A blessed date!

About two weeks ago, my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful date. It was to celebrate 11 years of loving each other in marriage. 

For many who do not know, my wife has lupus and fybromiaga. I also have a multitude of medical problems due to my service in the Marine Corps. 

However, thanks to the glory of God we both were well enough to do a small obstacle course together and did a lot of team work to get through it. At the end, we were exhausted and sore. But we made it and enjoyed every minute of it.

I just wanted to share this wonderful experience we had with our extended family (you guys!). 

Please let us know if you have any upcoming dates or anaversaries that you would like to let us know about. 

God bless you all and thank you for following and supporting my family and Walking By Faith Missions Church!

Jesus and the Law

Matthew 5:17-20

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them. 18  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place. 19  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus did not come to abolish the law, He came to fulfill it.  This is something that many get confused over.  In the days of Moses there were sacrificial laws, civil laws, and moral laws.  For todays lesson I want to touch up a little on these, but put more of a focus on moral laws. 

When Jesus died on the cross He fulfilled all requirements of mankind for sacrifices by becoming our perfect sacrificial lamb.  This being stated, this is the reason why Christians today do not go out sacrificing animals for the Lord anymore. Our sacrifices now come from our hearts and minds.

The second type of law I will write about is civil law.  As many years have come and passed, our society as a whole has changed.  We no longer stone someone for committing a crime or cut their hand off, however, the spirit of the law is still adhered to.  In legal terms, the people who commit offenses still get punished.  They go to jail or have some sort of other punishment that fits their crimes.

The law I find most important and really want to speak to everyone today about is moral law.  These are the original 10 commandments given to Moses by God and were never to be broken.  These moral laws show the character of our God and are a timeless guide for all of us to follow in our way of conduct.

Exodus 20:1-17

God spoke all these words:

2  “I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.

3  “You shall have no other gods before me.

4  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below.

5  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me,

a 6  and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7  “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain.

8  “Remember the Sabbath day to set it apart as holy.

9  For six days you may labor and do all your work,

10  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates.

11  For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

12  “Honor your father and your mother, that you may live a long time in the land the LORD your God is giving to you.

13  “You shall not murder.

14  “You shall not commit adultery.

15  “You shall not steal.

16  “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. 

17  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

When Jesus was teaching about the law, this is was what He was getting at in verse 19 “So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”  

In our society today we tend to turn a blind eye to those who “are not that bad” or we tell ourselves we are “good enough.” When we do these things we need to understand that we are called the least in the kingdom of heaven!  One simple example I can provide you all is how we switched the Sabbath day that the Lord said to keep holy to Sunday making it “the Lord’s day.”  There is no scripture that backs up this type of change because everything our Heavenly Father says is concrete and not fluid.  When God said “keep my Sabbath day holy,” He means just that.  In seminary school I learned a lot about church history and why this change was made, however, it was not biblical and it goes against the scriptures. If you want to learn more about this change, please email me directly.

We sometimes let the world or society make changes that are small and we just don’t stand up for what is right.  Over time it becomes the new normal.  However, this new normal is not correct and we need to understand this.  The Sabbath was my first of two examples that I wanted to share with you all today. 

Another example I can provide today is how much sex and nudity there is in our society and how it is shown in front of our children as normal.  If we do not teach them what is right or wrong who will?  I don’t know about you but everything on television today is very sexual in nature and there is even homosexual characters in our children’s cartoon shows that they watch.  This goes against committing adultery.  Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” However, having nudity and sexual references is everywhere on television and even the books we read.  What can we do about this?  The answer is simple, stop watching them.  

People tend to turn a blind eye because they rather follow others instead of reading the scriptures themselves and asking the Holy Spirit to guide them.  These things pushes us farther away from who we are meant to be.  I do not know about you, but I want to be called “the most in the kingdom of heaven.” Simply not knowing is not an acceptable excuse when we finally meet our maker.  When we do not hold ourselves accountable for these type of things, how can we expect to hold others accountable?

No one said that being Christian would be easy.  We must read and follow the scriptures to help us fight our sins of the flesh and the sins of the world to be who God wants us all to be.  Being Christ-like is a form of action, not just standing still.  So please stay strong my brothers and sisters because we are not of this world.  God has given us the tools and capabilities to do what is righteous in His eyes and it only takes our courage, commitment, and integrity to accomplish this mission.  I pray that everyone has a blessed day!

Don’t be afraid to shine your light

Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. 15  People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16  In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.

I love the way Jesus taught others with his parables which gave clear pictures to be drawn from his words.  When Jesus was teaching about the light there are certain attributes that His light in us shows.  First of all, light renders all objects visible for what they are and what they are not.  His divine light shows others about their true nature and character as well as any deformities or ugliness they may try to hide.  Many past religious teachers used the example of divine light to instruct to others the implications of having this light in our lives.

All Christians are the light of the world, not just ministers and apostles.  By our divine instruction and using our lives as testimonies for others to see the love of God in our lives.  We also show the world the requirements that the Lord mandates in our lives to go into heaven. We do not hide this from anyone.

In this instance, Jesus was explaining that peoples light should never be hidden.  Our light should be put where it belongs in this world.  For some, their light is put on a table to minister and brighten up a room and for others it may be walking around with a candle or flashlight to bring the light to everyone we encounter in our daily walk.  Our holy lives are meant to be shared everywhere we go and we glorify our Heavenly Father when we do this.  However there are some things that can dim our lights and I would like to bring them to light to help each other out.  Maybe you have thought some of these things in the past and maybe you have not.  I still would like to share them with you.

1. When we stay quite when we should stand up and speak up for what is good.

2. Going along with worldly things when we know better.

3. Denying the light of Jesus Christ in front of others.

4. Not fighting the sins of our flesh and letting it take over our lives instead of giving it to the Lord.

5. Ignoring people in pain or in honest need of help.

These are just some examples and not a complete list.  These are some of the most common that come to my mind when reflecting on my life and my current ministry to others.

Since Jesus spoke about never diming our lights, we must make sure we are being proactive in our lives not to do this.  We will always fall short of His glory, but this should never be an excuse.  If we all take a solid look into our lives and see that there is something dimming our light whether we want to talk about it aloud or not, do something about it.  Seek guidance from an elder, pastor, or friend.  Do not sit still or idle in this area in your life because we are all called to minister and be the light of the world.  You may be robbing someone from their salvation because you do not have the integrity to deal with your personal struggles in your life.

I get so much depth from reading this small portion of scripture.  Not only does it show us the importance of shining our light in this world, but why we must never hide our light under a basket that we make up in our daily lives.  That basket can be the world or the people around you that do not want to hear the word of God, but their lives should never dim your light.  Be an example for others to emulate like Jesus did.  This will never be easy or simple, but it is worth it when we enter the heavenly kingdom of our Father.  Only when we can correctly identify these issues at their roots and fix them is when we can truly shine the brightest.

I pray that this devotional helps someone out there today and I pray that you all shine your lights bright!

Jesus gave us the beatitudes

Before starting this devotional I want to clarify the word beatitudes.  Beatitudes are supreme blessings listed by Jesus in the sermon on the mount.  Before Jesus spoke to the crowds, he spoke to his disciples about the temptations they would face just by being associated with him.  When Jesus spoke to them about these blessings he explained that some of these blessings from God may not come during this life.  He did not promise his disciples riches or fame, but he shared the truth and gave them eternal life by following him and  by them serving our Heavenly Father.

Today I want to share each blessing and write some personal insights about them.  I believe that every servant of God must fully understand that these blessings will come because God’s word is absolute.

Matthew 5:1-3

When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down his disciples came to him.2  Then he began to teach them by saying: 3  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”

Our Heavenly Father understands all of our daily needs and wants.  By having the humility to understand that without God we are nothing and we have earned nothing will help you with your daily walk with Him.  We understand that we are bare and poor before the Lord and the Kingdom of Heaven belong to those people who understands this basic concept.

Matthew 5:4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

God blesses those who come to Him for comfort.  By relying on God and casting all your burdens upon Him, allows you to know He will do what is best for you.  There is no problem in this earth that He cannot handle.  This will help you stop stressing and obsessing about your problems because He is always your first and final solution.  What a blessing this is!

Matthew 5:5

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Being humble goes a long way in our walk with Christ.  As believers we are all called to minister with whatever gifts the Lord has given you.  As ministers we are the servants of the Lord and are accountable for everything we do and speak.  We are to put others needs before us (whenever possible) when we minister to them.  Sometimes people in leadership positions forget this and it can happen to anyone.  The rule to remember is the more God blesses you with, whether it is finances or a large ministry; we are to give more that we take.  We are servant leaders and not just leaders.

Matthew 5:6

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”

It is easy to jump to anger when something bad happens to you or a loved one, but blessed are those who do what is right and seek justice and not vengeance.  At the end of the day our Lord is the final judge to all people.  By understanding this, when injustices come to you or others around you, stop and pray to the Lord to handle the situation.  Those people who do wrong may not get punished right away because they may fall between the cracks, however, their punishment can be eternal which is far worse.  This allows us to give another aspect of our lives to the Lord.

Matthew 5:7

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

We have been given grace by God not because we deserve it, but because our Lord chose to have mercy on us.  As believers we must fully understand this concept.  Jesus gave a parable about this very type of situation in Matthew 18, when a servants master was merciful to him and canceled his debts.  That same servant who was given grace turned around and was not merciful to another.  When the master of the servant found out what just happened, that man was severely punished and dealt with.  Jesus was teaching a simple truth that we must forgive others if we wish to be forgiven by our Heavenly Father.  If we choose not to forgive someone, we will not be forgiven ourselves.

Matthew 5:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Anyone who follows our Heavenly Father should be filled by His love.  If you do not have love in you than you do not have God in you since God is love.  Being loving and pure of heart to others brings you closer to God.  You cannot be a hateful person and expect to receive nothing but love.  We need to figure out what is causing you not to be a loving person and give it to God so we can move forward in life.  Being anything else but loving is a waste of everyone’s time.

Matthew 5:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”

Being children of God and striving to be Christ-like, we should never be quick to anger.  There is a time and a place to be angry, but anger should never be your go to emotion in life.  We should always try to find a peaceful solution for any bad situations in our lives.  By working hard in trying to be peacekeepers we are able to make the world a better place by changing a negative perspective into a positive one.  When we see wrongs that we can fix, then fix them.  We cannot fix every problem, but we can do good and represent our God’s love.  Some examples are feeding the hungry or helping those in need.  We should pray and meditate on His word to see what the Lord wants you to do as His peacemaker.

Matthew 5:10

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”

As followers of Christ it is naive to think that we will not come under some sort of attack.  We have to deal with our sins of the flesh and every negative thought in our minds. Then we have to fight against the sins of the world where lusts and greed are the normal around us.  There will be people who don’t like you just because of your faith or even persecute you for following Christ.  Lastly, we have to deal with the spiritual warfare that is all around us.  1/3 of Jesus ministry was based on this.  I am not telling you all to go and find demons to cast out of people, but by being prepared for these attacks can help how you deal with them when they happen.  Satan will always try and find a way to plant a seed of doubt in our minds, if satan tried to use God’s word against Jesus to trick Him when he was in the wilderness for 40 days and nights, what makes you think you are safe?

I pray by writing a little more about the application of each supreme blessing that Jesus shared with His disciples will help someone today.  By understanding the depth of these blessing should give us the motivation to work on the areas of our lives that we want blessed.  I know we are going to be tempted in every aspects of our lives and that we will always fall short of His glory, however, this should never be a persons excuses to not be the best version of themselves that they can be.  It is hard work to be Christ-like, but it is worth it.  Like my wife always tells my children, “try to be a better you today that you were yesterday.” So please use these beatitudes to help guide you in your daily journey with God.  Please have a blessed day!

Not your magician

Luke 6:17-19

Then he came down with them and stood on a level place. And a large number of his disciples had gathered along with a vast multitude from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. They came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases, 18  and those who suffered from unclean spirits were cured. 19  The whole crowd was trying to touch him, because power was coming out from him and healing them all.

When reading this piece of scripture, I often think about the amount of people who came to Jesus just to get healed.  Many times the people just wanted to get healed and not change their lives.  This reminds me of the healing waters of Bethesda. People just wanted their miracle healing and then to go back to their daily routines.  Some people were looking up to Jesus as a magician instead of the Son of God that he is.  As the crowds came, regardless of their intensions Jesus did not turn them away and they were all healed. 

From my past experiences, many people first turn to God when something dramatic occurs in their life and they know it is out of their hands.  They tend to seek spiritual instruction for resolution in their lives.  As a matter of fact, when researching the most common prayers people make to God was prayers of supplication.  However, God is not some sort of cosmic magician here to do miracles for us when we want or even feel that we deserve them.  When we pray to God it should not be just because we need something.  When we pray to God it should not be just for something, but a reminder that we submit to Him as our Master.  After all, we are here to serve Him and not the other way around.  

I have met some people in the past who said that they “used to be Christians,” but their prayers were not answered so they stopped believing in God.  This is a wrong mindset to have and it honestly reminds me of my children when they have a tantrum.  There are crowds of people that follow Jesus, but is their heart truly His or are they wanting a miracle?  If you turn to God and then by the love of His grace get your miracle and then turn back to your old sinful ways then you are not honoring our Heavenly Father.

God reaches out for each and everyone of us, however, there is a lot more to God then just praying for petitions or supplications.  How many times a day do you pray? How do you pray?  Do you know the different types of prayers that are taught biblically?  If you are not certain in these answers I would love to share the different types of prayers so we can all reflect upon our prayer life.  There is always room for improvement!

Prayers of adoration: Praise, bless Jesus as Lord – Believing He is in control.

Prayers of confession: When we confess our sins – seeking God’s mercy. Then we admitting we have a need for God. *Un-confessed sin can stand in the way of our other prayers.*

Prayers of thanksgiving: Thanking our God for all he has done for us and all He means to us. 

Prayers of intercession: Prayers for someone else.

Prayers of affirmation: Is when we affirm what God says in His word, the Bible.

Listening prayers: When we open our hearts and minds to hear from God.

Prayers of meditation: Thinking deep about something with total focus on God over that situation.

This is not a devotional about prayers, I just wanted to share some different types of prayers there are to improve our prayer life.  What this lesson is about God not being a magician.  Just because we pray and they are not answered right away or at all does not mean God is not real or that He does not care for us.  God knows each and every need in your life and sometimes the answer is “no” for some of our prayers.  It is not for us to guess why or even get upset at God.  It is what it is. Sometimes the Lord has something much better down the road or the right people are not in the right place to help you.  I have learned this over time as I have grown in Christ and grown spiritually mature.  This does not mean I am perfect by any means, I just question less and submit more to Him.  I say this because in the end of the day God is not our personal magician.  If you follow Him it should be for the right reasons and with the right heart.  Don’t go chasing a miracle just because you have seen one done for someone else.

I just want everyone to focus on why we are Christians and why we follow God.  Don’t let it be just for a healing, just because you get one like Jesus gave to the crowds does not mean you are fixed spiritually. I pray that everyone has a blessed day and God bless you all!

It is never a wrong time to do a good deed!

Before I start this lesson I would like to provide a little background information about Jesus and the Pharisees.  There were many times that the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus to show others that He broke their laws.  The Pharisees put their laws before basic human needs.  They disliked Jesus because He would not obey their petty rules.  If Jesus submitted to their rules then He would then be saying that their rules were more important then God’s law.  One of the rules that the Pharisees were most angry about with Jesus was His performing of miracles during the Sabbath. The rules of the Pharisees only allowed people to help others if it were a life or death situation.  However, most of the healings Jesus performed in the Sabbath was not life or death.  Jesus was trying to show the people that our God is one of the people, not of petty rules created by man.  To put a limit on who and when you can do a good thing was insane and the Pharisees hated Him for it.

Matthew 12:9-14

Then Jesus left that place and entered their synagogue. 10  A man was there who had a withered hand. And they asked Jesus, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” so that they could accuse him. 11  He said to them, “Would not any one of you, if he had one sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath, take hold of it and lift it out? 12  How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13  Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and it was restored, as healthy as the other. 14  But the Pharisees went out and plotted against him, as to how they could assassinate him.

When Jesus healed the man’s hand, it enraged the Pharisees.  Jesus was trying to teach them that there is never a wrong time to help someone in need.  It did not matter if the situation was life or death or as simple as feeding those who are hungry or in need of healing.  If we pick and choose who or when to help others, our convictions are not in lined with the word of God.  The Pharisees were more interested in the technicalities of their laws than actually doing good.  This is a very important lesson Jesus was teaching to the people then that can be applied to our daily lives now.

Please don’t put your needs or feeling above others that need help because it would inconvenience you.   We are called to help one another without expecting something in return.  Sometimes we may get caught up in our routines or busy life.  We need to sometimes slow down and look around for those around us that need real help.  It may be in your own household and you never even noticed.  It could be as simple as praying for someone or helping someone change a tire on the side of the road.  Every little good deed or blessing we can do for others serves our Heavenly Father’s will and pleases Him.  

Just remember to say to yourself “slow down,” and it doesn’t matter how much in a hurry you feel that you are in.  It is never a wrong time to do a good deed. God may be trying to use you to be a blessing to others, but if you put your priorities above others you may be robbing the blessing from another. I want to leave you with one small piece of scripture before ending this lesson.  May God bless you all!

Hebrews 13:16

And do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.

Prayer Requests

I wanted to create a section for prayer requests. If anyone needs any prayers please leave a comment. I also pray that everyone that is apart of this community gathers together in prayer so we can all be prayer warriors. 

As Christians we should be able to come to one another and I hope this can be one of those platforms to do so.

Chaplain Ramon A. Diaz II 

Emergency Service Chaplain Region 2

UCFM #605829