People who missed a great opportunity to check out baby Jesus

Do you remember this saying from Jesus’ lips: “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. Luke 10:13.” Yes, He really cursed those cities, because they had Him there, they heard Him, and they saw the miracles, but they decided not to believe in Him.

When I think about those cities and the Lord’s curse I cannot stop thinking about Bethlehem and the region. We all know the story about the shepherds. They received the visit from an angel and after that a great company of heavenly host, confirming the message of the angel about the baby. The message was simple: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11.” Those shepherds, not only believed, but also went to Bethlehem to check it out.

The problem is not with the shepherds and their experience, but what came afterwards. When they saw Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus they realized that the words from the angels were true. So, we should not expect them to do any other thing than spread the word and praise God. This is exactly what they did. Here is the text: “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. Luke 2:17-18.”

So the question is, why the people in that region did not accept the shepherds’ report and testimony and went there to check baby Jesus? How could they miss that extraordinary opportunity? Let me share some possible reasons with you.

Maybe they did not go there to check that out because of the shepherds. They were the ones chosen by God to receive the message, but for the people in the region they were the least. So, some people did not believe in them because they were not qualified to deliver such an important message

Or maybe it was because of the place. When they heard that the Son of God was in Bethlehem in a cave designated for animals, they simply shut down. If He was supposed to be the Messiah, He should be born in Jerusalem, in the Temple, or in the Palace, but not in a small town, and have a manger for a crib.

Or maybe it was because of the news, the message in itself. The angel was very clear that the baby was the Savior, the Christ (Messiah), and the Lord. They did not hear wrong. That baby was the Son of God, the long waited Messiah, and the one who was coming to save them and be their Lord. Probably it was too much for them. If he was a prophet, a teacher, a good man, or a strong leader, maybe they would believe, but Savior, Christ, and Lord, no, it could not be.

Unfortunately, this Christmas many people around the world will miss the opportunity to check Jesus out. Maybe because of the messengers, or because of the place, a small town, small church, who knows. But many will decide not to believe because of who He is. When you understand that He is the Savior, the Christ, and the Lord, the only viable option that you have is to surrender to Him and praise God.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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People who missed a great opportunity to surrender to the King of kings

All of us, like it or not, have a queen’s syndrome or a king’s syndrome. We all want to be king or queen. I believe it is inherent in our human nature. We do not only want to dictate our own path and destiny, but also the lives of people around us. We have this need to be in control of everything and everyone.

The problem is that most the time our will does not prevail and we get frustrated and upset. Sometimes another king or queen inferior to us shows up, and dethrones us, which is very humiliating.

In the Christmas story we have the case of king Herod. He was a very powerful man in his time. On a certain day a group of Magi from the east came to Jerusalem saying that the King of the Jews was born and they came to worship Him. I do not need to tell you how disturbed Herod and his court became.

The story is in the Gospel of Matthew 2: 1-18. He called the experts of the law and priests to tell him where the new king was supposed to be born. They told him that Bethlehem was the city.

From that point on he had two options: The first one was to accept the prophecies and the words from the Magi and go to Bethlehem to worship the newborn King. This attitude would mean that his posterity would not reign in Israel. He and his family would be removed from the throne and the new King would rule.

This option was not even considered. He was too big to fail. He would not surrender his kingdom to someone that he did not know, even if that person was the Messiah, the Son of God, and the King of kings. No, he would definitely not do that.

It is interesting because Herod was not supposed to be on that throne anyway. He usurped that throne and kept it for himself and his family. He did not belong there, but he took it.

The other option was the one that he procured. He gathered the information from the spiritual leaders and the Magi and decided to eliminate the competition. His action killed many boys under two years old. He did not want to take any risk. That throne would be his and of his sons at any cost. He just missed the greatest opportunity to surrender to the King of kings.

Sometimes we have this same attitude of king Herod during Christmas. Jesus did not come to be a good person, a good teacher, or a good example; He came to be the Messiah, the Savior, the Lord, and the King of kings. He wants to rule and control our lives. The problem is we think that the throne of our lives belongs to us. We believe that the crown is ours, and we do not want to give them to anybody, not even share them.

During this Christmas season you will have the opportunity again and again to surrender the throne of your life to Christ. I pray that you will be wise and will acquiesce to the move of the Holy Spirit to do so. Do not miss this extraordinary opportunity and put the crown that is on your head at Jesus’ feet. Surrender your life to Him.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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People who missed a great opportunity to have the Savior in their house

In Brazil we decorate for Christmas, but not like here. People here take Christmas decorations to the extreme. I remember the first time that I saw that. We had an American missionary friend in Brazil, and I went to his house a few times. So I was familiar with what the house looked like. Until the day that I went there during the Advent season. It was another house. All the decorations were changed, lights, trees, presents, etc. I hardly recognized the place. It was a cultural shock for me.

By now your house, if your family is an average one, is totally decorated for the Christmas season. Santa, trees, lights, and if you are a religious person, you will have a manger scene somewhere there.

We all know that most of the symbols of Christmas that we use come from pagan traditions. With that said, I would like to ask this: How many Christian symbols do you have in your house? Are they in the most visible or important area of the house? How do they compare with the other symbols?

Christmas is about one person – Jesus. He really is the reason for the season. Unfortunately, we are missing the opportunity to have Him in our house during the season.

This reminds me of the original Christmas story, when Joseph and Mary were looking for a place to stay and they could not find any, so they had to stay in a cave where the animals were sheltered. You can read the story in Luke2: 1-7.

At that time, in a small town like Bethlehem, they did not have a traditional or regular Inn. What they had were homeowners who would build extra rooms in their houses to make some extra money during the religious holidays. Joseph, Mary, and their son Jesus could not find a home to entertain them, so the cave with a manger was the best that they could have.

That family that owned the manger missed the opportunity to have the Son of God born inside their house. Can you imagine that? If they knew that that little boy was the Son of God, they probably would give their best room and serve them with the best that they had. Do not get me wrong; if we were in that situation we would do the same.

So, where is Christ during this season? Is He present in your house? Is He present in your family? Is He present in your life? Does He have the preeminent place? Is He celebrated, worshiped, and followed? Are you replacing Him with other symbols, characters, celebrations, and parties?

During this season, do not miss the opportunity to have Christ in your house, in your family and in your life. Make an extra and intentional effort to bring Christ back to Christmas. That boy came to be the Savior, the Emmanuel – God with us. So when Christ is in your life, it means that God Himself is present with you.

My friend, celebrate Christmas in the best way you can, but do not forget that Christmas is Christ. Because of that move Him to the center of your festivity and put Him in the first place in your life.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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People who missed a great opportunity to see

“The worst blind is the one who doesn’t want to see!” This is a very famous Portuguese saying. Unfortunately it is based on an allegedly true story. In the 16th century a French doctor was able to perform a surgery that cured a blind man. The surgery was a success, everybody was happy but the patient. The world that he saw horrified him. He was so desperate that he asked the doctor to reverse the surgery or to remove his eyes. When the doctor said that he would not do it, he took the case to Paris and Vatican courts. The courts gave victory to the man and his eyes were removed. In this way he became the first blind man who did not want to see.

That saying applies to circumstances when people have the truth right in front of them and they just do not want to see it. They refuse to accept the truth

In the Advent story we have something like that. When the Magi came to Jerusalem looking for the Messiah, King Herod heard that and he was extremely disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. He then called all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law and asked them where the Christ was to be born. Here is their answer: “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” Matthew 2:5-6.”

It is important for us to understand that during that time the leaders, priests, teachers of the law, and the people were expecting the coming of the Messiah. The Messianic hope was very alive and well. This explains the answer that Herod received from the leaders.

For Herod, Jesus was just a competitor, someone who came to take his power away from him, but for the priests and the teachers of the law he was the long awaited Messiah. The Kingdom of God was at their doorsteps. The problem is that they could not see it, or more probably they did not want to see it.

In all of the Gospels we do not have any reaction from those leaders searching and trying to find out what the Magi was talking about. The only reaction was from Herod trying to kill the boy.

Jesus, the Messiah, was right there a few miles away. The Magi gave them a very impressive sign and the prophecies confirmed their narration, but they decided to ignore it. They just did not want to see it.

How many times have you been in this kind of situation? The Word of God was very clear, wise people close to you confirmed it with their wisdom, but you decided to ignore and to continue in the path that you designed for yourself.

Have you ever talked with someone and were able to share the Good News with him or her in a very clear way, just to hear the answer: “No, I still can’t believe what you are saying is the truth”? Or, “I still do not understand.” The truth is right in front of them but they just cannot see or they do not want to see it.

During this season I hope and pray that you will be able to see how much God loved you and also you will be able to share that love with other people.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Give Thanks! (Part 2)

Maybe you do not know, or are not aware, or are not sure, or you just cannot see, but there is an invisible hand over you and behind you to protect, to guide, and to help you on your journey.

1. Give Thanks For What God Does

In the Scriptures we find this sentence repeated many times, “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. Psalm 107:8.” It seems that the psalmist want us to know two basic things about gratitude. One is that we should give thanks for who God is, and give thanks for His love, says the writer. God is love and we should thank Him for that. The second thing that the psalmist says is: give thanks for his wonderful works to humankind.

Because God is God, and everything that He does is good and perfect, we should give thanks to Him. Sometimes we are not thankful because we do not take time to think and ponder on everything that God has done for us.

Just take a moment and meditate on a few areas of your life where God did something. Some areas will seem insignificant, and other areas will be of an extreme importance. Do not worry, just make a small list for today, and thank God for what He did or is doing in your life.

Let me help with a few topics:

1. Your spiritual journey – how much has He done in this area for you? He saved you. He put people in your life to teach about Him and His Word. He gave you gifts and talents to be used in His Kingdom. He adopted you into His family, and the list can go on and on. Maybe you should make a list of some of those things that God did for you and thank Him.

2. Your health – It is important for us to understand that we live in a broken and fallen world. We are getting old, our bodies are in some way deteriorating, but even so, we are still alive. Medicine is getting better each day. We are living longer and better, and because of that we should be thankful. Could you name an area of your health that you should be thankful about right now?

3.Your family – Most of us still have their parents alive. Some of us have their grandparents alive. Our spouses, our children are blessings from God, and we should be thankful for them. What specific thing is God doing in your family that you should thank Him for?

4. Your finances – “Yeah! right! We are in the middle of a huge financial crisis and you want me to be thankful?” Well, maybe you are right. But wait a moment, did you eat today? Do you have a job? Some of us are still looking for one, but God has been faithful, and He is providing for us. We do not live in the home of our dreams, but we have a shelter. God did not promise to give us everything that we want, He promised that He would take care of us, and for that we should be thankful.

As you can see my brother and sister, even though we sometimes do not see His hands, they are there in our lives, protecting, helping, and guiding us.

Take a moment in your busy day, and give thanks for what God did and is doing in your life.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Give Thanks! (Part 1)

In a time when people believe that they are entitled to almost anything, it is hard to cultivate a thankful heart, not only for people that do something for us, but principally for God. On top of that we can add the daily struggles that each one of us is facing, such us unemployment, illness, finances, stress, disappointments, etc.

1. Give Thanks For Who God Is

When we look around and see all the difficulties and struggles that we are facing, it is hard for us to look up and be thankful. Someone already said: “Do not look at the size of your problems, but the size of your God.” If we want to be thankful we need to start thanking God for who He is.

The psalmist wrote: “Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1.” When we look in the Scriptures we find a God who is good. We also learn that His love endures forever. But there are other attributes in our God that help us to be thankful.

He is powerful. Sometimes when we face difficulties, we feel that nobody can help us, even God. When we understand and believe that God, our God is a powerful God, a God who created the whole universe and maintains control over everything by His providence, then we can start to be thankful.

He is also merciful and gracious. Someone said: “Grace: Where we get what we really don’t deserve. Mercy: Where we don’t’ get what we really do deserve.” Yes, that is a great definition of both words. God gives us so many things that we do not deserve, and we should be thankful for that. We also, because of our human and sinful nature deserve judgment, and we do not get it, because of His wonderful mercy.

But for me, one of the most crucial and beautiful characteristics of our God is His presence with us. When we face hard times we lose the ability to feel or even believe that God is with us during those times. One of the most beautiful promises that we find in the Scriptures is the one that God made to Abraham: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go… Genesis 28:15.” Isn’t that great, to know that God, the powerful one, the creator of the universe, the merciful and gracious, is with you and will watch over you wherever you go?

My brother and sister, no matter what you are going through in your life, you still have many reasons to be thankful, and one of them is for who our God is. So, Give thanks to the Lord!

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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My New Book

“Happy holidays!” “Have a wonderful holiday season!” “Seasons greetings!” or just “Bah, humbug!” Christmas is loosing its central point. A celebration that became the epitome of Christianity now is just another holiday. Christmas is about Christ, His life and His message. This book offers some meditations about Christmas and suggestions on how to make it a Christian Holiday again.

Friends, here is my new book. Click on the image

 

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Limping your way in the Kingdom

Our generation places great value on those who are the healthiest, the strongest, the fittest, the youngest, and the smartest, leaving behind a throng that do not fit in this mold anymore. In this new era there is no room for aged, weak, small, sick, or people to are not used to the new gadgets.

When we turn to the Scriptures we find, almost without exception, among the heroes that are people that were hurt, small, old, too young, female, and sometimes not the smartest ones around.

The story of Jacob (Genesis 32), is a very good illustration of that. After fleeing from the wrath of his brother, finally the day to face him arrived. On the evening before that, he had a fight with the Angel of the Lord. The Angel touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. The Angel changed his life and changed his name, calling him Israel.

Isn’t interesting that God sent him to meet the biggest threat of his life limping? This should put things in perspective for us. If we believe in God and if we trust in Him, it does not matter our health, size, age, gender, or anything else. It is God who will take care of us, and it is HE who will use us.

Sometimes people will look down on you. They will think and sometimes say that you are not fit to serve in this or that ministry. They will give you the impression that because of you the rest of the team, or church will need to slow down and set a different pace. Guilt will be the weapon that they will use against you. They will make you feel bad. They won’t get rid of you, but they will push you away or aside as much as they can. Sometimes people just decide to leave.

Unfortunately, many people in our churches left and are leaving because they do not fit the spiritual, ministerial, or current profile. They cannot run any more. They do not understand all the terms and technologies that are taking over the world. THEY ARE LIMPING.

If you think that you are among those who are limping, let me tell you something, you are in great company. Abraham limped in age. Jacob limped literally. Moses could not speak well. David was too young. Ruth was a foreigner. Esther was a slave girl. Peter and some other apostles were unschooled, and the list goes on and on. Those hurdles were not enough to stop God.

If God wants to use you, no matter who you are, and how capable or not you are, He will use you. Even though you are limping and can no longer run, do not  give up, do not stop, do not leave. There is a place for you in the Kingdom of God, and He will use you.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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