Christian Growth II – Right Exercise

For us to have normal growth we need, not only the right food but, the right exercise. Nowadays we have an array of instruments for exercise. We have dumbbells, rope, machines, and applications and websites to guide us in every step. 

For you to grow you need to exercise, even where you are, right now, you can do some exercises, but we need to do it in the right way or we can get hurt.

In our Christian life we also need to exercise. Reading the Bible is an important spiritual exercise, but it needs to be done in the right way, if not we can get hurt.

It is crucial to know that only reading the exercise charts and manuals is not enough just as reading the Scriptures will not be enough. There are at least three steps toward growth that we need to take. And we should use our Mind, Heart, and Body.

In 1 Timothy 4: 6-12, Paul is telling Timothy something very interesting about Christian exercise, and in this verse, Paul writes this: “8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

He says, that godliness has value for all things. Let us see the steps that we need to take to make our exercise session productive.

1 – Understand – Mind – The first thing is to understand what we are reading. If we do not understand what we are reading we will not be able to do the exercise properly. Every movement will affect a specific group of muscles, and if you do not understand how to do it and why you are doing it, you will run the risk of hurting yourself.

We can apply the same rule with the Scriptures, if we read, but do not understand what we are reading there will be no benefit for our life.

2 – Believe – Heart – The second thing that we need to do is to believe in what we are reading. For us to be motivated to do the exercises we need to believe that they will be good for our body. When you read all the instructions about the benefit of those movements, and equipment, it is important that you believe in that information, if not you will not be motivated to do anything. You need to believe that those exercises will make your body healthier.

With the Scriptures it is the same, we must understand what we are reading, and we must believe in what we are reading. If we do not believe that God is the one talking to us, we will not do anything. It is important for us to accept the Scriptures as the Word of God, and act upon them. That will change our attitude toward the Scriptures. We will realize that the One who wrote it knows what He is talking about.

3 – Practice – Body – The next thing that we should do is to act, to practice, to do the exercise. If we read the exercise manual just for leisure and do nothing, our muscles will not improve. Even if we believe that exercise is good for our health but do not exercise, our life will not improve at all.

With the Scriptures it is the same, if we do not practice what we learn, we will not grow. We will have a good knowledge of the Bible, but our Christian life will be weak or nonexistent.

As you can see, for us to grow in our Christian life we must have the right exercise, a specific one for our needs. We must understand what it is and we must believe in what we are required to do and who is saying that. We have to practice, do it, if not we will not get any benefit from it, and we will not grow.

So, get ready and start exercising.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Christian Growth – Right Food

Christian maturity is the result of many things coming together in the life of a follower of Christ. It does not happen suddenly, or in a weekend. It is a process that will take your whole life. Some of us will be able to grow faster depending on many circumstances.

One of the biggest problems in our world is starvation. People do not have anything to eat, the other problem is that people eat wrong. They have food but they do not know what to eat and how to eat. In the Christian life we see the same challenges: Some Christians do not have enough food, and starve in their Christian life. Some people eat the wrong food in a wrong way and develop a Christian life that is deformed and lacks productivity.

In Hebrews 5: 11-14, we read this: “11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

The author of the letter is writing to Christians who were supposed to know things and be mature by this time in their lives, but unfortunately, he cannot do it, because they are not ready to receive the kind of food that he wanted to give them. Let us take a look at the different kinds of food that we have in our Christian growth.

This is what the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 1Corinthians 3:2.”

1 – Milk – The first food that we have in our Christian growth, is the logical one, the milk of our Mother. In our case the Word of God. Milk here represents the basic principles of the Christian Faith, such us: The Assurance of our salvation and eternal life, forgiveness, adoption, justification by faith, prayerthe importance of our daily devotionalthe importance of attending a churchthe necessity of sharing the good news, and a few others.

2 – Puree – When we start growing, we stop living only on milk, we need something more solid, but we are still not prepared to eat something totally solid. So, the option is a puree. That is something that comes ready for the parents to use. In the past, they had to prepare the whole thing for the children. In this phase the child will start getting deep in the aspects of doctrine, fellowship, studying of the Scriptures and practice the first steps in their journey of faith.

3 – Meat – The final stage is to eat solid food, represented here by meat. That is when the Christian starts to become a disciple, someone who not only listens to the Word, but practices the Word. They follow Jesus. They know God, they love God and worship Him. They love their brothers and sisters and serve them. They are committed to proclaim the Gospel everywhere.

In this letter the author is very upset with the readers since they could not follow his instructions. It was too complicated for them to understand what he had to say, so he had to go back and start to give them milk again.

It is our relationship with God’s Word, reading, studying, and acting upon it that will determine growth in our Christian life.

Do you know enough about the basics of Christian faith and Christian life? Are you able to practice what you have been learning from the Scriptures, Bible study, sermons, fellowship, etc.?

Is your life being changed through His Word? Are you able to see the difference? Are your friends and family being able to see the difference?

What kind of food are you eating, Milk, Puree, or Meat? 

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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The Reason for the Season – Part 4

“He will save His people from their sins.” This is what the Angel of the Lord told Joseph. Here is the whole text: “Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Yes, He came to save His people from their sins. He is the solution. God sent Jesus because of our difficulty to have a good relationship with him. We couldn’t face him, talk to him, because of our wrongdoings and our brokenness.

We were in debt with Him. We broke his law. We didn’t believe in Him. We didn’t accept Him, so he sent Jesus to this world. Jesus came, suffered our pain, knew our situation, paid our debt with the law, and opened a free way to God. Jesus lived the life that we were supposed to live, and He died for you and me.

When Jesus died all my debts with God and His laws were paid. We were supposed to die at that cross, but Jesus died for me. He took my place and suffered for me. That is the ultimate reason for Christmas. Jesus came to save us.

The question is, how can we get saved? Well… Some people would say: “You need to do a lot of good works. You need to give 20% of your income to the church. You have to go to the church every day. You cannot lie anymore. You cannot steal anymore. You have to say the Lord’s prayer every day.”

Really? No, that is not right. You are not saved because you do all those things and others. The problem is that we cannot do those things. We do not have power or willingness to do those things. This is what we learned from Isaiah: Is. 64:5-8 You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins. Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay; you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

As you can see, there is nothing in us that deserves the grace and mercy of God. There is only one thing that we need to do: WE NEED TO BELIEVE IN WHAT JESUS DID FOR US. We need to believe that God loves us, even when we don’t like Him or don’t believe in Him, and despite our sins.

He loves you. You need to believe that Jesus came for you. You need to believe in what He did. He paid your debt with the Law of God. You need to believe that God wants to make you His daughter and his son. You need to believe that God wants to have a close relationship with you.

Finally, you need to open your heart and say: God here I am. I need you. Come to my life. Change my life. Make me your daughter or son. Make me a real Christian. Help me to become a disciple. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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The Reason for the Season – Part 3

Christmas season has become a commercial festival instead of a spiritual festival. Santa Claus has become more popular than Jesus himself. With so many things going on we sometimes forget the reason of the season.

What is the real reason for Christmas? It is not the exchange of presents. It is not Santa Claus. It is not the decorations with adorned trees, lights and candles. What brought Jesus here wasn’t a party, but a sad situation.

In Matthew 1: 21, we have this: She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” This tells us that Jesus came to save us from our sins.

Sin is everything that we do against God and his laws. When we don’t believe in him, that is sin. When we don’t love our brothers and sisters, that is sin. When we don’t help other people, that is sin. When we don’t promote social justice, that is sin.

In Isaiah 64: 6-7 we have this: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.”

Isaiah tells us that we cannot do the right thing  by ourselves. We don’t have power enough to do that. We don’t have strength to do good things. We know what we have to do, but we cannot do it. The only thing that we can do is bad things. Nobody needs to teach us to do the wrong thing, we know very well how to do it.

That is the situation, when God looked from heaven and saw the human race, He got sad and angry. He saw people living their lives without him and without peace, and without love. He saw violence, destruction, selfishness, and pain. He saw people making war to find peace. He saw people making sex trying to find love. He saw people using violence to have power. He saw people robbing to become rich. He saw people creating new religions to find Him.

We don’t need to go too far to see this. If we take a look around us, we will see this situation. If we look deep inside of us we are going to see this. The truth is that the idea of God  is not a good idea for us. We don’t like it. We don’t like the idea that there is a powerful God up there, righteous and just that knows everything and can do whatever He wants. That idea makes us feel bad, and uncomfortable.

Do you know why? Because we are sinners, we did and continue to do wrong things. We say and think bad things. This is why we do not like that idea. This situation is universal and it involves everybody without exception.

It is because of this situation that we have Christmas. This is why Jesus came.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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The Reason for the Season – Part 2

Christmas is Christ with us, is God with us. God incarnated and made His tabernacle with us. The beauty of Christmas is that God will not leave us or abandon us. This is what we learn with the word Emmanuel. Let us see other aspects of that presence.

THE SPIRITUAL PRESENCE – As I said it is not only a physical presence. It is a spiritual presence also. The same Spirit that was in Jesus is the Spirit that He sent to us. When Jesus went to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us. That is the guarantee that He is with us today. We have His presence through the Holy Spirit.

His presence is invisible but not unreal. It is invisible, but real. God is with us through his Holy Spirit. He lives in us. He guides us. He teaches us. Sometimes we can feel Him, and sometimes we can only believe that there is someone up there looking over us. 

The Spirit is here now, not only to help us to know Jesus and bless us. He is here to make us the body of Christ. How can the world see Jesus and His love? It is through you and me. The Spirit is working in the church and in us individually to make us look like Jesus, therefore the world can see how Jesus is, how His love and mercy are. 

We represent Jesus in this world. Because of that we must look like Him, talk like Him, and act like Him. To accomplish that the Holy Spirit has the Word of God and the Church with her leaders to make us look like Jesus. It is His spiritual presence that binds us together. It is His spiritual presence that is changing our lives. It is His spiritual presence that is working through us, reaching out to other lives, and showing to the world that God exists, and He can be found.

THE PERENNIAL PRESENCE – Now, the very good news is that this presence is perennial.He will be with us forever. He is with us all the time. There is no day off for God. He is present in our lives all the time, no matter if we are young or elderly, awake or sleeping, a believer or not.He is with us. Sometimes we don’t feel His presence, so what? He is there.

Sometimes it looks like He is not there. But He is. In the good times, times of celebration, He is there, celebrating with us. In times of struggle He is there suffering with us. There are some problems in our lives that nobody knows what is going on, but God knows. He is right there in the middle of our tribulation. He is there drying our tears or laughing with us. He is with us everywhere.

Sometimes we think that God is only at the church. We think that He is only in Holy places or special areas where He manifests himself. That is a wrong idea. God is with us everywhere, at the church, at work, or at home.

He will be with us. He will never leave us. He won’t quit. He will be with us all the way. Sometimes we will feel him, sometimes we will see His strong hands working for us, and sometimes we won’t. Jesus said that whenever two or three meet in His name He would be there.

Now in this new dispensation God lives inside of us, so wherever you are that is a Holy place, because God is with you. God is with you in the car, or bus, God is with you in the hospital, God is with you in your office or in your home, and God is here with you right now.

I wish you could feel His presence, touching you and talking to you. I wish you could feel His hands on your head or shoulders comforting you and giving you assurance that you are loved and He will be with you till the end.

Jesus is the Emmanuel, God with us, through His Spirit He is with us here and now, and He will be with us forever.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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The Reason for the Season – Part 1

Did you ever try to find out why we have so many religions in the world? I come from a country that has a lot of gods. And every day we have a different and new one. They have gods of waters and land, gods of the forest and the air. They do everything that their gods ask, even kill. They sacrifice animals and even children to their gods. 

It is common to see some offerings in the streets. That is a kind of food to their gods. The god is the one that asks that. They demand that kind of sacrifice. 

We usually used to knock wood three times. That gesture is a religious act. The people believe that the tree has a spirit, so when they knock on wood three times, they are invoking its spirit to come and help or protect them.

In everywhere in this world there is a thirst and hunger for the supernatural. The people want to know God, they want to experience God. There is a need for human beings to see God. Sometimes we create gods that we can see, and control. Religion is a tendency for human beings to find God and know him.

Christianity is totally different. Christianity is religion in the up side down. In Christianity God came to meet human beings. God incarnated in Jesus Christ and lived among us. He walked with us.

In the story narrated by Matthew (Matthew 1:18-23) we have this text: Matt. 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” Yes, this is what the prophet said, one of the names of Jesus would be Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

That is what makes Christianity the opposite of other religions. We don’t need to try to find God. He came to us, He found us. Let me share with you how He did and does that.

I – THE PHYSICAL PRESENCE – The first lesson that we learn is that God is a person. He is not made of wood or clay. He thinks, He feelsand He talks.

In Christ God had a body. He had a face, and feelings. He could suffer and have pain. He could be happy and smile. He could be sad and cry. He could get tired. People could see him, talk to him, and hear him. He walked with us, He lived with us, and He wasn’t far anymore.

He came physically to sympathize with us and to experience our life and struggles. He came physically to show to us His love and interest towards us.

In Jesus God communicates with us. In Jesus we finally find God.

My friend, the presence of Jesus is one of the reasons for the season. His incarnation, presence, and death are crucial for our salvation. He came to pay the penalty for our sins and connect us with God.

His physical presence in this world, living among people, and communicating the message of God through words and deeds is the final demonstration that God loves you and me.

So, when you celebrate Christmas remember that Jesus came to give His life for you, and to show how much God loves you.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 134 – The True Worship – Part 4

“What good is it?”, “What difference does it make?”, “What can I get from it?” These are the impressions that sometimes we get when we talk or mention worship to people. Most of them are not brave enough to say it, but the look, expression, and attitude tell it all – Worship has nothing to add into their lives. It is just not relevant.

 Psalm 134, is the last psalm of a very important group of Psalms, called The Psalms of Accents. Those psalms were sung as the pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem for the spiritual and religious festivals. They were short and easy to memorize, so the whole family could sing and learn about life, faith, and the relationship with their God.

This last psalm is about the main reason for them to travel – Worship. In the last verse we learn about THE RESULTS. That is the final lesson that we learn about the true worship. The results that come from it.

When we perform a true worship, we will have good results in our lives. This is what the third verse says: “[3] May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.” Let us take a look at some of those results.

            A – The blessings – The first results are the blessings that we will receive. Those blessings are spiritual and material, and they are abundant. The word is the same one for praise. When I praise and bless God, He will praise and bless me back. This is what Jesus said: Matt. 25:23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

            B – From the Lord, the creator – Those blessings are from God himself. He is the creator of the universe; and He will bless us. People sometimes do not think that God is actively involved with our worship. They think that it is just a one-way road. They could not be more wrong. God is very interested in our worship. The Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, is present, attentive, and active. 

            C – Through the Church – Finally, some of those blessings will come through the church. The psalmist says that the Lord will bless us from Zion, which was the mountain of the Temple. God will use the church to bless us. There are some blessings in our lives that are closely related with our worship in the church.

As we could see throughout this series, the true worship is not about contemporary music or traditional service. The true worship involves our attitude toward God; and how we respond to His activity in our lives.

My friend, worship is the most important aspect of our life. We should do it by ourselves, with our family, and with a local church. No matter where you are in your spiritual journey there is one thing that we all should do, WORSHIP THE LORD!

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 134 – The True Worship – Part 3

I became a Christian in the middle of what I can call spiritual revival in the Presbyterian Church in our region. Young people were being saved, kids were growing in their faith, sharing the Gospel, praying, studying the Bible, sometimes even without any adult around.

It was something extraordinary. We were so thirsty for the things of God that we would do anything and go anywhere where we could learn the Word, pray, or simply have a fellowship with other brothers and sisters.

I remember an interesting experience that I had during that time. It was the middle of the week and our church did not have, in that particular evening, any activity. Someone mentioned that a church (not Presbyterian) had a prayer meeting that day. So, we decided to go there and pray with our brothers and sisters. 

At that time, I did not understand the differences between the denominations, and I was about to have a big surprise. When we got there, we were welcomed by all. They sang some hymns, and then the pastor invited us to pray with him. As a good Presbyterian I kept my focus on the pastor and his prayer, at least I tried. When he pronounced the words: “My Lord…” everybody started praying. It was not just a quiet, Presbyterian way prayer, some of them started to yell, cry, raise their hands, jump, run, and others just kneeled. 

I say this, because I could not keep my eyes closed, I had never seen something like that. Later I learned that this was the way that that congregation prayed. The pastor could not finish his prayer (I was still focusing on him). He yelled, cried, many times he closed his prayer “in the Name of Jesus!”, but nobody was paying attention to him, until he grabbed a handbell and started ringing it, until everybody calmed down and started going back to their seats. What an experience!

 Psalm 134 helps us to understand some important lessons about The True Worship. In verse two we learn about THE ATTITUDE. That is the second lesson that we learn in this psalm, the right attitude when we worship God.

Sometimes we do all those things related in our past articles, but we perform them with the wrong attitude. The psalmist tells us that we must have the right attitude if we want to have a true worship. This is what verse 2 tells us, “[2] Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.”

Let us take a look in some of them.

            A – Lift up your hands – The first attitude is the lifting of our hands. To lift the hands in the Bible has many meanings, let us see some of them:

                        I – Humbleness – The first meaning is humbleness; the attitude of humility, knowing that we are before the Creator of the Universe, and we are only simple creatures.

                        II – Submission – The second meaning is submission; the attitude of total surrender. When we come to worship God, we must give everything that we have to Him.

                        III – Dependency – The third attitude is dependency; the attitude of trust in God to care for us. When we worship God, we must trust that He is there for us and He is going to take care of us.

            B – In the Sanctuary – Sometimes it is easy for us to do those things in a room where nobody can see us. The idea here is to do that in the Sanctuary, in front of the people, in community. Our worship must be public.

            C – With Praises – When we praise Him with the right attitude, we recognize that He is good, He is the Savior and He is our Lord. This is why we sing and pray.

My friend, no matter where you worship or how you worship, the external gestures and places are only important if they come from your heart. The True Worship happens in our heart first.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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