Friday, December 29, 2006

A Man of Character

Character is defined as the combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person as someone of moral or ethical strength. So a man or woman of character is a man or woman of moral or ethical strength. We read in our history books about people whom were described as having moral or ethical strength. We may wonder, why does it seem that in our time there is none? It seems as everyday the news media has a new scandal of someone whose reputation was above reproach, and suddenly they fall from grace. They have allowed a moral or ethical weakness to destroy their character. This happens at all levels and in all areas of our lives. The cry of all who listen to the news is, “Who can we trust?” There is always a fault, an ulterior motive, a hidden agenda, a conflict of interest and or an unethical behavior. Why do they go wrong?

There is a saying that goes: "Sow a thought, reap an action; Sow an action, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character; Sow a character, reap a destiny." What starts as a little indulgent thought, ends up destroying your life and that of those around you. That is perhaps why someone rephrased this saying as “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” This is a nice thought. However, which one of us can say that we can do this on our own strength. The Bible is clear that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and there is no one righteous, not even one;” Romans 3: 23; 3: 10. Christ said to His disciples “All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean’” Mark 7: 23. Every single one of us is shapen in Sin and conceived in iniquity. Is there any hope?

We look at Joseph? He never stole anything from his boss. When the opportunity to sleep with a beautiful woman arose, he chose to go to jail, rather than sleep with her. While in jail, he was a model prisoner, in fact he was the warden right hand. After he was made prince of Egypt, he was married to the daughter of a pagan priest. He lived among the pagans. He chose not to avenge himself of the treachery made by his brothers. When he revealed his true identity to his brothers he made certain his implicit trust in the God of his father Abraham. Joseph was a man of character. But, how can a man like you and I have so much moral and ethical strength?

Joseph continually chose to yield to God his whole being. He surrendered all to God. God in return gave Joseph a pure mind. God gave to Joseph a heart full of positive attributes, virtues and qualities. God sowed a thought in Joseph’s mind which reaped an action of obedience (listening with a willingness to do), which reaped a habit of listening and yielding, which reaped a virtuous character, which reaped a life that glorified God by displaying moral and ethical strength. Joseph did not have to watch his thoughts, God did that for him. Joseph listened to the Spirit’s prompting and yielded to the Spirit’s leading. Joseph followed Christ advice in John 15,

John 15: 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

The Ethical and moral strength Joseph displayed was the fruit the Spirit bore in him, as he abode in Christ. Where did all these other men who fall from grace go wrong? They tried to do it on their own strength. They did not abide in Christ. They did not yield themselves to the Holy Spirit. They did not depend and trust God as Joseph did. They could have, but chose not to. So, the question for us is this, what are we going to continually choose to yield as Joseph or will we choose as many other men that have to try in their strength?

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Ocassionally, I may skip a week because I am too busy. That is what happened last week. So far, I have not skipped two weeks in a row. I regret to say I have to skip this week also. I am very sorry about this. Two persons that were very close to me died last weekend. This has thrown my whole week off. I deeply regret how this may affect you, who are expecting this weekly commentary. I hope to resume next week. In the meantime, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for the privilege of writing for you every week.

I do have a few thoughts on Joseph. I hope they help. Joseph decided when he was carried away to be faithful to God. But, this was not a one time decision. He continually, decided to follow God and be faithful. He depended on God, and waited for God to fulfill His will in His time and in His way. I pray that Joseph may be an example to us: that we may learn to totally depend on God.

Another, thought is that Joseph was a microcosms of Jesus. He was favored by his Father as Jesus was. He was rejected by his brethren as Jesus was. He was sold for as a slave for money, as Jesus was sold for a few coins by Judas. Joseph forgave those who wronged as Jesus did. You get the picture.

God bless all of you.
Raul Diaz

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Let Go Of The Nuts

People in India catch monkeys by taking a pot that has a narrow neck, and burying it in the ground under a tree where monkeys are jumping and dancing in the treetops. They leave the mouth open, sticking out of the ground four or five inches. Then they put nuts in it. The monkey finds them, puts its hand in the jar, gets a big fist full of nuts, and then tries to pull it out. But the fist won't come out because it's full of nuts. The monkey would be sitting there all night long trying to pull his fist filled with nuts. In the morning the monkey catcher walks us casually and putting a noose around the monkey's neck, taps on his hand and drags him away. The monkey, whose nature is to be completely free, to be playing on the treetops and walking around carefree, ends up in a cage, just because the monkey didn't let go. All the monkey had to do was, let go of those nuts.

You may find it easy to scoff at these creatures for not being wise enough to let go of what is entrapping them. Are we any different than they are? Are we letting those things that we love entrap us, and by doing so we not only lose our freedom, but our lives and our salvation? Just as the monkeys, appetite is a big issue for us.

Let's consider Esau. Let us read from Genesis 25: 29-34

Genesis 25: 29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
Genesis 25: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
Genesis 25: 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
Genesis 25: 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
Genesis 25: 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
Genesis 25: 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

In order to satisfy his hunger, Esau despised and sold to his cunning brother what could have been the source of a future filled with blessings and plenty. Instead he chose to fill his belly in the moment. This type of action showed how Esau lacked principles and instead lived a life full indulging in whatever pleased him in the moment. We shall see that the "the fruit does not fall far from the tree." Esau probably learned this from his father, for you see, " Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison" (Genesis 25: 28).

So much he loved his favorite son's venison that he chose to rebel against God's word that Jacob should be the one to receive the birthright blessing (Genesis 25: 23). We read in Genesis 27: 1-4,

Genesis 27:1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.
Genesis 27:2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:
Genesis 27:3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;
Genesis 27:4 And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.

Isaac offered his blessing to his favored son in exchange for a venison stew; a blessing that Esau had despised earlier, when he sold his birthright to Jacob. Isaac was not as soon to die as he said. As we read further in Genesis, it must have been more than twenty years before his death. Thus, although we cannot prove it, we could conclude, that this was a ploy from Isaac to eat venison. This was a little indulgence that ends up going awry, since Isaac ate goat, not venison, and gave the blessing to Jacob. (This does not excuse Rebekah and Jacob's actions. Although they had good intentions – fulfilling God's will - they did it using their own methods, instead of depending on God to do it.) Isaac's unwillingness to obey God's word ended in a disrupted family: two siblings separated by hatred and fear and a mother in sorrow for her son's departure.

Indulgence in appetite was the first battle Jesus won against the Devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4: 1-4). By allowing the Holy Spirit to conquer His appetite, Jesus was able to live a life of discipline, principle and in line with the will of God. This is where Adam and Eve failed. On the contrary, this is where Daniel and his friends were victorious. Unlike the monkeys, Daniel, his friends, and Jesus did not go in the jar. Adam, Eve, Isaac and Esau did go in the jar, and would not let go of the nuts. You may be saying to yourself, "my hand is already in the jar and as much as I would like to, I will not let go of the nuts, I do not want to." You have no power to do this on your own. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that you can let go of the nuts and release your hand from the jar. The question is: will you choose to let Him?
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Friday, December 01, 2006

Unequal Yoke

Unequal Yoke

Richard stayed in school after work very late to study for his test on Marriage and Family.  His classmate, Hank, was their also.  They talked for a few minutes about their class and decided to leave.  Hank realized that Richard was on public transportation, so he offered Richard a ride in car.  Richard readily agreed.  The conversation continued in the car and eventually it shifted into the importance of avoiding unequal yokes.  ("Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14.)  Richard, feeling very strong about it said, "Under no circumstance should any Christian marry someone outside of their faith – that is what Paul is talking about."  Hank looked at Richard with a mischievous smile, and said, "You do not have any clue, do you?"  Puzzled, Richard answered softly, "what?  What are you talking about?"  Hank continued to smile quietly, as in deep thought.   Then he started to speak, "I will tell you a story.  A friend of mine, who also goes to my church, bought a radio station.  He wants to use it for ministry purposes.  He bought it with a partner who wants to use it to make money.  My friend now is at a quandary."  Richard asked in amazement, "What is your friend going to do?"  Hank answered, "He has been trying to convince his partner.  But, his partner won't have it.  He said the money is an investment, and he expects a profit.  They have fought over this.  My friend can barely sleep with stress.  This dilemma is driving him to depression.  In fact, it is now affecting his marriage.  His wife is starting to question whether she married the right man."  Richard asked, "What?"  Hank nodded and continued to say, "So you see, unequal yokes are more than just about marriage."  Richard replied, "Wow, I have a lot to think about."

In simple terms a yoke is something that connects or joins together.  However, the expression is derived from farming.  In this context a yoke is a crossbar with two U-shaped pieces that encircle the necks of a pair of oxen or other draft animals working together*.  The idea is that they will go in the same direction at the same speed.  The two beasts work together doing the same job.  The job requires the two; one cannot do its own.  But, what happens when the beasts want to go at different speed?  What happens if one beast will not walk and the other will?  What happens when one beast wants to go in a different direction?    Not only will they both suffer, but also the job that brought the two beasts together will not get done. 

Abraham wanted to make sure Isaac was equally yoked.  So he sent his servant Eliezer to find an equally yoke wife for his son.  He wanted someone for his son that was willing to walk by Faith with the Lord as he and Sarah did.  We read in Genesis 24: 2-4,

Genesis 24: 2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
Genesis 24: 3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
Genesis 24: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.

Notice that Abraham sent someone he trusted, from among his own people.  He sent someone equally yoked with him to find an equally yoked wife for his son, Isaac.  Abraham also did this when he rescued Lot from those who invaded Sodom.  He did not entrust or recruit anyone from the surrounding pagan communities to rescue his nephew.  He mounted and armed his own equally yoked men to go on this rescue mission (Genesis 14: 14-16). 

Abraham trusted God in providing men for war.  Abraham trusted the Lord in providing a good "match-maker."  Abraham trusted God that the woman God chose through Eliezer would be equally yoked with Isaac.  Are we also praying and trusting God to provide equally yoked partners for all of our life endeavors?  Maybe we should. 

Raul Diaz

*When Christ says in Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you…" He means that one of the U-shaped bars is on His neck, and you are to put the other U-shaped bar on your neck.  So you walk in unity with Him. 


Friday, November 24, 2006

He Who Makes The Promise Fulfills It

He Who Makes The Promise Fulfills It

The poem "Footprints in the Sand" was allegedly written in 1963 by Carolyn Joyce Carty.  Many have read and have been inspired by the words of this poem.  Indeed, it brings a vivid picture of how our Christian walk should be.  In the poem, if you recall, a man dreams that he is walking along a beach with Christ.  At one point he looks back and notices that the prints in the sand go along with his life.  He also notices that at some points of his life there are two sets of footprints, and at others there is one set.  As he studies this pattern he discovers that it is at the most trying moments of his life that he sees only one set of footprints.  Disturbed by this discovery he asks Jesus about it, "You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always.  But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.  Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?"  Then the Lord replied, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you."  Do we ever doubt that God will not fulfill what He promises to us?  In our human sinful condition it is nothing but natural to do so.  However, as we walk with the Lord, we should be increasingly finding out that He who makes the promise fulfills it.

This means that we do not have to help the Lord to fulfill His promise.  Consider Abram, when he and Sarai doubted the word of the Lord, they decided to take matters in their own hands by following the logic of the law of the land.  Hence, Abram sires Ishmael, and with it our current middle east problems.  It is true, that at first the promise seems to involve Abram only.  In Genesis 12:7 he says to Abram, "Unto thy seed will I give this land."  In Genesis 15:1-4 Abram meets the Lord again confirming what HE had to Abram in Genesis 12.  Let us read in Genesis 15,

Genesis 15: 1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
Genesis 15: 2 And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
Genesis 15: 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
Genesis 15: 4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.

The promise again is directed to Abram.  But, was the law of God different in Abram's age than it is in our day.  Were Abram and Sarai ignorant of "thou shall not commit adultery?"  Sister White says of this in Patriarchs and Prophets,

Abraham had accepted without question the promise of a son, but he did not wait for God to fulfill His word in His own time and way. A delay was permitted, to test his faith in the power of God; but he failed to endure the trial. Thinking it impossible that a child should be given her in her old age, Sarah suggested, as a plan by which the divine purpose might be fulfilled, that one of her handmaidens should be taken by Abraham as a secondary wife. Polygamy had become so widespread that it had ceased to be regarded as a sin, but it was no less a violation of the law of God, and was fatal to the sacredness and peace of the family relation. Abraham's marriage with Hagar resulted in evil, not only to his own household, but to future generations (Patriarchs and Prophets Page 145).

Perhaps, so that there were no more misunderstandings, the Lord decided to make it clear to Abraham that "…Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed…" (Genesis 17:19).  After this there is no more guess work from the newly called Abraham and Sarah.  They wait for the Lord to fulfill His promise.  What about you?  Are you waiting for the Lord to fulfill His promise?  Are you still conjecturing or speculating about what God has promised you?  Are you still guessing, "Is this what God meant?"  Are you still offering God some help?  Let this Abraham and Sarah story be an example to you.  When God makes a promise, He fulfills it in His time and in His way.  When God starts something, He sees it through and finishes it.  Through Isaac, the Lord brought laughter to Abraham and Sarah.  I pray you allow the Lord do the same with you. 

Raul Diaz

Friday, November 17, 2006

Agape: A Love That Is Interested In Others

A ship wrecked in near the coast of an island. Only two men – Harold and Tom - survived. They were able to swim there way to a nearby desolate island. After negotiating what they would do, they decided they would split the island in half and each one would stay in their own half of the island. It was rough for them, so each decided to pray. Immediately, Harold started receiving answers to his prayers. He found food easily, but Tom did not. Harold was able to build a nice hut, Tom could not. Feeling lonely, Harold had prayed for a female companion. Soon, another shipwreck happened, a woman survived and swam to Harold's side of the island. Tom remained alone. Hoping to start a new life with his new companion Harold prayed for a way out of the Island. The next day a wandering boat showed off the coast of the island by Harold's side. Harold and his female companion swam to the boat and they sailed off. Tom was too tired to swim, and Harold offered him no help. As they sailed off, Harold offers thanks to God. Then God responded to Harold, "Why did you leave Tom?" Harold answered, "I do not want to be with Tom, you did not bless him and answered his prayers." God then told Harold, "Actually, I answered all his prayers. He prayed that all your prayers would be answered." Harold's only interest was himself. He only loved himself. Tom however, had interest in others. He loved with agape -God's unconditional love. It is a love that is interested in others.

The story of Abram and Lot is similar. We read in Genesis 13 that Abram and Lot had too many possessions to live together in the land. Not only did they have too many possessions, but also they had too many servants. Tension was mounting. Finally, the tension erupted into a fight (Genesis 13:7). Abram loved his nephew. He did not want any ill feelings between the two. He probably did not want to let his beloved nephew go, but it was evident that they had to part ways (Genesis 13:6). So he told Lot in Genesis 3: 8-9,

Genesis 3: 8 "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
Genesis 3: 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

Lot revealed what was in his heart: himself. Abram thought about his nephew's well being. As Paul says in Philippians 2:4, "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Lot thought of his own well-being. He chose what seemed to be the best land. We read in Genesis 13: 10 – 11:

10And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
11Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

The author of the lesson states that Abram showed nobility of character in his dealings with Lot. From the heights of Bethel Lot saw the Jordan Valley, well watered and fertile like the Garden of Eden and the plains of Mesopotamia. Lot chose that which appealed to his sense of immediate gain; little did Lot realize what his choice would cost him. The decision was between "faith" and "sight," and the results demonstrate the wisdom of making the right choice. Abram's close relationship with the Lord and his determination to walk by faith enabled him to look beyond the immediate temporal advantages to eternal gain.

Abram's dealings also showed agape. By letting Lot choose first, Abram showed no ulterior motive. And, although Abram let Lot live with the consequences of his choice, he did not stop caring for his nephew. When Abram found out that those who attacked Sodom took Lot with them, he immediately, " armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. (Genesis 14: 14 – 16).

Many of us in that situation would have probably thought, "As much as it pains me, Lot got what he deserved." Then proceed to do nothing about it, justifying ourselves by thinking, "we should not put ourselves in harms way to rescue Lot." But, agape does not act in this selfish and self-interested manner. God did not spare His own Son (Romans 8:32), but delivered Him for all of us. And, He did so while we were yet His enemies. We read in Romans 5: 5 – 8,

Romans 5: 5 …the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Romans 5: 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5: 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
Romans 5: 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The problem is that we are incapable of loving as God loves, unless God sheds His Holy Spirit unto our hearts. Outside of this we will only care for ourselves and those that we like. It is only as we continually choose to let God's indwelling Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts that we will be able to agape. It is by this Godly love that the world will know that we are His disciples (John 13:35). It is this love that will make us be willing to die even for those who we believe do not deserve mercy from us. It is this love that will make us able to truly have interest in others. This love is a gift. Will you be willing to accept it?

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Evolution versus Creation

Evolution versus Creation

Many soldiers that served in the Second World War (WW2) carried cameras.  Of course, they took pictures at every opportunity they had.  Perhaps what we can witness now of WW2 came out of the cameras of one of these soldiers. Many of the sad realities of war were printed on the film of who knows how many cameras.  After the war was over, it is said that a General approached some soldiers who were witnessing the bodies and corpses of Holocaust Jews, and allegedly said, "Boys, take pictures of what you see today.  Make sure that in the future no one will forget.  I believe in the future many will deny this ever happened.  Your pictures will speak out against them."  The General was right.  Many revisionists now claim that the Holocaust either never happened or was not as bad as it was reported.  Many claim the photos were fabrications for propaganda.  However, the pictures speak louder than their words.  (Not all revisionism is bad.  Some of it has brought truth to light.)

Years after the flood many doubted the account as truthful.  Sister White says that many of the dwellers of the pain of Shinar "denied the existence of God and attributed the Flood to the operation of natural causes. Others believed in a Supreme Being, and that it was He who had destroyed the antediluvian world…" (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 119).  These "revisionists" joined those who wanted to build the Tower of Babel.  Two of the reasons for building the Tower were, so that the "top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4).  Indeed, "The whole undertaking was designed to exalt still further the pride of its projectors and to turn the minds of future generations away from God and lead them into idolatry"  (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 119). 

Our generation is no different.  Perhaps the author of the lesson describes our generation best,

"Science has proposed a geological interpretation that favors long ages, rather than a sudden catastrophe like the Flood, to account for the surface condition of the earth. In other words, things just keep on as they have before; many of the massive canyons and rock formations didn't come, we are told, by some sudden catastrophe but simply were the result of things continuing as they were from the beginning of creation; they're there only from a long uniform progression of events." 

Many disbelieve that anything can be created or "made of things which do appear" (Hebrews 11:3).  The also believe that for creation to be true it must be immediate.  But, they do not believe in immediate creation, so therefore they do not believe in a God that can create things immediately and out of things not previously seen.  They decry the flood as a myth or fable.  Perhaps these are part of the people Peter talks about in 2 Peter 3: 4,

2 Peter 3: 4  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

The evolutionists are akin the WW2 revisionists. The revisionists say, "The Holocaust did not happened," and the evolutionists say, "The Flood never happened."  Are you an evolutionist or a creationist?  A creationist believes that the Word of God has power to create.  A creationist believes Jesus is God and that when He spoke "the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."  So, Christ was God in the flesh and His words had power to create.  When Christ spoke a miracle it happened, immediately.  When Christ said to anyone "your faith has saved you," this was true immediately.  When Christ said to anyone, "Your Sins are forgiven," it was true immediately.  This is what a Creationist believes. 

Are you a creationist?  Do you believe that the Word of God says to you that "your Sins are forgiven?"   You have read your Bible you are a Christian and a creationist your answer is, "Yes.  The Bible does say that."    Do you believe the Word of God speaks to you?  Again, you are a Christian and a Creationist, you say, "Yes, the Bible speaks to me."  Now, do you believe that if God in His Word tells you right now, "your Sins are forgiven," at this very moment you are forgiven?  Now watch it, you said that the Word of God is life, and when this Word is said it is true immediately.  An evolutionist does not believe the Word of God is true, let alone immediately. 

This is a matter to be considered prayerfully.  Many doubt the Word of God, while claiming to live by it.  Those that do are revisionists and evolutionists.  But, there is hope.  We all have been revisionists and evolutionists.  Consider the helpless and hopeless father of the demon possessed child in Mark 9.  He pleads with Jesus in verse 22, "if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us."  The "if" does not show much belief or faith.  Christ knowing this, answers to the man in verse 23, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."  The father realizing his weakness casts himself upon the mercy of Jesus and cries out to Him in verse 24, "… Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." 

Let this father be an example to all of us when we feel helpless and hopeless or when sorrow and guilt weight us down.  When it is hard to believe and easy to lack faith, let this father's story, help us all remember, that Jesus does not cast us away. That is, however, if we look at Jesus and not ourselves or those around us, if we cast ourselves at the mercy of Jesus, He will receive us as He received this father.  If only we, as this man, confess our weakness and our need, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

Raul Diaz

Friday, November 03, 2006

Walking with God

Walking with God

Every day hundreds of thousands of individuals leave their homes very early in the morning to rush to their places of employments.  Many drive, and others take public transportation.  Those taking public transportation may have to walk a certain distance from their bus stop, train stop or station to the actual place of employment.  You will see them walking along each other in the same direction and at the same speed.  Some will probably be going to the same office, store, restaurant, etc.  They will arrive at the same time for the same purpose – to work.  However, they were not walking together.  Unless, there was an agreement between the two or more parties that this would be there plan, they are just walking along each other, not together. 

When a visually impaired person walks with someone there is normally an understanding: the one that can see well will lead the other who cannot.  The one leading must be careful to not rush the follower: do not push or pull.  While holding the guide's arm, the blind person walks just a half step behind his guide.  The guide should describe the surroundings, and give instructions so the follower knows what to do beforehand.  For example: "We are stopping," "We are turning right," "There is a step ahead," etc.  The visually impaired person should trust whoever is guiding him.  In fact, the visually impaired person should only listen to and follow his guide, only.  If the visually impaired person lets go of his guides arm, he may get lost and not be close enough to hear his guide's voice. 

The Bible says that Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9).  How could Noah walk with someone He could not see?  This is simple, "We walk by faith and not by sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7.  In this case, Noah is the blind person who needs the help of the Holy Spirit to guide Him through the spiritual aspect of life because Noah cannot see beyond the physical realm.  In order for this to happen the Holy Spirit leads Noah – not push or rush.  Noah listens to and follows the Holy Spirit.  Noah goes at the same speed and in the same direction of the Spirit, just as any blind person being guided.  Noah is walking just half a step behind the Holy Spirit and holding His arm.   When Noah let go of the Holy Spirit's arm, he got lost, listened to other voices and got drunk (Genesis 9:21).  Thankfully, God in His mercy did not give up on Noah.  He continued to call on Noah and offering His arm so that Noah could follow Him again. 

The Apostle Paul admonishes to walk with God also, because, just as Noah, we are to walk by Faith and not be sight.  Paul says in Romans 10:17,

Romans 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We are to be close enough to hear the Word.  The Holy Spirit cannot be any closer to us than He ought to be for He dwell in us.  Paul again says in Romans,

Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Romans 8:10  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Romans 8:11  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

If we allow the Indwelling Spirit of God dwell in us, then we will walk with God as Noah did.  However, if we reject His loving provision, we will again stumble in the darkness of this world.  Will you admit to your blindness and accept the Spirit's guidance, or will stay in denial and continue to stumble? 

Raul Diaz

Friday, October 27, 2006




How many words are in the English Language?  It is hard to say for certain.   The English language is constantly borrowing words from other languages and creating new ones as Technology and Science advances.  If the amount of entries in a Dictionaries is a good measure, the total number of words may vary from 500,000 words to a million.   However, it is estimated that the average college graduate knows no more than 25,000 words.  In other words, those without college education are very likely to know less than that amount.   This means that we could estimate that the average person knows less than 5% of the words in the English language. 


Somehow after the excitement of learning how to speak, we stop learning new words.  And, when we try to learn knew words it is very hard to do so.   But, perhaps we have forgotten how we use to do it when we are mere infants, absorbing everything around us.   When a child learns a word, he constantly repeats it and finds different ways to use the word until (s)he makes it his or her own.   Perhaps we should follow how their example.  Let us start today.  Today's word is abased.   The definition of abase is to lower physically, in rank, office, prestige, or esteem.  As babies do, we will use this word in several sentences to learn it and make it ours.   Let's see how we can apply this word to this week's lesson.


  1. The Devil abased himself and the angels that followed him so much they had to be thrown out of Heaven (Revelation 12:9).
  2. When Adam fell he abased the whole human race with him (Romans 5:17 - 19).
  3. Cain's attitude of self-righteousness led him to abase himself so much he killed his own brother (Genesis 4: 8).  
  4. Soon, Cain's descendants would abase themselves into immoral behavior, such as polygamy, murder, etc (Genesis 4: 17-24).
  5. The whole pre-Flood world would abase itself into so much immorality God had to destroy them with a flood (Genesis 6: 1 – 8).
  6. The Bible tells the story of how humanity has rejected God, and in so doing they have abased themselves so low, they killed the Son of God.
  7. But, God gave us hope, by sending His Son (John 3:16).  Christ abased Himself in becoming Sin for us (Romans 8:3), so the world could be saved from eternal death. 
  8. Because of this, we have no excuse for abasing ourselves unto eternal death.   If we by Faith choose Christ as our personal Savior, we will be uplifted into His Righteousness ( 2 Corinthians 5:21).  
  9. Those who reject the gift of Salvation will continue to abase themselves; only eternal death will be their reward (Romans 6:23; Revelation 14: 9 -11).  

Will you let Him uplift you from your abasement? 

Raul Diaz

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Just Rest

Just Rest


Whose Seventh Day was it: God's or Adam's?  Adam was created the sixth day.  Some believe he was created in the afternoon, and that Eve was created maybe a little after that.   So they spent Sabbath together.  Sabbath was their first day.  Sabbath was God's seventh day.   God was around for the whole week – all seven days.  Adam and Eve appeared in the scene just before the sunset of the sixth day.  So, again, Sabbath was Adam and Eve's 1 st day. 


What are the implications of this?  For starters, time should always be measured from God's perspective not ours.   This is true for all reality.  We are at best subjective creatures.  We always see things from where we stand and filter all that we perceive through our own experience and autobiography.   One event always has different accounts and explanations as to what happened, how it happened, and why it happened.  But, God being the all knowing, all powerful, and Supreme Being that He is, can see things as they truly are.  


Another implication is the relationship of work and rest.  By this I mean when should we rest, before or after we work?   Many will say that it should be after we work, because it is when we would be tired.  What could have Adam and Eve been resting from on the Seventh day?   They had existed only a few hours.  God wanted them to share His rest with them, even if they had not done anything to finish or desist from exertion.   So, God works first then He rests.  And, man rests first than he works.  Spiritually this is true for all men.   When we come to Christ we find rest in Him; then as we rest in Him, the works of love - agape - flow out of us.  During the creation week God's work of agape came first than He rested.   So, God rests because He's done.  We rest because we start in Him.


When God finished His work there was nothing else to add.  Genesis 1: 31 says, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day."  So God celebrated by resting the Seventh Day.   Adam and Eve celebrated with God.  So, the Sabbath was a reward for God, but a gift to Adam and Eve.  All that God gives to us is a gift - the Sabbath included.  Salvation is by grace - unmerited favor, or an undeserved gift.  Responding with gratitude for all things God gives us, including the Sabbath, is Faith.   Without Faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). 


If it is God's seventh day, then keep it as He wants it kept.  After all we cannot enter the Sabbath rest until we enter the rest in Christ.   We read about this in Hebrews 4: 1-10:


Hebrews 4: 1Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.

Hebrews 4: 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

Hebrews 4: 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' "  And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.

Hebrews 4: 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."

Hebrews 4: 5And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."

Hebrews 4: 6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.

Hebrews 4: 7 Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

Hebrews 4: 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.

Hebrews 4: 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;

Hebrews 4: 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.


Resting on the Sabbath, without entering first Christ's rest is not only worthless, it is impossible.   However, we have then no excuse to not enter Christ's rest before we attempt to enter the Sabbath rest.   Christ gives us His invitation in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."   Has God not finish His work of legal, corporate and objective redemption already.  Revelation 13: 8 says that the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."  Hebrews 4:3 confirms it, "his work has been finished since the creation of the world."   Did Jesus not say the Words just before he died on the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30)?  What else can we add?   For if His creation was "very good", then so should have been His redemption work.  For it was done through the same love and power.   There is nothing for us to add.  Give to Jesus your fears and burdens, then take His rest with you.  Only then will you be able to rest on His Seventh Day.     

Raul Diaz

Friday, October 13, 2006

Creationism in the DL

Creationism in the DL


Susan Smith's health had been in decline for the last few months.  She could not explain herself why, since she took care of herself.   She ate and drank well, she worked out, and she rested plenty.  She especially was concerned about some lesions in her mouth.   She went to a doctor.  The triage nurse looked at her, and said to her as she walked out of the room, "I am going for the Doctor I'll be right back."   The Doctor checked her mouth and throat.  He asked her, "By any chance have you been tested for HIV."   She said, "No.   Why?"  Those Lesions look like KS or Kaposi's sarcoma.  And you have candidiasis in your throat.  Those are common symptoms of AIDS.  Let's get you tested to make sure.  And, I will admit you in the Hospital as soon as possible.   I need you to call someone you trust and that can be supportive.  We will not know for at least three days."  Those three days were like hell to Susan.  


The Doctor asked her husband and any other important people to meet him in her room.    Only Susan's husband was there.   He walked in the room with a woman – a social worker.  He had bad news.  They all started to cry frantically.   "How could this be?" she asked.  "I have not had any transfusions or have been injected with anything," she added.    The woman then asked Susan, "I am very sorry I have to ask you this, Ms Smith, especially in this terrible time.  Have you had any sexual partners other than your husband?"   The Smith's were appalled.  But, the Doctor reassured her that an honest answer was necessary.  "No!" she answered.   At that point the woman asked Susan's husband, "Mr. Smith have you been tested for HIV?"  Mr. Smith was speechless.   He finally asked. "I beg your pardon?"  "Mr. Smith," said the Doctor, "I now it sounds like we are accusing you, but you will understand the severity of this circumstance."   Mr. Smith again was speechless.  However, there was something about his attitude that looked familiar to the Social Worker.  She suspected he was hiding something.   "Mr. Smith, would you rather talk to me in private."  Mr. Smith looked at his wife, told her he was sorry and started to cry.   The social worker turned around to close the room's door.  His wife looked puzzled and asked him, "What's wrong, dear?  What are you sorry about?"   Through his crying he answered, "I've been in the DL."  Susan looked down and started to cry herself.  All she could say was "Why?"  The Doctor asked the Social Worker what is the DL.  The coworker explained to him about a book written a few years ago about men engaging in illicit sexual affairs with other men, while claiming to be happily married.   DL stood for Down-Low – the term that was used to describe these men's behaviors.  While claiming to love their counterparts, they had a preference for their own kind.


There are many who claim to like others but in the end prefer their same kind.  I believe this DL concept can be extended into other areas of life.   For example, People that call themselves Liberals, in social political terms, tend to talk about inclusiveness and decry any practice of exclusivity.   When it comes to racism, they will be the first to condemn, however very rarely, do they actually socialize with others that are not of there race.  In other words, they live in a social political DL, claiming to like all people but preferring and choosing to engage with their own kind.


I see this principle apply also to some of those involved in the creation-evolution debate.  When it comes to the creation-evolution debate, there seems to be three groups.   First, is the creationist group who believe that the account of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 is literal.  Second, is the evolutionist group who believe that believe that the account of evolution is impossible.   The evolutionist group believes that the only way Creation can be true is if things could appear immediately out of nowhere "Hebrews 11:3"; they, evolutionists, do not believe.   Creationists believe the Word of God to be the authority, evolutionist believe Science is the authority. 


The third group would be the Theistic evolution group.  This group believes that the account of Genesis is real to an extent.   They claim to love God and that His Word is true, but they believe Science can explain further what the Bible says.   So they want to please God and man, too.   Theistic evolutionists seem to be pleased with the Bible account, but there is something about the scientific explanation that pleases them more.  So they are quite content of staying in their Scientific-Theological DL.  Perhaps this is a reflection on their Laodicean Spiritual condition (Revelation 3:14-22).


As the author of the Lesson points out, "It is pretty obvious that modern evolutionary theory stands in blatant opposition to the biblical account of Creation. If one is correct, the other has to be wrong. Even more so, the Bible offers no wiggle room for theistic evolution or any theories that seek to integrate a long evolutionary process with the work of God in creating life on earth, especially human life … in the creation of the world, particularly humans, it doesn't appear that God left anything to chance."   But, arguing and debating will not solve the problem of neither DL cases.  Remember the saying, "he who is convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."   It is only the love of God – Agape - that can turn any of us around. 


How can you start loving them?  Pray for them.  They can refute all your clever arguments about geology or biology, but not your prayers.   Next, pray that God will use you to touch them with Agape.  Listen to the Spirit, follow His lead, speak His Words, and act as He leads you.   A word or act of kindness can be more powerful than any argument or sermon preached.  What they need is "Christ and Christ crucified."  But hey may not be ready to hear about Him, until they see Him as a reality in you. 

Raul Diaz

Thursday, September 28, 2006



It was a very dark and cold night.  She had a dim candle to light her way to her bed.  In her days, the floors were bare ground covered with hay, which meant her feet were dirty before she went to bed.    By the side of her bed there was a little bowl with water.  She sat by the bed, placed her feet on the cold water, and proceeded to wash them.  Immediately, she dried them with a small towel she had by a table - where she had placed the candle.  As soon as she dried her feet she put them in the bed, she blew off the candle, and then she put the heavy blankets over her whole body.  After a few minutes, she felt comfortable and warm.  Her body started to feel rested, and she started to feel the heaviness in her eyes.  As soon as her eyes were closed with sleep, she heard the knock at the door.  Her Beloved Lover wanted to see her.  He wanted to spend time with her.  He longed to be intimate with her.  She was annoyed that he woke her up.  She decided to stay quiet, perhaps he would go away.  He insistently kept knocking, and then spoke to her in a very loving way, "Please open the door, my love, and I wish to see you."  He continued to beg for entry into her room, so she finally, said angrily, "Not now! The night is dark, and I already blew off the candle.  It is cold, and I am already warm under my blankets.  And, my feet are clean; I do not want to dirty them by going to the door."  Her lover was quiet for a few moments, and then said to her, "It has been a long day, I have not seen you, I long to spend time with you, and you will not regret it."  She replied to him with s stern tone, "Come back tomorrow."  There was silence for a minute.  She felt very bad that she rejected him, moved with remorse, she got up, walked in the dark to the door.  After a few moments feeling her way, she found the knob.  She opened the door, only to find her lover had left.  She sobbed.  It would probably be days before she saw her lover again.  He may have left to see his fields far away, and would not return anytime soon.  

Does this scenario sound familiar?  If you have read Song of Solomon's you may realize that it is a paraphrase of Songs 5: 2-6.  He left because she was temporizing.  What is temporizing?  It is to act evasively in order to gain time, avoid argument, or postpone a decision.  It is what we do when we do not want to be bothered, inconvenienced, or are caught unprepared.  In the latter case, we may be trying to buy some time to find a way out.  The woman selfishly and immaturely, found more comfort in the warmth and cleanliness of her bed, then in the company and presence of her Beloved Lover.  She perceived she was better off in her condition, "in need of nothing" (Revelation 3: 17), by doing so she rejected the love, warmth, comfort and cleanliness that only Her Beloved Lover can offer.  

You may recall the Song of Solomon is a metaphor for the relationship between Christ the Bridegroom - the Beloved Lover - and His Bride the Church.  Christ has not come back for us, because we - His Bride the Church - have and continue to reject Him.  We do not love His return as much as we love the things of this earth.  It is only when His Bride becomes mature in Him that He will come for her.  

Let's look at it from Peter's perspective.  Let us read 2 Peter 3:9,

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Peter tells us that if the Lord is slow, or if there is any delay, it is for our benefit.  Not wanting us to perish, He is waiting for all of us - His Bride - to repent, and turn to Him.  When His Bride grows up and matures from her selfish and self centered ways, by answering His loving call - I stand at the door and knock (Revelation 3: 20) - and accepting His Robe of Righteousness, we will want Him as much as He wants us, and we will not temporize any longer.  He will come for us, and we will be ready to leave with Him.  Amen.

Raúl Díaz

Thursday, September 21, 2006

IJP: Investigative Judgment Phobia

IJP: Investigative Judgment Phobia


Alex walked into the room.  He heard a faint noise.  Immediately, his heart started pounding faster.  His face turned pale, and his forehead became shiny with perspiration.  Very soon after this Alex started breathing hard and short breaths; he also started shaking.  Suddenly, Alex stormed out of the room running as fast as he could.  Every one in the room looked at each other all confused.  You could see in their faces they were concerned.  Fernando walked out of the room to see if Alex was OK, but Alex was no where to be found.  What could set Alex off this way?  Many things could, but in this case it was a phobia.  The noise he heard reminded of him of something he feared.  He reacted in the way many phobia persons react. 


Phobias are defined as an intense, abnormal, or illogical fear of a specified thing.  Every one of us can say we have a phobia of some kind or another.  It may be some type of critter, closed or open spaces, crowds, heights, depths, strangers, etc.  Some define fear as an acrostic: False Evidence Appearing Real.  Their rational is that many causes of fear are truly unfounded.  We are frightened of things and situations we have never encountered.  We imagine the worst outcome, and of course, we end up the biggest losers.  Phobias are in this category. 


Why do we fear things?  Some say that one major cause is that we have no control over that which we fear.  In other words, if we believed that we could overpower or had a way of escaping that which we fear we would not fear it.  Could this be the reason why many fear the Investigative Judgment?  The mention of an Investigative Judgment causes many to either fly away or fight (the normal reactions to fear.)  Why?  Why has the term Investigative been exchanged for Pre-Advent?  Pre-advent sounds nice, and Investigative sounds invasive.  God is going into our hearts and discovering what is there.  However, God not only knows what is there, He also reveals it to us.  And, this is perhaps what we fear: that we and others will know all the evil that abides in our hearts.  But, this is good news!  The uncovering of unknown Sin can only help us.  I can hear you laugh sarcastically, while yelling out, “Yeah, right!” 


You see, God reveals Sin to us so that we can yield it to the Holy Spirit.  As we yield it to the Holy Spirit, He will blot the Sin out of us.  This is what King David did.  David was not afraid of the Investigate Judgment.  In fact, he not only welcomed it, he asked God to search His heart.  In Psalm 139: 23, 24 David pleads with God,


Psalm 139: 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

Psalm 139: 24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting


David understood that Sin separated him from God.  HE wanted oneness with God.  So he asked God – Who knows the secret of our hearts (Psalm 44:21) – to search his heart, cleanse it, and lead Him in the right way.  If we pray as David prayed, then God can do this with us.  God does this because He wants oneness with us and loves us with perfect love.  When we accept the Lord He gives us His perfect Love.  When we have this perfect love John tells us 1 John 4:17, 18 that


1 John 4:17  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

1 John 4:18  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.


To many, the Investigative Judgment may give false evidence that God is against us, but as we see this is far from the truth.  We have no control over the Judgment, but we do have control over its outcome.  If we yield to the Holy Spirit, He will lead us to eternal life.  

Friday, September 08, 2006

Trust in the Lord

Trust in the Lord


Whom or what does the Bible say we should trust?  To Whom or what should you be loyal?  The Wise man says in Proverbs 3:5,Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  Perhaps, he learned with his father the psalmist.  David said in Psalms 118:8, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”  In fact, Luke praises the brethren in Berea for trusting the Word of God, and not taking Paul’s word for granted, let’s read in Acts 17: 10-12,


Acts 17: 10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

Acts 17: 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17: 12 Therefore many of them believed...


In the Bible the word trust means to confide or hope in.  When you trust someone (or something) you will seek their refuge or flee to them (or there) for protection.  When we trust someone we will feel secure, safe, even bold or careless in his or her presence.  When you trust someone you can rely or depend on him or her.  Who do we seek for refuge or go to for protection when we are in trouble?  In whose presence do we feel secure and safe?  In whom do we rely or depend on?  I knew of a Pastor that when warned that his church was going to persecute him, he said, "I will not worry about it.  The Conference will protect me, they always look after their Pastors."  Six months later that same Conference laid him off. 


I have yet to see one verse in the Bible that says that we should trust institutions, organizations or those that represent them.  As David and Solomon said our trust should be on God and His word.  As the brethren in Berea, when anyone comes to us we should test his or her words and actions against the Word of God.  Isaiah 8:20 specifically instructs us how, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”  Unfortunately, many believe that when a person has a title or position this person knows what is best.  So when they see inconsistencies, they do not give it to the Lord in prayer or test them against the Word of God.  They follow along the path of destruction.  They put their confidence on men.  Others simply rebel and harden their hearts against those who seem inconsistent in their faith.  They find fault and argue using traditions and historical legacies as their authority and source of understanding.  Both extremes are examples of leaning "unto thine own understanding.” 


Should we be suspicious of all people that walk into our life?  When we walk in the Spirit this should not be a problem.  Simeon and Anna had no problem recognizing Jesus (Luke 2: 26-38.)  John the Baptist, likewise, recognized Jesus from a distance (John 1:33).  The Holy Spirit dwelling in us will tell us or give us discernment as to who is trustworthy and who is not, and how should we proceed as we relate to others in our lives.  It may be that you are called to rebuke them in love (Matthew 18: 15 – 20).  For most of us, praying for those who are following a wrong path, regardless of who they are - children, siblings, friends, pastors, church leaders, etc., is far better than doing nothing.  Those who truly trust God will pray that God will do for others as He did unto them. 


Raul Diaz

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fw: Diversionary attacks and tactics

Diversionary attacks and tactics

A distraction is something which diverts the attention from an original focus or interest, in other words it draws someone's attention away from something.   So, anything that keeps you away from what should be a priority may be a distraction.  For example, many phone calls, many crises, TV watching, shopping, etc. may be distractions.  Distractions are also used in wars as a maneuver that draws the attention of an opponent away from a planned point of action, especially as part of military strategy, or an attack calculated to draw enemy defense away from the point of the principal attack.  Distractions in war are called diversionary tactics or attacks.  Some examples are: octopi, when threatened they spray ink to distract a possible attacker; Fake targets; the use of the Trojan horse; Pickpockets and other thieves. Distraction - diversionary attacks or tactics - is one of the Devil's best tools against us.

When Paul uses the armor metaphor for our spiritual life, it was not an accident (Ephesians 6: 10 - 18).  We are in the midst of Spiritual war (2 Corinthians 10: 3), waging for our minds and soul.  Furthermore, the fight is not only for us, we are the battlefield, and also the soldiers.  While God has strict rules of engagement, and stands by them, our enemy does not.  The Devil uses anything at his disposition to destroy us, whether fair or not.  (Thank God for His restraints on the Devil!)  His goal is to keep us from distracted from Jesus, because, it is in Jesus that we find victory.  It does not matter if we go to church every day of the week.  If we are not connected to the Vine, we the branches are dead (John 15: 1-7).  

How does the Devil keep us distracted?  One way is to keep us busy.  If we do not have time for prayer and study, we are spiritually dead.  Another way is comparisons.  To compare we have to look at each other, as long as we look at each other, we lose our sight of Jesus.  Other way is lifestyle issues: such as music, dress, food, etc.  Yet another way is debating over theological issues that do not contribute anything to our preparation for eternal life is also prevalent.  Of, course than we also have heresies.  

This interpretation of the little horn as Antiochus Epiphanes, is perhaps one of the biggest heresies ever to distract us from Jesus.  For reasons explained in our lesson, Antiochus cannot fit the little horn of the prophecy.  This heresy invalidates Jesus as the Messiah, and without Jesus we have no salvation.  We have wasted our time preaching cunningly devised fables (2 Peter 1:16).  A Gospel that believes that the little horn is Antiochus does not have the power to save from Sin and unto eternal life.  We can see that this heresy is nothing more than a diversionary tactic from Devil.  

As we who profess to be Christians argue over these issues, we not only send a message of disunity to those around us, but also give a false testimony of God.  We send a message that God is a God of debate, disunity, unrestrained anger, and unforgiving.  So, this diversionary attack not only affects us but also those who surround us.  

What is the answer?  Avoid them?  Or should we perhaps establish an ecumenical movement?  These solutions are also other diversionary tactics from our enemy.  So, how can we protect ourselves from these diversionary attacks from Satan?  The answer is that we cannot, if we are not connected to Jesus, the Vine (John 15: 1-7).  Jesus was, is and always will be the answer.  We indeed need the armor of God (Ephesians 6: 10 - 18) to fight this war, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds," (2 Corinthians 10:4).  These weapons - the armor of God - the Holy Spirit provides for us when we let Him indwell us, and we yield to Him.  "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6).  Only as we yield to the indwelling Spirit of God can we be protected from the diversionary tactics of the Devil.  

Raúl Díaz

Friday, August 18, 2006

Because God Said So

 Because God Said So


General Douglas MacArthur, on losing the Philippines in World War II, said to reporters,


The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed from Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary objective of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return.


These words were prophetic.  For two years he lead an armada of Allied warships and marines to attack the Japanese, which led to a US victory.  And of course, this implied that he liberated the Philippines from the Japanese.  The way it looks, we could have believed General MacArthur because he said the words.  However, MacArthur could have failed and his words would be considered a lie.  If this were the case, could he really be considered a liar?  Not really.  It seems he had all intentions in keeping his promise, and he was not intending to deceive anyone.  However, a failure would have certainly tarnished his reputation. 


Ever since the fall of humanity into Sin, God has promised a Messiah.  The Old Testament is full of promises of a Savior. 

Daniel 9: 25 –27 is just one example.  Let us read this passage,


Daniel 9: 25  Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.


Daniel 9: 26  And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.


Daniel 9: 27  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.


This prophecy tells us when Christ’s ministry would start – 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem: specifically, in the year 27 AD.  The prophecy also refers to how his ministry would start, what it was about, and how it would end.  The prophecy tells us how and when his ministry would end.  Jesus Christ fits this prophecy perfectly.  But, do we believe Him because He did fulfill the prophecy or because He said it so?  Is there a difference?  Does it matter?  What did Moses have to go on when he accepted God’s call?  A burning and talking bush?  A few tricks with rod and arm?  Can a God that does this actually free a people from the most powerful nation of the world?  Is this all it took for Moses to believe? 


At one point Moses believed God because God said so.  Yes, Moses could look back in his life and refer to God’s wonders – hence the importance of learning our history (Deuteronomy 6:7).  He could say, "He was faithful before, therefore I can trust that he will still be faithful."  Why?  Because, God - unlike human beings -never changes and He is not a man that he should lie (Numbers 23:19).    How many of us have acquired impeccable track records only to throw it all away with a silly error?  God’s track record is impeccable, but we still need to trust that He will continue to keep His word.  Do you?