Monday, January 23, 2017

¡Bienvenidos!  Welcome to the Kingdom of God!

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When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12)

Do you want to hear Good News?  Do you want to hear Good News from God?  Here it is!  Jesus' invitation to those who heard Him that day and who hear Him today.  It is Jesus saying, God loves and cares for you enough that He understands what life is like, what you are going through, and here is that which explains it.  It begins with you who have just about given up on faith and perhaps even God; that's okay - yours is the kingdom of heaven.  Those who are mourning the loss of a loved one, or a job, or a home, or a relationship; you will be comforted, by God Himself!  Those of you who feel you've been a doormat for so long and people are stepping all over you; guess what, the earth is yours!  If you're hungering and thirsting for those things you know are right and just and well in God's sight; you will be satisfied!  If you're the kind who shows mercy to those who deserve it or not, God will show you His mercy.  If you're pure in heart and seek after God, you will see Him.  If you're one who seeks to make peace, God will call you His child.  If you're not left alone and bullied for your faith or stance on faith issues, even lie about you and who you are - God knows better, and God's reward for you is great in heaven.  Even those called to speak on God's behalf in the old days were treated the same way.

God's Kingdom is an awesome place and an awesome attitude to have towards life.  The things that seem harsh and unfair in this life pale in comparison to that which is God's.  It's for those who feel that things have not gone your way; God's in control and God's watching over you.  Don't despair and don't give up on God.  Hear again Jesus' words:  "Rejoice and be glad."  That holds true for that entire list that Jesus shared; rejoice and be glad.  A joyful and positive, thankful attitude beats out all other things, and we and those around us are the better for it.

In other words, Jesus is saying, "¡Bienvenidos!  Welcome!  All who desire God, God welcomes You into His kingdom.  No one is turned away.  God loves you and can change your life right now.  God will take away your sins, your destructive habits and addictions, and make you whole in His sight.  Won't you come in?"

PRAYER:  Loving God, thank You for this awesome invitation.  I accept and want to be a part of Your Kingdom here on the earth and someday there in Your holy presence.  Help me to have a joyful and thankful heart in all things.  Give me strength to overcome what I face now.  And I pray this in Christ Jesus' precious and powerful name, amen!

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Here is the video link to this message:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuHiouU00nY

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why Be Afraid?

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Light, space, zest - that's God! So, with him on my side I'm fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. When vandal hordes ride down ready to eat me alive, Those bullies and toughs fall flat on their faces. When besieged, I'm calm as a baby. When all hell breaks loose, I'm collected and cool. I'm asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I'll contemplate his beauty; I'll study at his feet. That's the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic God holds me head and shoulders above all who try to pull me down. I'm headed for his place to offer anthems that will raise the roof! Already I'm singing God-songs; I'm making music to God. Listen, God, I'm calling at the top of my lungs: "Be good to me! Answer me!" When my heart whispered, "Seek God," my whole being replied, "I'm seeking him!" Don't hide from me now! You've always been right there for me; don't turn your back on me now. Don't throw me out, don't abandon me; you've always kept the door open. My father and mother walked out and left me, but God took me in. Point me down your highway, God; direct me along a well-lighted street; show my enemies whose side you're on.  Don't throw me to the dogs, those liars who are out to get me, filling the air with their threats.  I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness in the exuberant earth.  Stay with God! Take heart. Don't quit. I'll say it again: Stay with God. (Psalm 27 The Message)

Our home as a boy in Kingsville stood on blocks.  It provided a nice crawl space for boys even my size to crawl under and hide.  And it wasn't just for hide and seek, sometimes it was to escape coming punishment from my Mom for something I had, of course, wrongly been accused.  In the very hot summer days of Kingsville, that space was cool.  Thinking back I never thought of spiders or snakes being under there, I just knew I had a safe space.  The psalmist found such a space in his walk with God.  The three words that start this psalm in The Message version of the Bible strike me as needed for our lives:  Light, space, zest.  Light because most of us don't want to hide in dark spaces; we want light.  Space because we don't want to feel cramped into something; we want to be safe but we also want space, and sometimes that space between our fears and us is what we crave.  And zest speaks of the excitement and joy of being with God.  Nothing could faze the psalmist as he hid in the Lord.

The list he shares in this 27th Psalm could be our list as well; we may face vandals of all sorts, including illness or disease.  We or our loved one could face bullies and toughs, but with God on our side, they fall down and can't carry out what they'd like.  When deadlines and assignments are due, and the pressures that come with those mount up, in God we find the breathing room we need to complete and meet them.  When it seems everything is falling apart, we can remain calm and collected.  Yesterday as an example, we get an early morning call from our youngest who lives in Houston.  We were not aware there was flooding there, but our daughter was trapped in the turnaround under the Interstate Loop.  We asked if her vehicle was in water, it was not.  There was water on the frontage roads on both sides of her, but not where she was.  She was worried about getting her son to school on time and her to work on time as well.  We told her to be calm, to turn off the car, and just wait.  The water would recede soon, and her work and her son's school would understand.  That calm and collectedness does not come from me; it comes from God.  I ask for it all the time!  There are far better things to do than be sick with worry.  Look at David's list:  Contemplate God's beauty; study of His word - "The only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, the perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic."  God holds us and we should sing God's praise.

Our message for today ends the way the psalm ends:  Stay with God!  Take heart.  Don't quit.  I'll say it again:  Stay with God.

PRAYER:  Loving God, you know what is all around me and what scares me.  You know what pressures me and what gives me anxiety - I turn all those things over to You and ask that You hold me and give me the assurance David had in You.  I want to be safe, secure and blessed by You.  I want light, space, and zest.  I want to say with You and not lose heart.  This I ask in Christ Jesus my Lord and Savior, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Here is today's YouTube link to see this devotional:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKdM7qHQlUU

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Power of God; & We're Quarreling?

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Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:10-18)

If you stop to think about it, the first four books of the New Testament are about the Gospel; the Good News of Jesus Christ.  They share the stories and teachings of Jesus, and His life, death, and resurrection.  Then the next book is a book of history of the early Christian Church.  And after that, it seems the rest of the books are letters to Christians asking them to behave!  And this passage is a sample of that.  Paul encounters in the church of Corinth a division about who baptized who; and I know this no longer happens in the church, right?  People love each other, love and serve God, and never argue nor quarrel, right?  I wish!  This was a sad quarrel, as most quarrels are (ask a married couple about them).  But people in that church began to compare baptisms.  Some said, "I belong to Paul," others:  "I belong to Apollos, or Cephas, or Christ..."  Paul asks the question, "Has Christ been divided?"  Then he thanks God that he did not baptize any of them with the exception of Crisps and Gaius; and the household of Stephanus," but other than those, none.  And then he stresses that his purpose and mission was to preach the gospel and strengthen the message of the cross.  Anything else would be foolishness, as is quarreling in the church.  And his message is still as true today as ever: "For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Dr. Gil Rendle is a noted writer and speaker/teacher who shared his life cycle of a church:  Birth, Visioning, Structure, Ministry, (these on an upward spiral); then Nostalgia (downward spiral) where he stresses the church should either go back to Ministry or Visioning or face Polarity, then Death.  And this may apply to us in our lives as well.  We should always have a vision for what we were called to do; then we must do it in the ways we've prepared for it, and when we reach the point of Nostalgia, that of thinking back to "the good ole days" we need to re-think our purpose or retrain ourselves for new and better work or  we will find ourselves fighting within ourselves  and others and we will spiritually die before we physically die. No bueno.    Churches that are quarreling have reached the point of Polarity, that is, division, and the message is simple as illustrated in today's graphic:  Divided We Fall.  Christ stresses unity in that He shared the new commandment of loving one another; and we know that in love we give and take, we compromise, we seek common ground, and we seek ways to mend our paralyzing differences so that we can continue to move onward and upward.  There is strength in unity and that strength comes from a common vision and purpose. And that is to save those who are not yet saved.  And the message is still as powerful and as needed as always; Jesus died for us and we should accept Him as Lord and savior and share that with the world.

Where do you find yourself, dear friend?  Have you prayed about a vision for yourself?  For your church?  Do you have the right structure in place for your life to do what Christ calls you to do?  If not, now is the time to see what training and preparation could bless your ministry as a believer.  

Let's get busy!

PRAYER:  Loving God, help me in my life be the person You called me to be.  Help me pray, study, worship, praise, and love You as I learn and grow and prepare for better and more effective service.  This I pray in Christ Jesus' precious name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Here is the link to see and hear today's devotional(CUT & PASTE in your URL):   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNa2xX-mZtQ

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Good News! And You're Invited!

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Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’  From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:12-23)

Where do you go when you've heard bad news?  To cry?  To pray?  To cry and pray?  To sleep?  Or maybe you drive for a bit, or take a walk.  Such was the case with Jesus.  He heard about His cousin, John the Baptist having been arrested and so He withdraws to areas He knew and in so doing fulfills yet another of the prophecies about His ministry.  He goes to a region where the people needed to be pulled out of darkness, and it comes with His sermon:  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."  This was as much an invitation as it was a challenge.  If you're tired of the way you've been living, there is good news; you can leave behind that sin and its destructive behaviors and come into the light, into the fullness of life, where sin is removed and you're welcomed into a land of life and love.  While there in Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon Peter, and Andrew and extends to them an invitation to continue their passion for fishing, but for people instead of fish.  They immediately left their nets and followed Jesus.  Jesus then sees two other brothers, James and John, sons of Zebedee, also fishermen, and His invitation is accepted also immediately.  They left their father and their boat and accompanied Jesus through Galilee as Jesus taught, preached good news, and cured every disease and sickness among the people.

These men left everything; the vocation, their families, all to say yes to Jesus and His ministry.  Nothing was now as important as being faithful to Jesus.  They saw and heard the good news.  They saw the power of God's love as expressed and demonstrated through Jesus' actions.  People were turning away from sin and turning towards life.  People who were sick were being healed and restored to wholeness.

Have you heard the Good News in a similar matter; shaken and stirred enough to leave everything behind to follow Jesus?  Have you given Jesus the central place in your life, and now can't find enough to do to satisfy that calling?  

PRAYER:  Loving God, I want to follow You through Jesus.  I want to be a disciple who is faithful and fruitful. I want to make others disciples as well.  I want to serve You.  Grant me strength, wisdom, and all that I need to be able to do this.  I can do it only through the power and strength of He in Whose name I pray, Jesus my Lord, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

To view to today's devotional, please cut and paste this in your URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WltYN-NLEvU 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It's all in God's Time! God Holds Us Together!

I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.  Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world's "sure thing," ignore what the world worships; The world's a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you. Doing something for you,bringing something to you - that's not what you're after. Being religious, acting pious - that's not what you're asking for. You've opened my ears so I can listen. So I answered, "I'm coming. I read in your letter what you wrote about me, And I'm coming to the party you're throwing for me." That's when God's Word entered my life became part of my very being. I've preached you to the whole congregation, I've kept back nothing, God - you know that. I didn't keep the news of your ways a secret, didn't keep it to myself. I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough. I didn't hold back pieces of love and truth For myself alone. I told it all, let the congregation know the whole story. Now God, don't hold out on me, don't hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. (Psalm 40:1-11 The Message)

It would appear to me that we all live in the land of hurried drivers.  I've seen some incredibly stupid maneuvers, and maybe I've done one or two of those same silly things, but it seems the more I live the later people behind the wheel seem to get.  They just can't seem to get there fast enough!  And the speed signs posted on the side of the road are more like suggestions or guidelines and not necessarily laws if we are to believe how people drive.  It's as if when we open the door to our cars we leave patience on the curb and we buckle in with hurry up.  We speed off to wherever it is we don't want to go and get there early or late and still can't seem to remember where we left patience.  The psalmist for all we know walked everywhere he went.  Sometimes he may have ridden a horse or camel, but usually he took walks.  And he seemed to be a man of patience for he begins this psalm about how patience is an important ingredient of prayer.  He had a need and he took it to the Lord and he waited.  We don't know for how long, but this version says, "At last He looked; finally He listened," and some of us would identify with that description of prayer as well.  The key to remember is that God answered.  And what an answer he gave to the psalmist for David writes that God lifted him out of the ditch and pulled him out of the deep mud.  He stood him on a solid rock to make sure he didn't slip back into that mud and ditch.  And as a bonus God taught him a new song, a song of praise.  And David saw more and more people enter that mystery of faith, forgetting everything else and centering on God.  It may be that patience is a God thing and when we hurry ourselves we may even be leaving God behind.  David says to give ourselves over to God, to turn our back on the "sure things" of this world and to ignore the latest fads and gadgets and gimmicks; which, if we aren't careful could turn into objects of worship.  The psalmist says that if we just look around we might see God-wonders and hear God-thoughts.  We don't see much as we speed along and try to text at the same time, do we?  Okay, I've gone from preaching to meddling.  The point is that we have to listen.  We need to make God the center of our lives to the point that He becomes the center of our being.  Those who have tried putting other things as the center of their being soon discovered that idol or habit or addiction made you as sick as the idea of turning away from God.  

We should not keep the good news of God's love to ourselves.  It's too precious a message to keep to ourselves.  It is a message we should share with all people. We are called to tell the whole story and how God took us from where we were to bring us to where we are.  We may not yet be where God would have us be, but again, it's all in God's time, not ours.  We hold nothing back, not love nor passion for God and God's people - we share all.  And that brings about that which holds us together.

PRAYER:  Loving God, as I reflect on my life I can see faintly where I used to be.  Yes, You took me out of the mud and the ditch in which I found myself and You pulled me out and gave me a new chance to live.  Help me to be the person that blesses You and blesses others.  Hold me together and let me be patient in all things, especially my driving and my dealings with all people.  I pray in Christ Jesus' precious name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord.

Eradio Valverde

Here is the link to the video presentation of this devotional: (Copy and paste in your URL) https://youtu.be/0JyBJiGC9NM

A Light to the Nations; Salvation to the World

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Listen to me, O coastlands,pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword,in the shadow of his hand he hid me;he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ But I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.’ And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says,‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations,that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’  Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers,‘Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’  (Isaiah 49:1-7)

Something a lot of us wonder about is the question why am I here?  This has troubled so many for so long, and through prayer, reflection, conversations, reading, more prayer, some of us come to know our meaning and purpose for life.  Such was not the case for Jesus, He knew why He was here and he had the help of His scriptures, this passage among them.  The words of the prophet are words of God encouraging and inspiring the Son of God to know what it is that He would do.  The message begins with everyone in all the world to know who Jesus is, and for Jesus to know that even while He was in his mother's womb, God had called Him to use His mouth as a sharp sword, meaning Jesus' words would have power and purpose for all who heard and heeded them.  And His mission would be to be the light to the nations, with a message of salvation reaching all the world, even to the ends of the earth.  Such is God's love that God wants all to be in a relationship with Him.  We are called to love and trust God and to seek to be made right with Him, walking all our days with Him.  And the prophet ends this passage with the prophetic word that Kings, princes, will stand and then prostrate themselves before the Lord, because the Lord has been faithful and because His love has chosen us.

So, if you happen to still wonder at times why you were born, consider this; you were made to find and follow Jesus.  If you happen to still feel as if you're living in the darkness of confusion and sin, bad habits, destructive lifestyles, consider that Jesus is the Light of the world; He can pull you out of darkness and lead you in the light of the fullness of life, which is a life lived in Him.  Your joy shall be one that will make others ask what you have and how can they have the same thing, and you will reply that your joy has come from Jesus.  Jesus has led you out of a self-serving, self-pleasing life into one of service and love for all people.

PRAYER:  Loving Father, may this be the message that speaks not only to me, but to all people.  Let me find myself in You and thus find meaning and purpose in my life.  Pull me out of darkness and into the light; out of the muck and mire of despair into the fullness of light.  Grant me the joy that is Yours only, so that I can live in such a way others will be blessed.   This I pray in Christ Jesus, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Here is your link to today's devotional on video(Copy and Paste on your URL):  https://youtu.be/CALpC_FgxKs

Friday, January 06, 2017

Taken By the Hand into Light

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Here is my servant, whom I uphold,my chosen, in whom my soul delights;I have put my spirit upon him;he will bring forth justice to the nations.He will not cry or lift up his voice,or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break,and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. Thus says God,the Lord,who created the heavens and stretched them out,who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you;I have given you as a covenant to the people,a light to the nations,to open the eyes that are blind,to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other,nor my praise to idols. See, the former things have come to pass,and new things I now declare;before they spring forth, I tell you of them. (Isaiah 42:1-9)

I remember nothing more soothing and reassuring to me as a child than holding the hand of my father or mother. It was usually when I had become afraid or as we were walking a neighborhood dog decided to come and bark at us or chase us, that strong hand made me feel safe, loved, and important. I guess that's why the verse in today's passage about God saying, "I have taken you by the hand and kept you" spoke to my heart. And it comes in this description by the prophet of the coming Messiah who would finally bring into history the fulfillment of all things expected, namely justice for all people which is to say making all things right for those who love God. The prophet is saying that God will provide breath and His spirit to His people to live and serve in a way that gives glory to God, for we have been called into righteousness. That is to say once we believe in God we should turn over lives to God to live in a worthy manner, a living example of covenant to those not yet in the covenant and a light to the nations. And the phrase before that? "I have taken you by the hand." That says to me we are not alone. We do not walk alone. And we should feel safe enough to risk that which will bring this living covenant to life in us in a way that gives witness to others.. God wants light to shine in the areas of life where there is still darkness, and release to those still captive by their sins. God wants the former things to pass away and the new way of life to come into the fullness of life.

And dear friends, there is no more fitting time to reflect on these things than the start of a new year. What are the areas of darkness in our lives? Where are the areas of darkness from which we have been led out that we should share with those still in darkness? Nothing speaks louder to someone in need than for someone who has been there to share with them, this is where I was, and here I am now, thanks to God.

Won't you give God your hand and let Him guide you?

PRAYER: Loving Father, I give You my hand. Take it and guide me into the fullness of Your light. Help me to feel loved, safe, and secure to live as You would have me live; a life that blesses You and blesses those not quite there yet. Help me to be a blessing to those around me, especially the little ones that may look up to me. This I pray in Christ Jesus' strong name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

LISTEN TO TODAY'S CONCAFE (COPY AND PASTE IN A NEW WINDOW) https://gallery.mailchimp.com/ddb0d8e9e8610bb92960afa4d/files/ConCafe162107.mp3

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Just As You Are; But Don't Stay that Way!

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Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’ (Acts 10:34-43)

I never attended one in person, but I say plenty on television.  The manner in which the gospel was presented was a dynamic message, compelling and challenging.  And at the end of each sermon, an invitation to Jesus was given, and Billy Graham would wait while George Beverly Shay sang, "Just as I Am," and the crowds would flock to the altar.  So many would give their lives to the Lord in those crusades and I believe many would remember the hymn sang as they did.  The message was as shared by Peter in this passage:  God loves all people, but especially welcomes those who fear Him and try to live as God expects. God preached through Jesus, who is Lord of all, and through Jesus gave witness of His power and willingness to make all people whole.  The promise was that in this life we would find life to the fullest, but at the end of this life we would enter life eternal, where all healing and restoration begins in an eternal way.  And all our sins are removed.

There are no more Billy Graham crusades, and the sermons that compel and challenge seem to be few and far between for many; but the message is still the same; come to God through Jesus and receive a new life. The hymn is sometimes still sung, but many don't hear the entire message and believe they should stay as they are with no change needed; habits, practices, and addictions should continue for all is right with me.  Please re-read your Bible and hear the true message that God desires for us to be made right in and through Him.  Life in abundance means leaving behind that which "kills, steals, and destroys." (John 10:10).  If you made a resolution for the New Year it probably involved leaving or shedding something; the best thing to rid ourselves of is our sin.

PRAYER:  Loving God, I confess that I am a sinner and stand in need of Your love and mercy.  I don't want to stay as I am, I want to be a new creature made whole and right in You.  You know my needs and ills and I turn them all over to You asking for healing, comfort, forgiveness, transformation, and reconciliation in my life.  This I pray in Christ Jesus' precious and powerful name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord.

Eradio Valverde