Almost

We use the word “almost” when something was close to happening. Life is full of many “almosts” in which we felt short of achieving something (winning a competition, passing an exam, getting a job, etc.). There are “almosts” that are trivial, but there are “almosts” that can become a regret for life. For example, making the decision to follow Jesus is not trivial: eternal life depends on it.

On one occasion, a man approached Jesus and asked how to inherit eternal life (Mark 10: 17-22). From the context, it seems that he had a real intention, as he came running to Jesus, and knelt before Him. Everything seemed to indicate that he would become a disciple of Christ. But Jesus, because of love, had to confront him with the truth of his heart.

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him: You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor … Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. – Mark 10: 21-22

This man almost became a disciple of Christ, but in the end, he decided to follow another path.

There are things that failing to achieve doesn’t mean the end of the matter, as there will be additional opportunities to achieve them. However, nobody knows how long his or her life will last. Therefore, no one can afford to, like the man in the story, to walk away from Jesus, having almost inherited salvation.

Eternal life is not something to add to the list of things that you almost accomplished. This “almost” will become not only a regret for life, but for eternity.

Jesus will confront you with what is in your heart. It may be painful, but something is certain: Jesus does it because he loves you.

May following Jesus and inheriting eternal life not be an almost, but a certainty in your life!

Mankind Story

I recently watched the movie “Toy Story 4”. It contains some teachings from which we can learn. ALERT, the following may be a spoiler.

Bonnie, the girl who owns the toys, built Forky with materials from the garbage. Forky becomes her favorite toy, but sees himself as garbage, and constantly seeks to return to it.

Woody, the main toy in the series, understands that his purpose is for Bonnie to be happy. For this reason, he dedicates himself to the difficult task of preventing Forky from returning to the garbage. Eventually, Forky escapes, and Woody, ignoring the dangers, and recognizing that this would make Bonnie sad, decides to rescue Forky. His mission: make him understand that he is no longer garbage, and help him return to his owner.

God created mankind, in his image and likeness. Due to sin, we were expelled from the place where we enjoyed God’s presence. But God did not stop loving us. He himself paid the price of our transgression, giving his life through Christ, to rescue us and give us the opportunity to return to enjoy his presence. This is the Mankind Story.

Some have become accustomed to living in a condition of perdition. They see the result of sin, and believe that they cannot abandon that life. They are rooted in the identity of sin, and cannot understand their new identity in Christ.

Those already enjoying as children should not forget that God has great love for those who remain lost. It is not easy to live as God’s children in our society: we are judged and mocked. But God is looking for people willing to ignore the risks, and do what is necessary to help restore the identity to those who have lost it. There is a need for someone to make them understand that they are forgiven, and help them return to their God.

Did you lose your identity? You were forgiven. You are His child. Come back home.

Are you a child of God? Take a risk. Be the Woody that the Forkys of this world need.

It is over

Isn’t it sad when your favorite team is losing in an embarrassing way? When the score difference is small, the hope of recovering and obtaining victory is kept. But when your team is losing in a big way, the hope for victory is lost. Sometimes fans decide to leave, because for practical purposes, the game is over.

These feelings are not unique to sporting events, as we experience them in life. There will always be problems to face, but sometimes the problems are of such magnitude that we are overwhelmed. As a result, we lose our focus, and frustration takes over our mind, making us think that hope is over.

I remember a baseball game in which my home team was losing by nine runs. As a result, we left early, and followed the game on the radio. Surprisingly, the home team scored ten runs and won the game. By assuming defeat, I missed the opportunity to witness the victory.

A few days ago, I was going through a frustrating situation that made me sad and discouraged. That Sunday I was at church, but my heart wasn’t there. Everything was fine until the fourth song. I wanted to leave. How is it possible that they were going to sing one more song? To my surprise, the song I didn’t want to hear was the message that I needed. Through that song, God revealed my problem, brought me peace, removed my frustration, and restored my hope.

If that Sunday I had left church early, I would have lost my victory. Don’t give up to your problem. God has victory awaiting for you as well. Give him a chance.

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. – John 16: 33b

Problems can make you feel that hope is over, but whoever is in Christ can live in confidence of certain victory.

War

The 75th anniversary of D-Day was recently celebrated. This was an important day for the allied forces in their way to the liberation of Europe. Thousands of lives were lost on both sides as a result of this battle. There were many more who gave their lives during the Second World War. It seems a high price to pay, but unfortunately, there are times when this is the price necessary to save those who do not have the ability to protect themselves.

The same logic does not apply to the war that the kingdom of heaven carries in favor of lost souls. First, the price to be paid was made in its entirety by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The debt was completely paid off. Only one life needed to be sacrificed, and that was the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the second place, there is a detail that we can’t forget in this war: its purpose is to save the souls, not destroy them (John 3:17).

All of us who are now part of the kingdom of heaven, previously lived a life that did not please God. However, God never saw us as enemies, but as lives deceived by the enemy and in need of being rescued.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12

The war is against spiritual forces that hold the souls captive. Our part in this war is not to fight against the souls, but to allow God to use us as the means by which He can rescue them.

We have a great responsibility. Let the grace of God be manifested through us. Let’s make sure we are seen as rescuers and not as enemies.

A day to remember

The United States of America celebrates Memorial Day on the last Monday of May. Like other holidays, we enjoy the time off work (those who can), but tend to forget the meaning of what is being celebrated.

However, the meaning of this day is one that we must not forget, because in this day we remember and honor those soldiers who lost their lives in the service of their country. It is sacrifices like these that have allowed us to enjoy the freedoms we now have.

There is another day that we must not forget: the day Jesus gave his life in sacrifice for us.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. – John 3: 16-18

If we celebrate the freedom of a country, how much more should we celebrate freedom for humanity? Before the death of Jesus on the cross, humanity was permanently separated from its creator and without hope. But what was impossible for us, was fulfilled when the son of God offered his life in a sacrifice that forever satisfies the unpayable debt of our sin.

All of us have reason to remember and celebrate what Jesus did for us. Thanks to Him we moved:

  • from condemned to justified
  • from enemies to children
  • from death to eternal life

Remember what Jesus did for you, accept his sacrifice and celebrate every day the freedom he achieved for you.

Hacked

Virtual security has become one of the most important things. Due to hacking incidents, it is important to protect the information we share, as it can be accessed and used to steal your identity and money.

We are all exposed to being hacked. Imagine that your account is hacked. How would you feel if your online browsing history, the TV shows you watch, and your private conversations were published so that everyone could see it?

I’m sure we’ve all had shameful moments that we do not want other people to know about.

If it is shameful that other people find out about our private lives, how should we feel knowing that God knows everything about us? He knows every fact, word, thought, and even our intentions.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. – Psalm 139:1-4

Knowing this can be a source of terror. It is like going to a trial where there is only incriminating evidence and the judge is the person against whom the crimes have been committed.

Yes, God knows each one of our sins.

Yes, every one of our sins is an offense against God.

Yes, God could decide to get rid of everyone that sins against Him.

But more importantly, God loves us and wants us all to have the opportunity to reconcile with Him.

All your life is known by God. What are you going to do? You can run away from Him in shame. But better yet, you can run to Him in repentance and worship.

Cleaning time

Many people take advantage of the arrival of spring to perform a thorough cleaning, including fixes and discarding what is no longer useful.

This reminds me of what Jesus did in the temple. He was usually a quiet person, had an unexpected reaction. It looks like instead of trying to make disciples, he was pushing them away.

Jesus wanted his followers to understand that they would receive freedom, but not political, but more important than they could imagine: spiritual freedom. For this reason, it was necessary for him to cleanse from corruption the place reserved for worshiping God. Jesus came into the world to free us from the corruption that separates us from God.

His reaction to what was happening in the temple was to be expected. Jesus wanted his followers to be absolutely clear that there is no place for sin in the presence of God.

If Jesus were to enter our temple, what would you do? I do not mean the building, but the temple that God establishes in the lives of those who receive Jesus.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. – 1 Corinthians 3: 16-17

Will there be something to clean up in order to receive God as he deserves? Will there be something to throw away?

Jesus gave his life to cleanse us from the filth of sin. There will always be situations in which our temple requires cleansing (that is why we repent and ask for forgiveness). It is important to take care of intentionally hoarding garbage in the place that is reserved for God.

Allow Jesus the freedom to do the necessary cleansing, and be willing to keep your life in the condition that God’s presence deserves.

In Fashion

The seasons of the year can teach us about fashion.

The summer is highlighted by the green views and the color offered by the flowers, but then fall comes. Though it receives us with beautiful colors, we see as the leaves of the trees begin to fall and the green views disappear. Then winter comes, with the trees reflecting their nakedness and the grass dressing with a color of death. But like the arrival of hope, spring comes with a rebirth: the green views claiming its dominance and the leaves of the trees resurfacing, announcing its arrival with beautiful colors.

The seasons teach us a lesson about life. Summer with its splendor represents God’s design for us. But due to our disobedience and sin, we slip into the fall, slowly withering away from our design. The final stage is then inevitable, taking us into a winter where we end up dressed in death.

God ensures that there is always a spring after a winter. In the same way, he has ensured that our nature doesn’t remain in the nakedness and death that represents our separation from God. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we all have the opportunity to regain the purpose for which we were designed.

Once we receive this gift we can’t stay dressed in withered clothes. God gives us the power to change it, but the decision is ours. We have to put off the old self and put on the new self.

put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones… And above all these put on love. – Colossians 3:9-14

Get dressed in the fashion that God designed for you.

Do you love me?

Saint Valentine’s Day is gone, and with it the number of commercials trying to make us think that the way to love someone is to give them whatever it is that they are selling. Although there are times when it is important to demonstrate love through a gift, this shouldn’t be the main expression.

Loving someone includes time, attention, care, empathy, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and sacrifice, among others. For some reason, we tend to neglect these details, and try to fill the gap left by replacing it with gifts. It is easier to spend money on a gift than to take time to share with the person we love. Unfortunately, gifts, no matter how well received, don’t have the capacity to satisfy the need for love that we have as human beings.

Fortunately, there is someone who knows how to demonstrate what true love is.

God decided to come to earth and live among us (time), leaving behind his throne to personally experience human feeling (understanding). His time on earth didn’t represent that of a wealthy person, but that of a humble person who had to work for his own sustenance.

During his ministry Jesus showed what true love was: he enjoyed children (attention), he healed the sick, he raised the dead, he protected the marginalized (compassion), he wept with the mourners (empathy), he cared and prayed for his people (care), and had compassion of the sinners (forgiveness). But his demonstration of love didn’t end with these details. He gave us the greatest gift that humanity can receive: his own life as a sacrifice in order to offer us the opportunity of salvation.

Nobody has greater love than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13

If you need to be loved, go to the source: God is love.

And the winner is…

In a professional sports season, there are many teams that start, but only one team can obtain the winner’s trophy. If we look at it from another point of view, all of the other teams were losers.

Thank God that life is not measured like sports competitions! For most of us, winning is not achieved by making others lose, but by doing our best to achieve our goals. Despite this, no amount of effort will make us immune to defeats.

We can’t deny that life brings many experiences that feel like defeats. These can manifest in situations such as: broken relationships, financial problems, illnesses, dissatisfaction, insecurity, etc. No one is exempt from experiencing situations like these.

In the world you will have tribulation [affliction] – John 16:33b

Experiencing affliction is not a possibility; rather it is a certainty. Affliction will impact us all sooner or later. If you think that this looks like a depressing message, you’re right. But understanding the reality that there will be afflictions does not mean that we have to lose hope.

As a baseball fan, I have learned that no matter of what the scoreboard says, hope is alive until the last out.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart [trust me]; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

Jesus assured his disciples that life would bring difficult circumstances. But at the same time, he assured them that they could trust that none of those circumstances would change the reality of their final victory in Him. Jesus doesn’t want anything to distract his followers from this reality.

Why settle for a life without hope, when we can have victory in Jesus?

Join the winning team.