Tuesday, October 25, 2016

When You Know Someone is Praying for You?

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring. To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfil by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12)

We are never alone.  Especially if we have asked someone to pray for us and that person does.  There have been many a time when you and I have stood in some sort of challenge or trial and we have come through it blessed and even refreshed, when others thought we were actually dying or close to it.  Such is the power of prayer.  The Apostle Paul knew it and he lived it.  He was a person of great faith and prayer, and many, especially those whom he brought to the Lord, prayed for him.  Here he, Silvanus, and Timothy, are in prayer for the church of the Thessalonians asking grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with them.  They offered prayers of gratitude for their faith and work, and asking that God would make all of those church members worthy of God's call and through them fulfill every good intention and ministries of faith, "so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified" in them, according to God's grace.  Wow!  What a prayer session that must have been.

In my life I know I have people praying for me all the time.  As a child I knew my parents prayed for me, as did my grandmother.  I never took an exam in high school or college without knowing they were praying for me at the exact hour of that examination.  When I married Nellie, she became my chief prayer warrior, and to this day I know she is praying for me.  And there is nothing greater than knowing that someone is praying for you!  

Who are you praying for?

PRAYER:  Lord, I lift Your Name on high, and I ask that You bless the person reading this prayer.  You know them by name and by need.  I pray that You be glorified in all s/he is facing.  Bless them richly, especially as they begin to pray for someone else.  I want the name of Jesus glorified in this dear person, *|FNAME|*, so that Your grace may be known and shared.  It is in that precious name that I pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

P.S.  The lovely baby girl up in the photo is Eliana Beth Garcia, who today turns four years young!  She was the best birthday present a grandfather could get!  (She and I have the same birthday!).  I thank the Lord for Eliana and I ask rich and wonderful blessings on her life.  Thank you for indulging me!  ;)

Monday, October 24, 2016

What Proof Do You Have?

Image from lighthouse.com

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’ (Luke 19:1-10)

Jesus came to save the lost.  Good thing because that includes me.  And you.  Jesus comes offering an eternity of life and goodness if we but turn our lives over to Him and repent of our sin.  And that came to this "wee little man" in a parade.  Hoping to see who Jesus was, Jesus saw him for who he was.  Jesus invited Himself to Zacchaeus' house and though others grumbled, true change came to this man.  Known as a rich man, who perhaps made his fortune defrauding people as was the custom of most tax collectors, this man in coming to know Jesus and in coming to know himself, gave half of his fortune to the poor and offered to pay back four times what he had cheated people out of; such was the gift of salvation to him.  

When Jesus came into my heart, great things happened.  And I would pray that the greatest thing was that I was different all the way through; from top to bottom, inside and out; to the point that people who have known me the longest would say I was no longer the same.  I have shared how one of my Sunday school teachers at my ordination shared how out of all the students she had had, I was the last one she would have believed to become a minister.  I would agree.  I squirmed too much in class.  My mind before it was on Jesus was on playing and having fun.  Yet, when Jesus came into my heart, my mind went in a different direction - yes, I still squirmed and I still love to have fun, but in a different way.  I still have a long way to go, but I go with Jesus, hand in hand...

What has happened in you?

PRAYER:  Loving God, for the faith You have shared with me, let me continue to show the change that has come over me.  I pray for this dear friend reading this; that she or he too, would know the change that comes when we surrender to Jesus.  We pray in His name, Jesus our Lord, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stay Close to the Cross!

Image of Liam and Saraí, my grandchildren

O children of Zion, be glad    and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication,    he has poured down for you abundant rain,    the early and the later rain, as before.  The threshing-floors shall be full of grain,    the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will repay you for the years    that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,    my great army, which I sent against you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,    and praise the name of the Lord your God,    who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.  You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,    and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again    be put to shame. Then afterwards    I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,    your old men shall dream dreams,    and your young men shall see visions.  Even on the male and female slaves,    in those days, I will pour out my spirit. I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. (Joel 2:23-32)

In the Bible we find that yesterday's prophecy is today's truth.  In the years that the prophet Joel wrote his words, he offered to them a word of comfort as well as a word of what was to come.  Little did that prophet know how mighty his words would be on that day we call the Day of Pentecost.  The mighty rush of the Spirit like tongues of fire, and the words uttered by Peter first uttered by Joel:  "I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; you sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions."  The coming of the Holy Spirit was an act of comfort as well as an act of what could be:  All flesh being filled with God's Holy Spirit in order to share the truth of God's love in all languages and in all ways that could be understood by all.

Right outside the windows and doors of our church is a ripe harvest.  I have shared and will share again the proud little church that spent precious money on a new entrance to that church.  I knew their hearts and shared in their joy, but I said it is important that the church receive whoever may come, but that entrance is also the way to reach those that don't know about God and may not wander over and come in; so we must go to them!  The words of the prophet strengthen what we as Christians believe, God is close to us and we should stay close to the cross, knowing that all things are possible in God for whatever we seek to do for God's glory and kingdom.

Quit staring out the window at what could be; go out and make it happen.

PRAYER:  Loving God, out we go into the mission field.  We know it is ripe for harvest and You provide all that we need to make it Yours.  Empower us to the laborers of that harvest; keep us close to the cross.  This we pray in Christ Jesus' precious and powerful name, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Prayer Request:  Please pray for our son-in-law, Eric, who is undergoing some medical tests.  Thank you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Running the Race While Keeping the Faith

Image by a family photograph

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing. At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18)

In my childhood, it seemed we ran everywhere we went.  Times were different and we could run all over Kingsville if we wanted.  The only place where we could not run was in church.  "Muchacho, ¡no corras!" was said so often to me it seemed like part of the Apostles Creed.  Along with that of course, came the warning not to get our Sunday best dirty.  I still remember the spankings for violating that commandment.

Living the Christian faith is a race, like the Apostle Paul calls it.  The challenges that come our way are the hurdles, opportunities that come for us to share our witness are those extra miles that we get for just being in the race.  And he modeled a life of faithfulness and fruitfulness.  He loved every opportunity he had to share Christ with everyone. And then the day came when he wrote these parting words.  He saw his life being poured out as a part of a worship sacrifice, and he had no regrets.  "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."  And then he looked forward to what was coming next.  Jesus was so real to him that he feared nothing, but anticipated everything.  He knew he had a place reserved in Heaven and that he would also gain a crown of righteousness.  His assurance was also the fact that in all things, Jesus was right by his side and even as the unknown would soon present itself, Christ would be there as well.

You and I have much to do; the race is not over.  We have to stay faithful and fruitful in all things.  We have much to share with a world that needs God more than ever.  We have neighbors who have seemed to have forgotten what it is to love one another, or how to have compassion on those who are lost or hurting.  May it not be said of us, dear friend, that we cared more about ourselves and our immediate circle of family and friends more than those whom we know represent Jesus in our midst.  Christ is with us; He will share with us the words at every opportunity as we seek to make His love known to all.

PRAYER:  Loving God, help me model my life as one who will never give up either the race nor the faith.  Pour out Your love in my heart that I may be like You, Christ Jesus; my Lord and Savior in whose precious name I pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde, whose granddaughter, Eliana B. Garcia is shown above in one of the many 5Ks that she runs in!  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Better Than Home Cooking!

Image from dreamtime.com

Oh, how I love your law!    It is my meditation all day long.  Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,    for it is always with me.  I have more understanding than all my teachers,    for your decrees are my meditation.  I understand more than the aged,    for I keep your precepts.  I hold back my feet from every evil way,    in order to keep your word.  I do not turn away from your ordinances,    for you have taught me.  How sweet are your words to my taste,    sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Through your precepts I get understanding;    therefore I hate every false way.  (Psalm 110:97-104)

When one of my nephews was younger, we asked what he would miss most about leaving home.  "Will it be home cooking?"  I asked.  "Let's see," he replied, "I'll miss Luby's, Sonic, Kentucky Fried Chicken..."  We got his point and laughed.  When I went away to college I went to a tiny town in East Texas that had Sonic, KFC, and the Pitt Grill.  And of course, the school's cafeteria.  I looked forward to trips home to enjoy home cooking.  Of course, I may be of the generation that was spoiled by a stay-at-home mom, later a working wife, who still found time to cook our meals; but you can't tell that by looking at me!  ;)

The psalmist loves the word of God and in the Message version changes the "sweeter than honey to my mouth," to "better than home cooking."  I pray that is not an outdated term for you.  God's loving instructions for our lives should impact us in a sweet, but powerful way.  It is a moment by moment guidance system; it is deep instruction that blesses our intellect and our decision-making, and moves us ever towards wisdom.  It monitors our steps in positive ways, away from temptation and destruction.  The only problem is our picking up the word of God and making time to read it.  Nellie and I are still on our plan to finish the Bible in a year and with the setbacks we've had in the last few weeks have missed a few days and lat night as soon as we drove in from San Antonio, sat at our kitchen table and did our reading.  There is nothing like it.  It blesses us and blesses those for whom we pray.

Make time today to read a passage or two from God's Holy Word - It'll bless your life in an awesome way.  Don't believe me?  Look at the picture above and imagine eating that sometime today.  It'll beat that!

PRAYER:  Loving God, we are a blessed people for having personal copies of Your Holy Word.  Help us not to take it for granted.  May we truly seek to be blessed in the way Your Son David wrote in today's psalm.  This we pray in Christ Jesus' precious name, amen.

Have and great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Shine Where You Live!

Image from lectionarypoems.blogspot.com

These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7)

For those of you whose jobs require occasional transfers, it is difficult to make moves and even more so for your children.  Every Sunday I like to read the Business section of a major city's newspaper and on every second page is an interview with a CEO of a company.  This past Sunday, the person interviewed grew up with a dad who worked for the State Department of The United States,  and she moved more than she cared for, but each move brought to her life that which was needed to make her the success she is today as founder and CEO of a company that empowers women in the workplace.

A forced move by armed soldiers would be a move none of us would like to make.  Yes, some pastors believe a change in appointment is much the same thing; armed soldiers surround your home and order you to pack and move away with little to no notice.  (It's not true!).  But the exiles of Jerusalem found themselves in Babylon.  They did not like it and their dissatisfaction showed in their attitude and their productivity.  There was none.  So, the prophet, the spokesperson for God, Jeremiah sends the words in the above passage:  Love Where You Live sums it up.  Build house and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce; while you're at it, marry from the people in your surroundings (Pastor's children in the past had been good about marrying in the city where Mom/Dad was serving and they stayed there); marry off your children and have children - multiply and do not decrease.  Seek the welfare of the city where God has sent you and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for its wellbeing will be your wellbeing.

This holds true even for us regardless of where we are and where we will be.  Pray for the city or community where we live and know that as it prospers, so will we.  Its wellbeing will be our wellbeing.

PRAYER:  Gracious God, help us to follow what You said through the prophet and help us to bless wherever it is we are.  Grant us the attitude and the grace to be a blessing to You and Yours; in Christ Jesus we pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord.

Eradio Valverde

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

We Can't Hold God's Word Captive!

Image from truelocal.com

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;  if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us;  if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:8-15)

Even while prisoner, Paul kept working, writing, praying, doing; all that he could for the good of the Kingdom   I have to admit that if I have a cold or feel a bit under the weather, to bed I go and it becomes easy to say that I've done all I could given the circumstances.  But, Paul could and did, not.  He knew that we could not chain or hook the word of God like they tried to do him.  The message from the Lord Jesus remained the same, so did the determination of this apostle to continue to proclaim the Truth:  Salvation is in Christ Jesus, and with it comes eternal glory.  With it, Paul states, come these promises:  If we have died with Him, that is, if we have allowed our sin to be crucified on the cross with Him, then fullness of life is ours.  If we endure, that is, if we do not give up, we will reign on high with Him.  If we deny Jesus, Jesus will deny us; if we live as those with no faith, even so, Jesus remains faithful to us.

The work continues, and with it continues the need for us to do our part.  As Paul concludes this passage:  "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by Him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth."

Do your best; God will do the rest.

PRAYER:  Loving God, move among us, especially me; help me to die with Christ, endure with Him, never deny Him, and ever be faithful to Jesus as Jesus is with me.  In His name I pray, amen.

Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!

Eradio Valverde