It is not the same to know him by reference

Yesterday we were celebrating our wedding anniversary, although a little differently because of COVID times. But since last year, we remember for that same day the death of my uncle Rafa, who was a father to me and died on our anniversary last year.

Although bittersweet, I thank God that we had him 94 years with us and in good health and with his clear and happy mind, as he always was. My children were able to share with him and get to know him well during all these years.

However, my mother died when my girl was one and a half years old and my baby did not know her because I was five months pregnant at the time of her death. I have always told them about her, but I know that having met and shared with her is not the same as hearing from her and knowing her by reference.

That happens to us with our relationship with God. We may believe that we know God by what others tell us. We can speak of the power of God through the testimony we hear from someone at church. We may think that we know how God speaks from the many preaching we have heard.

But do I know God personally? Do I know that God speaks because I listen to him? Can I speak of its power because I have seen it work in my life? Do I know that he is a healing God because he has healed me? May I speak that God is a provider because I have seen his provision in my house? Can I say that his will is perfect because I obey him and guide my steps?

Job was a just man, and he knew God’s law because he fulfilled it, but he knew God from afar. We can be very religious and have the rites very well but be far from a communion with the Lord.

The wonderful thing about this is that God is complete in himself, he doesn’t need us, but he still longs for us. She loves us and wants to spend time with us. He wants to guide us by his perfect will and give us abundant life. He tells us to cast all our anxiety on Him and bear His yoke, which is easy and light His burden. But for that I cannot settle for knowing him because of what I heard from another.

Every relationship requires time and attention. The relationship with Him fills us, brings us joy and peace. It is alive and it is real. You can experience all its attributes in your life. You can meet him personally.

It is an undeserved privilege to be able to arrive in the presence of a holy God. He already completed the most difficult part by opening access to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. He has already opened the way, you just have to cross it and take His hand.

Let us pray to the Lord to help us long for him, to fall in love with his presence in our lives. May we understand how great a privilege it is to be able to have a communion relationship with the God of glory, being Holy and us sinners. That we long to meet him face to face and not by the references of others. That helps us not settle and miss the best part.

Special times require special measures

Since last night in Puerto Rico, we have been under the impact of Isaías storm. One more added concern for people who have experienced so far this year, earthquakes, pandemic, and bad government. As our electrical energy system has declined in structure and efficiency over the years due to lack of maintenance, today there are many towns on the island without service. Among those customers without electricity we found ourselves.

It does not matter if there is energy or not, we cannot miss coffee. My husband had given me a coffee press, precisely for those days like today, where just by heating water, we can have a good coffee without the need for our electric coffee machines.

The coffee press is a utensil that is listed as one of the best for tasting good coffee. However, we use our coffee machines on a daily basis because they are more practical because of their speed. So we have left the press for special times.

It reminded me of the verses I shared at the beginning. As God’s children and His servants bought with blood, the blood of His Son shed on the cross, we must always be ready to take the Word of the Cross to others.

As soldiers and messengers of such a great and undeserved gospel, we must daily maintain fellowship with God through prayer and scripture study. Since we have “this treasure in earthen vessels,” the only way to glorify God and bless other lives is to be in submission and allow His Holy Spirit to empower us every day.

Our relationship with God and our obedience will determine what kind of instrument we can be. I want to be one of those special vessels. We are living times really out of the ordinary. There is great emotional, physical, and spiritual need around us. We could say that these are special times. You and I can be of great use today.

But the comfort and routines of this world lead us to fall into disuse, due to lack of maintenance, and it happens to us as to the electrical system of our country, which in the least emergency is disabled and those who depend on it are left without it.

God never stops working. God does not lose power or stop talking to us. Unfortunately, we may be carrying that erroneous message to those who do not know him by our way of life.

Special times require special measures. What type of vessel do you want to be? Which one are you preparing for?

Let us pray to the Lord presenting ourselves in humility and recognizing that we need more and more of Him and of His direction. May we long for his presence and follow his lead to be prepared to minister to others in these special times we are living. May we carry his message to others in various ways guided by his will.

The attribute that confronts me

My husband has many good virtues. I could mention some of them, but normally I do not mention one of them because it is the one that collides with me. It is that he is a maniac for cleaning. He pays attention to details and cleaning routines (and I know many women crave that). I am not structured in that regard, and children already emerging from adolescence to adulthood are not very diligent in that regard also, unless they are told in detail what to do. For bringing some disagreement, it is not the trait that is most flattering in him.

Yesterday I meditated on devotional time at church about the holiness of God as one of his attributes. God has many attributes, and among them, we can mention that he is love, he is omnipotent, omnipresent, just, good or kind, almighty. Another of its attributes is that it is Holy.

We often see this attribute of God’s holiness superficially, as we sing a song or when we recite it from memory. The truth is that this attribute of God’s holiness collides with our carnal, sinful nature. God’s holiness portrays our sin.

The more we meditate on God’s holiness, the easier it is to see where we are failing, how we are sinning, and what customs or habits are not accepted before his holiness.

When we meditate on the holiness of God there is only room for humiliation and rendition before his presence. All the merits we believe we have are nothing. All the good we think we’ve done is not enough. Everything we can perform for the kingdom makes no difference. But at the same time, all this leads us to recognize that before a Holy God, only his grace (unmerited favor) can bring us closer to Him. It leads us to surrender in humiliation and to be grateful because if it were not for his sacrifice on the cross, we could never approach Him and receive salvation for our souls.

If today I can enjoy his peace, his love, his promises, his direction, and his guidance, has nothing to do with what I can achieve, but for what He has already done.

The holiness of God is an attribute that confronts us. May we go to his feet to be renewed and cleansed from the sin that can already be cleansed by his bloodshed on the cross.

Let us pray to the Lord recognizing his holiness. May he help us to meditate on this attribute of his and that we may be confronted to continue growing spiritually while being humble. May we see our brethren in faith in the same condition as us, where neither is greater than the other, and we have been redeemed only by his grace.

I can’t continue without the book

I am taking an online class and I still haven’t received the handbooks. I was informed that training books would arrive by mail, but meanwhile, the first two chapters would be provided in electronic format so that I could start the class.

Like an anxiously awaiting girl before the first day of school, I started the course and got to the third chapter. Because it is a subject that I thought I actually mastered, I guessed that I could study it and take the exams that are required for each chapter.

But … the “but” came. The third chapter is based on indications provided by the printed book. I realized that it was better to wait for the book to play it safe and not to take the exam in a hurry and then not pass it. That would only delay me in the process.

I reflected on our lives and how is similar to this course. Even as Christians, we think that if we have spent years in the gospel, that we already know the Bible, we believe that we already know what is necessary to lead our lives, but moments come that lead us to stop and think that continuing like this is a risk. We need the book. We need the Bible.

No matter how many times we have read the scriptures, we will never have read it enough, we will never know enough. The same verses speak to us differently and personally each time. The Word of God is alive and effective. We will not be able to know the correct direction for our life if we do not read it, and we repeat it, and we study it.

We need to love his Word. We need to tell others about it. We must see it as the source of all indications and advice to enjoy an abundant life.

The Bible contains the entire plan of salvation and all of God’s promises for our lives. In his love, he indicates his commandments for us to take the path of blessing.

Pray to the Lord to thank him for his Word and the accessibility we have of it. May he help us to love it, to study it frequently, and may his Holy Spirit help us to understand it and apply it to our lives.

Myrnaly, please be still.

To live a happy life, we are required to be in peace. As they say, you can have a bed valued at a million dollars, in a room with the perfect atmosphere and temperature and if you do not have peace, you could not sleep.

It is popular these days to have stress and so many worries that often don’t allow us to have our minds at peace.

We do not want to be alone, or in silence, because our thoughts and anxieties overwhelm us. If you think about it, there are always so many things we can worry about!

If you have a choleric temperament like mine, you always have in mind what you are doing right now and what you plan to do in the days to come, in the future. And when we are like that, we want to solve everything, thinking that this will help us to have control over all things.

But life shows us over and over again that we have no control over anything. You may have a lifetime planned about how many years you are going to work, how much you want to earn and when you want to retire to enjoy the profits, and a simple virus arrives and changes your reality.

Do you know how many businesses have been affected by this pandemic even with the aid that governments have provided? How many people have had to live without a hug because of the physical distance they have imposed on us? How many are living in anxiety and have not been able to let off steam with anyone?

But I share with you one of my favorite verses from the Bible. “Be still”.

God spoke to me through this verse last year when I lost my long-standing job. Amidst the anxiety that I may have felt, God gave me peace. God reminded me that He is the one in control of all things and He was saying to me “stay still.”

It doesn’t mean that I didn’t do anything, but that I should have calmed down, that I shouldn’t worry. In the process, I had to pray to strengthen my fellowship with Him, ask for direction, and lead my soul to trust in His will.

In the process, I had to continue reading the Scriptures in order to feed myself spiritually, to listen to the voice of God, and to strengthen my life’s foundations, also to remember his promises for me.

In the process, I applied to jobs and on the advice of my husband the idea of creating a consulting business came up. And while I was looking for information we presented everything in prayer so that it would be God who would direct my steps.

We were able to develop the business and now I have time to serve Him while working relaxed hours.

But the difficult time came when in January there was an earthquake in Puerto Rico and the economy was paralyzed in many sectors. Now my business was not going to have any activity. What was I going to do? “Be still”.

A company hired me for a temporary job in a position that I never applied for. That was my livelihood for these past months, even in the pandemic because I could do the work from home, remotely.

God has taken care of me. He glorifies himself when we leave everything in his hands. It is not just being still, the remaining part is also important: “and know that I am God.” So when I saw the mug I bought it, just to remember every morning when I drink my coffee, everything will be fine.

The message applies to you too. If you know that He is your God, you can be still.

Let us pray to our God recognizing that he is the one who has control of all things and we decide to trust in his will and that he helps us to be still in the midst of the difficult circumstances that we may be experiencing. He is greater than everything and we are under his care.

The one who did it first

I was reading an article about the first black woman to fly a plane for the Navy.

Our history is full of logs that record who was the first to perform this or that accomplishment. So from childhood, we are taught that the good thing is to win and to arrive first.

This way of thinking puts us in a position of competition with all those around us, including our family, our brothers, and cousins.

We want to be the first and the best. So we live watching very closely to what others do. We spend lots of time judging and measuring what they do before the reference standards that society has set for us, and before ourselves.

We are programmed to judge others. The problem is that we are not the ones to judge.

Jesus Christ confronted those who judged the woman, making them pass judgment on the first and each one realized that they did not give the degree, that they were sinners. When our standard of comparison is the holiness of God and the way of Jesus on earth, we can only be confronted with our sin and understand that only God is perfect.

Then we can only exalt him, recognize him as our God and Lord and lead a life of gratitude because he conquered on the cross what I could never achieve. He came first.

Surely I am not the first to know the message of salvation. Many already knew him before me. I am not the first to share it with others. Many have already shared it.

But I can be the first to get the message across to someone who needs to hear it. But I can be the first to show God’s love to someone who needs it.

I can serve the Lord and even if I am not the first to do a task, what we do is for eternity. I am unique, with special gifts that can be wonderful in the hands of God when we make ourselves available to Him in humility and wanting to be guided by Him.

Let us pray to the Lord giving thanks for his sacrifice on the cross. We surrender our lives at his feet to enjoy ourselves being instruments for his glory.

Each sponge resembles its owner

Last night while bathing I kept staring at the different bath sponges of each one in my family. Although originally all new ones were purchased, each one has been given a unique use and today they look very different.

For example, my daughter always looks new because she does not let it drop before changing to a new one. My son’s looks battered and wide, showing his strong shape when using it. My husbands look quite new and are always placed behind mine because many times he prefers the traditional bath and does not always use his sponge. Mine shows that it is used but not looking battered.

She remembered that popular phrase that “things look like their owners”. And it is true! All our belongings speak of us, of our character and our tastes. Everything we do and say also speaks of who we are.

The problem is that it is easier to observe others and come to an opinion of who they are than to evaluate ourselves and determine who we are. Many times we find it difficult to get to know ourselves.

Has it happened to you that you are amazed by the way you have acted or the way you have spoken to someone? We spend a lot of time passing judgment on those around us, but we spend very little time reflecting on judging ourselves.

But God is the one who knows everything about us, better than ourselves. He knows what we do, what we talk about when we are in public, and he also knows what we do in private when no one sees us. God knows even what we are going to say before it comes out of our mouths, even from our thoughts.

The wonderful thing is that God not only knows us, but he knows what is best for our lives. God knows what it is good in us that will bring us a blessing and he knows what we must change in order to live in his peace and joy.

God knows better than ourselves which are our weaknesses are and what our strengths are. Which are our gifts and talents and the ones we want to pursue.

He knows our dreams, and which of them were given by Him. I have learned in this life that God’s plans for my life are better than I could have imagined.

So let’s go back to Him. Let’s ask Him to dig through us and guide us. We are going to ask Him to show us who we really are and to help us get to know each other better.

God made us unique. There is no exact copy of you, not even those who are twins. Therefore, you have something unique to contribute to this world. The problem is that sometimes we don’t know what it is. Let’s ask him!

Let us pray to the Lord giving thanks because in His love He knows every detail of our lives, He has given us a new identity and gifts and talents that make us unique and fit to bless others. Let us ask him to help us to know ourselves.

I’m making a stop

These days I heard a phrase that said: “it does not matter how fast you move, but where you are going.”

I think we are living in very complex times. My grandparents’ life was much simpler. The man worked outside, the woman raised the children and supported the house. Children studied and performed chores at home. They had time to talk.

They lived with what was necessary to have a comfortable life, which was then to have food on the table, clothes to wear, and time to visit and share with the family. There was plenty of time to go to church and to teach manners to those who were growing up.

But today, even as Christians who have been given the gift of salvation and abundant life, we are so busy, without time to serve others, without quality time to visit relatives or share with the family that lives under our same roof. The demands of the world overwhelm us. We put pressure on ourselves to do things that are productive with our time, things that generate income. We live in a competition to compare possessions, and set goals that lead us to frustration.

We are missing like Martha, the best part. We are missing out on having time to simply delight in the presence of God. We miss experiencing that peace that only God can give. We miss that communion with God that completes our soul and leads us to feel happy even when we are alone.

They have sold us loneliness as something that depresses us. And God did not create man to be alone. God created man to live in constant communion with Him. He also gave us a physical company, but we should feel good not only when we are in the company of someone. We should enjoy our time alone too.

It is necessary to stop from time to time and meditate on what we are doing. Where am I going? Perhaps I set a goal that I have forgotten along the way and now I move in circles that lead me nowhere.

We must stop to listen to the voice of God to direct us to his will, to the works that he prepared for me since before the foundation of the world. Am I in a hurry? And where am I going? The Lord’s plans are for good and peace for our lives.

That today I can stop by the roadside to take a breath, look at the sky and meditate on the greatness of God and wait to hear his voice.

Let us pray to the Lord asking that we can experience that peace that only He can give together with that joy that we have available daily and not only in the midst of the difficult situations of life. If presence is my rest every day and your guide leads me to the abundant life that Jesus won for me on the cross.

He loves me even after knowing everything about me

If anything surprises me about God, it is that He knows everything, absolutely everything about me, and yet He loves me and continues by my side.

This world has taught us zero tolerance towards others since we are children if we want to survive in a society that is driven by sin and walks towards selfishness.

Even with the people we love, we often put conditions, we want them to act in a certain way, to treat us in a certain way, and if they do not meet our expectations, we then ration the love that we are going to give them because they have taught us that we must earn it.

Even when we deal with our brothers and sisters in the faith, we carry our conditions to negotiate them. With the “difficult to love” siblings, we use a very different meter and we feel we have the right to criticize, reject, and even get spiritual while judging that they are not up to us.

But God knows everything about us and still loves us. It has nothing to do with the fact that God disciplines, guides us along the way, and instructs us.

If something always breaks all my barriers, all my defenses, and arguments, it is knowing that God does not give up on me. His patience and mercy towards me have not been exhausted. It is not exhausted even in times of trouble and difficulty that tend to bring out the worst in us. It is not exhausted even when I have failed it. He is not exhausted when I really do not deserve anything from him and he follows me with his grace, love, and mercy.

He also knows everything about you. He hasn’t given up on you either. His love has no conditions because we could never earn it.

We must treat others as He treats us. We must see our neighbor as He sees them. It is not our function to be that accusing finger or who makes them fall. We must be the ones who help others to get up because God raises us every day because without his help we could not stand.

Instead of criticizing the one who sins different from us, we are going to bring them the hope of salvation and restoration in Christ. Let us be instruments of the Holy Spirit to bring unity and healing in these times of so much uncertainty and affliction.

Let us be humble and bear witness that all the good that is there only comes from God.

Pray to the Lord and ask for forgiveness for the times we have not seen or treated others as He expects of us. May his Holy Spirit help us not to condition our love for others and help them to rise up and follow the example and direction of the Lord.