The Condition of America’s Heart.

The recent mass shootings that have occurred in our nation are appalling. As news from El Paso and Dayton come in about the more than 30 dead, we must ask ourselves why this is happening? Why is there so much hate between Americans?

I do not know the exact answer. Nor do I know what the exact solution could be. However, what I do know is that most of the mass shootings which have occurred, occurred because of hate. Hate because of bullying, racism, anti-semitism, work conflicts, and so many others. We need to learn as a nation to love one another like Jesus Christ commands us in his word. Only then, do I think that these mass shootings can come to an end. When we decide that democrats and republicans should love each other. People of all colors, races, creeds and cultures should love each other. When we decide that we should love and forgive those who have wronged us.

As a Mexican-American, it is chilling to know that the shooter in El Paso wanted but one thing, to kill hispanics. For the sole reason of being Hispanic.

I won’t lie and say that after I heard that news that I was not afraid. That I didn’t spend the day looking over my shoulder. That I didn’t come home to my family and give thanks to God that we were not affected. That I didn’t think about when will we, Hispanic Americans, be treated as ‘Americans’ and not as a ‘abnormal’ version of an American.

When will Hispanic (or any other prefix) Americans be treated as normal Americans? I know when.

It will happen when Americans of every color, culture, race, and creed treat each with love and they treat each other and call each other by their correct title – Americans – .

May God bless America, the land I love.

How can you tell if God lives in someone?

1 John 4:7-19

In this post, I will not be quoting the scripture because it is very long. However, I encourage you to read the passage before reading what I have to say about it.

How do you typically judge whether someone is a Christian? Do you even question whether someone is a Christian or not? I believe that it is important to be able to distinguish who is and is not a real Christian.

Not so that we can boast in our holiness or in that fact that we are saved and they are not. No. It is important to distinguish so that we may not be contained by false teachings or bad influences such that is described in 1 John 4:1-7. So that we do not fall into false teachings.

What is the distinguishing marker that will show you who is and is not a Christian?

Love. Only love.

A fervent worship, prayer, and scripture life is important. However, there are many people who worship, pray, and read scripture but are not Christians because of their disobedience towards God.

As I have posted before, there are two things that are important for a person to have a relationship with God. Faith and obedience. One of God’s commands, one of the most important, is to love one another as yourself. God is filled with unconditional and unrelenting love toward his creation! It is the very reason why he sent his son Jesus Christ to die on a Cross for our sins. It is the very reason why he desires to have an intimate relationship with us. The basis for all the God has done for us is love. If God truly lives in us, then that unconditional, unrelenting, forgiving, gracious, and merciful LOVE must also reside in us.

The scripture goes as far to say that “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” This can hit home for many of us. There have been times where we have been wronged and we just cannot seem to let it go. I know this personally. Its a horrible feeling to want to let something go but you just cannot because you either want justice or revenge. The reason I think why its so hard sometime for us to forgive and let go is because we want to see justice and revenge done before our eyes. We do not trust God that he will bring justice at the appropriate time. We want justice to be done when we want it and we want it done how we want it. However, God has not appointed us to be a judge. God has appointed himself as judge and we are to be and act as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to love, encourage, disciple, and minister.

Challenge:

Lets examine our hearts today to make sure that the love that God has given us, we are giving to others. That God’s love would rush out of us like a roaring river.

What is your life founded upon?

Matthew 7:24

24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Here Jesus has just finished telling us a few parables which illustrates commandments and principles he wants us to follow. There are two components here: listening and putting to practice. It is not good enough that we listen to God’s word and then live our lives according to our wants and desires. It is not good enough to follow rules, laws, and commandments without listening to the words that come from the mouth of the living God. Both separate from each other are insufficient.

Him who listens and does not do what is asked of him has faith that is dead (James 2:14-17).

He who attempts to follow all the rules and commandments of the Bible but does not listen to God’s word is like the Pharisees.

They believed that they were the holiest of the Israelites, yet, Jesus exposed them and went as far as to call them snakes. For it is by God’s grace and through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved, not solely by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Our spiritual lives must be founded on two things: faith and obedience. Together, they form the rock upon which are are to construct our lives. one without the other causes your life to be constructed upon sand and your house will quickly sink and break. Think of the two like cement mix. In order for the mix to harden to become cement, water must be added. Without it, it will remain sandy cement mix. First you have faith (cement mix) in Jesus Christ, and then you obey what he asks of you through the word and prayer (water). Together, they will harden the foundation of your life and when turbulent times come, you will be able to stay firm. Your house will not fall apart, but it will stay strong because Jesus Christ will be your foundation.

Challenge:

Listen to God’s word so that your faith may grow and obey God’s word so that your faith may harden and make you strong in the Lord.

Prayer – its not just communication with God

Today at my Church, the Pastor talked about what is really means to be in “prayer”. Often we think of prayer as only communication with God as if we were talking through the phone. An even worse interpretation, in my opinion, is that sometime prayer is thought about as a routine or a religious duty to make sure that we can still call ourselves a Christian.

Today, the Pastor talked about how prayer is not just communication with God, but being in his presence.

Our God is yearning to have a relationship with his creation. Since we cannot see God, we have a relationship through his presence. One of the definitions of presence is “a person or thing that exists or is present in a place but is not seen.” (Dictionary.com). That is how we have a relationship with God. We often talk about in Christianity that one can pray at any time, place, or manner, all of which is true; however, we often do not talk time out of our day to pray in a private and secluded place like Jesus Christ himself told us to do in Matthew 6.

I think that the reason why Jesus wanted us to do this is so that we could be concentrated on just being in God’s presence without interruptions or distractions. In a way, it similar to how couples want to spend time alone together. They just want to be enjoy each other’s presence. As the Bride of Christ, I think we should be doing the same and have those intimate prayer sessions where it its not just about petitioning God about what we need but just sitting there in his presence. So prayer is not about the petitions or the communication, but about being in his presence and you being in God’s.

Challenge:

Next time you go to pray after you communicate all that you have to tell or ask God for the day, sit in his presence. Enjoy his presence just how you would enjoy the presence of a friend. Prayer is not all about talking. Its also about listening and enjoying God’s presence.

There Is a Light At The End Of The Tunnel

2 Corinthians 1:8-11:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Discussion:

I think that we have all heard the saying that “there is always a light at the end of the tunnel”. However, one thing is to know the saying and another to live it.

How much trust do we have in God?

If you were to be in great deadly peril, would you have the confidence that God would deliver you?

I think that all christians should have the confidence that everything works out for the good of those who love Jesus (Romans 8:28). However, I think that we should evaluate what “good” means.

As Paul says in another verse, Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ and to die is gain”.

I do believe that in situations of deadly peril that God will deliver a Christian. However, that deliverance could either be freedom on earth or freedom in heaven (death). Why? because to live in Christ and to die is GAIN!

We are living on this earth temporarily. We are only passing by this earth as temporary residents (1 Peter 2:11). It think that as Christians we forget that our main goal to is be united with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is not to continue living on this earth. This is of course not to say that we should not work to preserve our lives because I believe that the Lord wants us to be good stewards of the gift of life that he has given us . However, I do believe that we should not fall in love with this life so deeply that we are unwilling to let it go if God were to ask for it back.

The Lord is our deliver. He is our healer. He is our peace and at all times we should have faith that the creator of the universe and the lover of our souls will bring us freedom. In whatever form it takes.

May the Lord be glorified in our struggles and trials because he is faithful to deliver us from evil. Like Paul said “He (God) has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again”.

Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Challenge:

Have faith in the deliverance that the Lord will provide. He is faithful and will not break his promise of never abandoning us. Even in the darkest night, know that the light from the sun will rise with the morning. Its only a matter of time.

Overlooking An Insult : Mark of Wisdom

Proverbs 12:16

“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.”

How many times do we feel insulted a day?

I ask myself this because in today’s world, fueled by social media, we often get insulted a lot and very easily. There are some instances where being insulted is justified but when should we overlook an insult like the bible is instructing us to do in this verse? Well, I think that for the answer to that question we have to define what “prudent” means.

According to Merriam-Webster, Prudent is defined as: marked by wisdom or judiciousness.

A mark of wisdom. I recently have been asking the Lord to give me wisdom and intelligence. It is wise not be be easily insulted because if we are easily insulted, that means that we can become easily influenced. If one is easily insulted, then one will be quick to react. react and not think about what one will say or do. If we do not think before we act, then we could end up doing foolish things such as hurling insults back, attacking physically, or any other negative reaction before analyzing. An analysis of the situation is important to be able to determine what the most appropriate reaction to the ‘insult’ could be and why we are insulted. Sometimes, we are insulted because we were proven wrong and the most appropriate reaction to that is to accept that we are wrong and to learn. Not to hurl back insults or to attack the person in any way.

When we are insulted, as Christians, we must think before we act. We must be slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19). Let us not act in a manner which is foolish because we represent a wise God and I believe that if we serve a wise God, then we must be wise people. If you do not feel you are wise, do as is written in James 1:5 and ask that God give you wisdom.

Challenge:

Ask God for wisdom so that we can be a better representation of Jesus Christ to the world.

American Christianity vs Biblical Humility

Proverbs 30:7-8

As an American Christian, it can be difficult to reconcile the American dream with the humility that Jesus has asked us to retain. In this proverb, the author asks God to not give him more than he needs but not less than he needs either. Why? because poverty can lead to desperation which can lead to sin. However, riches can lead to being haughty and the feeling of “self-sustaining”. The author wants only his ‘daily bread’. Jesus even said it himself in Matthew 19:24: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”.

American Christianity has quickly taken up what is often called the “Prosperity Gospel”, which, in a nutshell, says that it is God’s will that we all be rich in material wealth. This is based on the fact that God is in charge of all things, owns all things, and that he wants us to be ‘full and running over in abundance’. There are many verses which they use to support this but I will not get into that because that is not the purpose of this post. I only bring this up to show the condition and the mindset of many American Christians because the Prosperity Gospel lines up with the idea of the “American Dream”.

I think that as American Christians, we struggle with the idea that it may not be God’s will for us to be rich and to live in abundance. We think that it is a bad thing to live just wealthy enough to not be in poverty but not wealthy enough to be rich. We want God to give us what we want and we don’t want to receive what God has intended for us because “its not enough” and does not fit our image of the “American Dream”.

Let us, the American Church ponder and pray about why we serve God and what we expect for God to provide in terms of economic wealth.

I in no manner am I saying that being rich is a sin. Nor that God wants us all to live in poverty. However, I am saying that we should listen to Jesus’ words when he talked about how riches can prevent a person from being saved because of the evil that the love of money created in their heart.

May God supply all our needs according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (Philippians 4:19).