This blog has both English and Spanish entries. To see only the English blogs, look under the "Categories" title to the right of the screen. Below you will see a tab for "English Blog"
Este blog tiene artículos en inglés y español. Para ver solamente los artítuclos en español, ver las "Categories" a la derecha de la pantalla. Debajo verán un tab para "Blog en español."
|Posted on August 18, 2014 at 10:45 AM||comments (0)|
"'Look!' he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt...." Daniel 3:25
I was contemplating the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. They were living in a land that was not their own, under the rule of a pagan king. After refusing to obey the king's command to bow down to a golden statue, king Nebuchadnezzar became infuriated and we're told that he, "commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace" (Daniel 3:20). And after they were cast in it says that, "...these three men...fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace" (vs. 23).
We too are living in a land that is not our own, that is ruled by the prince of darkness. And like Nebuchadnezzar, he is infuriated with us and commands the evil ones of his army to bind us with earthly ties. Then he casts us into the fiery furnace of trials and temptations of this life, where often, just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, we fall down, bound by those earthly ties. It's important to understand that God is not the one who sends the fire, yet he does allows it. But it is never for nought.
As these three passed through the fire, because of their faith in God, the ties that bound them were consumed by the flames. And as the ties melted away, they were able to rise from their fallen state and walk around, unscathed in the furnace. So it is with us, if we hold to our faith in God and His promises, we may fall down in the fire, but as we cling to that faith, instead of the fire destroying us, it will destroy the sin that binds us to this earth.
It was impossible for Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego to survive that furnace. Even the "mighty men of valor" could not survive even being near the flames. Only by the hand of God could they be saved. So it is with us. It is impossible for us to go through many of the fiery trials that we have to face. If we neglect God and forget his promises, we will be consumed along with our earthly ties. But if we keep our eyes on Jesus, whatever earthly ties that imprison us will be consumed in the fire. We will freed. We will be able to rise up in the fire with Jesus by our side, just like He was with these three Hebrews "in the midst of the fire" (vs. 25). He has promised, "...I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: 'The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me" (Hebrews 13:5, 6)? So whatever you are facing today, cling to that promise and remember that God is with you and will sustain you. As long as we keep our hold on God, the only thing that will be consumed in the fire will be those earthly ties that bind.
|Posted on August 11, 2014 at 9:20 AM||comments (0)|
“...do not profane My holy name by what [you] dedicate to Me: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 22:2
In Genesis chapter 4, we read the account of two different offerings to God - the offerings of Cain and Abel. We probably all know the account very well of how Cain offered fruits but Abel offered a lamb. They both brought an offering to God, but only Abel’s was accepted. The point is that it matters to God, what we dedicate to Him. We can’t just say, “because I am doing this with a willing heart, God will accept it.” Cain willingly brought his offering but it was not what God had asked for, so God could not bless it.
In Exodus 32 we read the account of the children of Israel and how they incited Aaron to build a golden calf for them. When the calf was ready, verse 5 shows us that Aaron said, “...tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.” The Hebrew word for Lord used here is Jehovah. So Aaron is saying, “...tomorrow is a feast to Jehovah.” Here we have Israel, immersed in pagan worship, while Aaron proclaims that they are doing it for Jehovah. Could God bless that kind of worship? Oh course not. God cannot bless a worship that is mixed with paganism. God was very displeased and thousands lost their lives.
There is a right way and a wrong way to serve the Lord. Leviticus is full of specifications on how and what God required in the offerings, sanctuary service, and just day to day living. God has not changed. I’m not saying that we are supposed to do all the sacrifices and ordinances from the Old Testament times, but there are still ways of worship that are acceptable or unacceptable to God. We need to study God’s Word to find out what God requires of us in todays time and how our worship and servitude can be acceptable in God’s sight. Like Leviticus 22:2 says, we need to be careful that we are not “profaning [His] holy name” by offering to God things that are contrary to what He has asked.
|Posted on June 26, 2014 at 11:10 AM||comments (0)|
"But a messenger came to Saul, saying, 'Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!'" 1 Samuel 23:27
Today I just want to share a few thoughts from the life of Saul. We all know how his jealousy of David consumed his life. He had convinced himself that David was after the throne and he was determined to do all in his power to kill him. He even went so far as to have all the priests of the LORD killed! He became so focused on this one man (a man who really loved Saul and did not want to harm him in any way) that almost all of his efforts were concentrated on getting rid of David. He was so intent on this mission that became lax in protecting his kingdom. One day, as Saul proceeded in hot pursuit of David, "a messenger came to Saul, saying, 'Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!'' David was not the enemy. Saul's jealousy made David out to be the enemy. Saul's jealousy and obsession consumed him to the point that he didn't realize that the real enemy was now in the camp.
Yet we do the same thing. We get so focused on ourselves and minor issues (that are really not issues at all...we make them out to be issues in our minds) that we don't even recognize that an enemy (THE enemy) has invaded the camp of our hearts. We make things and people out to be the enemy, when in reality the real issue is with ourselves. My prayer today is that God will help us to be humble and focused on Him (like David was) so that when the enemy invades, we will be ready to meet him with God's help.
|Posted on June 5, 2014 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
"And David said to Saul, 'I cannot walk with these, for I have not proved them.' So David took them off." 1 Samuel 17:39
I think we've all read the story of David and Goliath. Just before David goes out to meet the Giant, king Saul tries to cloth David with his own armor. But David says to Saul, "'I cannot walk with these, for I have not proved them.' So David took them off." 1 Samuel 17:39
I think, in a way, Saul was discouraging David (albeit inadvertently). The king was looking to an earthly armor to protect David. Yet how often do we do the same thing? We trust too often in what we can see. We trust too often to our own efforts and we place layer after layer of protection upon ourselves. We forget that we need the armor of God. Maybe we think that we need to help God out. But I LOVE what David says to Saul. And I know we have already read it above, but I just have to reiterate it. "'I cannot walk with these, for I have not proved them,' so David took them off."
When we fail to trust God and His promises, when we place layer after layer of our own protection upon us, we are trusting to an "unproved" method. And like David, we "cannot walk" spiritually. We cannot move forward to battle the enemy because we have cumbered ourselves down so much, focusing on what we can do in our own strength and not what God can do. Like David, we must take off the false armor. We must not trust to "unproved" methods. We must not allow ourselves to be burdened with anything that will hinder our spiritual movement, no matter how good it may appear.
I love LOVE LOVE what David says to the giant. After spewing out what he is going to do to Goliath and the other Philistines, through the name of the LORD, David says, "All this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD's, and He will give you into our hands." 1 Samuel 17:47
God does not save by human instruments. He does not need our "sword" or "spear" or anything else we may try to use to protect ourselves. It is God's battle. All we need to do is trust His word, strip off our false armor and move forward with boldness in the promises of God.
|Posted on May 23, 2014 at 10:45 AM||comments (0)|
"...because I feared the people and obeyed their voice." 1 Samuel 15:24
Sometimes I ask my son to do something and when I go to check his work, I discover that he did most of it the way I asked, but left one or two things incomplete or did them a little bit different than I asked. That usually happens when he is in a rebllious mood or when he wants to hurry up and get back to playing with his toys. When I call him back in to redo the work, I am often met with excuses or with the assertion, "Mommy, I did what you asked!" I think he tries to convince himself (and me) that he has in fact done exactly what I asked, to appease his conscience or to avoid the consequences.
It reminds me of the story of Saul in the Old Testament. Most of us know his sad story of rebellion, which can be found in 1 Samuel 15. God commanded Saul to destroy every living thing from amongst the Amalekites, whether it be a person or an animal, because they had ambushed the children of Israel as they exited Egypt. However, we're told that, "Saul and the people spared Agag [the king] and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed" (1 Samuel 15:9). This chapter also says that "he set up a monument for himself" (1 Samuel 15:12).
What strikes me about this incident is how Saul could directly disobey God's commandment and even set up a "monument" for himself, and yet still convince himself that he had in fact obeyed God. Saul seemed quite happy with himself and what he had done because when Samuel came out to meet him he exlaimed, "Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD" 1 Samuel 15:13. But Samuel had a different attitude about the situation and a new message from the Lord. The prophet's response was, "Be quiet! And I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night.... Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king" (1 Samuel 15:16, 23).
Throughout Samuel's discourse, Saul looks for some means to justify his actions. First he claims that he did complete the commandment of the LORD, but knowing that is not the case, he then seeks to excuse the motive for bringing back all the animals: "...the people [blaming it on the people and not taking responsiblity for his own actions] took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed [he even admits that he knew they were supposed to be utterly destroyed], to sacrifice to the LORD your God..." (1 Samuel 15:21). Yet, like we read before in verse 19, it does not appear that Saul or the people had any intention of sacrificing unto God. It seems like they wanted to keep the spoils for themselves. It was only when Saul was reprimanded for his disobedience that he claimed to be holding the animals in order to offer them as a sacrifice unto the LORD. That's when Samuel, inspired by the Spirit of the God, replies: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft [can I just say WOW right here?!] And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Samuel 15:22, 23).
Two times Saul tries to shift the blame from himself to the people. The first time we saw already, in the paragraph above. Here is the second instance as read from verse 24, "...because I feared the people and obeyed their voice." It may be true that he was afraid of the people but God cannot accept that as an excuse for disobedience to His word. It seems to me that for Saul, is was always about following the popular opinion of the people. When pleading with Samuel to return with him to "worship the LORD" Saul said, "I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel..." (1 Samuel 15:30). He was more concerned with having the prophet honor him in front of the people than he was about what he could do to find true pardon for his sin.
I have so much more that I want to say about this story, and so many other examples in the Bible that I could tie in with it, but I'm afraid if I continue I would not finish until I've written a book! The main point I want to bring home though is this - though there may have been other influences surrounding Saul, the decision to disobey was ultimately his. And the same goes for us, when we go against what God is asking us to do, though there may be other negative influences around us, the decision is ultimately ours. Please don't think I am pointing the finger at anyone or that I am thinking of any particualr individual that I may know. When I read these stories I am always thinking about myself and how this applies to me and simply want to share it with others. I know that far too many times in my life, when I have turned my back to something I know God is asking me to do, I have tried to convince myself that I am actually doing good. And when that fails, I try to find a scapegoat. I try to blame other people for my own sins. Because really, if we can excuse it, then it doesn't seem so sinful and we can lull ourselves into a false sense of security. When we feel secure in our own deeds we fail to realize our need for a Savior. If we continually "excuse" our sins how can we truly repent and be forgiven? I want to continue ministering for God. So my message to myself (and anyone who feels they can relate) is this: "Take responsibility for your sins, don't excuse them, confess them, repent of them, say you're sorry when you need to, and ask Jesus to cleanse you and sanctify you with His blood."