Pastor's Meditations

“Close your Mouth!”

                I have a bad habit, well I have many bad habits, but one of the worse ones (according to my wife) is that I allegedly chew food with my mouth open. I don’t know how many times she has brought this to my attention, but it has been more than a couple of times. Just the other day, I was eating my meal peacefully, when all of the sudden I heard a shrilling scream:


                In my defense, I don’t even realize when I am chewing with my mouth open. I notice this in other people eating around me, but I have no way of detecting this abominable behavior in my own life. I am not denying the fact that I do it; I just don’t notice it. One thing that I have noticed, however, is that when I do make a conscious effort to eat with my mouth closed, I feel very uncomfortable and the food doesn’t taste as good anymore.

                The reason that I and everyone else need to chew food with our mouths closed is mainly so that we don’t offend the people around us. You might feel comfortable and the food will taste better in your open mouth (it is a fact!), but those near you will be disgusted by the sights and sounds.

                And so, many of us refrain from chewing with our mouths open. We also do this when it comes to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. We do not want to offend others or to be offended by their apathy, mockery or insults.

                Perhaps we need to close our mouths at the dinner table when we are eating, but we need to pray that God will open our mouths to proclaim the Gospel to everyone around us. I know that the sound of our preaching is more disgusting than our food chewing to unbelievers, but we must continue to preach the truth in love.

                Open your mouth brother or sister. Declare your love for God openly to the whole world. I know this is a very scary thing to do for anyone. Moses didn’t want to do it (Genesis 4); Jonah didn’t want to do it (Jonah 1); Jeremiah didn’t want to do it (Jeremiah 20) and many others.

                Chewing food with our mouths open might be annoying to others and embarrassing for us, but proclaiming that Jesus is our Lord and Savior is the best thing we can do with our mouths. There have been many believers throughout the ages that were ashamed of being saved by grace, but not Paul. He testified in Romans 1:16,

                 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

                I need to close my mouth more when I eat, but all of us must open our mouths to praise God, preach the Gospel and proclaim that Jesus is coming soon.

                A. G.

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Preservation or Perseverance?

                A few weeks ago, I addressed the theme of the assurance of our salvation in one of the sermons in the book of Colossians. In chapter 1 verse 23 the apostle admonishes the church to persevere in the faith:

                “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

                As I mentioned in the message, this exhortation in no way teaches that we are responsible to earn, keep or maintain our saved status by our good works or holy behavior. We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and this salvation and even the faith we have comes from God.

                It was the same apostle who taught us that our salvation and indeed, our very faith depend on God, because it comes from Him. Jesus is not only the Object of our faith, but He is also the originator and the cause of our salvation.

                “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2)

                     “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6)

                The Bible also declares that, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9) or to put it in other words, salvation and faith comes from the Lord and there is nothing you or I can do to earn it or keep it. The Bible also declares that we are kept by God’s power (1 Peter 1:5) and that we are safe in his powerful hands (John 10:28-30).

                This is what is known as the Preservation of our faith and salvation in Christ.

                On the other hand, we are encouraged in the Bible to continue in the ways of the Lord. We are commanded to walk with Him, to preach the Bible, to live in holiness, to serve our Savior, to love God and each other and to read, study and obey all that we learn from God’s Word.

                We are also commanded to grow and mature as Christians. The faith that we have received in Christ must be nurtured, developed and activated. We must live what we believe. We must never work to attain or maintain our salvation, but we must submit to God and see his salvation working in and through us, or as the apostle says:

                “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)

                This is what is known as Perseverance of the saints

                Let us then persevere, but not in fear but because we are preserved by the mighty hands of God until the day when we will see Christ face to face.

                A. G

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                Right now I’m waiting outside the store where my wife and mother in law are shopping. I have been waiting for a while now and by the looks of it, it seems that I’ll be waiting for a long time.

                I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy waiting for anyone. Everywhere we go there is waiting involved. We must wait at a doctor’s office, at the store or super market, at restaurants and even in our jobs, as we patiently wait for the hour in which we get to go home.

                What are you waiting for?

                Perhaps you are waiting for a new job, a new home, a new car or for a new love in your life (if you are single). On the other hand, you might be waiting for a new baby to arrive or for the results of your latest test (medical or academic).

                “Good things come to those who wait”, so the saying goes. Waiting is a lost art in our instant gratification society. We don’t want to wait. We don’t want things today or tomorrow…we want everything and we want it yesterday!

                As Christians, we are admonished to wait on the Lord

                “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14)

                “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7)

            Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:7-8)

                Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23)

                The children of this world wait for nobody. They do not save for the future and are slaves of credit (loans and credit cards) in order to live the “American Dream” today.

                The children of God are saved by grace and they give all credit (glory and honor) to Jesus. We might never achieve riches and fame in this world, but we are confident in Christ that heaven will be our eternal home and that is worth “All” the wait!

                 A. G.

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Reach Out or Reach Down?

                Lately I have been thinking a lot about reaching out to our church neighbors and invite them to our church services. My plan is simple: Go out on Saturday mornings around the neighborhood and talk to them about Christ and our church.

                I pray that we will be successful and that many will join our church either as first time believers or as mature Christians seeking a Bible-believing and Bible-preaching church. I also pray that at least some of our church members will join me in this outreach effort.

                Most churches engage in some form of outreach or another. Vacation Bible Schools, Block Parties, Yard Sales, Potluck Meals, Free Clinics, Movie or Concert Nights, Sport Tournaments, Super Bowl Parties, Halloween Festivals, Back to School Events, Recovery Groups, Car Washes, English Classes, Food Pantries and don’t forget Bingo Nights in Roman Catholic churches.

                I think that sometimes we confuse reaching out to unbelievers with the Gospel of Christ with reaching “down” to the world. We have watered down the Gospel message in many churches in America and the world. Our church buildings have become hosts of every imaginable kind of event under the sun, while the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word is neglected.

                Reaching down to the world does not work. What usually happens when we lower our standards in order to “win” others to Christ is that we lose our clear Christian testimony and the lost continue to be lost. A watered down Gospel does not save anybody, but it sure fills the hearts of millions with false hopes.

                There are very few Christian radio stations; they are now only playing “positive hits” about having a better life. The name of Jesus is rarely mentioned (unless they are asking for money in one of their “Share-a-Thons” fundraisers) and there is no Bible teaching programs. And yet, they do all this to reach others for Christ.

                The “Christ” of the water-down, prosperity, down to earth “gospel” is very easy to reach. This false Jesus appeals to almost everybody because He doesn’t make any demands. You just need to come to him. No repentance is needed. No mention of his blood sacrifice. No deep Bible study and no calls to be dedicated disciples and servants.

                Anyone can be a “Christian” like that.

                No wonder all these mega-churches are filled with so-called believers. This is the reach-down gospel at work. This false gospel has removed anything that might be offensive to unbelievers. Their churches (if they can be called that!) are centers of entertainment and secular fellowship.

                Meanwhile, churches that preach and teach the true Gospel suffer from lack of attendance and spiritual apathy from some members. I prefer to be a part of a “boring” church that preaches the Gospel than to attend a big church with many empty programs and ministries.

                A. G.

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                “Te gusta to go to the iglesia?”

                “Do you like ir a la church?”

                The phrases above all mean the same thing (find out the meaning if you can) and are a clear example of a hybrid language that is spoken all the time by bilingual people in Miami and other cosmopolitan cities: “Spanglish.”

                “Spanglish” was also the name of a popular romantic movie in 2004. In this film a married American man falls in love with the Hispanic maid/nanny, but he and his wife chose to remain together, which is the right and biblical thing to do.

                Mixing races, cultures and languages in a marriage is challenging, but not sinful. A marriage between a believer and an unbeliever (even from the same race, nationality and social class) is not only a bad idea, but it is also a grave sin and so it is getting mixed up in extramarital affairs.

                The children of God are called to walk faithfully with Christ, but we are sometimes guilty of spiritual “Spanglish” which is a mixture of darkness and light. There are many examples of spiritual “Spanglish” in the Bible and in the practical life of many contemporary Christians.

                We see this kind of “Spanglish” in Adam and Eve: They attempted to serve God and to fall into sin at the same time. The same happened to King David, to some prophets, to the apostle Peter and to many others.

                The Bible tells us that we cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13)

                The Bible also tells that there is only one God and that only He must be worshipped:

                “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)

                 We must have only one love, which is God. Therefore we are commanded by the apostle John,

                    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)

                “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

                Let us speak only one language: The language of heaven.

                A. G.

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