Thursday, May 26, 2016

So Easily Swayed?

Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the members of God’s family who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed! Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:1-12)

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.  That's a saying that's been around and it is true.  Paul is saying that in a bit more words, but he's addressing the issue of staying faithful and fruitful.  He was called by Jesus, and he is convinced of that, and the urgency of his message did not allow him to tolerate those who easily fell away for "new" teachings, and worse, by "new gospels."  Paul says that even if an angel from heaven came down to proclaim a new gospel, we might as well be accursed.  Paul is set on pleasing God and God only.  He's not a people-pleaser, nor does he want anyone to be when it comes to sharing the gospel of truth and life.  Our gospel was not made up by humans; it was lived out by Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and all that He said and did, was for our own good.  That's a message we are called to share.

PRAYER:  Awesome God of love, help me to share Your gospel today.  It is a word of hope and life that so many have yet to hear; use me to share it in a way that gets others excited about You.  This I pray in the name of Jesus my Lord and Savior, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Knowing God's Power!

Image from alpha consultant

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.’ And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. (Luke 7:1-10)

The Romans were not a welcome group in Israel. They controlled the area by force and the presence of soldiers in any region is not always a welcome sign. It was because of the soldier's authority that Jesus responded about the "second mile." A Roman soldier could tap a Jewish citizen on the shoulder with the flat part of his spear and force that citizen to carry his load for one mile. When asked about that, Jesus said to go two miles. It may not have been a popular answer, but it was one that showed the way a Christian should live. So, to read this story is to see the influence that faith had had on the life of one in charge of at least one hundred of those soldiers. It would be rare to see Jewish elders to come and speak on a soldier's request, let alone that of a centurion. And to hear the Jewish elders say, "He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people,and it is he who built our synagogue for us." This was a man of love and conviction; he spent his money and used his influence to built their worship center, and now in his need; "a slave whom he valued highly" was ill and close to death. He had heard about Jesus and His power and so asks for Jesus to heal this slave. And that centurion's faith was so strong he asked that Jesus not trouble coming to his house; "But speak the word, and let my servant be healed." He explained how his authority worked and he had no doubt Jesus' authority worked the same way. And the slave was healed, and Jesus used it as a teaching moment for His disciples.

Jesus still has that same authority. If we have faith and ask of God to be with us and our loved ones, He is there. If we are hurting and need healing, we should go to God first and ask. Whatever our need, know the power of God and ask of Him!

PRAYER: Awesome God, thank You for Jesus and His presence with us. You know the needs of this dear reader and his/her family. Bless them with answered prayers that glorify You; this we pray in Christ Jesus' precious name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Thank you for your prayers. Nellie and I arrived safely home yesterday at 1 p.m., having spent 88.4 hours in the car traveling some 5,100 miles from CC to Portland and back. We pushed our way back thus no ConCafes for the last two days. Please continue to pray for my dad, his vitals stay normal but he is sleeping most of the time now. God is good.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

God is Great for Thinking of Us

Image from jonathannathanielhayes.com

O Lord, our Sovereign,    how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens.     Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,    to silence the enemy and the avenger.  When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,    the moon and the stars that you have established;  what are human beings that you are mindful of them,    mortals that you care for them?  Yet you have made them a little lower than God,    and crowned them with glory and honour.  You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;    you have put all things under their feet,  all sheep and oxen,    and also the beasts of the field,  the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.  O Lord, our Sovereign,    how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8)

"It's all about me!" has no place in the Christian mind or heart.  God created us for worship and service, and to think that we were created to be pleased and pampered just does no one any good.  David, who spent a lot of time outdoors soon realized as he surveyed creation, just how marvelous and awesome is God. And how awesome it was that God even thought of us.  He writes, "What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?  Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor."  And, David realized that we have a responsibility with who we are in God's thinking; that of having dominion over the works of God's hands requires a lot of work, and caring, and love.

PRAYER:  O Lord, our God and Sovereign, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!  And made more so, when we serve You and care for each other.  In Christ Jesus we pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Prayer Requests:  Dear friends, please conintue to hold Leroy Keese of Brady, TX., and my father, Eradio M. Valverde, in your prayers.  Prayers for several here in Portland who have taken ill, including a bishop from Africa diagnosed with malaria; a delegate from Houston with shingles, and several who have fallen and injured themselves while here.  And pray for the General Conference, two full days of work remain; we pray that all delegates be able to discern God's will for the people called United Methodists. Blessings and thanks!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Talk Up God; Use Words If Necessary!

Image from workingpreacher.com

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions,    and your old men shall dream dreams.  Even upon my slaves, both men and women,    in those days I will pour out my Spirit;      and they shall prophesy.  And I will show portents in the heaven above    and signs on the earth below,      blood, and fire, and smoky mist.  The sun shall be turned to darkness    and the moon to blood,      before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.  Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:1-21)

God got His point across in a miraculous way; that was what made Pentecost a new day.  Gathered from all over the world, devout men and women of the Jewish faith were in Jerusalem for their celebration of Moses having received the Law from God.  The disciples, still hanging around with fear and no real sense of purpose yet, get visited by fire; the fire of the Holy Spirit that gave them the ability to speak in languages they had not learned.  They "amazed and astonished" people from all over with their ability to speak of "God's deeds of power."  They were so amazing, some thought they were drunk.

How do you get your point across when it comes to the things of God?  Paul tried every way he could to relate to people right where they were to get them to understand God's love.  The church still believes people should come in, adopt to their ways and be like them.  And we wonder why we're dying?  The new church goes to people, gets to know them, and then shares the awesomeness of God's deeds of power to love, transform, and save.  And that person who has been saved goes to the next person and shares with them, and they with others.  And when you think about it, somebody told somebody that told somebody until you heard and you received!  It may have been done the old way, but it worked then - the question is how are you talking up God?  You should begin with your actions and then use words if necessary.

Someone needs to hear.  And God may be wanting to use you!

PRAYER:  Loving and awesome God, use me!  I want to share You in new and amazing ways.  Grant me the power of Your Holy Spirit to do just that. Today even.   In Christ Jesus I pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Be Not Afraid.  Be A Child of God.

Image from restoredtraditions.com

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:14-17)

When our first baby learned to crawl we placed her on a blanket on our floor.  She ventured to the edge of it and looked around to see who was watching.  She saw us looking and smiled, then put her little hand on the floor.  She looked at us again, and then ventured off the blanket onto the floor.

The biblical greeting in so many of the stories has either an angel or the Lord Jesus Himself saying these three powerful words:  Be Not Afraid.  And in today's passage leading us to celebrate Pentecost we heard Paul echoing the Lord's greeting, but sharing its power and source.  It is the Holy Spirit who leads us forward, as children of the Most High; not led by a spirit of slavery or fear; we bear witness that we are indeed children of God, and our purpose is to glorify Him.

Today, thousands of people from around the world and all walks of life will gather as we begin the 2016 General Conference here in Portland, Oregon.  We know the Holy Spirit is present and we are asking for all delegates to be able to discern the will of God for the people called United Methodists.  I invite you to join in that prayer.  There is much to do; the harvest is ready, pray the Lord send us those who will bring the harvest in.  And with the boldness and courage of being God's children.

PRAYER:  Loving God grant me the power of Your Holy Spirit to glorify You today.  Let me walk in courage and boldness as I give witness to all You have done in my life.  This I pray in Christ Jesus' strong name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord.

Eradio Valverde

Monday, May 09, 2016

Never Alone Again

Image from caleiforniathroughmylens.com

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:8-27)

Nellie and I are on our way to Portland, Oregon, for the 2016 General Conference. We had never seen this part of our country, and decided to drive.  And believe us, we are being blessed by some gorgeous scenery and landscapes that are awesome.  We drove yesterday over the Golden Gate Bridge after driving the roller coaster like streets of San Francisco.  And our practice has been to find a place to have lunch and after getting our bearings, we decide how far to drive and so we usually pull off the highway and make a hotel reservation and input GPS location of that hotel and drive on.  We pulled off the highway down a circular off-ramp and as we turned the final corner to come to the intersection, we see a vehicle blocking the intersection and a group of four teenaged girls and the driver of the pickup pulling a horse trailer filled with hungry horses.  The girls looked terrified and one of them runs over and says their truck has stalled, will not stall, and perhaps I could drive around them.  I see the space between the trailer and the curb is very narrow.  But first I ask if they're all right.  She said yes, and the mom is on the phone, which answered my followup question if they had a phone.  I pulled the car close to the gap and set my emergency flashers on, and get out to ask the driver if she is okay.  That's when I notice the engine is leaking diesel fuel onto the street. I also notice a couple of the girls are crying.  I tell them they will be fine and we will get help for them.  I also see the gap is wide enough for our car and so I get back in, drive to a safer spot and call 911. Long story short, the mom and I are talking and I discover they are Methodists and I am a district superintendent.  The CHP officer arrives and I again tell the girls they are going to fine and off we drive.

I had been in their shoes before many times.  It is a scary feeling; miles from nowhere, uncertainty of next steps; all very easy to fell alone.  Today's passage says the opposite.  Jesus assures Philip and the disciples, and us, that we are never ever alone if we walk with Christ Jesus, for He has provided an Advocate, a helper, for all who believe and we are never ever alone again.  I love the closing of this passage, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."  Even in the face of uncertainty, doubt, the challenges of today, we have Someone with us; Christ the Lord.

PRAYER:  Lord, be with us today, especially those unsure about the rest of today and the fears of tomorrow.  You have spoken lovingly and clearly to us.  We are not afraid and our hearts are not troubled, for You are with us.  We pray in Your name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Prayer requests:  Please pray for those traveling for the start of tomorrow's 2016 General Conference.  There is much to do and we hope much to accomplish and we pray God's Advocate helps us discern God's will for the people called United Methodists.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Thank God for Virtuous Women

Image from fbcoverlover.com

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)

This week's devotionals had quotes from my mother, María del Jesús Jimenez de Valverde.  She went home to the Lord about thirteen years ago, and I think about her daily and miss her a lot. I also miss my mother-in-law, María Luisa Zamora de Rosales, who also died way before her time, and who defied the joke-standard definition of mothers-in-law; she was the real deal, a mom to me in love and care.  I miss her and think of her daily as well.  And I thank God everyday for my wife, the mother of our children, Nellie Valverde, who has walked beside me lovingly for these almost 40 years.  She's a model wife and a loving and caring mother and grandmother.  Nellie M. Valverde Garcia, Saraí Valverde Cortez, Carli I. Valverde, and Caitlin D. Valverde have also blessed my life in wonderful, loving ways.  It's scary they each have my sense of humor, but are awesome women in their lives.  And, I thank God for Saraí Evangelina Cortez, Eliana Beth Garcia, and Adabelle Grace Garcia; precious little ones who have blessed my life with their smiles, words, and deeds.

So, to the moms out there, Happy Mother's Day!  And to those who have children under your loving care, a Happy Mother's Day, too!  Nothing beats a great, wonderful aunt, or a loving caring older friend to young women who need your counsel and wisdom.

May the Lord bless you and keep you this weekend as you remember your own moms, and as others gather around you to love you and thank you for being their mom.

PRAYER:  Loving God, for mothers and those who are real mothers to many, thank You!  May Your blessing be with all women; lift them who are down, make well those who are ill, and comfort those who are hurting and missing special ones in their lives.  This I pray in Christ Jesus' precious name, amen.

Happy Mother's Day and a wonderful weekend to match.

Eradio

Prayers asked for General Conference which begins this coming week in Portland, OR; a meeting of United Methodists from around the world.  There is much to consider and pray over.  We pray God's will be done.