Thursday, April 28, 2016

Let All People Praise God!

Image from flc-boston.org

May God be gracious to us and bless us    and make his face to shine upon us,   

        that your way may be known upon earth,    your saving power among all nations.  Let the peoples praise you, O God;    let all the peoples praise you. 

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,    for you judge the peoples with equity    and guide the nations upon earth.    

   Let the peoples praise you, O God;    let all the peoples praise you. 

The earth has yielded its increase;    God, our God, has blessed us.  May God continue to bless us;    let all the ends of the earth revere him. (Psalm 67)

May this be part of the long prayer we need to pray today:  "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us."  The prayer goes on, and we will add to it throughout the day, but the focus should be on God, not us.  The very first part of the prayer says that God has been, and can be, and truly is, gracious to us, and certainly God has blessed us, and His face does shine upon those who seek it, but it is a part of the entire process; salvation among all people, and after salvation, praise, praise, praise!

Our praise should be in song, in words, in actions, and in thoughts; gladness should be exuding from our very being, for God has seen fit to call us into a loving, trusting, growing relationship with Him.  May it be seen as too inviting to pass up on, and too available not to say yes to God.

The best way to bless God is to be a blessing to others in God's name.

PRAYER:  Loving God, let me bless You.  In Christ I pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Prayer Updates:  Pastor Dale White was blessed with a good outcome in his heart cath; he was able to go home yesterday.  The doctor discovered that he does have some blockage but the body figured out a way to do its own bypass.  Hmm.  God be praised!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Go to Where the Need Is

Image from endtimeupgrade.org

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:9-15)

Do you want an adventurous faith?  Walk across the aisle in church this Sunday to greet someone you don't know!  If you really want adventure, cross the street from your church to meet those whom you don't know and just talk to them about their faith. Both seem hard, don't they?  Not to Paul.  He even dreamed of places and people he needed to visit.  In today's passage, "a man of Macedonia" appears in this dream/vision and pleads with him to "Come over to Macedonia and help us."  I love that he didn't say, "Let me think about it," or "Was I dreaming?  Does he really want me to 'cross over to Macedonia?'"  It says he immediately tried getting there, sailing there to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  He seeks a place of prayer along the river and meets a woman named Lydia, whose heart was opened to the Lord and she and her household were baptized.  Her life was never the same.

What would happen to that person who's across the aisle from you in church this Sunday if you just greeted them and asked how they were?  What would be the need you would find in that household across the street from your church?  It may be your own life you would be blessing by being obedient to the Lord's urging...

PRAYER:  Loving God, challenge my faith and my life by allowing me to cross aisles, barriers, obstacles, whatever is keeping me in my comfort zone.  I want to and I need to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with someone today.  May it be so.  In Christ Jesus I pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio

Prayer Requests:  For Rev. Dale White, pastor at First UMC in Alice, TX, having an angiogram done here in Corpus Christi at Spohn Shoreline Hospital.  For my father, who was readmitted to Houston Hospice with doctor believing he has about a month to live.  We trust God.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I'll Still Be Looking for My Taco Meat...

Image from temkit.com

And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.  I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever. (Rev. 21:10, 22-22:5)

Country singer Pat Green wrote and sings a song called Songs About Texas.  It has my favorite lyric in it.  "Some day I hope to walk along Heaven's street, and I'll still be looking for my taco meat."  It fits this way in the stanza:  "Well it's nothing short of the gospel hymns, I guess that's why folks keep writing 'em; when I die, I want to go there too, some day I hope to walk along heaven's street, and I'll still be looking for my taco meat and I swear I hear a steel guitar rising in the air."  This may not be your description of heaven, but that may prove you're not from Texas... just kidding.

The Apostle John's description of heaven is shared in today's passage.  It shows the all encompassing love of God to care and bless His redeemed.  The place of worship will be heaven itself; there will be no need for a temple.  The glory of God will be light enough for all to see, for the sun and the moon will no longer need to shine on us.  The gates of heaven will never be closed during night, for there will no longer be night.  The descriptions of the streets and the trees, rivers, etc., all show the glory of God.  But it is also a reminder that we have work to do.  There are some on our street that may not make it.  There may even be some in our church that may not make it.  Someone, like you or I, has to tell them of God's love.  We have to work to have heaven-like conditions here on earth for all people, but also the desire to get everyone who accepts, into a loving relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  And yes, to get as many people to heaven as we can; whether there's taco meat or not.

PRAYER:  Loving God, thank You for your love.  We thank You for the role John played in sharing this awesome vision with us.  Help me in what I have to do.  Let me be faithful.  This I pray in Christ Jesus my Lord, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Monday, April 25, 2016

Comforter and Counselor

Image from agnusday.org

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. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. (John 14:23-29)

Jesus had just told His disciples He was going into hospice care. Actually, Jesus was more direct; He told them He was going to suffer and die at the hands of His enemies. News about pending death do not arrive nor are received well in most cases. Jesus was 33 years old; I'm getting to be twice that old soon, Lord willing. Or let's just say I'm closer there than I am to 33, though I'm still young and feel young. Thirty-three years of age is not a good age to die in our opinion, and certainly not in the opinion of those disciples who had left everything to follow Him. But Jesus is saying, You won't be alone. Stay in love with me and show it by keeping what I've taught you and God will come and live in you; and, I'm sending you someone special, the Holy Spirit who will be your Advocate. The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I've taught you; I want you to have peace, the kind that soothes your heart and does not trouble you. You will see me again.

The sadness they felt, and the experiences they went through were tougher than they imagined, but it was after the Resurrection they began to understand as they witnessed what they saw and as Pentecost arrived, they were made sure of what Jesus had promised. From that point on they lived the life that Jesus had intended all along, a life that trusts God and blesses others. You and I are in Easter season approaching Pentecost and we have been blessed. We should live lives that give witness to that peace and strength that Jesus has shared with us. After all, we have a comforter and counselor who will guide us if asked.

PRAYER: Loving God, bless me with a deeper faith, peace, and strength to live like Jesus wanted. Let me bless those whom I meet today; in Christ Jesus I pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Got Praise?

Hallelujah! Praise God from heaven, praise him from the mountaintops; Praise him, all you his angels, praise him, all you his warriors, Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, you morning stars; Praise him, high heaven, praise him, heavenly rain clouds; Praise, oh let them praise the name of God - he spoke the word, and there they were! He set them in place from all time to eternity; He gave his orders, and that's it! Praise God from earth, you sea dragons, you fathomless ocean deeps; Fire and hail, snow and ice, hurricanes obeying his orders; Mountains and all hills, apple orchards and cedar forests; Wild beasts and herds of cattle, snakes, and birds in flight; Earth's kings and all races, leaders and important people, Robust men and women in their prime, and yes, graybeards and little children. Let them praise the name of God - it's the only Name worth praising. His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky; he's built a monument - his very own people! Praise from all who love God! Israel's children, intimate friends of God. Hallelujah! (Psalm 148) The Message Version

What's your definition of praise?  My definition runs along the lines of pausing and lifting up positive thoughts, words, or songs to God, remembering that God is worthy of our praise.  And this psalm reinforces that.  The psalmist says that these pauses are important and necessary.  They are meant to be taken throughout the day, for our good.  Praise is a reminder of Who God is, and who we are.  Praise is a life-giving action to our souls and hearts; a blessing to our minds, but more importantly a blessing to God.

We can and should praise God at any time and in any place.  And it is an expected action of all creatures, all people, regardless of age or station.

Easter is a time of praise; for God has done great and mighty things for us.  And the best news?  God isn't finished with us yet.

PRAYER:  Loving God, for all You have done, I praise You.  For all You are doing, I praise You.  For all You will do I praise You!  Let me continue to praise You in such a way that others will come along and join in the happy song.  In Christ Jesus I pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

You, Too?

Image from mostholyfaith.com

Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’ Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But I replied, “By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” But a second time the voice answered from heaven, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.” And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?’ When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’ (Acts 11:1-18)

What's more important?  What you eat or who you eat with?  There are some foods that you might already have decided, "I will not eat those!"  And for some, they have decided there are some people they will not eat with.  Hmm.  The second is the most serious because you have judged some people as being not as good as you or not deserving of your company.  This passage addresses both things.  The apostle Peter had a vision that spoke to him about his diet and his displeasure.  Having been raised a Jew there were certain things that he could not eat.  And because he was a Jew there were certain people he could not eat with; namely anyone who was not a Jew.  These people are called Gentiles.  Yet, God spoke to him in a vision and set him on a new course about his ideas regarding his diet and his discrimination.

The gospel is for all people.  We have to love and welcome all people to the faith.  We have to get to know those we don't know and maybe, share a meal with them so that we can know each other better.  Don't be like the two coworkers who worked alongside each other for 35 years and when they retired at their retirement celebration they found out they were both United Methodists.  "You, too?"  Sigh.  Don't wait 35 years to talk to your coworkers about what you believe and who you are.  If you do wait 35 years, they'll know exactly who you are.

PRAYER:  Loving God, speak to my fears about sharing my faith and declaring who I am.  Help me to spread the good news with all people, especially those by my side each day.  This I pray in Christ Jesus' precious name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Jesus: Alpha and Omega

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;  he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’

 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. (Revelation 21:1-6a)

Death does not end all things.  John saw and heard all about great, new, eternal things in this passage and throughout this last book of our scriptures.  He witnessed a new heaven and a new earth, and, "The sea was no more."  I have loved sharing with you the passage from Micah 7:19 where the prophet says of God, "You cast all our iniquities (sins) into the deepest part of the sea."  This passage shows the finality of our sins.  More importantly, John saw that God was among all people who had died in their faith and relationship with Jesus, and it is God who will declare, "Death will be no more; mourning and crying and brain will be no more, for the first things have passed away."  And then the declaration that all things will be made new, promised and guaranteed by the Lord Himself.  At that time, Jesus will say, "It is done!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life."  

For this we labor now; to make sure we get as many people as we can into our faith, to find hope, forgiveness, mercy, joy, and the promise of a life that never ends.  The empty pews and seats we see on Sundays are those people whom we have yet to invite and bring into a loving, trusting relationship with Christ; there is still room, but there is work to be done.

Share this word with someone today.  

PRAYER:  Loving God, put me to work sharing the good news.  This I ask in Thy name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Prayers for those still affected by the heavy rains and flooding, especially in parts of Houston.