Thursday, February 04, 2016

Build Upon the God Foundation

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God rules. On your toes, everybody! He rules from his angel throne - take notice! God looms majestic in Zion, He towers in splendor over all the big names. Great and terrible your beauty: let everyone praise you! Holy. Yes, holy. Strong King, lover of justice, You laid things out fair and square; You set down the foundations in Jacob, Foundation stones of just and right ways. Honor God, our God; worship his rule! Holy. Yes, holy. Moses and Aaron were his priests, Samuel among those who prayed to him. They prayed to God and he answered them; He spoke from the pillar of cloud. And they did what he said; they kept the law he gave them. And then God, our God, answered them (But you were never soft on their sins). Lift high God, our God; worship at his holy mountain. Holy. Yes, holy is God our God. (Psalm 99 The Message)

This past weekend I loaded up a red wagon with my three youngest grandkids. I had Caleb, the oldest of the siblings, in the back. He supported Eliana, second oldest, and she supported Adi, the youngest. I pulled them around our neighborhood and acted as tour guide of the real and imagined things they were seeing. Living in a coastal town, the ground does not lend itself to fully support sidewalks and the kids laughed when I told them the wagon was going to be bumpy because we were going over the Grand Canyon.

Is your spiritual life supporting your way? If you're not solid, the way will get bumpy and if you're really not trying, it may even sink. The psalmist says it all in this psalm: God rules. And we should follow and built on that knowledge. Our life should be set to honor and obey God through worship and service. Our every thought, word, and deed, should lift high the name of the Lord!

PRAYER: Loving God, let me honor You by what I say, think, and do. Let me build a solid life upon You and my devotion to You. This I pray in Christ Jesus' strong name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Let Your Face Glow!

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, he didn't know that the skin of his face glowed because he had been speaking with God. Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, saw his radiant face, and held back, afraid to get close to him. Moses called out to them. Aaron and the leaders in the community came back and Moses talked with them. Later all the Israelites came up to him and he passed on the commands, everything that God had told him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face, but when he went into the presence of God to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. When he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they would see Moses' face, its skin glowing, and then he would again put the veil on his face until he went back in to speak with God. (Exodus 34:29-35 The Message Version)

We're not talking about potato packs you place on your face to make your face glow. I know this because in my search for an image to share with you, like the one above of the classic painting of God and Moses, when I typed in "Glowing face" it took me to photos of a woman with a glowing face thanks to potato packs you can buy. Of course. But, the glowing face we're talking about comes from encounters with God. On Monday, we saw Jesus' whole body glow and today's passage it is Moses' face that glows because of his encounters with God. Ours may not glow brilliantly bright that our friends or family will say, "Get a veil on that face!" but the flow of the contentment and peace of having spent time with God will show a glow that others may wonder about. Time spent with God is awesome. Time spent listening to God is a blessing. Time spent walking with God is the beginning of an eternal reward.

If you read The Upper Room, today's little message comes from Argentina, by a man whose mother became bedridden and had to be placed in a caring facility. She was visited by a priest who asked to pray for her. She replied she was from another denomination but would welcome a prayer. When the priest finished, she prayed. The next week the priest returned, but this time with a young companion. The priest said, "I want you to listen to how this woman prays. It is as if she is conversing with a friend."

Spend time with your best friend, God. God listens, and you will be blessed; and your face may even glow!

PRAYER: Loving Lord Jesus, we pray not for our faces to glow, but to be blessed by our love together. May we seek to know You more and help others to come to You. This I pray in Thy name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Remove the Veil!

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Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.Therefore, since it is by God's mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God's word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2)

For over twenty years now, I have had the same wonderful eye doctor, Dr. Richard Evans of San Antonio. He is kind, gentle man who loves God and daily shares a devotional thought as well. He is an active member of University United Methodist Church, and his faith shines through his practice. I love seeing Dr. Evans because of two things, 1) He does not weigh me before seeing me, and 2) I feel no threat of having to face an injection after my visit. (I'm still praying that never happen!). But the one thing I do endure is the dilation of my eyes. And I must say, that having had it done last week, that medicine has come a long way. The first time I felt like I would never see clearly again. Some years later a new rapid de-dilation medicine was introduced and more drops into the eyes sped up the return to normal. Now, it is a gentle return back to normal and with the free visors you can walk outside and drive and do whatever. I have to confess that I like to have fun with my bride; this year I was escorting her and saw the pavement had changed from concrete to a patch of gravel and asked, "Is this water we're about to step in?" And then I led her to a car that I knew was not ours, and tried to convince her that I needed her to drive.

Today's passage speaks of a spiritual veil that may be keeping us from understanding God's will for our lives correctly and that may also be keeping us from full service to God. It is the difference between reading the law of Moses and the grace that the Lord Jesus gives us while reading about Him. Paul says the veil is removed from our being blinded from the truth of God's love and purpose; Paul calls it freedom that we receive as we give ourselves to Jesus, and we are able to see the glory of the Lord and see even ourselves transformed more into the image of Christ to better serve Him. We also are led to renounce the shameful sins we have committed and try to hide, and commit ourselves to truth.

We, therefore, friends, have freedom to love and serve God. What is holding us back?

PRAYER: Thank You, loving God, for the un-veiling of our minds and spirits. Help us to see You more clearly and to love and serve You more freely. This we pray in Christ Jesus' strong name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Monday, February 01, 2016

Here and There

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not." Jesus answered, "You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here." While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God. (Luke 9:28-43)

This passage is about the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus. It is an awesome event for several reasons. The first is that these three trusted inner circle members of the disciples, Peter, James, and John, got to experience the presence and power of heaven without dying. They saw in the person or body of Jesus, the glory of God. This also shows the awesomeness of prayer, for it was in the prayer time of Jesus that this event happened. The event also showed the connectedness of Jesus to all scripture; the passages of the Bible that gave us Moses, and the closing of our Old Testament with the foretelling of the coming of both of these men in Malachi. And the greatest is the declaration from God for a second time of these powerful words: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to Him!" That said, everything was back to normal. Except for what would reside in the minds of the three disciples for the rest of their lives. The story then shifts back to the needs of the people; sickness, demon-possessions, poverty, hunger, etc. And how Jesus delivers and heals those in need. And again, how it is Jesus who comes to the rescue when we think we have been defeated or have failed in our attempts to do God's work.

What we should take away from this are these things; pray like never before and pray expecting powerful answers to your prayers; read the Bible like never before with a plan to complete a thorough study of God's word in a year; look and listen to God's voice all around you and you will hear God directing you to the work God would have you do on His behalf. Seek also to be God's hands in the work that still needs to be done.

PRAYER: Loving God, as I pray this morning, I ask that I be blessed with the things mentioned above. I want to know You more and I want to do Your will. Help me to stay connected through prayer and Bible study. This I ask in Christ Jesus' precious and powerful name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Prayer Update: Please continue to pray for our niece, Nellie Ann. She's had her ups and downs and we are still praying that God's will be done in her body and her life. Thank you for caring.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

No Better Hiding Place

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In thee, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In thy righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline thy ear to me, and save me! Be thou to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress. Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. For thou, O Lord, art my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon thee I have leaned from my birth; thou art he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of thee. (Psalm 71:1-6)

Growing up I lived in a house that stood on blocks. That made for a perfect and cool place to hide when I just wanted to be by myself and not easily found by anyone. The psalmist had found that his best hiding place was time with the Lord. Since birth, he never doubted the reality of God, nor the strength of the Lord to hide and protect him, so we get a psalm such as this. The Lord still is our hiding place, a fortress and a place of refuge; the One who protects us from wickedness and the wicked. It is God who gives us hope and helps us to live a life of trust.

There's no one better on which to lean, than on the Lord God.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, bless this dear reader in whatever may be challenging his or her life. Let them find in You a hiding place, a fortress and a place of refuge. Guide them to a place of protection from wickedness and the wicked; grant to them a life filled with hope and trust in You. In Christ Jesus I pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord.

Eradio Valverde

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

No More Excuses!

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, "I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord." Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, "Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:4-10)

What are things that keep you from taking action? If you're like me, you have plenty of them. Hint: They're also known as excuses. Here in this powerful passage from Jeremiah, he shares his call story, how God came to him and asked him to be "a prophet to the nations." That was enough to start the excuse express! "I'm too young!" Wrong. You will go and I will go with you (You're not alone in other words), and I will tell you what to say. For those with fear of public speaking, this is what gets us up there at least. And it is difficult; no one is really born with no fear of public speaking. There is always that one split-second when you question what you are doing and what you are to say; but God provides!

God did use Jeremiah in a great way. God's word was shared through him in many situations and God's purposes were accomplished through him. And guess what? God can use you to accomplish the purposes to which God has called you!

PRAYER: Loving God, empty me of me, and fill me with You! In that way I can serve You. I ask this in Christ Jesus' precious name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Prayer Update: Friends, I thank you again for your prayers for our niece Nellie Ann. She was doing well on Saturday and once her family left on Sunday she became unresponsive. Her mom and dad and daughter showed up Monday and some response came back, but yesterday the doctor ran an MRI and found she had suffered another stroke. He also has found extensive internal damage in her organs by the big stroke and at this point she is at risk of a heart attack. Please continue to pray for Nellie Ann and her family. God bless you!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

And the Greatest of These is Love!

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If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

Have you done a spiritual gifts inventory lately? Is there a category for love? There should be. One could be the greatest preacher that ever lived, rank high on the scale of spiritual gifts and graces, but if that person does not have love; Fail! One could be the greatest Sunday school teacher that ever lived, rank high one the scale of talents and resources for excellent teaching, but if that person does not have love; Fail! Such was the inventory that was being reported to the Apostle Paul. The church as it was defining itself and as the Holy Spirit was working among them, the comparisons and the quarrels began; who is the greatest coffee maker? Who buys and brings the best donuts to church? Paul got to the point where he sat down and wrote this beautiful explanation of spiritual gifts and what really matters in a person's life and service as a believer and follower of Christ Jesus.

Love is the foundation and all other things should spring forth from that. And Paul lists carefully what he considers as essential to love; charity, self-sacrifice and service, patience, kindness, humility, giving, sharing, understanding; all of these, plus a spirit of one who keeps no record of past misdeeds or wrongs. One who works steadfastly with others, endures all things, has faith in all things, has a great hope for the big picture of things. These things coming from a person's heart, will never end. Pauls sums it up in this way; take these three awesome things that we should have; faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love.

Jesus summed it up by saying, "Love one another." If the church does not have love, it is in the wrong business.

PRAYER: Loving God, examine my heart. If You see a lacking of love in there, fill me up! I want to be a person of love. This I pray in the name of He who is love, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde