A Lesson from Jesus

Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste (purpose), how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on by people [when the walkways are wet and slippery]. “You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.

In this piece of Scripture, Jesus provided us the two illustrations of “salt” and “light.” Each of these examples are meant to build upon the other and this is the core of this short message. This lesson is just as important and valid today as it was to Christ and His disciples many years ago. Jesus wanted his followers to be like salt so that people would thirst for more knowledge. By being the “salt,” His disciples should always maintain their character and never change their message or their ways. If they would change their character by compromising to this world, they have truly lost their purpose. Similar to salt losing its taste. By making this statement, Jesus is telling us that our character matters. How we walk, talk, and think matters. The first thing that people notice about us is our character. Are we good and positive people or are we not. This is a very important lesson that we must take to heart as Christians. Whenever we stop living in accordance to God’s Word, we lose our purpose and start to allow the world to influence us because we are no longer working in accordance with God’s purposes for us, and this purpose is to proclaim Christ lived, Christ died, and that Christ concurred death and rose on the third day. However, how will anyone take us seriously if we have no “salt” in our words? Are we leaving people thirsty to know more about Jesus or are the people we are speaking to agreeing with us to shut us up? Maybe, just maybe, the reason why we are not leaving people thirsty for the Gospel is that we need to work on our character and the consistency of our walk with Christ.

Next, Jesus references to His disciples about being the “light.” This “light” means to give people direction, and that every direction should always lead to Jesus Christ. Jesus disciples were to guide and lighten up the path of those they were ministering to. Just like a rescuer with a flashlight helping a bunch of people lost in the dark. However, this part of Jesus’ message goes a little deeper than that. Just as easy as someone with light can guide someone, the light also shows the deeds of the people with it. If we are to light the way for others, don’t expect them not to judge our every action. They will judge our relationships and our works. This is as true then as it is now. Jesus sent out His disciples to live by example and to share the doctrines of His Father. This is why He used these two examples in this message.

The purpose behind my message is simple. If we are truly wanting to carry our cross and follow Jesus, we need to ensure that we the right amount of “salt” and “light” in our lives. Are you a person of good character? Do you walk our your faith instead of simply talking about it? When you talk about Jesus, do people stop what they are doing to listen to your words? Jesus is not saying that you have to be a theologian or hold a Ph.D. In Religion. Jesus is telling us that we need to have good character and live in a manner that brings Him glory. When people see Christ in our lives and they see the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, they want to find out why. They want to find out why you are different. This means that your character cannot waiver. If you are “hot” one day and “cold” the next, your words will not carry any seasoning to make them thirst for more. This also applies to our good deeds. Remember that we should always do the right thing to be rewarded by our Heavenly Father instead of the people around us. When we can do this, we can be powerful and effective. So please, if you feel like your losing your “salt” or “light,” call upon the Holy Spirit to give you the discernment to change and study what the Bible tells you to do. It is that simple.

Now, let us pray. Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that your children never lose their purpose in you. I pray that our character and deeds align with your Word and your Word alone. May the guidance of the Holy Spirit help us be reflective on our lives and our ministry. Father, since we are called to lead the lost by guiding them and the only way we can do this is by living a life of example, I pray that you give us all the strength to do so. In Jesus name, we pray, Amen!

We are the leper!

Matthew 8:1-3

When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came up to Him and bowed down before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You are able to make me clean (well).” Jesus reached out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Before I start this message, I would like to first explain what it meant to be a leper in the time of Jesus. As the Jewish people were taught from the book of Leviticus, they were instructed to keep away from people with the “leper plague.” If someone was stricken with leprosy, they would be brought to a priest and inspected. They were told to be cleaned and if the person still had leprosy, they were shunned from the community. Their belongings would be burned, this was to include their homes if they were deemed “unclean.” People did not want anything to do with a leper. These people were hurt physically, emotionally, and spiritually because of this disease. These lepers were socially rejected everywhere they went. Can you possibly imagine how this can make a person feel? From the moment they were stricken with leprosy until the day they died, they were treated so poorly. In fact, they were treated worse than farm animals. I don’t know about you but this destroys my heart to even think of how these people were treated.

Now, by understanding the background of a person with leprosy, I want to start this message. The leper came to Jesus and acknowledged His authority as Lord. He bowed before Jesus and having confidence through his faith in Jesus said, “If you are willing, You can make me clean.” That leper knew exactly who Jesus was and the authority that was given to Him by God. This is something that we should take to heart. It is one thing to have faith, and it is another this to have confidence because of how strong your faith is in Jesus. That leper understood his condition well, yet he still sought Jesus.

Then, Jesus healed the leper by touching him. Let’s really meditate on what happened. Jesus did not just heal a person that was sick. He reached out to him and touched him. Jesus went against every social norm at that time concerning people with leprosy. The reason why I explained exactly what it meant to be a leper at the beginning of my message is that I wanted my audience to understand what it felt like to be a leper in that time. Can you imagine how that leper felt after Jesus touched and healed him? That man instantly went from not being able to touch “clean” people to be able to live among them. He would no longer be despised or treated poorly because of his illness. That man was made a new creation and I can guarantee you that he lived every single day after Jesus touched him as a new creation in Christ.

You see, the point of this message is to remind each and every one of you that you were once that leper. However, somehow I believe that many of us tend to forget that simple fact. We used to be filled with the sickness of sin, and then one day we were healed by the touch of Jesus Christ. We recognized Jesus authority and we all sought Him out. We accepted Him as Lord over our lives and accepted His gift of atonement. But what the Holy Spirit is guiding me to inform everyone reading this message is where is our follow through? I feel that the Spirit is grieving over so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ because there is no follow through. We started our journey chasing down Christ like the leper and accepted the gift of being “cleansed” by Christ, but how many of us have truly become a new creation? How many of us are still living a life of defeat instead of living every single day in victory? Christ healed us and gave us His Spirit so we can have a changed life. So, I urge my readers today to remember that we were all once like that leper and we should remind ourselves daily of this. It is only when we can do this that we can live each and every day truly being healed.

Now, I want to finish this message with a simple prayer. Lord, I pray that you provide each and every one of us with the same confidence that the leper in this Scripture had. I pray that each and every one of us can remember that you went against everything to save that one man, just as you came to do the same for us. I pray that we can live a life worthy of your sacrifice. I pray that all of our brothers and sisters can also live a life of victory understanding that they are a new creation and understand that it is not simply words. It is a promise that you have given us. It is upon this promise that we have victory over ourselves, the world, and satan. Lord, thank you for healing lepers like us. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen!

It all boils down to one thing!

During this last week, my children and I have started back on our daily Bible readings. We are currently reading the book of Matthew. However, today’s message is directly from chapter six. It was very interesting to hear my children’s replies on what they believed the Scripture meant. Some of their replies were funny and others were very spiritually mature answers. This not only brought about a joy to my heart of their engagement of our Bible readings but that they are understanding it so they can properly apply it to their lives. To be honest, understanding how to properly apply the Scriptures into our lives is the most important thing a Christian must be able to do, and as I boiled down the teachings of Jesus to my children with one simple word, I would like to do the same with you all today.

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus touches up on a lot of subjects with a very simple yet profound example. He begins with speaking to His audience about not being hypocrites and doing good deeds in front of people because their praise will be the only gift that you will get (Matthew 6:1-4). He expands on this message by telling His audience that our Heavenly Father sees what we do in secret and will reward us for the good deeds that we do in secret. Then, Jesus continues His message about praying in public with long prayers, once again, He is expressing to not do these things to get the praises of people in public (Matthew 6:4-16). Within this section, Jesus teaches us how to pray and most importantly to forgive those who have sinned against us because we seek God’s forgiveness for the sins that we have committed against Him. However, Jesus is not finished teaching! Jesus continues to speak to His audience about anxiety and having the proper perspectives (spiritual sight) in life (Matthew 6:17-34). There are so many practical applications for every verse of this chapter, but I boiled the entire chapter down to one word for my children. That word was “humility.”

As you are reading chapter six, and if you keep in mind that all Christians are supposed to emulate Jesus’ character and teachings, every single thing that He was teaching can be boiled down to acting with a Christ-like humility. When Jesus is speaking about seeking the praise of others by doing good deeds and telling everyone around you about it, He is simply saying that a “humble” person would not care about what people think of them. A humble person cares about meeting someone else’s needs before their own because it is what Christ would do. How many times in the Scriptures does Jesus heal someone and tell them “don’t tell anyone?” This my friends is what I call “humility in action.” Then, as Jesus continues speaking about how we pray in public, He is not speaking against corporate prayer, simply not to drag out your prayers so people will stop focusing on God and start focusing on your words. God knows what we need before we start our prayers (Matthew 6:8). A humble person always directs people towards God and never towards themselves. Lastly, a humble person is always a servant of the Lord. They honestly have nothing to worry about because they are content with the daily provisions the Lord has provided them with, and they trust that God will continue to provide them. With this trust, they honestly have nothing to worry about in their lives (I am speaking directly towards daily minimum needs).

Ultimately, a person with Christ-like humility understands their place and role in the kingdom of God while living in this world. They understand that their needs do not go before the needs of their brothers and sisters. They understand that every opportunity they have in life should be to glorify the Father and not themselves. A person with this kind of humility never walks through life by their own strength but through the strength of the Holy Spirit within them, because God is living inside of them. The reason why this message is so important is that only the people with this type of humility will have a guaranteed place in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:4). At the end of the day, all Christians should be striving to live with this type of humility that was shown to us by Jesus.

I always like to end my messages with a short prayer. Heavenly Father, please give us the wisdom to understand our own actions and the conviction to change our ways. If we are living in a manner that goes against your Son’s teachings, please show us the error of our ways today before it is too late to reconcile with you. I pray if anyone’s pride is keeping them from seeing their faults that you open their eyes to the truth Father. I pray that everyone today can receive this message and apply it to their life to not only better themselves but strengthen your kingdom. In Jesus name, we pray, Amen!

God’s Self-Revelation

The Lord placed a short special message in my heart to share with everyone today. This message takes place in the Sinai mountain range. In this mountain range, Elijah found a cave and was in it because of those trying to persecute him. However, when seeking the refuge of the Lord, something wonderful happened. As he stood on the mountain before the Lord, he saw many things yet the Lord was not in them. God revealed Himself in a different manner and that is the purpose of this message.

(1 Kings 19:11-13, Amplified Bible)

So He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by, and a great and powerful wind was tearing out the mountains and breaking the rocks in pieces before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, [there was] an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, [there was] a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, [there was] the sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard the sound, he wrapped his face in his mantle (cloak) and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

As you have read, Elijah witnessed the power of the wind, yet the Lord was not there. Elijah then experienced an earthquake, yet the Lord was not there. Then, Elijah experienced a fire, and still, the Lord was not in there. He was standing where Moses was standing and seeing the amazing power of the Lord revealed, however, these were not His instruments for self-revelation to Elijah. Notice how Elijah just stood by when he saw these big events happened in front of him. However, when he heard the calm and gentle whisper of the Lord he covered his face with his cloak as a sign of reverence for the Lord. God was showing Elijah that where he used these strong forces in the past to show His power and presence (Kerith, Zarephath, and Carmel), He would now use a different and more gentle way to reveal Himself to him.

It is so wonderful how the Lord can show himself in our lives in so many different ways, however, if we are faithful, we can understand exactly which way His Spirit is communicating to us just like Elijah did. The way the Lord has revealed Himself to you in the past may not be the way He will reveal Himself to you in the present and future. It is only when we can feel the Lord’s Spirit that we can know how He is working in our lives. For instance, if you are in a new season of your life, do not expect the Lord to work in the same manner that He did the season before. You may be seeing the same things occur that happened to you in the past like Elijah did, however, His Spirit may not be in them. Sometimes He reveals Himself to you in a small whisper instead of a large event. So, of you are not seeing big things happening around you, then listen for His soft and gentle whisper.

Often times our expectations of past revelations will keep us from understanding how God is currently revealing Himself in our life. We do not need to be prophets to understand the wonders of God, we simply have to wait for the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Like Elijah, we need to understand that just because we are seeing some amazing things before us does not mean that God is in them. If we do, we can be lead astray from His purpose. This is why I was led to write this message. The Lord placed it in my heart that many of us are expecting to see God move in the same way that He did in the past and because they are waiting for this, they are missing out on something great around the corner.

So stop focusing on the outward signs of the Lord and start seeking the inward signs. Have you recently heard from God? Has He been guiding your steps or have you been? This is an important question that we must all ask ourselves if we are ever to grow spiritually. We will never grow if we keep expecting the same thing over and over. We grow by seeking the Lord in everything through a strong relationship with Him through prayer and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. So, as we enter this new season, please focus on hearing God’s gentle whisper instead of waiting for a giant sign. This is a powerful lesson that I learned from Elijah in this piece of Scripture and I pray that everyone can use this message in their life.

Let’s finish with a small prayer. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being able to reveal yourself in multiple different ways in our lives. I pray that myself and everyone reading this post will be able to start seeking your voice inwardly instead of outwardly. Let us hear your voice and like Elijah, provide us with the discernment to understand your will in our lives. Father, we don’t need a great wind or fire. Lord, we don’t even need a giant earthquake to know that you are near us. Father, simply a gentle whisper of encouragement is all we need in our lives. A gentle nudge in the right direction. In Jesus name, we pray, Amen!

Responding to the Word

James 1:22-24

But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively and continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth]. For if anyone only listens to the word without obeying it, he is like a man who looks very carefully at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he immediately forgets what he looked like.

It has never been enough to simply receive the Word of God but to act upon God’s word with obedience. A person must become a doer of God’s word. James stated that a person without works to back their faith is similar to a person looking into a mirror. Shortly after they stop looking into their mirror they will forget what they look like. This means that they forget who they are and what they stand for. When we stare into our own lives, we choose to see the best parts of ourselves to justify our actions and our attitudes. It is also upon our reflection that we justify not doing what the Bible teaches us to do. However, it is through our faith that we are all called to do good things. If we have faith in God and His word, then we should actively walk out our faith through our actions.

The application of this Scripture in our life is very profound, yet simple. What James was telling his audience is to not look upon ourselves. Do not let our faith in Christ die with us but to show the world our faith in God’s Word by living it. If we can simply look at ourselves through the mirror of the Word of God, we have no choice but to act out our faith. How else can we spread the Gospel but by living our faith and doing God’s will while we still have breath in our lungs? So love someone that is hard to love. Help someone that others do not want to help. Give your time when you do not want to. Submit to your spouses the way the Bible teaches us we ought to. Lead your house and live a life of example and servitude to others. This is what it means to be a doer of God’s word. If we live a shallow life of reflecting on ourselves instead of God’s Word, we only deceive ourselves into being stagnant instead of growing and maturing in God’s Word. This is what it truly means to be a doer of God’s Word.

Now let us pray. Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that everyone reading this message today can get encouraged to be a doer of the Word. I pray that we are all able to put our faith into action. It is only when we can put our faith into action that the Gospel can spread like a wildfire, not only in our hearts but the hearts of those we serve through Christ-like humility. I pray a covering over everyone here today. I pray that if there is anything in our hearts that keep us from being doers of your word that you allow us to have the discernment to fix the problem and leave it at the foot of the cross. In this way, we can act on our faith instead of reflecting on what we once did. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen!

A Wonderful Defense

1 Peter 3:14

But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. “Never be afraid of their threats, and never get upset. Instead, exalt the Messiah” as Lord in your lives. Always be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you to explain the hope you have. But do this gently and respectfully, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak evil of your good conduct in the Messiah will be ashamed of slandering you.

God never promised us a stress-free or easy life, on the contrary, He knows the faithful will be treated badly and persecuted because we live in a fallen world. However, those who keep the love of God and the word of God in their hearts will be rewarded in the end. We have the opportunity to be the remnant few (Zephaniah 2:7). The only thing standing in our way is our perspective in our current hardships. 1 Peter 3:14 tells us that even when suffering for doing good, we will be blessed. The key is that the blessing comes after the Lord has given us the strength to endure our hardship.

In this case, we are called to stand our ground and be prepared to defend our faith. This defense is not about getting angry and arguing. It is about speaking sober-minded and using every minute of our defense to glorify Christ’ life, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. Then, explaining how Jesus changed our lives for the better. Tell them your testimony which is your personal truth. It may not be immediate, but they will know they are wrong in the end. Just remember that regardless you are blessed! You will be the chosen few.

When I was medically separated from the Marine Corps and lost my house and then my wife was diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia. At first, I was asking God “why us.” We went to church, but then I realized I did not fully give myself to God. It wasn’t until I figured that out that I learned what I lost was just material possessions. When my wife became ill, I was able to build a relationship with her again. We were not in the best of places in our marriage at that time, and now we are each other’s best friend. After all of our suffering and all that was lost, I realized I was blessed. It takes time for people to grasp this concept. Our treasure is the love of God, and the love of our family. Our treasures are not the material possessions that we obtain while alive but life everlasting in Christ Jesus.

After everything that has happened to me and my family, and the help of God changing my perspective on what is valuable and profitable, I was able to understand that I want to be a part of the remnant few. Those who are always faithful and that will always be restored as it is written in Zephaniah 2: 7. No matter what I gain or lose in life does not dictate my true treasures and blessings. Some people learn this lesson after losing everything like me but others do not have to. In the end, it all comes down to you and your perspectives in your current trails. No one can change that for you but you.

This is why I believe this piece of Scripture is stating to be prepared to defend our faith regardless of the trails we may be facing. It is a daily reminder for every believer that they have been changed. They are no longer where they were. It is also a reminder that God gave them the strength to endure every hardship until today. He will also do the same for our current hardships. As we understand this blessing, our faith can continue to grow and stay grounded. So please, pick up your cross every day and place it on your back. Remember Jesus’ sacrifice and what He has done in your life. Mediate on this day and let it guide your actions and thoughts, and please be happy to have the opportunity to defend your faith!

Being Debt Free

In the current state of the United States, the average American dies with an average debt of $61,000. Many times, this debt is not of our own but placed upon us by family members and the inconsistency of the economy. Now, imagine that you are one of these Americans barely being able to pay your bills and feed your family. You are literally barely treading water and then someone that loves you comes up to you and tells you that he or she is going to pay off not only all the debt you owe but cover your debt until the day you die. What an amazing thought! I don’t know about you but I would be floored knowing that my debts were completely covered. I would feel like I would be starting a new chapter of my life. A chapter free of anxiety, depression, and the personal insecurities of where my next meal will be coming from.

Paul teaches us this very thing in Colossians 2:13-15. Paul teaches us that when a person is baptized, they are spiritually buried with Christ. This is a covenant similar to the Old Testament covenant of circumcision. Being dead to the flesh and alive through Christ Jesus allows Him to cancel out all the debt that we owe our Heavenly Father through our lifetime of transgressions against Him. What Paul is teaching is that we can be confident that we can live a life free of the debt that we accumulated through our sins. Christ has paid the price! Just like an American that just had $61,000 of debt paid off by someone who loves them, Christ paid that debt when He was nailed to the cross.

How much happier can we be than knowing that our eternity is secure in Christ? For it is through Christ that we are forgiven and able to be made righteous through our faith in Him. We all have the ability to enter the Kingdom of Heaven through Christ. What a wonderful thing to rejoice about. However, like a person that just had their entire life worth of debt paid off, we have an obligation to change our perspective of the world. Our anxiety, our depression, and our insecurities must also be left at the foot of the cross. When we accepted Christ and His gift of life everlasting, we also accepted that our minds had to be changed as well as our soul.

The purpose of this message is simple. If your life is made debt free because of Jesus, live like it. Allow the fruits of the Spirit, especially the fruits of joy, peace, and love to overflow in your mind and spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). As believers, if you continue to walk around like you owe such a large amount of debt, did you truly allow Christ to pay it for you? So get encouraged! We are all free of debt and should live a life worthy of the sacrifice that allowed us to have this freedom. We cost Jesus too much to continue living a life of defeat when we have already won, and have been made righteous through Him.

I would like to finish this message with a prayer. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your son Jesus Christ to cancel all of the debt that was held over our head because of our own sinful actions and thoughts. Thank you for allowing us to find freedom through the cross. Father, I want to pray over all of my brothers and sisters that are still living a life of defeat. I pray that they can lift their heads up high and understand that the heaviness of their life has already been handled because of Jesus. I pray for the renewal of not only our hearts and souls but of our minds. Since the enemy knows that we are weakest through the lies we tell ourselves, he uses our minds against us, and makes us feel like we are still a slave to our debt. I pray that we can allow the Holy Spirit to remind us all that we are not only free of debt but able to live a life worthy of this gift. Amen.