Paciencia: ¡NUNCA TE DES POR VENCIDO!

¡NUNCA TE DES POR VENCIDO!
Estamos a punto de terminar año y de parte de todos los que formamos parte de esta pagina web: “church of christ articles” más que agradecidos con usted por haber estado visitando nuestra web durante este año. Han sido más de quinientas mil palabras que se han escrito durante todo el año en  nuestros artículos con el único fin de poder ayudarle a usted un poco más, y de poder además animarle. Son trescientos sesenta y cinco días al año, cada uno de ellos con buenas y malas experiencias. Estoy seguro que estamos muy agradecidos con el Señor por tantas buenas cosas que sucedieron en este año en nuestras vidas,  tal vez; en este año usted encontró a su media naranjada, o fue celebrada su boda, o nació su hijo (a) o quizás encontró en buen empleo. Cualquiera que sea el caso, contamos con mucho entusiasmo esas bendiciones pero… Como Job preguntó hace unos cuantos miles de años atrás “…Recibimos el bien de parte de Dios, ¿y no recibiremos también el mal?…” (Job 2:10 RV2015).  Es fácil reconocer que este hombre como quizás muchas personas hoy no tenía una idea muy clara de Dios. En la declaración anterior él asume que el mal también proviene de Dios, sin embargo nosotros sí tenemos toda la revelación completa y solamente basta echar un ojo en Sant 1:17 para entender que Dios origina lo bueno únicamente y que lo malo no proviene de El, aunque en muchas veces El permite (que es muy diferente) que sucedan cosas malas para poner a prueba nuestra fidelidad, y afinar nuestro amor para con nuestro Dios.  Job capítulos más tardes logra observar el cuadro más correctamente: “De oídas había oído de ti pero ahora mis ojos te ven” (Job 42:5 RV2015).  Sabe algo respetado amigo, a nosotros  muchas veces nos cuesta ser agradecido con Dios en todo tiempo. No se que haya sido lo peor que haya pasado usted en este año: tal vez la muerte de un ser querido, o una separación de su pareja, o no sé quizás lo corrieron del trabajo o peor aún no tiene uno. Al menos quien escribe puede decir que los ministros cristianos muchas veces pasamos por situaciones tremendas de desesperación, angustias, amarguras y para ser honesto hasta de dejar el ministerio (no puedo mentir). Pero cada cristiano debería de estar agradecido con el Señor por cada una de estas tremendas situaciones en las que nos entramos,  y note que digo cristianos, y la razón  es porque somos los únicos con la capacidad de ver lo positivo en lo negativo. Cristo pudo ver vida abundante para miles y miles con su muerte, y sus seguidores también vamos aprendiendo a poder ver vida en la muerte en todo sentido.

Senor, Dame Paciencia.

Senor, Dame Paciencia.

En Santiago 1:3 la versión más popular entre nosotros Reina Valera 1960 dice: “sabiendo que la prueba de vuestra fe, produce paciencia”(énfasis mío añadido HLM), y es una lástima que muchas veces no podamos apreciar más a fondo el verdadero sentido de este pasaje tan corto pero tan poderoso. Tal vez estemos tentados a pensar que paciencia es cuando voy al banco y estoy haciendo fila con paciencia en el sentido de estar pasivo. La palabra que se encuentra resaltada como “paciencia” es “hypome” en el idioma original. Bien, la raíz etimológica de este sustantivo es hupomeno y  es una palabra que aparece unas 32 veces en el N.T, al parecer de uso bastante común. El significado alude a algo como: constancia, resistencia. También en el N.T es una característica muy remarcada en alguien que no es movido del propósito que deliberadamente ha decidido escoger, y que su lealtad y fe no cambian aún en los más altos sufrimientos, alguien que soporta, alguien que al mismo tiene se sustenta. Es la misma palabra griega que fue traducida en Lucas 8:15 como perseverancia. ¿Esto nos gusta, no? Todos queremos aguantar como guerreros de Cristo, soportar todos los embates, ser sustentados por el Señor, como dicen en mi pueblo: ser un roble, pero para Dios, permita sugerirle que no existe otra manera de lograr esto si antes no pasamos por las pruebas. He estado en clases bíblicas y sermones incluso sobre este tema pero parece que la parte de las pruebas se ha visto siempre como en un tono negativo y hay que evitarlo, sabe para que Cristo resucitara con poder y con gloria primero tenía que pasar por la vergüenza  y deshonra de morir en la cruz, me llama la atención como el escritor de los Hebreos dice que “por el gozo que tenía delante de El, fue a la cruz” (Heb.12:1-2). Considero que hay que deteneos de pedir siempre al Padre que nos saque de las tribulaciones… porque eso no va a suceder, de hecho deberíamos de pedir al Padre más bien que nos ayude a ser firmes en medio de las tribulaciones, que nos ayude a nunca negar su nombre, que fortalezca nuestras espíritu para nunca salirnos del camino aún si tenemos que ir gateando pero que podamos andar en ese camino, debemos de pedir al Padre que a travez de su providencia nos envíe a los hombres  correctos para llorar sobre ellos y que nuestros oídos puedan escuchar la voces más sabias en medio de la angustia ¿Pero que tiene que ver todo esto con el titulo de arriba? !No te rindas!, esa es la clave de todo y yo añadiría ¡POR FAVOR JAMAS, JAMAS TE RINDAS!. El hermano Bod  Spurlin talentoso predicador del evangelio, sufrió una tremenda crisis de esclerosis multiple, así que después de predicar por 30 años ahora su trabajo comienza a limitarse a un bastón, luego una silla de ruedas y por último a una cama de hospital. Aún estando en el hospital el hermano escribió tres libros y cuando se le preguntó como podia estar tan radiante con tantas discapacidades y tantos problemas de salud el hermano respondió: “mi enfermedad nunca ha tocado mi corazón”.  Amigo mío esa es la clave, nunca se rinda. La audiencia de Pablo en Hechos 14 lo dejó medio muerto,  ¿y que hizo? ¿fue a la corte y los demandó? se puso de pie y volvió a ingresar a la misma ciudad… ¡que determinación, que valentía, que perseverancia…! sin embargo al pedir que se le quitara el aguijón de la carte también se le dijo lo mismo que se nos dice a nosotros: “bástate de mi gracia porque mi poder se perfecciona en las debilidades”  (2Co.12:9). Como Pablo, como Cristo jamás se dé usted por vencido, no siempre vamos a ganar todas las batallas y hay que saber aceptar cuando hemos perdido, sin embargo es muy diferente a abandonar el campo de batalla y salir corriendo desesperadamente, desanímese no importa, llore si es necesario pero no tire la toalla no huya porque su enemigo no tiene intenciones de huir. Enfrentemos nuestros temores nuestros proyectos y planes para este nuevo año, agradezcamos a Dios por cada momento bonito pero también estemos agradecidos con el Señor por cada escenario horrendo que vendrá (y vaya que si vendrán) porque es la única manera para poder pulirnos como el oro y para poder traer gloria al Señor. Hay una razón bastante concreta del porque no debemos nunca de darnos por vencidos, el apóstol Pablo escribe: “No nos cansemos, pues, de hacer bien; porque a su tiempo segaremos, si no desmayamos.” (Gálatas 6:9). El cielo es suyo y mío solo si no, nos damos por vencidos.  

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Man Made Stories?

Man Made Stories

It is fashionable in certain circles to assume that the Bible is but a collection of man-made stories, crafted from whole cloth, for the purpose of imparting a particular philosophy, or in order to stir up certain emotions.

The Bible isn't stories, but rather History recorded by God.

The Bible isn’t stories, but rather History recorded by God.

By such a reckoning, the only value of the Bible is in its ability to encourage people to be nice to one another through the creation of a community of like minded individuals. But, also by such a reckoning, one should not take the Bible too seriously; at least no more seriously than any other made-up story. It is placed on the same level as books such as the Quran, or old myths, such as those from Greece.

This attitude, so prevalent in our modern culture, is not new. We can see evidences of it throughout the history of the church. Over time, men have frequently added their own stories, interpretations and explanations to the sacred page, giving their fictions the same weight as sacred edict. When we observe religious leaders who feel quite comfortable making whatever alterations they desire to the Bible message in order to conform its words to their own opinions or desires, we can know that we are observing a person who does not take the Bible seriously.

If the Bible were only a collection of myths, then it is true that men have the right to change it however they want to suit themselves. But the problem with this sort of mentality is that it ignores the manner in which the message of the Gospel of Christ is grounded in actual historical events. If the Bible is historically accurate then it moves beyond myth, and becomes something far more profound.

Peter recognized the importance of this fact, and the inclination of some to doubt the message, when he reminded his readers of the nature of his testimony: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18; ESV)

This question of the historical reality of Christianity is one that is central to the discussion of the faith, and it really boils down to a single question: did Jesus rise from the dead, or did He not?

Nor does the Bible itself shy away from the importance of this question. The apostle Paul argued in his epistle to the Corinthians: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14; NKJV)

Paul did not write this because he had any doubts about the historicity of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Concerning the risen Lord, Paul had evidence, the evidence of eye-witnesses. As he would write, the risen Jesus “was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also.” (1 Corinthians 15:5-7; NKJV)

So convicted was Paul by what he had seen and heard, he changed his life, giving up all that he had once held precious, facing poverty, persecution and ridicule – just so he could share with people the reality of a risen Christ. (cf. Philippians 3:7-11)

Nor was Paul alone in this. All of the apostles did the same. We know for a historical fact that these men preached the gospel all across the known world, spreading out from Jerusalem to share a message of a risen savior. We also know that they never benefitted materially from doing so. In fact, they eschewed riches and honor for the sake of sharing their message with as many as possible. They frequently died horrible, violent deaths, but they never recanted the simple facts to which they bore witness: that in the days of Pontius Pilate, a religious figure named Jesus was crucified on a cross, and after three days he rose from the dead.

If Jesus truly rose from the dead, then His testimony concerning spiritual matters, including His own divinity, moves from the realm of opinion, and becomes far more compelling. If a man can rise from the dead, just as he himself predicted, the pronouncements of that man concerning life after death, how to avoid judgment, and all the rest must be taken seriously. There are good reasons to trust Him and follow Him, that we too might share in the resurrection He promised. Paul’s reasoning in this matter is quite sound.

If the claims of the apostles were mere fictions, then Christianity is a vain religion, with nothing but false claims and false hope. But if we accept the historical reality of their testimony, a reality attested to in the first century by hundreds of other eyewitnesses, then we must accept that the Gospel is a message that demands our full attention. Indeed, it demands of us the same dedication and sacrifice as that of its original witnesses.

 

 

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Christmas Trees

Christmas Trees

Have you ever stopped to consider the similarities between the life and death of a Christmas tree, as compared to that of a non-Christian? No? Well, perhaps it’s something to not only consider, but to possibly share in some form or fashion with a non-Christian if you have the opportunity this holiday season. Consider…

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

When a tender little baby Christmas tree breaks forth from its earthen womb and begins to grow in the nursery of a Christmas tree farm, great care is taken to nurture, nourish, and protect it so it can grow. This is similar to how a helpless little human baby born in the nursery of a hospital is likewise looked after and cared for.

As the helpless little Christmas tree eventually begins to grow stronger, straighter, and up through its green, pristine, “sapling-hood,” after a while a very terrible and life-stealing event occurs to it. Suddenly, one day, it is tragically and in an instant severed from its life-giving trunk and roots, by the ripping force of a mighty chainsaw! Balance is now totally lost, and since the tree can no longer stand before the sun, it comes crashing down – and great and painful is it’s crushing fall from its pure and lofty, sunlit heights above, to the deadly, dirty, tangled depths below…

This is similar to what happens as a human being grows up, goes through childhood, and eventually reaches what we refer to as the ‘age of accountability,’ suddenly one day sinning, and at that moment, instantly losing the innocence and purity they previously had before almighty God. At that terribly tragic moment, sin immediately severs their relationship with God, just as surely as a great and mighty chainsaw rips through and severs the tree from its life-supplying and supporting roots!

From that moment on, existence for the Christmas tree is one wild and exciting, but at the same time, painful and tumultuous ride. Bound by strong cords and unceremoniously dumped onto the back end of a flat-bed semi-truck amongst hundreds of other similar trees now separated from their life-giving roots as well, the tree is soon exposed to things it never dreamed of. Interstate highways, high-beam headlights, and big city high-rises all come and go by with blurring speed, as the huge diesel engine up front powers the trees through the darkness to be delivered to market.

And while all of the excitement, new experiences, and never-before-seen world might be enough to make the little tree actually forget for a time, that from the very moment it fell, it’s severed state of existence was actually fatal and its destruction determined, sadly, this whole ride is all due to its now ‘fallen state,’ the inevitable results of which will be a very painful, burning, and fiery end. Even when our now-fallen tree is finally unbound, stood up, later further examined, purchased, re-bound, taken home, given help to stand, and covered and surrounded with glitz, glitter, lights, presents, ornaments and glamour, it doesn’t change in the slightest, the fact that it is now – and has been since the very moment of its fall – a dead tree, severed from life, and destined for destruction when “the day” comes.

People are all too often like that as well. Once they’ve been cut down by sin, severed and separated from the God who is life (Isa. 59:1-2) and have fallen from their pure, innocent, and pristine position before Him, all too many of them allow the ride they’re on to blur the reality of the fact that they are, from that moment on, dead in their sins, alienated and separated from God by them (Eph. 2:1-3, 11-12), and headed for a very painful and fiery eternity – not end, for there is none, where “Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (See: Mk. 9:43-50). It does not matter how many stunningly beautiful awards, amazing achievements, or incredible accolades one may come to be adorned with in this life; how much gold, silver, glitz or glitter they may have amassed around themselves in the process; or how pricy, precious or popular they may have seemed to the people who surrounded them with ‘stars in their eyes’ and love in their hearts; the bottom line is, that once “the day” arrives, their story is the same.

When “the day” comes this year, the same as it did last year and the year before, countless Christmas trees will be summarily stripped of all their presents, and shortly thereafter, of all of their lights and ornaments, and then be discarded to be either burned and/or destroyed. But this was the inevitable end determined for them from the very moment they were separated from their life-giving roots and fell to the dirt below.

But thanks be to God, that this is where the similarity ends; that even though from the moment that we as an individual human being first fell, sinned, and was separated from the God of life by our sins (and that the end for all such sinners was already determined – Rom. 6:23), it is not absolutely inevitable or irreversible that all such sinners must perish in such a fiery fashion! For although in God’s plan and purpose dead trees might not be completely restored to thus escape the flames, praise Him that human beings can be! And not only that they can be, but that it was His very plan since before the beginning of time that they should be, could be, and ought to be (Eph. 1:4, 3:8-11)! Almighty God, in His great love, has provided, by and through the blood of His one and only begotten Son, ONE way for the life-giving relationship, once severed, to now be restored for us as human beings, so that those now dead, living under the curse and sentence of eternal fire, destruction, and damnation, don’t have to stay that way if they don’t want to! There is a way – ONE WAY – of renewal, revival, and restoration (Jn. 14:6, 15-24)!

The day is coming. Will you be more like the Christmas tree when it arrives, or would you like to be restored and escape the searing fate of those eternal flames? The day is coming. If you’ve not been restored and reconnected to the God of life through Jesus Christ (Jn. 15:1-14), don’t delay (Hebs. 3:1-19)! Come today! And if you have, then let’s focus on and appreciate His love like never before! Now THAT’s something worth celebrating (Ps. 100)!

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