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!

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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.

Have you had to endure?

As I was reading my Bible, I came across 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. I felt such a conviction in my heart that my eyes started to water. In this piece of Scripture, we see that Paul was speaking about the few things that have happened to him while spreading the Gospel. I would like to list them to bring them into the light for everyone today. Please keep in mind that everything that he went through was because he was preaching the Gospel everywhere he went.

1. Paul was imprisoned multiple times.
2. He was beaten more times than he can number.
3. He had multiple instances where he almost faced death.
4. Five times he received 39 lashing from the Jewish people.
5. Three times he was beaten by rods.
6. He was stoned once and left for dead.
7. He was shipwrecked.
8. He dealt with the dangers of the rivers, robbers, the people he was trying to minister to (the Gentile community), the wilderness that he had to travel in.
9. Paul had to deal with extreme temperature changes (both hot and cold).
10. Paul had to deal with the dangers of false brothers.
11. Paul often had to suffer from thirst and hunger.

Paul shared this with his audience to show his steadfastness in Christ. He also boasted about everything that he had to deal with because, in these times of weakness, he found strength only in the Lord. It was in these times of weakness that the Holy Spirit was able to comfort him and encourage his ministry. Paul shared this with his audience to honor God, who gave him the ability to suffer so much for the cause of Christ and His Gospel.

When reading this and truly meditating on what Paul was saying, I felt ashamed. Who am I to complain about the small inconveniences of my life. I started to think about this application not only inside my ministry but outside of it too. How many times have I complained about the very blessings that God provided me with? I don’t know about you, but I felt that I needed to do more and be better than I am now. I asked myself, have I truly tried to preach the Gospel and fulfill the Great Commission or have I only preached out of my own selfish ambitions? You see, it is upon these questions that the Holy Spirit confirmed in my heart that we all have so much more to grow.

We cannot sit still and expect the Gospel to spread to all of the world. Our faith is about action! Christ did not say that He loved us and would die for us, He did it. He lived what he preached and each and every one of us is called to emulate His life and sacrifice. Like Paul, we will have to go through times that we will be uncomfortable or even have to go through difficult circumstances. However, it is upon these situations that our faith can be strengthened like Paul’s faith was. Then like Paul, we can boast about what the Lord did for us. This only helps us build our testimony to be able to defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15). If the Lord did not help us get through anything difficult in our lives, then what type of God do we serve? Do we not have the God of Abraham? Is He not the God of Jacob and David? All of God’s messengers dealt with difficult and dire circumstances and each and every one of them were able to boast about how our God got them out of their situations or allowed them to endure.

So, I ask everyone here today, have you had to endure for your faith? It is not until we have to endure hardships for our faith that we can truly see the grace, love, and mercy of God in our lives. So, I am challenging everyone reading this message that we need to get uncomfortable and walk out our faith. Being a Christian is about action. Being a Christian is not about memorizing Scriptures, but showing that Christ lives in your heart. It is about allowing the Holy Spirit to take control over your every being, and then doing what He is guiding us to do. This is what Paul did for Christ and so can we!

I would like to conclude this message with a simple prayer. I pray that we can have the heart and conviction of the early apostles. I pray that we can walk out our faith under the most difficult circumstances and overcome them through the grace of God. I pray that we can start to get uncomfortable and show the world Christ not only through our words but through our actions as well. I pray that we can learn this simple lesson from the life of Paul. Amen.

Real men cry!

Lamentations 2:9-11

Jerusalem’s gates collapsed to the ground; he destroyed and broke the bars of her gates. Both king and prince have gone into captivity. There is no instruction, and the prophets receive no vision from the LORD. The leaders of cherished Zion sit silently on the ground; they throw dust on their heads and dress in mourning clothes. The young women of Jerusalem bow their heads in sorrow. My eyes are worn out from crying, my insides are churning, My emotions pour out in grief because my people are destroyed— Children and infants faint in the streets of the city.

My entire life growing up in a Cuban household, I was told that men do not cry and to never show my emotions because it showed weakness. This slowly built a wall around my heart and hardened it to others. It was not until I let God in and work in my life that those walls were slowly taken away. He told me that it was ok to cry and cast all my emotions unto Him. In this piece of scripture, Jeremiah’s tears were full of sincerity and compassion. This was not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Men need to understand just because you cry or show sorrow in any way does not mean that you lack faith or strength. There is nothing wrong with showing your emotions if you are a man and this stigma must be retracted in every household. Jesus Christ himself showed His emotions and cried.

John 11:32-35

As soon as Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell down at his feet and told him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was greatly troubled in spirit and deeply moved. He asked, “Where have you put him?” They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus burst into tears.

Let’s talk a little about emotions adult to adult. How do you react when you are sad or hurt? Do you show the proper emotions or does anger come out instead as a defense mechanism? Do you randomly feel sad and do not know why? I have felt this way in my life and I know many of you have too. What helped me was when I cried out to Jesus and prayed for help with my emotions. By letting these emotions out and casting them where they should have been all along (at the foot of the cross), helped me open my heart up as a man of God. It is ok to feel sorrow for yourself, the community, and even our nation. This sorrow does not show lack of faith but reminds us all to turn to the Lord in our times of weakness. This shows true strength and commitment to the Lord. So I say again, real men do cry.

As a father of four children, three of whom are boys; I must ensure that the way I was raised to hide my emotions do not hinder them in their growth. I teach them it’s ok to love, laugh and cry. I do not want them to waste many years of their lives bottling up their emotions just because I did. I pray that this message helps those men of God to not fear the emotions God gave us, but to embrace them and thank Him for them. Whenever you have that feeling in your gut that tells you to hold it in next time, say “I am not weak.” Never be afraid to express yourself in a godly manner. Please have a blessed day and I pray this message helps someone today.

Visiting Rome!

For many of you that are new followers, my family and I have been roadschooling our kids and traveling full-time for four years now. The Lord opened the door for us to world school our children and travel throughout Europe. So far, we have been living in Rome near the Coliseum for two weeks. We just wanted to share some of our pictures of exploring the immediate area. As we venture out and meet new people in new locations, I would love to share our experiences with you. So far, the food has been amazing and the people have been friendly. We have truly been enjoying our surroundings!

Clean your house!

Matthew 12:43-45

Whenever an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it wanders through waterless places looking for a place to rest but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will go back to the home that I left.’ When it arrives, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and settle there. And so the final condition of that person becomes worse than the first. That’s just what will happen to this evil generation.

In this piece of Scripture, Jesus is describing the heart of Israel. If you clean up your lives but do not fill the void with the love of God, it will be temporary. If that void is not filled with God you leave room for Satan to come back and fill it sevenfold and it will be even worse than before. Ridding ourselves of one sin is the first step towards the right direction, but we can’t go further than that without the strength of the Lord.

One example of many is dealing with issues of lust and greed. If you get rid of everything that makes you want to lust, but never fix the root of the problem and ask “why” you are committing this sin, your fix will most likely be temporary. Now if you clean your house, but don’t fill it with the love of the Lord, allows room for other bondages to come back into your life. You may go from fantasizing about adultery to actually committing adultery. Then from adultery to constantly lying to cover up your sinful actions. However, if you would have fully given the issue to the Lord, you would not have compounded your sins. Now where there was one form of bondage, you have three or four. If you filled that void with God’s love you would not have room for anything else in your life. This is a powerful message that we all need to be reminded of every now and then.

I pray that everyone that reads this message is reminded to clean up their hearts and minds. I pray that we can have the strength and courage to give up all of those little things in our lives that is causes a wedge between us and God. It is these small wedges that keep us from having the fullness of God’s blessing in our lives, and we should want every blessing the Lord wants us to have. Amen!