                                                                             

                You have probably heard people talk about their “personal life.” They have divided their lives into different segments such as work, school, church, chores, shopping and personal time. This last one refers to the little bit of time we can dedicate to ourselves.

                In our personal time we do the things we like (and can afford) to do. We use it to play, rest, watch TV, go out with the family and do other fun activities. This is OUR time and no one should ever dare to mess with it.

                The term “Personal Life” goes beyond our free time and the activities we like. It also refers to a defined set of beliefs, attitudes and ideas we have about ourselves. Our personal life is that secret space we reserve only for ourselves. No one else is allowed there.

                The goal of every Christian must be the elimination of our personal life. In our conversion our dead spirit was reborn as we were baptized with the Spirit of God. This is what is known in theology as our union with Christ. As we grow in Christ (or better yet as Christ grows in us), our own personality begins to disappear until Christ is all that others can see in us when they look at our life.

                Paul understood this concept as he wrote in Galatians 2:20:

                I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I, who live, but Christ lives in me; and    the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

                You see, our life is not ours anymore. We have been redeemed (bought) with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). He is not only our Savior, but He is also our Lord, Master, King and Owner. Paul once again teaches this in Colossians 3:4,

               “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Emphasis added).

                The same message was sent to the Corinthian church:

                “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19 emphasis added).

                Our focus then must be, not in our “personal” life, but in the Person of Christ (Hebrews 12:1-2). We do not have a personal life anymore; Christ is in us and He lives his life in us and through us. We must die to sin and to our own desires and submit completely to Jesus. Only then will we be able to proclaim with Paul:

                “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.(Philippians 1:21)

                A. G.

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       “Sleeping Beauty”

                The tale or myth known as Sleeping Beauty was originated in Europe in the middle Ages. This story has been told and retold many times and was published in Italy, France and Germany with some variations from 1300-1800.

                In the twentieth century this trend continued and in 1959 Disney made this tale into a full length animated film. At the beginning it was a theatrical failure, but this movie was re-released many times in subsequent decades, becoming one of the most profitable productions of its era.

                The premise of the story is simple: A princess named Aurora or Briar Rose is cursed by an evil witch (all witches are evil, by the way) and falls into a deep sleep that could only be broken by the kiss of her one true love. The movie ends with the “resurrection” of the princess as she is kissed by the prince.

                This is witchcraft disguised as a children’s fairy (another word for witch) tale. In this movie you can find spells, incantations, witches and even a dragon. On the other hand, even a movie or a tale such as this can illustrate powerful truths…unintentionally, of course.

                For me, the witches and fairies represent demons and worshippers of Satan, who is depicted in the story by Maleficent, the mistress of evil, who later on turns into a dragon. The book of Revelation reveals the identity of this dragon:

                He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;” (Revelation 20:2)

                And what about Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty? I believe it symbolizes the overall state of the church of Jesus Christ today. This world is crumbling under the weight of sin and immorality and the church (for the most part) seems to be asleep.

                We have placed our lamps under a basket (Matthew 5:15) while we sleep in a bed of complacency and apathy. The world is turning darker every day and very few believers are bold enough to shine their light for Christ, which is the truth of the Gospel as we live it and proclaim it.

                A sleeping church is as effective as a weapon without any bullets. Even the apostles were admonished by Christ for sleeping in his greatest hour of need (Luke 22:45-47). We must wake up from our spiritual slumber to be an effective witness for Christ in this world.

             For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.  But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.  Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:8-14)

             A. G.

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