Saturday, January 18, 2014
"for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born."
(Lucas 1:15 NIV)
Wine was a very common element in jewish culture, and was part of the daily meals. It wasn't a sin to take wine. Even Jesus used to take wine, so it wasn't because it was a sin or not that God made this request for John the Baptist.
In fact, when we are called by God, He asks us to be separated, and to give up on things that the other people can have, but not us. If that would eventually set us apart from the calling or not, I don't know, but I do know that if we obey to His request, and give up on the things He asked us to give up, we actually open the doors to the very thing we've been born to do and to its accomplishment in our lives.
A great calling comes accompanied of a great surrender. John the Baptist was requested to not take wine. Abraham was requested to leave his country and his family. Now, what God is requesting from you? You, who is called by Him, most likely already know what that is. Dare to give up on this, and get launched into the direction of the purpose of your existence, for the Glory of God!
Let this be the year of your life!
(image: http://footsoldiers4christ.com/2012/05/21/the-cost-of-discipleship/, as seen in 18/Jan/2014, 3PM, Brasilia time)
Saturday, February 16, 2013
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62 NIV)
As we read Luke chapter 9, we can see that it is a very busy chapter. Jesus multiplies the bread for the crowd, heals the sick, is transfigured at the mountain before three of his disciples, goes to Jerusalem; He is not accepted in a samaritan village and He has to go to another village, and at the end, while He is going there, he talks to these three people that the scripture tells us about.
There are several possible ways that we can relate to Jesus, and in all of them we know He does good for us: He blesses us, He feeds us, He comforts us, He heals us. From all these manifestations of Jesus's authority, among all the miracles, there is one manifestation that is more subtle, maybe less impressive, less virtuous, but that is the one that have my attention due to the impact it has in our lives.
It is Jesus calling: "follow me". How simple is to comprehend a miracle, a manifestation of power, glory, and divine healing. These are, in fact, glorious moments that leave a mark in the history of those who are present, of those who received a favor from God. The calling "follow me", however, is something of much greater deepness, much greater transcendence, and whose responsive action is not something tight, immediate, unique. But to respond this calling make us to question the very essence of who we are, which values we have, what is important to us and what is the priority of our hearts.
"Follow me". Such a simple expression that leads us to the most profound reflection. A simple calling with the power to hit our spirit and soul in a way we could never think possible. So much at stake! So many questions! It is Jesus calling us to something higher, something precious, something inscrutable. Moreover, it touches the subjects that most afflicts us: it is something we do not know, something that we are afraid of, something that challenges us to see beyound the limits of our own individuality.
The social and moral degradation we have seen around us, if you and I just stop to think about, comes from the fact that more and more the individualism is being aimed and preached, and each time there are less limits for what someone could desire and achieve. However these things stick us to a meaningless life, that could follow its way towards the grave without knowing a thing but itself, its wishes, its selfishness.
"Follow me", said Jesus. Jesus invites us to abandon our own way and follow His way; or better, the way which is Himself. He invites us to stop deciding where we would go, where we would eat, where we would sleep, what are our dreams and ambitions, in order to live and walk whatever He lives and walks. Such a simple expression, but like a two-edged sword, it crosses the human soul, taking us to the most profound questions.
How would I respond? How would you respond? Are we able of leaving aside the emptyness of our own priorities in life? Are we able to see how much meaningless our own search becomes when we live circling around ourselves? Are we able to respond to this call?
"Follow me", Jesus says to us today.
Friday, April 20, 2012
"And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:15 (NIV).
How beautiful are the feet. This text from Romans 10:15 is a widely known text. Here Paul makes reference to the prophet Isaiah, as we read:
"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" " Isaiah 52:7 (NIV).
There is a slight difference, however, between the two texts, and this difference has caught my attention. Isaiah says: "on the mountains". So are beautiful the feet, but when they are stepping over the mountains, when they are printing their footprint, their mark.
The text from Isaiah suggests that the feet are beautiful when they are in the full exercise of proclaiming the good news. The mountains were here, in historical context, the places where the people were, since they could not return to Jerusalem. The text speaks of someone who decided to leave, and decided to go where those who were lost and isolated were located. Someone that not only remained in a place of peace, in the City of Peace, enjoying what the Lord conquered for him, but decided to leave and go to the place where those that need to hear about good news are.
Let this be our heart and our attitude. Let us that not only wait for the lost come to us, but let us be the light in an active way, and let us seek those who need the Gospel of Peace so they come back to the City of Peace.
In the peace of Jesus Christ!
Saturday, April 7, 2012
“[...] Don't discuss – shine! You cannot conquer the darkness by arguing with them. Just turn on the light. The gospel is power, power to give light. Preach it. Then you'll connected to the power lines and the light will come.
The electrical lines that lead to the Calvary, the Resurrection, the Throne, 'The Gospel of Christ, ... which is the power of God', as wrote Paul the apostle in Romans 1:16. He knew it. He experienced it. The world in the days of Paul couldn't be worst: cruel, corrupt and cynical. However the Gospel has transformed it. Today, the Gospel can do it again. [...]“
(BONNKE, Reinhard – Evangelismo por Fogo, 2003, Full Flame, página 90; translated from portuguese version.)
Stay in the peace of Jesus Christ!
Thursday, March 29, 2012
John 3:8 - "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." "
One of the sounds that I most appreciate in this world is the sound that is produced by the wind in its strength. The wind, in its power that is invisible to human eyes, is one of the most powerful forces of nature. Nothing can stop it, nobody can understand it in its fullness. The meteorologists, though sometimes able to get it right in their forecasts, are constantly astonished.
The text we read above compares the Christian born of the Spirit with the wind. Note that the word wind in the original text, also represents spirit. The Holy Spirit is like the wind. He blows where he wills. We can hear him. We are not able to understand his greatness and his movement.
Again, in Acts, the Holy Spirit is compared to the wind, a mighty wind.
Acts 2:2-4 - "Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. "
Let me propose an illustration. Let's imagine that you and I are like small sailboats; like little boats in the waters of this world. Those who are born of the Spirit are those who hoist the sails and get carried away by the wind. Those who are not born of the Spirit are those who fight against the wind. While we stand, while we keep low the sails, we are unable to move with strength. We can try to row against the wind, but this only represents a lot of effort and fatigue with no results.
See that the attitude that allows the boat to move with strength is completely hoist the sails and surrender to the impetuous movement of the wind. The Holy Spirit blows where he wills. We can hear his voice, but we can not look into the depth of God's thought; not without the Holy Spirit. He, however, can and wants to take us with Him, if we let Him.
This day let's surrender to Him. Let's give up the oars. Let's turn off the engines. Let's stop fighting with the wind. Let's dare to surrender the control of our ways. Let's hoist the sails and see where He leads us.
Stay in the peace of Jesus Christ!
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."
Jesus teaches us what is the "greater love". To love with the "greater love" is not hugging, kissing, staying together, having relationship, etc.
To love with the "greater love" is to lay down the life. The love that the text speaks about is the agape, i.e., a love that is not produced by man, but by the Spirit of God.
The life that the text speaks about is not the life on the body, but the psyche, which is the soul. The soul represents one's intellect, emotions, desires, etc.
When I lay down my life for a brother of mine, I demonstrate that the love of God is in me.
When I don't lay down my life for my brother, when my soul well-being is more important than someone's life, I demonstrate that the love of God is not in me. When my comfort and finances are more important than someone's salvation, I demonstrate that the love of God is not in me. My attitudes demonstrate if the greater love is in me. Even my prayers demonstrate if the love of God is in me or not. When my rest, my sleep, my possessions, my stuff, my feelings, and etc., that is, my life, my psyche has the first place, the greater love is not manifested in me.
Love, with agape, is an expression of the Spirit of God, it is fruit of the Spirit, and only can be produced by Him. Our role is to surrender and to allow Him to love. Let us lay down our lives, our psyche, for the one's next to us; let us take our eyes off of ourselves, let us take our souls out of the throne of our lives, let us pray and cry for the ones that suffer, let us surrender and allow the love of God to reach those.
Stay in the peace of Jesus Christ!