Live Your Life to the Full

‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ‘ John 10:10

A while ago, while reading my morning devotional, this verse lighted up my understanding. I had read it many times, but it was until that moment that I realized something different. Today, as I read this verse, I was reminded of what I learned that day.

As Christians, we know we have an enemy who wants to keep us stuck in fear, paralyzed, making us think we don’t have what it takes. Satan is a thief, the accuser of the believers. He wants to steal, kill, and destroy your joy, dreams, and plans, so they don’t come to pass. He doesn’t know your future because he’s not Omniscient; only Almighty God is. However, he knows that there is potential God has put in you to fulfill His purpose, and that’s what Satan fears the most.

But the verse doesn’t stop there; its second part contains a message of hope. Don’t you love that word?! When there is hope, our spirit lifts, our countenance changes, our eyes shine, and we even smile. Suddenly, we have the strength to do what we need to do. We start dreaming, planning, creating.

“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Jesus came for you to be free of bondage. God gave you gifts, abilities, passions to use in love to serve others. God wants you to use your full potential and find joy and satisfaction as you serve Him. 

He died on a cross for you and me and the whole world so that those who believe in Him shall have eternal life (John 3:16). And we find what this eternal life is about as we study the Scriptures diligently because they testify about Jesus (John 5:39).

God has a great purpose in mind for you; that’s why you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God made you unique, and He already gave you what you need for your assignment in life. Are you willing to live your life to the fullest?

A Solitary Place

“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:13-14

Jesus withdrew from the noise and the crowds after hearing about the death of John the Baptist. He needed time alone with his Father, so he took a boat. While traveling, he might have stopped in the middle of the waters to converse with the Father or he might have just kept sailing to the other side while talking. We don’t know the details, but as we read in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, when Jesus withdrew or retreated to a solitary place, it was to pray.

Prayer was an essential part of Jesus’ life and ministry.

This reminds me of my prayers or conversations I have had with God while driving. I’m not implying that this is the correct way to do it, but that when you call God’s name, he listens, no matter where you are.

When Jesus arrived to the other side of this body of water, he was ready for what came next. He attended a large crowd—about 5,000 people—healed the sick, and even fed them with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish—a great miracle of provision after prayer.

Would you be creative and choose your solitary place to pray? Make prayer an essential part of your life, too, and be expectant of God’s answer.

“In the morning, Lord , you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalms 5:3

He Will Light Up the Route of Your Life

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105, ESV

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When I’m using the GPS on my smartphone to get to a destination and I’m advised to make a turn or take an exit, I immediately want to know the next step after this one. I wish to know if I should continue, merge, take a right or a left. Just to be prepared.

The map App does not show the complete route at once; it only reveals the area where the driver needs to focus at the moment. On occasions, I get confused, as when encountering consecutive exits, forks, or driving during heavy rain, which makes the view limited.

The use of GPS makes me think of the times I want to know what’s next in life. There is nothing wrong to be prepared or have a plan for the next move. Yet with preparations, there are matters that come to us without invitation. Moreover, these are the situations that could create a mix of emotions in us, like anxiety, fear, confusion, even pain.

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you can trust God’s route for your life – step by step – because He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you.

You might not have all the answers right away, but you can trust God will help you arrive at the destination you need to be and at the right time.

God’s Word provides clear direction for every specific need, and its promises are for you too. Believe and trust that He will light up your path or route in life.

God is Good

Probably you have heard this expression or even said it – “God is good.”

When do we express it? Do we say “God is good” when He answers with a “yes” to our prayer requests? When circumstances favor us? When everything goes as planned?

How about when His answer is “no” or when we don’t hear anything at all? When plans don’t go our way? When we do what is right and don’t see the results we wish to see? Is He still good? The answer is “yes.” He hears your prayers, but there is always a purpose in the waiting.

If you believe the Father sent His Son to die on the cross so you can be saved, then you are His child. And as a father, He desires the best for you and wants to give you good gifts (see James 1:17).

We have expectations in life, but not all of them are met. And that frustrates us. We bring our requests before God, believing in His faithfulness. Yes, He is faithful – to His promises – not to our expectations.

No matter what is the answer you receive, trust God and His written word. He is a good Father.

How is that when you give, you receive?

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Let me tell you a personal experience. We were in the preparations for our wedding. There were things still needed to be paid. Both Danny and I were working, and together we paid for our wedding. During this time, Danny instead of receiving paycheck was receiving chargebacks (where he had to pay back what already had been paid to him). This situation was not helping us at all. Since I met Danny, he has always been paid on commission, not salary. He works hard and with honesty. But what we were facing was beyond depending on our incomes. The big day was approaching; my salary was not enough; I felt anxious. I even considered changing the date.

About a month from our wedding day an evangelist came to preach on a Sunday night service. He shared how a church in another country worked together to obtain the finances to build a place to congregate. All this during a time of recession. At the end of his message, he made a call to give for the construction of the local church building. I felt a strong prompt in my heart that we should give, but I did not dare to tell Danny because we were short of money for our wedding. That feeling did not go away from my heart; it got stronger and stronger; I couldn’t ignore it. Then, Danny asks me, where’s the checkbook? I answered, “is in the car.” He got up immediately and went to get it.

While he was out in the parking lot, I said inside of me, “if he writes a different amount on the check from the one I have in my heart, I will have to tell him.” When he came back, he handed me the check folded in half. When I opened it, I saw the same amount the Holy Spirit had put in my heart. Chance? I don’t think so. God’s plan? Absolutely.

The preacher invited us to come to the altar to pray and give thanks for the offering. While he was praying, I felt the presence of God very close, like a dense cloud above all of us. Right there I said to the Lord, “You have asked us so little for what you are going to give us.” God’s provision was immediate. The next day, Danny went out to work, as usual, meeting with clients, but what the Lord had planned for that day was a miraculous provision. Business was incredible. We were in awe. It paid off not only the chargebacks but also the rest of the wedding expenses. The big day arrived, and we celebrated our wedding as we had planned it. God is always faithful to His Word!

‘Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.#6:38 Or The measure you give will be the measure you get back.”’ Luke 6:38, NLT

Ask and Let the Lord Surprise You

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My children were born in the Caribbean, where all year long temperatures are generally warm. There are rainy days, the hurricane season, and sunny days. One December, while they were tweens or preteens, we planned to take our vacation in the cold weather. We visited Atlanta and Washington, DC. After a few days in Atlanta, at the hotel room, my daughter said to me in disappointment, “I have asked the Lord to let me see snow, and he doesn’t pay attention to me.” I told her that she needed only to ask in prayer and let the Lord surprise her. I also told her that she would not necessarily see snow in Atlanta, but that we were going to DC where there could be a higher probability of snowfall.
We flew to DC, where we met with our dear friends. The temperature was colder than Atlanta, and everywhere we walked, we saw snow piled to the sides from a previous storm. Most of this snow was starting to ice. My children were happy and enjoyed every moment, but it never snowed the time we were there. Honestly, I even forgot about it.
When it was time to go back home, our flight was delayed because of a winter storm in other states. We had to make a stop in Atlanta before going home. We finally left DC and arrived at the Atlanta airport with a 30-minute time frame from one gate to another. We made it to the gate but weren’t allowed to board even when the plane door was still opened. They had given our seats to other passengers, and there were many others in the same situation. Both of my children were frustrated and sad. They wanted to go home. My husband was upset and was doing everything he could to get us on the plane. I pull my children to the side and invite them to take a seat. I told them not to worry, that if we couldn’t make this flight, we would take the next one. I even prayed for the safety of the people on that plane. When my husband came to us, he was disappointed and told us he couldn’t do anything. The airline gave us vouchers to eat and a hotel room for the night since the next flight was scheduled for the following day.
We took our carry-on luggage and headed outside to take the shuttle to the hotel. Once outside, we noticed many people were getting inside the shuttles, and others were waiting for the next ones. It was cold and rainy. Suddenly, my husband looked at me with a smile and said, “look at your coat.” When I looked, I saw snowflakes. My children got very excited, and my daughter started jumping.
She prayed, and God surprised her! The snow they saw at DC was not all that the Lord wanted to give them.
In the same way, we should ask anything in prayer and wait expectantly for his answer. Isn’t God able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine? (
Ephesians 3:20) That’s how He surprises us. What we have seen, heard, received is not all that God has in store for us.
We decided to rent a car and buy clothes for my husband because he had checked his baggage. It continued to snow to the point that my children could make snowballs, and they did and threw them to their daddy. I recorded everything on video and took pictures, but most importantly, those memories are recorded in their minds. No prayer is silly; if it’s important to us, it is also important to God.

My Darkness is not Dark to You

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The apostle Paul together with other prisoners were sent from the west coast from the province of Asia to sail for Rome. On their way, they stopped on different harbors and passed across other places. The winds were against them, but they continued their journey hoping to reach Phoenix, a harbor in Crete, to winter there before heading to their destination. The winds were so strong that they were swept away from their course.  The men were afraid and began to throw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. Several days passed as the storm continued raging. They didn’t know where they were. The Bible states that they had given up all hope of being saved; neither the sun nor the stars appeared for many days. They were in complete darkness. (Acts 27:20)

At the fourteenth day,  being in constant suspense and without eating anything, Paul encouraged them to eat and told them God was going to save everyone.

Have you experienced dark moments in your life? Those situations force us to get rid of things that cause weight on us. We battle with emotions such as anxiety, fear, anger, abandonment, etc. We wish to see the light, and we make all the efforts we can, and then come to a point where we need to surrender.

However, we are not left unattended. King David wrote in Psalm 139:11-12

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me 
and the light become night around me,” 
even the darkness will not be dark to you; 
the night will shine like the day, 
for darkness is as light to you.

 

God sees you in your dark moments. Serving the Lord doesn’t mean that we are exempt from difficult situations. The difference is that we can trust on His promises to us because He is faithful.

I invite you to listen to this song from Chris Tomlin and be encouraged today. The season of darkness will pass and you will able to see the light!

Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin

The Lord bless you

Fish or Snake?

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“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11

For many years I did not understand why Jesus gave these examples. What a stone or a snake have to do with food? In reality, Jesus wanted to explain something about the things we ask in prayer. Have you asked Him for something specifically that, according to your logic, is good? I know I had. Without knowing, sometimes we pray asking God to give us a “snake,” although we think we are asking for a “fish.” A snake will bite us, harm us. And God wants the best for you and me. Remember, He sees the big picture; we don’t. He listens to our prayers, but not all our requests are answered with a “yes.”

Next time you find yourself asking God why He has not answered you, think about these verses. It could be He is protecting you from a dangerous situation, or it could be it’s not the time yet. Trust in the One who sees the big picture and has your best in mind.

Pennie has been found

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Our family moved from Puerto Rico to Georgia in 2011. With our move, we also brought our golden retrievers, Watson and Pennie. Watson was seven years old, and Pennie was a 6-month old puppy.

On our second week in Georgia, they escaped during the night. In Puerto Rico, they were used to sleeping in the backyard, which had a large and open terrace, with roof and floor tiles. So when we moved, since it was still summer, they stayed in the backyard at night, as usual.

I heard Pennie barking and howling past midnight, but I did not hear Watson. I opened the backdoor and saw that she was all right, so I went back to bed. I did not hear her howling or barking anymore. When we woke up in the morning, I went outside to call the dogs, and to my surprise, they were not there! My husband was on a business trip, and my children were desperately looking for the dogs. Watson’s collar had a tag with our phone number, but he was not wearing it at the time; I found it thrown on the ground.

It was time to go to school, so I promised my son and daughter I would look for the dogs. I searched and searched in the nearby neighborhoods asking people if they had seen them, until I visited a veterinary clinic to check if someone had found our dogs. The receptionist grabbed a flyer and asked me “is this your dog?” A lady had found Watson and distributed flyers in different places! I was so relieved and then proceeded to ask for Pennie. The flyer only mentioned one dog. Then, I recalled her howling in the middle of the night. Watson had probably escaped first, and when she found herself alone, she went after him. I got nervous because she was just a puppy.

I called the number on the flyer and coordinated with her daughter to pick up Watson in the afternoon. I thanked them for rescuing him. On the other hand, we couldn’t find Pennie that day. My daughter was devasted. So my husband decided to put a pet amber alert. During the following days, I received different calls from people I met and from organizations, asking if I had found the puppy. I kept making phone calls and looking around.

We prayed every day for the dog to be found. One morning, before my children went to school, I recalled a similar event recorded in the Bible. Saul was looking for his father’s donkeys; this occurred before becoming the first king of Israel. At the third day, the Prophet Samuel invited him to have dinner and told him not to worry about the donkeys, which “had already been found.” You can read this story here, https://www.bible.com/bible/111/1SA.9.
So, I told my son and daughter, “We don’t know where Pennie is, but God knows.

At the sixth day, while I was doing some errands, I received a call from another veterinary clinic (I had gone to several). The lady on the phone said with an exciting voice, “your dog has been found.” Tears of excitement filled my eyes; I asked for the address and went to pick her up. Then, I immediately called my husband  to give him the good news. A mom with her three kids found Pennie on the street. They took her home and cared for her that night. At my arrival, the employees came to the front to watch the encounter. They even volunteered to take pictures, which I sent later to my husband and children.

Hope and trust in the Lord is all we need in times like these.

 

I’m still standing

My husband was struck by lightning. This is his story.

BREATHE expectantly, LIVE confidently and MOVE boldly

IMG_6034This is a different kind of post, it’s more like a journal entry. As it happens to all of us, our life and our views are framed by the experiences we have. This past Saturday, July 16, 2016, was one of those for me. Here is as short as I can describe what happened; an event I am still processing.

I took my son to work early and after dropping him off, I drove south for more than an hour. I have a car project at home and was getting some parts from another one to finish mine (I’m not a mechanic, I’m a financial advisor, but I enjoy fixing things). I arrived close to 8:00 am to my destination and started to work on the vehicle. It took me 4 hours to finish. As I was grabbing my tools and putting them in the trunk, rain started to fall. I…

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