To live Is Christ

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he was in jail. The reason for Paul’s imprisonment was to have preached the gospel. His physical integrity was not assured and the same could achieve his freedom than to be sentenced to death. In the midst of his affliction for the great trial he suffered, Paul said what is in Philippians 1:21, For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. There is no doubt that Paul was very clear that he had given his life to Christ and knew full well that he had put it in the best hands.

Paul was not the only one who thought that way because each of the apostles and early Christians lived it in their own flesh. They all lived for Christ and did not hesitate to lay down their lives rather than to deny their faith because they knew that to die was gain because they would meet with the Beloved Jesus. For two thousand years, millions of Christians have lived according to Philippians 1:21, for them to live was Christ and to die was gain. Even that continues to happen today in many parts of the world.

What has led Christians through the centuries to be able to even give up their lives for the name of Jesus? When you really know who Jesus Christ is and what he is capable of doing, there is no fear of risking everything for him. In John 11:25-26 the Lord says, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Those words, like all the words of the Lord, will continue to have validity for ever and ever.

We are living in a time when a large part of those who claim to be Christians are not living according to what Philippians 1:21 says. These people do not live for Christ or think that death is gain but cling to this life and its delights as if they were destined to dwell in this world forever. They are people who jump from their seats and shout with joy when in the churches they speak of blessings, prosperity and happiness; but that the deaf are made when they are told of the price to be paid for following Christ.

It is a pity that such people are engaged in similar positions. That is the opposite of what the Word says. Remember what the Lord says in John 12:25, He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. The most difficult times that humanity has ever lived are approaching. Matthew 24: 9-10 prophesies what will happen to the Christians, Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.

Many who call themselves Christians boast that before the time of the great tribulation comes, the Lord will come in secret and deliver us from it. I’m sorry, my brother; but that is not what Matthew 24: 9-10 says. Unless you are one of the many who will stumble and betray to their brothers, you run the risk of losing your physical life because of the name of Jesus. If you love your life to the point of being able to deny your faith by saving the skin, remember John 12:25. It is better to hate our life in this world and to keep it for eternal life. May our lives be Christ and if we die for Him, we do not lose, we win. God bless you.

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Portrait of the True Servant of Jesus Christ

For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the off scouring of all things until now.

1 Corinthians 4:9-13

The text of 1 Corinthians 4:9-13 describing a true servant of Jesus Christ today might seem like a science fiction movie for many persons. The image many people have of a servant of Christ dictates far from a condemned to death, weak, dishonored, hungry and thirsty, naked, beaten, homeless, working with his own hands, cursed, suffering persecution and supporting all that. And it is because many who now claim to serve the Lord exhibited the opposite of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:9-13.

From the pomp of the great Catholic basilicas and cathedrals to the huge extravaganza of Protestant mega churches seem to ridicule the apostle Paul. The fineness of the robes of popes, cardinals and bishops or the elegant costumes designer of modern Evangelical “apostles” do see that these “servants” of Christ do not walk or naked and starving or thirsty, quite the contrary.

Will there be servants of the Lord today as described by Paul? Definitely yes, but chances are neither famous nor popular. I’ve met some very closely. It is unlikely that we find them in the great churches, rather they are in the streets carrying the Word of God to the marginalized. They are also common in countries where Christians are persecuted, like the Islamic nations of Africa and the Middle East, India, Pakistan and China. You can find them among the tribes of the Amazon rainforest or in the slums of the big cities.

The constant of every genuine servant is going to teach biblical truths as they are, without accommodating the gospel to the taste of people. The true servant of Jesus Christ call sin by its name, will preach repentance and be a champion of holiness. The servant of God is committed to the truth and will not promise the audience that their problems will be solved when converted to Christ.

This servant will turn the other cheek and wash the feet of his disciples, instead of using them as squires or bodyguards. And as the true servant does not manipulate the congregation with tithes and offerings, the bread will surely win the other hand while preaching the Word.

And if his dedication to the expansion of the Kingdom does not allow him to work secularly, it is likely to be suffering from hunger, thirst, nakedness and lack of a roof up frequently. His peers who walk in a distorted line evangelistic will close the doors of their churches for fear of being discovered. They were also curse and persecute.

We see in 2 Timothy 3:12-13 the difference between the false and true servant: Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. God bless you.

First Consulting with God before Acting

Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.

Proverbs 16:3

Things must be weighed very well before being executed. However, there are so active and impatient people who rush to execute their actions without thinking. The result is almost always failed because they did not foresee the problems that would arise along the way. That happens even to believers who do things without first consulting with God. And when they are in deep water, then go to God to rescue them. Proverbs 16:3 tells us that the first step before doing is putting our plans in the hands of God who will establish our thoughts.

For me it is not very difficult to understand what Proverbs 16:3 says. As a professional engineer, I know the importance of steps for planning and designing as prior to the execution of any work. I know everything that man has been built was first an idea, a project that was conceived by someone, and then it went through a process of analysis and finally be approved and built before it could be used. I also understand that people who do not have my professional background may not see so easily.

But it is not necessary to be an engineer to realize that things first they are thought, are raised, are consulted and analyzed before implemented. A farmer knows it too. When he has the land in front of him, this man thinks what to sow. Maybe it will not rely only on what he knows; he will ask who planted before him in the neighboring land on which the crop is best suited to the land. He will select seeds, prepare the land and make a series of steps before sowing. The fruit is not obtained as soon as is planted the seed, requiring spending time in the care of the plant before that happens.

Some people, including some who call themselves Christians who think God should be excluded from certain aspects of their life. This type of person does not believe that God has jurisdiction over their finances or in choosing a couple. They think it’s okay for our Heavenly Father to intervene in spiritual things; but the material or relational is something that does not concern Him. Those who think so are making a big mistake because there is nothing on earth in which God has no interference.

When we buy a device that needs assembly, it is prudent to follow exactly the manufacturer’s instructions. It would be very foolish not to take steps to arm the device or equipment in the established order. If we do it our way, it’s very likely be extra parts or that we place them incorrectly. God is the maker of all creation and His instructions are the right to carry out every detail of our lives.

We realize that include God in our decision making, we benefit greatly. The wisdom of God is higher than all humanity combined. His love for His children has no limits and He always seeks good for us. Before taking any action or project, we must consult with Him. God bless you.

God’s love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7

The word love is on the lips of everyone. But most people do not know the true meaning of love. So they call today to make love to have sex with anyone regardless of whether or not true love. It is also common to hear someone else call you “my love” sometimes without even knowing well. To understand what really love is, we must first know God because love proceeds from Him.

The best way to learn about the love of God is reading Scripture. The best known verse in the Bible, John 3:16 tells us: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. The ability to love of God has no limits. Giving His own Son to pay for the guilt of all humanity is the greatest display of His love.

God has given His love although we did not deserve it. Romans 5:8 says: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The sinner is offending God and there is not a single human being that can say he has not sinned. Therefore, the death of Jesus Christ was to replace every man and woman born on Earth. No one can feel innocent of the blood of Christ, which was shed to pay the price for our salvation.

And through Jesus Christ, God gives us the opportunity to be part of His family. 1 John 3:1 says: Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. And John 1:12 says: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. The greatness of the love of God is revealed to adopt us as His children only by believing and receiving His Son.

And as His children, God teaches us His love for each of us and pours into our hearts. Romans 5:5 says: Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. The Spirit of God dwells in each of His children. That gives us the capacity to love in the same way that God loves unconditionally, in complete surrender.

1 John 4:8 says: He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. If we are children of God, we must know our Father. That should make us capable of loving in the same way He teaches us to love. Follow His example and love as He loves us. If you want to know how is the kind of love that God expects, follow the instructions in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. God bless you.

God Arms Us with Strength

It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.

Psalm 18:32

Power is one thing more coveted by man. Since the beginning of history, many men have struggled to be powerful. Some have taken their lust for power beyond their national borders. In this sense, these men have caused wars of conquest which has killed millions of people. In almost all cases, these ambitious of power ended badly. Only when our power comes from God, our path is perfect.

Among the most ambitious men of power in human history highlights three: Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler. All were causing terrible wars in three different periods: ancient times, centuries XVIII and XIX, and XX century. Each dragged his nation into a struggle for world supremacy. All they carried out the conquest of extensive territories of other countries.

Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) was king of Macedonia from 336 BC until his death. In 334 BC he sent his army against the powerful and extensive Persian Empire which he conquered. It became a domain that stretched Greece, Egypt, Anatolia, the Middle East and Central Asia to the Indus and Oxus rivers. Having advanced to India’s his troop’s refusal to continue eastward forced him to return to Babylon, where he died without completing his plans of conquest of the Arabian Peninsula.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) over a period of just over a decade, acquired control of most of Western and Central Europe and only after his defeat at the Battle of Nations near Leipzig, in October 1813, he was forced to abdicate a few months later. He returned to France and to power during the brief period called the Hundred Days and he was decisively defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium, being exiled by the British to the island of St. Helena, where he died.

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was the President and Chancellor of Germany between 1933 and 1945 brought to power the Nazi party and led a totalitarian regime during the period known as the Third Reich or Nazi Germany. He was also who led Germany during World War II, initiated by him with the main purpose to fulfill their expansionist plans in Europe. Hitler and his former mistress Eva Braun committed suicide to avoid being captured by the Red Army; then their bodies were burned.

In contrast to these three fateful men in the story, we see what God did with King Solomon. 1 Chronicles 29:25: So the Lord exalted Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel. Solomon’s power had been given by God and his reign remained alone. Only when Solomon turned away from God to worship other gods led to the division of his kingdom at his death. We understand what King David wrote in Psalm 18:32 that anyone who adheres to us and perfects our way is God. Let’s go on the assumption that we are powerful because over us is the Almighty. God bless you.

God Always Leads Us in Triumph

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

2 Corinthians 2:14

Nobody likes to lose. Everyone starts his or her day with the hope of victory. I do not think that someone is available to do something knowing that he or she will fail. Unfortunately, life is won and lost. So in every struggle there are winners and losers. In most sports there is not a draw, so one competitor will win and the other will receive the defeat. Spiritually when we are with God, victory is assured, regardless of the outcome.

During my teens I remember one sportscaster at my hometown who repeated the phrase that the important thing is not to win but to participate. Many athletes bother with that expression. I really do not think a competitive athlete would settle for less than victory. In the Olympics, the top athletes are looking to take the gold medal. True, there is only one gold medal and two more will have to settle for the silver or bronze. However, they all play to win that gold medal and hear the national anthem of their country.

The same applies to the World Cup or World Baseball Classic in which each team struggles to take the trophy home. For example, my home country won undefeated in the World Baseball Classic in 2013. I remember that at the end of each game, the closer pitcher used to throw to heaven an imaginary arrow as a signal of satisfaction to preserve the victory for his team.

If you want to belong to a winning team, which will win unbeaten the eternal life championship, I recommend you to join the team of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 says: But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. With Jesus Christ as our coach we have victory assured. He conquered death, sin and the world while leaving shame to disrupt enemy plans to perdition.

Besides having a simple victory in Him, look at Romans 8:37: Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. So, do not feel defeated ever because God take you to victory through His Son Jesus Christ who makes us more than conquerors. There is nothing to fear, no loss possible, and trust who overcame the world.

Well, you’ll tell me that’s fine, but I do not understand how I can be recruited for the winning team. You might ask me if you have sufficient merit to make you part of the team. I’ll tell you something, if merit, neither you, nor I, nor anyone else would be part of this team more than conquerors who always get the win. You can be part of Christ’s Team by the grace of God, not by your merits. Only repent of your sins and surrender your heart to Jesus Christ. He will be happy to receive you in His winning team. God bless you.

God Gives Us Courage

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

I do not know how there can be people who say they believe in God and live full of fear. Who knows God should live completely confident and not afraid of anything or anyone. The first is that we must realize that God is Almighty and if He is on our side, nothing will harm us. Secondly, if God is our Father, He will take care of us. And according to 2 Timothy 1:7 God has not given us a spirit of fear, therefore, the believer must live confidently and without fear.

Now it is possible for someone to read or listen to the first paragraph of this message to say, “Yes, Tony, his mouth is easy to say; tell me if anything has not been afraid in your life for something.” I’d be lying if I said no and if you asked me if I felt fear after I become a child of God, I confess that is also true. Not that I have lived fearful all the time; but I’ve been afraid sometimes. And I tell you something else; the great titans of the Bible have felt.

Speaking of the Bible, which I love to read it is to see the authenticity of his characters. Every man or woman of God is presented in Scripture in his or her humanity with strengths and weaknesses. The most powerful Old Testament prophet was Elijah and Chapter 19 of 1 Kings speaks an interesting story about him. As per 1 Kings 19:1: And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword.

Elijah made a demonstration of the power of God to the people of the Kingdom of Israel and shamed the prophets of Baal who were killed by the sword. The response to this act of Elijah by Queen Jezebel gives 1 Kings 19:2: Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”

What did about the mighty prophet Elijah, who yesterday made a great demonstration of the power of God? See 1 Kings 19:3-4: And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

Elijah, having done miracles, wonders and signs of the power of God fled from the threat of a wicked queen on his life. He ended up hiding in a cave in the desert of Sinai where God took him out. 1 Kings 19:13 says: So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Today God he is inviting you to leave the cave of your fears and says: “My son, my daughter, what are you doing in that cave?” The Spirit who dwells in every child of God is not the spirit of fear or cowardice. Your Father tells you today that you raise, exit the cave and have courage God bless you.