365 Days of Grace From God's Word

Month: October 2021

Share The Light!

Psalm 53:1 – Only fools say in their hearts,

“There is no God.”

They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;

not one of them does good!

2 God looks down from heaven

on the entire human race;

he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,

if anyone seeks God.

3 But no, all have turned away;

all have become corrupt.

No one does good,

not a single one!

4 Will those who do evil never learn?

They eat up my people like bread

and wouldn’t think of praying to God.

5 Terror will grip them,

terror like they have never known before.

God will scatter the bones of your enemies.

You will put them to shame, for God has rejected them.

6 Who will come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel?

When God restores his people,

Jacob will shout with joy, and Israel will rejoice. (NLT)

When we read through this psalm, it appears that when he wrote this, David had a pretty dim view of the world around him: “all have turned away; all have become corrupt.  No one does good, not a single one!”  Surely, there must have been a few godly people in Jerusalem.  Why was David so downcast?

When we consider the recent events that have been taking place in our world, not just the pandemic, but issues of violence, poverty, and deep divisions amongst a nation, we can understand that many people probably feel the same as David once did.  Sometimes it is easy to take a dim view of the world around us, for there is much darkness.  The Gospel of John 1:5 tells us that the world is a dark place.  That in itself is not good news.  The Good News, however, is found in the complete verse: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

Darkness cannot overcome the light of Jesus Christ. I pray that you are seeing light and not darkness, no matter what is happening in the world around you.  Furthermore, as Christians, it is our duty to spread that light throughout the world.  Verse two of today’s reading tells us that the truly wise people will seek God.  I believe that many people are seeking, but they do not know where to look. 

David asks in verse six: “Who will come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel?” We know what David didn’t know.  Jesus has come to the rescue!  Let us remember that the one who has made rescue available to all has come.  He paid the penalty for our sins, and has prepared a place for us in heaven.

People still seek, and many still stay confused as to what they are seeking.  Perhaps, the best thing that we can do for others during these trying times is to help someone find what it is they are truly seeking.   Maybe we can be more than wise.  Maybe we can help others become wise.  We do know how David must have felt, so the time for Christians to share the light is now! 

Posted by Ramón Torres

Our Family

Mark 3:20 – Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” 22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” 30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (NIV)

In today’s reading from Mark’s Gospel, we have two lessons.  First, we find Jesus accused of being possessed by a demon.  The teachers of the law called this demon Beelzebul.  Beelzebul literally translates as ‘Lord of the Flies’.  It originally was a title for a Philistine god, but was used by Jews, and later by Christians, to refer to Satan.  The people could not understand how Jesus, who by outward appearances seemed to be like everyone else, could do the wondrous deeds that he was doing.  Jesus makes it clear that demons cannot drive out demons.  His power came from God’s Holy Spirit that dwelled within.  

The second lesson is sometimes difficult to understand.  Jesus told the crowd that his family were those that did the will of God.  I do not believe that Jesus was rejecting his family of origin.  We know that even on the cross Jesus made sure his mother would be taken care of.  We also know that his brother James led the early church in Jerusalem.  What Jesus was doing was broadening his family.  As close as his family of origin may have been, he was now including those who sought to live out God’s will in that family.  

What can we take away from these two lessons?  First, we are called to live with God’s Holy Spirit within us.  When we do, people will look at us differently.  For those who do not understand spiritual things, they might even think we are a bit strange!  Secondly, those who seek to live out God’s will are our brothers and sisters.  We may live out God’s will through different callings, but we are still family.  There may be times when we disagree with members of our own family of origin, but we always love them.  Likewise, we may disagree at times with those who seek God’s will, yet like our family of origin, we must always extend love.  

Today, let’s seek to live with the notable difference of God’s Holy Spirit, and let’s seek to live in love with all people, especially those who seek God’s will.

Posted by Ramón Torres

Let’s Enter The Kingdom!

Luke 11:37 – As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. 38 His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. 42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. 44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”

45 “Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “you have insulted us, too, in what you just said.” 46 “Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. 47 What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. 48 But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! 49 This is what God in his wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’ 50 “As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world— 51 from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.

52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” (NLT)

Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus opposed the practice of legalism.  Legalism is following the letter of the law without any awareness of what the law points toward.  When we read the Gospels, we discover that Jesus dealt with this issue many times.  For all of Jesus’ teaching, many Christians still follow religious rules without any thought to the spirit of why they do what they do.  This is seen most clearly in Christian worship services.  We are very fortunate in that our congregation knows the value of offering different types of worship services.  I would dare say that all Christians today worship far differently than the Christians of the early church.  The history of Christian worship teaches us that worship styles have changed many times throughout the centuries.  This does not necessarily mean that any particular style was wrong, just that they changed.  My point is that worship must first be worship, regardless of what musical instruments are used, or what hymns are sung. 

In the reading today, Jesus doesn’t confront worship style, but he does address various religious practices.  The religious leaders of his day were expecting people to observe many rituals.  If the people did not observe the rituals, they were looked down upon by the religious leaders.  The key to this entire passage is found in the final verse: “You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.”  Kingdom life begins when we live in a relationship with God.  Our religious rituals and practices should help us live a kingdom life.  They should be practiced in a way that reminds us of Jesus and his desire for our lives.  If we observe rules only for the sake of observing rules, then like the religious leaders that Jesus spoke to, we have not entered the kingdom.  When we expect others to observe the same rituals as we do, simply because that’s the way we do church, then we, too, have prevented others from entering the kingdom.

Let’s observe our religious rituals, but let us never forget why we do the things we do.  Let us remember the One to whom all of our religious rituals should point towards.  Let’s enter the kingdom!

Posted by Ramón Torres

Is Jesus in your Boat?

John 6:16 – When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[b] they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (NIV).

I find today’s reading most interesting for several reasons, but one sentence really catches my eye.  The disciples were in a rough situation. The waters were rough, and they were having difficulty reaching their destination.  Jesus appears to them, and we are told in verse twenty-one: “Then they were willing to take him into the boat.”

This one sentence opens up a lot of questions! Then they were willing?  Why had they not been willing to take Jesus into the boat earlier?  We’re told they had been frightened, but what about before that? They did, after all, leave without him instead of waiting for him to arrive. 

Why did they do that? Were they so busy that they couldn’t wait for Jesus? Why was it that it wasn’t until they faced difficulties that they were willing to take Jesus along? 

Strange, isn’t it? Actually, it’s not so strange.  We often do the same thing.  How many times do we get so busy that we don’t take Jesus with us? 

During these crazy times, maybe we get stressed to the point that the we begin to lose focus.  How many storms of life do we struggle through because we failed to let Jesus ‘get into the boat’?  How many of our difficulties along the way come upon us because we left Jesus behind? 

Let’s start everyday reaching out to Jesus.  Through prayer, let us always invite Jesus along our way.

Yes, of course Jesus is present with us, but we are not always aware of that presence, and often we do not seek Jesus’ presence and power in our lives. 

Let’s invite Jesus to get into the boat with us today! 

Posted by Ramón Torres

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