Let the dead bury their own dead

Sometimes Christians can easily forget the cost of discipleship and what it really means to follow Jesus Christ. Many of us get into a state of comfort and not realize that our time here on earth is meant to preach the gospel of truth to the spiritually dead (meaning people who don’t know Christ and are not born again).

In Luke chapter 9, you can see a man telling Jesus that he needs to go bury his father first. However, Jesus responds, “Let the dead bury the dead, but you go and preach the Kingdom of God.” What an interesting response. Dead people can’t literally bury other dead people. What Jesus was saying to him figuratively is that spiritually dead people worry about mundane things… like taking care of their inheritance, their savings, saying goodbye to their family members. In Jewish burial customs, if a man had to bury his or her family member, they would bury them immediately and mourn for seven days. If this was the case, there was no time for any disciple to follow through with all of this, it was just simply a “leave of absence” excuse and Jesus was not having it.

The same goes for you, brother or sister in Christ. Be prepared to be hated by your family members. Jesus wants you to love your family even if they despise you and be patient with them until they receive the Lord. But this sometimes isn’t the case for most followers of Christ, sometimes their family members may disown them, but as much as it may hurt, Jesus said, ” For whoever does the will of my father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Be prepared to be despised by atheists, agnostics, and other people of different faiths. Be prepared to let go of the things of the world that you so dearly love, things like even your career, your goods, anything that may possibly be holding you back from following Jesus. Not saying having a career or money is bad, but if those things are holding you back from following Jesus, forget them. You cannot serve two masters.

So today, if you’ve been a lukewarm Christian, it’s time to evaluate your stance with Christ. Time is of the essence and our days are numbered. We cannot concern ourselves with the things of this world, but instead, we must remember the very first words of Jesus when He started His ministry, ” Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

The hour of salvation is now.

When the wicked win…

This month God has been revealing to me a lot about injustices and what happens to people who commit such things. I wrestled in my heart, trying to figure out what happens to people who get away with wickedness. As I searched for answers, God took me to the book of Judges in chapter 19 and showed me what happens when people turn wicked and the results of it.

If you’ve never read chapter 19 in Judges, you’re probably going to be shocked at the amount of evil that could protrude out of people and how much harm it causes. These types of injustices and crimes happen all the time to people and in the book of Judges, you can see it happen to an innocent woman. In this story, we see how a woman is raped by a group of perverted men from the tribe of Benjamin and is abused to the point of death. God ultimately provides justice for this woman and her husband who was a Levite (a holy priest). Wickedness was prevailing in the tribe of Benjamin and God sought out to destroy them, even if it means killing His own. God does not tolerate wickedness.

Perhaps you’ve dealt with your own injustices, maybe not as harsh as this or maybe as harsh as this. And although this story didn’t happen to me, it happened to someone in my high school while I was there. I was a sophomore and she was a senior. I remember vividly seeing my friends crying because of what happened to Ana Maria Angel. And even though I never met her, I weep for her and her mother. Surely, God will bring justice to them.

Here is what God wants you to see how He deals with wicked people who have committed a crime against you.

#1 Punishment is sure to come.  The parable of the widow woman is a great example. You can find it in Luke 18:1-8. In this parable, Jesus talks about a widow who was in desperate need of justice, but the unjust judge, who did not fear God nor men, listened to her pleas. This is interesting because, towards the end, the judge actually grants her justice. The judge doesn’t do it out of compassion or righteousness but does it because he was fed up with her. Later, you see Jesus saying, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” It’s clear that injustices don’t go unnoticed for God.

#2 Don’t envy the wicked. Proverbs 24:1 says, “Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company.” Sometimes we’re envious that wicked people are prospering and they get away with things. We wonder what they’re doing and we think perhaps we’re doing something wrong. Indeed they are prospering, but what’s actually happening spiritually is their bondage to the kingdom of darkness. Whatever means they go through to achieve this prosperity, whether it be lying, cheating, stealing, or hypocrisy…it is never a good idea to envy their ways nor act in their ways. “When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases: but the righteous shall see their fall.” Hence the reason why God destroyed the tribe of Benjamin, to the point that only 600 men were left. Psalm 91:8 says, “You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.”

But what about wicked people who die and don’t get justice here on earth? The quick answer is … they will perish in Sheol for eternity.

#3 Pray for your enemies.  Why should I pray for my enemies? This is what God taught me in relation to praying for my enemies. Ezekiel 18:23 says, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” You can see here that God, in His mercy and justice, doesn’t want the wicked to continue down that path of destruction. God doesn’t want us to pray for our enemies to end up in hell, but instead, He wants us to pray for their repentance. We pray for them that they will have a change of heart and their lives can be transformed. Even in your anger against them, you can ask God to help you pray for them and that they will turn from their wicked ways.

Remember that your justice is coming and your heavenly Father does not slumber and does not sleep. Pray that God heals you in the wait of your justice.

What happens if I don’t receive Jesus in my life?

A lot of people think that if they choose to ignore and simply “respect” other people’s religions, the responsibility of making a decision to receive Jesus or not will just simply vanish. That could not be further from the truth, in fact, prolonging the decision is very consequential. Here are a few things that happen when you prolong this decision.

#1 You allow deeper strongholds in your life to take place. This means that because you do not have the Holy Spirit living in you, you don’t have discernment and you open the doors to the enemy. There is no protection for you, you are not covered with the blood of Jesus. Demons can come into your life to oppress you and even possess you. For instance, sexual immorality opens the doors to bondage to people, demons and deep wounds in your heart. The word of God says you sin against your own body. Other strongholds include the spirit of disbelief. If you keep feeding that disbelief in Jesus, your heart will keep hardening and hardening.

#2 You risk your destination in eternity. Yes, if you die without Jesus there is only one place destined for you and that is hell. Plain and simple. People do not grasp what hell is like because they think it is some sort of “fictional” place because they’ve never seen it or experienced it. However, Jesus spoke about the kingdom of darkness and hell all throughout His ministry. This is WHY he came to die for us, to deliver us from death…that second death.

It is all over the old testament and new testament. Malachi 4:1 says, “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.” And in the new testament you see it everywhere, an example in Luke 13:28 – “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” and Luke 16:23– “In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham from afar with Lazarus by his side. 24So he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue.”

#3 You miss out on your best life. The moment you receive Jesus, you have not only surrendered to God to take over your life, but you enter into a covenant with God. You become a child of God and all the coverings that come with having God as your Father and protector. Not saying you won’t ever experience trials, because Jesus did say we would be hated by the world. But it will be your best life because Jesus fills every void in your heart, He restores you and makes you whole again. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10  And aside from having an abundant life, full of the love of Jesus, you get to establish a relationship with Him here on earth before you arrive in heaven. What honor it is to grow that relationship with Him and not wait until your deathbed to know Him.

So today is the day of salvation, don’t wait for tomorrow! Take that step NOW! “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 

God bless you!

The gift of forgiveness

As a Christian, it’s almost a given that you are supposed to forgive. We shouldn’t be told that we need to forgive, but believe it or not, sometimes Christians need that extra nudge or rebuke for not forgiving. I used to believe that unforgiveness was something that could be taken care of overnight, with a single prayer, or even declaring that you’ve forgiven that person…the issue would be gone. Turns out that is not the case, God knows our heart and He will reveal to you if you have truly forgiven or not. How do I know this? Simple, God will cause you to dream about the people you have not forgiven. It has happened to me countless times and my spirit immediately recognizes what God is saying to me. Gosh, I love God, He is so patient with us. There is nothing God overlooks, even your partial forgiveness does not go unnoticed.

A prime example of forgiveness is Jesus himself. After all, he did die on the cross for us and forgave us for our past, present and future sins. He said, “Forgive them for they don’t know what they do.” I don’t believe Jesus was only referring to those mocking Him at that moment, but to all of humanity. Truly we don’t know what we are doing when we live without Christ, we don’t realize that we sin against God when we don’t receive Jesus in our hearts. Simply the rejection of Christ is a sin. So why is forgiveness a gift? Forgiveness is something that we don’t deserve and it is given freely, without a cost. It is a gift because not only are we grateful that God has given us forgiveness but because of that we too forgive others. It’s a special kind of gift that only you can give to yourself and to the person that hurt you. It’s not a fabricated gift, it’s a tailored gift. And God is pleased with you when you have a heart that is quick to forgive.

Here are three reasons why you should impart the gift of forgiveness:

#1 Bitterness in your heart is removed: Bitterness halts our progress in our spiritual life. We must have a spirit of gratitude, despite our situation. When we let go, the root of bitterness is literally rooted out of our spirit and we can move on.

#2 God wants you to have a pure heart: The word of God says that those who have a pure heart shall see God. Don’t you want to hear from God? God doesn’t listen to sinners and He also resists the proud. Yes, that means you need to let go of pride.

#3 You’re able to sow in others when you forgive: Yes, instead of preoccupying our focus on the situation or keeping records of wrongs, we must let go and focus your energy in sowing generously in others. Love does not keep records of wrongs. You cannot invest in others nor minister to others with resentment in your heart.  Invest in people, build relationships, and minister to others and move past the offenses. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

Last but not least, there is something quite special that God sees from you when you forgive and let go. And this is what He says… Proverbs 19:11 – “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” Can you believe that? God says it is to your glory for overlooking a transgression! Can you imagine what incredible blessings will come when you let go of those emotions that are hurting you? Remember that Jesus said, “Woe to the world because of offenses. For offenses will inevitably come, but woe to that person by whom the offense comes” (Matthew 18:7). Yes, you will be tempted to sin because someone has offended you, the sin comes when you open the door to an offense. Shut the door to an offense and believe that God will honor you for having a heart that forgives, a heart like HIS. God bless you!


The Make it or Break it Test

       Are you one of those people who is currently struggling to pass a test? Does this test mean everything for you? Your livelihood is at stake, your career, your destination. You’ve either failed at it several times and you feel hopeless, or you’re preparing for it and the thought of it makes the yoke heavier. The anxiety keeps increasing and you’re literally a slave to this test. If this is you, you’re definitely not alone and God will work everything out for your good; I am serious. These past three years I’ve been working on getting my license for my teaching career. In order to receive this license, you have to go through a series of requirements showing experience, you need a bachelor’s degree, and you need to pass about seven incredibly difficult state exams. Some of the exams I passed with flying colors, others not so much. As a journalism major, learning about the educational field was completely new to me. It was a world I had never entered and I was starting from scratch. After some time, I passed all six of my exams. I thought I was finished, but I wasn’t. There was one more exam I needed to fulfill to complete the requirements of my job. I figured it wouldn’t be such a difficult task, what’s one more test? It turned out harder than I had imagined.

       Throughout my journey with this test and preparation, God taught me a few things that I would like to share with you. This is especially for those people who feel as if this particular “test” defines who they are, what will happen to them, and it has the ability to break you. The truth is, no test has that power to overcome you in any way. Here is what God taught me:

#1 Put God First. ( Sometimes we can be SO consumed with this test, we eat, breath, and even have nightmares about it. We weep about it, we fret over it, and we halt our time with God, our social lives and even our personal time due to this test. It’s important that we always put God before everything else and not worry. He is the only one that deserves all that time and attention, not a test).

#2 Trust in God’s Timing. (Yes, it sounds cliche, but it’s a fundamental lesson. God knows you’re on a deadline, you don’t need to remind him. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me.” God will not allow you to fail, He will give you a helping hand).

#3 Let Go. (This one took me at least six months before I understood why I had to let go. I had to let go of the pressure, the fear of not having a job, the fear of not fulfilling my final task, the fear of failure. I had to trust in God’s provision and that He would be faithful to guide me on the right path, even if I did not pass).

#4 Honor God by Trusting Him. ( I could not do this in my own strength. I came to a point that I could no longer rely solely on my knowledge, but I needed God’s wisdom for this exam. Even asking for the right studying material was something I needed to seek God for. Surrender it all to Him and HE WILL guide you).

#5 Persevere. ( Romans 5:4 – “Perseverance, character; and character, hope.” God showed this verse to me when I asked him what else was I supposed to do when I started losing hope. This is something we must never forget, perseverance is the only thing that will mold our character and give us hope. God allows you to go through this trial so that you will learn this).

In the end, I passed my test. I am so grateful but more than anything I am grateful for what God taught me. I’ll never forget the lessons. This entire time I wasn’t preparing to pass this state exam, I was preparing to pass God’s test. May this bless you and give you the courage to fight and remember this, God never fails… Joshua 1:9- Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go).

God bless!

Do you have a Judas friend?

Throughout my walk with Christ, I’ve encountered several people in my life who call themselves a friend to me, specifically self-professing Christians, but truly don’t have their best interest for me. Before I used to live on the defensive side, using a micro-loop to see if I was dealing with a Judas Iscariot in my life. Many times we’ve encountered those friends who judge us constantly, speak ill, have a personal agenda, recriminate you for anything, and if you were to fall in a ditch, let’s just say you’re not too sure they would sincerely help you get out. And if they do, it would be out of courtesy or duty before God, not because they love you. But all of this is really an issue in their hearts, for the word of God says, you will know them by their fruits. Simply their actions demonstrate their true feelings towards you. So what do we do now? What does God want you to do now that you are aware of the Judas in your life? Run! I’m just kidding!

Let’s take a look at the gospel of Matthew, where Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas was a disciple of Jesus, who turned traitor, by leading soldiers to arrest Jesus. All done in the name of money. But somehow, Jesus called him “friend.” And when you think about it, Jesus is not one to lie, he always spoke the truth to people. He would call the Pharisees brood of vipers and hypocrites! What was different about Judas?

Judas walked closely with Jesus, listened to Him, and partook with Jesus in the Passover. Anyone in their right mind would assume that Judas was indeed someone who at least “loved” Jesus because he was with him all the time. You don’t just let go of everything in your life to follow after someone unless you love them…OR unless you have your own agenda. This is where the Holy Spirit allows us to discern who is truly our friend and who is just a “friend.” Before I get into what the word friend means, notice how I’m not even placing them in the category of “enemies” because they are not. They are your brothers and sisters in Christ and are still a part of the family of the Kingdom of Heaven. However, when we look at why Jesus referred to Judas as a “friend,” we wonder, well how was he a friend if he was a betrayer? In our eyes, Judas was a false friend, a liar, a hypocrite. But Jesus didn’t call him any of that, surprisingly he called him “friend.”

Now if we look at the word “friend” used in the Bible; using the Greek translation, “friend” translates to “hetairos ,” which means comrade or companion. If you notice in the parable of the workers, Matthew 20:13 it says, “”But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?” We see the word, here again, not necessarily used in the context of a loyal friend, but someone who is a fellow companion. Another example we find is the story of Job, he was recriminated by his friends and they lacked compassion and lament over the divine attack he was experiencing. They instead attacked him and tormented Job because they were convinced he was at fault. Sometimes we have those friends who are “overly spiritual” and lack compassion for what you may be experiencing. Job 6:14 says, “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” Despite all of their lack of compassion, God forgave them for their ignorance.

So, do we stop being friends with people that behave in this manner? Do we hold grudges or resentment? No, instead we pray for extra grace over your friends and grace over you on how to handle these matters, without getting upset. We love them unconditionally and we pray that God will give us the wisdom to show them true compassion and love. Because ultimately we too offend sometimes and we as well are being perfected in Christ. And even in the times you feel completely frustrated at your friends…. remember this verse to help you get through.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love,” Ephesians 4:2. Amen and amen.

Prayer: Lord I pray that anyone who may be experiencing this right now is given grace and peace to learn how to handle these matters. I pray that the peace of Jesus will overwhelm them and that they may be filled with love towards their friends and not contempt. Thank you for your patience with us and for your loving kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. Bless this person and may their walk continue strong with you. We pray that all spirit of division and spirit of dissension be canceled now in the name of Jesus. And may the church of Christ be united more than ever, because no matter what the enemy tries, God’s people will always stand firm in the faith. Help us be humble, gentle, patient, and loving towards one another, especially towards those of the faith. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Be still in the storm

Lately I’ve been finding myself in a lot of storms, usually, it is one right after the other.  I realize that in the storm of doubt, affliction, and spiritual attacks, God wants us to be still.

You may be going through your own struggles, perhaps a sickness that has recently appeared in your life, your work situation isn’t improving, or your family may be more divided than ever. In situations like this, why would God ask us to be still? Does He not understand that we need to do something about it, or better yet, He does?

This is where God wants us to know that when we are still, He is God and He is in control. Here are a few tips on how to remain still, but yet calm and completely trusting that He will find a way for you to come out of the storm unharmed.

Tip # 1  Trust. When you trust the Lord and acknowledge Him. He will make your paths straight. No matter how bad the situation, trust that God is with you and His presence is with you. God will command His angels to protect you and your foot will not stumble.

Tip # 2 Stay in peace. God will give you peace that surpasses all understanding. No matter how hopeless the situation, the outcome will be God’s will. Be at peace that His decision is the best decision. He always wants what is best for you. He will not give you anything you cannot bear or endure. You will come out of this and it will pass.

Tip # 3  Rejoice & remain joyful. There is nothing more hateful for Satan than to see you rejoicing in the midst of your storm. Yes, dance in the rain, Jesus is with you. Satan wants to take your joy away, see you in pain, crying and defeated. Today declare that you are more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. God is in control, so rejoice, for today the Lord has made this day.

God bless!

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