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.

Scars you can see

A few months ago my husband was doing something around the house and although he’s highly organized, for some reason he got distracted and had left a brush hidden in a chair in the living room. I didn’t realize it was there because it had fallen between the seams of the chair and I sat down without looking.

The brush handle had a rather pointed end. That part was embedded in my skin when I sat down. It felt pretty strong like I was stabbed with a knife. Although it managed to cure the area, the scar apparently, will stay permanently.

I was thinking then about the different scars that I have on my body (there are not many) because I had a fairly calm childhood. But I have a scar from a bike crash, the scar from my son’s cesarean section, and the scar from a deep scratch with a broken part of a car.

Each scar, each mark reminds you of the event that caused it. They were not only done physically but emotionally when the event occurred. However, we have other scars, very deep. Those are found in our soul, at the heart, as they often say. Those wounds are for life and for that reason we must learn to manage them.

The problem with soul wounds is that they continue to hurt longer than the physical ones and as we don’t see them, we don’t take care of them properly. We even get to think that they are healed and sometimes we learn to live with them because we get used to the pain, thinking that they don’t hurt anymore or that we are healed.

Unfortunately, they are not as hidden as we usually think and it is those around us who can see them on how we live, how we react to different situations in life, and how we see the future.

Although we cannot see them, we act unconsciously as if we felt them in the same degree as the day they were created. We isolate ourselves from people so that they do not reject or hurt us, we inhibit ourselves from succeeding in life or having dreams so that they do not break, our anger is presented to others without being invited, and our eyes no longer shine as before.

But do you know who showed his scars? Jesus. He died for you and me on the cross. He was resurrected on the third day and had a glorified body, but still bore his marks on his hands and feet. God knows that we identify with the pain, with wounds. He suffered rejections, abandonment, betrayal, discomfort, mistreatment, they arrested him, they criticized him and he endured all that for love; for a love for humanity that did not love him, that did not look for him, and that had turned his back on him.

He bought your peace. He bought your salvation. He bought your healing. He bought your joy. Why do you want to continue paying for it?

Your marks cannot be seen with the naked eye, but His scars are visible so you don’t forget them.

Let us pray to the Lord by surrendering our lives to Him who gave everything for us. Let us give thanks for his inexhaustible and undeserved love. Let us give our wounds to Him so that they can be healed.

It is time to stop paying what is already paid.

At the shadows running away from the sun

Summer has arrived! Here in Puerto Rico, we have experienced extremely hot days. Around the island, the heat indexes have spiked over 100 degrees.

In the midst of that heat, and the protocols of the COVID pandemic, my husband and I went out to get some boxes for some Father’s Day gifts. Due to the social distancing that now governs all the places where people can gather, we had to queue outside the building where we planned to buy the boxes.

But the waiting line at the side of the building was well shaded. It was a refuge to run away from the hot sun that was being felt, brought relief and we could even wait in line calmly without the rush to get out of there. At least throughout the afternoon, that shading would be refreshing everyone who lined up there.

I like the verse I shared in the first photo because the Bible tells us about the protection we have under the shadow of God. That shadow that brought me relief would last an afternoon there, but God’s favor and protection last forever.

Life brings us to all situations that can overwhelm and exhaust us, as does the heat of the sun. But the blessing of being God’s children gives us relief, keeps us so we can enjoy God’s undeserved faithfulness to us. It is always a reason for devotion to contemplate the love of God and that He remains faithful even when we are not.

This sin-corrupted world brings anxiety into our lives, showing us how fragile we are, and how little control we have of external circumstances.

This year has been difficult in Puerto Rico due to the tremors and earthquakes, the pandemic, and the corruption situations of our government. But, in all these things we are more than conquerors and today we are witnesses of the power and the provision of God, even in difficult times, where the logic of what is expected does not agree with the fulfilled promises of God.

Enjoy under the shadow of the Highest the abundant life that Jesus Christ won for you on the cross. The Lord is always around, we are the ones who turn away from Him.

Feed your spirit with the water that jumps for eternal life and the Bread of Life so you can enjoy the good things of summer in your life.

Let us pray to the Lord giving glory to his name for his faithfulness. May we remember each morning his blessings and may the Holy Spirit help us to cover ourselves under his grace and care at all times in our lives.

I can hear him despite the noise.

Today I had to provide my consulting services to a laboratory in the west part of the island. It was a comfortable trip since in distance it was about an hour. To this we add the protocols of the pandemic, so the traffic on the road was really smooth.

I always really enjoy the scenery and I like listening to music or the radio to entertain myself. So while listening to a very good song on the radio, I came to a part of the route where the road, apparently, is paved in a different material. From a trip in complete harmony, we switched to a trip accompanied by the deafening sound of the road, which not even the radio allowed me to hear. Thank God it was only a small part of the way.

I also read Saul’s story, where the background noise did not allow him to hear the voice of God and his patience stirred him. In life, it happens that when we most want to hear the voice of God so that it is He who directs our steps, we will face unexpected circumstances that want to take our attention away from God’s will.

The best remedy, the one David had, that even in moments when he failed the Lord, was a man according to God’s heart, was this: We must cultivate that personal relationship with our Lord and Savior.

Do you know? The voice of the people we love and know better can be heard regardless of the crowd around us. I can distinguish the voice of my children, so my husband’s voice.

Likewise, when we have practiced listening to God’s voice, when we have found delight in spending time with Him, in the midst of the noise of problems, or what those around us shout at us, his voice will be clear, or at least we’ll know that he listens to us and we will wait in faith.

Today I pray for myself and for you, asking the Lord to give us thirst and the longing to find delight in his presence and that like the deer bellows through the waters, so we seek him guided by his Holy Spirit.

Healing in times of pandemic

Plastic face shields are in popularity as a protective measure against the Covid-19 virus. Because of my medical technology profession, I had used them before.

The idea is that it protects your eyes, nose, and mouth, which are places with mucosa, vulnerable to the entry of the virus, and an easy contagion. The face protection acts as a shield and although we are in the presence of the virus, we do not give it access to our interior.

Emotional wounds make us vulnerable to any situation. When we have not healed from past experiences, any comments, attacks, and offenses come to touch our wounded heart. Wounds that have not been worked and healed, carry negative things inside us that lead us to isolate ourselves or get depressed. We change to be toxic people.

We know that in this world, sin has brought evil and selfishness to the human being. We have all received a rejection, suffering, betrayal, criticism, and emotional damage from many people, but above all, we care about those that come from those we love.

God wants to free us from those wounds so that we live with joy and peace. He knows you, He sees you, He listens to you and wants to heal you. When you are emotionally healthy, the attacks will keep coming, but you’ll have a shield that stops them without breaking you.

The more we know the holiness of God and that his salvation and everything he has given us is totally undeserved and only by his grace and mercy, the more we can understand that we must leave everything in his hands and that in this world, everything will fail us at some point, as we fail others in the same way that we fail God.

His Word guides us to abundant life and prayer reveals where we need to heal, and helps us deliver all that burden to transform it into life and joy.

You can be healthy in the middle of a pandemic.

Let us pray to the Lord giving thanks for his goodness for our lives and that he shows us where we need to heal, and that he takes us by the hand in the process to live to please him in everything.

From text messages to no-calls.

I thought about how as time changes and evolves, communications change too. Not only does our environment changes, as far as technology is concerned, but it also changes in our relationships.

I remember when my husband and I were getting to know each other. Sometimes we used text messages (there were many of those), at other times, phone calls, and then we went out and shared time face to face.

In the beginning, we discussed topics about our tastes, knowing our life stories, and what we liked. Today, having been married for years, and especially during this time of quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my cell phone has almost no registered calls to his number, because we are together all the time and there is no need to call us.

We already have a story together and can refer to it in our conversations. Often, just by looking at the expressions on my face, he already knows what I’m thinking.

Let’s think about our relationship with God. At first, we find it difficult to hear God’s voice. We find ourselves in that stage where we are knowing about each other and through the Scriptures, prayer, and biblical studies and preaching, we are knowing who God is, what is his way of acting, his attributes, his nature. But He already knows everything about us. We have these little encounters with Him as we pray with passionate faith, curious about this new life and longing for more, like those text messages.

But our spiritual life must evolve as we cultivate our relationship with God. Later on, we may see God in life’s circumstances and we may perceive his direction when we read the Bible, and we see promises that we can hold on to in difficult times, we notice His advice that gives us direction and we start asking for help from the Holy Spirit as we learn his commandments for our lives. We learn that we need obedience in order to live a better life. By this time, it already looks more like phone calls.

But time flies, and we are already having a history, from the moment we gave our lives to the Lord and everything we have lived until we get to where we are today. We can see that God has brought us this far. So far his grace and fidelity have accompanied us. We can hear the voice of God in the small things that we do every day, or in every situation that arises during the day. We can hear his voice in praise, or in a quiet whisper in our ears.

Perhaps at first, we were very dependent on others helping us distinguish the voice of God. Already today, we can help others to enjoy the blessing of hearing his voice in their lives.

For our earthly body, where sin dwells but no longer dominates us, we do not have a face-to-face relationship with Him, we will fail him, and sometimes, as in a marriage, we will have no desire to speak, but his love is unconditional, and never let us. Then we return to take back what brings us the joy and peace that by his grace we have received.

Let us pray to the Lord giving thanks for his presence in our lives even when we are not aware of it. Let us present our lives longing to hear his voice every day and give thanks for the times we have listened to him.