This one only comes out by fasting and praying

Living often means facing challenges, problems and obstacles. We often enjoy confronting these situations and overcoming. It confirms our self worth and validates our belief that we are intelligent and capable. But none of this teaches us to depend on God and trust in his power. Occasionally God allows situations that seem insurmountable.  Situations that nothing in our past has prepared us to deal with or problems that are just too great for us to solve. We are forced to turn to God for help. It is a wonderful thing when we can approach him with faith. But what if we can’t?

Perhaps this is a problem too great for God. Blaspheme you say. Well isn’t that what we are thinking, when we surrender and give up all hope? We are saying this problem will never be solved. This obstacle cannot be removed. God can’t do it.

Jesus explains that what we lack is faith. He also sends us to do something that has become less and less popular these days, pray and fast. We have become adventurers in a fast paced world of digital wonder and bright lights. Who has time for a quiet moment with God? But for all the wonder of our generation it does not compare to the power and glory of God. This is not discovered in virtual reality, but in spiritual reality. It is discovered on our knees.

This power can transform, heal, and enlighten. It turns sinners into saints, and the weak into conquerors. The foolish become wise and the enslaved are set free.

In Matthew 17 a desperate father brings his child to Jesus. He believes Jesus can set him free. The boy was afflicted with demons that caused the boy to have seizures, throw himself into fire and other times into water.  This evil spirit had every intention of tormenting and destroying this child.

The man reported that the disciples had tried and failed. Jesus rewards the man’s faith and sets his child free, but not before these words ” O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.”  Later he tells the disciples that to cast out this demon they needed to fast and pray more.

Taking time out regularly to pray and fast is not like doing an extra credit assignment. We shouldn’t do it if there is time and when we feel like it. We should purposely make the time to pray and fast. This should be quiet time where we worship God and present all our cares. This is time we spend remembering all the needs of those around us and our entire community.

The problems we face are great and real. Many we will not solve on our own. Faith in God will be required. The kind of faith prayer warriors and those that fast will have.

 

No excuse, no retreat, no surrender

This hero will certainly battle on. He will not retire or call it quits. He has dedicated himself to the cause and regardless of the pain, discomfort or challenges he is determined to give his all. I am speaking of my eighty year old paraplegic father, the Rev. Dr. Cecilio Melendez. He is a model for all to see, an object lesson for none to forget. We live our lives with a higher calling to serve God. With each individual there is of course a variety that is expressed as God uses us all in a unique way. Whether he formed us to sing, preach, teach, play an instrument, be hands of comfort or help, pray, build or fix, and others, we have a very personal mission, a commitment between God and us. My father was formed for many reasons, but one of great importance was to preach.

It was in the fishing town of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, in a small Spanish Pentecostal church he was asked to preach to the children of his church. What was remarkable is that he was seven years old. He remembers that he preached on Matthew 24, the topic was “Signs of the End of the Age”. He never looked back. He found the courage to do what few would. He would pull up a crate on the street corner and start preaching. This started at the age of twelve. Around the same time came the many invitations from traveling evangelists for the young man to accompany them and preach before large crowds of hundreds. Before he was a teenager his ministry was in full swing.

By the time my father was twenty years old he was a fully ordained minister. All was brilliant in the life of this young man; now married and the father of a beautiful little girl, my older sister Lisa. Then he was diagnosed with cancer. Treatments began earnestly in order to save this young life. The Doctors never gave my father much of a chance. They thought he would perhaps live a couple of years. But my father a man of great faith, put his life in God’s hands and fifty eight years later he still standing. However this is not the whole story.

The effects of radiation therapy would not become evident for many years later. In his late fifties he would begin to lose the use of his hands. One complication would lead to another. To summarize, both of my father’s arms and hands are paralyzed, he has lost complete vision in his left eye, sees with great difficulty in his right eye, occasionally loses his sight completely, loses his balance, may also at times feel faint, is on a strict diet, suffers from different aches and pains, has paralysis of the right vocal cord, and gets up every morning thankful that God has given him another day, when he was supposed to have been dead over fifty years ago. Doctors have chastised him for preaching and counseling, ordering him to rest his vocal cords, which is exactly what he did for almost a year. It was yet another source of pain and frustration for a man that has been preaching since he was seven. For him preaching was as natural as walking and breathing.

Every last minister and preacher in the church had taken several turns throughout the year and then the merry go round stopped. The Pastor was going to preach. Everyone waited in anticipation. Many I am sure were just waiting for him to retire. Others had been praying for healing. Neither would occur. The brave old man with little vision would locate an old outline from his memory of thousands and the sermon began. More than an hour later, he concluded after having inspired, motivated, excited and spiritually lifting the entire congregation. The time had just flown by. The church had witnessed a man wholly and completed dedicated to God. It did not matter, what physical ailments he would have to overcome, nor would it matter the weariness he had been suffering. Not even the warnings of doctors would stop him. He knew he had to preach. It was probably the best sermon I had heard in over a year. Later in private I would ask my father “Are you going to preach next Sunday?” His response was perfect, “Of course this has to continue!” No excuse, no retreat, no surrender for this hero. He will battle with his sickness and continue with this mission, until God says “no more”.

God is not looking for excuses. He did not accept any from Moses (Exodus 3:11, Exodus 4:1, 10), Gideon (Judges 6:15) or Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6). He does not want us to come with excuses either. He is looking for men and women who are willing to sacrifice and overcome obstacles to complete with the mission God has placed in each of their hands. It will not be easy, nothing worthwhile is. But I know as I watched My father preach, I learned that to be responsible to your calling will most likely include great sacrifices and great battles, but “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

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Audio-Walking on Water

God Bless You!

I hope you enjoy My first Audio message titled “Walking on Water”

Giving thanks is a priority

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights ….James 1:17

There were ten lepers living outside society. They were unwanted, hopeless and without anyone to care for them. There was no medical attention or solution. They were waiting for death. Then he came by, Jesus, the great prophet from Nazareth. Some called him a teacher; others said he was just the son of that carpenter. Still others said he was the anointed one, the son of God, the Messiah. In any case there were stories of great miracles. Raising the dead, calming the storms and casting out demons were among the list of incredible miracles. If these were true then this man could not be just an ordinary man.

Then it was heard, in desperation they shouted “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 19:13) This man spoke but a few words “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” (Luke 19:14) They turned in obedience to follow his directions and they were healed. This terrible disease that had been affecting them for some time now was completely gone.

Then only one came back to thank Jesus. They had all experienced a life changing miracle. It cost them nothing but a little faith. Yet they did not take out the time to say thanks. Did they lack an attitude of gratitude?

There are three priceless gifts, our lives, our salvation and our eternal hope. In addition to these three there are countless more we can each add to our list of gifts. To God we must be forever grateful. He is worthy of our constant praise for what he has given us. Let us not be like the nine that did not make time to thank their healer. Let us be like the one who made it his priority to first say thanks. No doubt there are many loved ones he could have shared this great news with first. He could have sought out the approval of the priest first. He could have gone out to celebrate. But all of these paled in importance to his first act, which was to simply say thanks.

Regardless of the holiday an attitude of gratitude should always be present. We should always be prepared to offer praise to our Lord and savior. Let us make a priority of saying thanks to all those who deserve to hear it, especially our God!

Grateful for everything I have and everything I am

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

I was still a child when my father asked me, “Why did God make our young so much more helpless in comparison to the young of other animals?” He later explained that being helpless required us to receive much attention and love. What wonderful gifts from God! It takes much more nurturing to raise a human than any other species on the planet. Without proper care what would any of us become? At birth we are incapable of walking, standing or swimming. We come into this world incapable of cleaning, protecting, and feeding ourselves. We would literally die within days if left unattended. Many years after our birth we still need a great deal of attention just to make it through one day without harming ourselves. There are many important principles that my father taught me from this one important fact.

Without the love and nurture of others we are nothing. Without teaching and guidance we would know nothing. Everything we have, everything we can do and everything we know we owe. It should make us the most grateful and loving creatures in the world, no doubt it was God’s plan all along. Yet we often lack this grateful attitude.

Many have noticed an attitude of entitlement, the feeling that something is owed to us, or that everything we’ve gotten was supposed to have been given to us. Therefore, we don’t have to be grateful. But with this attitude we only cheat ourselves of the opportunity of recognizing what others have done for us.

We should be grateful for those loved ones that cared for us and provided throughout the years as well as those significant others who made a difference in our lives.

The biggest difference maker being God, He created us and has made a way for us to succeed. He blessed us with intelligence, talent and countless opportunities to develop them. However an even greater reason to be grateful is God’s love and mercy. While we deserved condemnation for our sins he sent his only begotten son, Jesus, to die on the cross so that we might have eternal life.

He is more than worthy of our gratitude. When we are grateful to God we are able to worship him in spirit and in truth and we are able to see what he has done for us, therefore our faith is strengthened.

An ungrateful life is a sad life where we would be unable to realize the love and care that has so carefully been spent on us. All that we have are gifts and the greatest of these come from God, our lives and our eternal souls.

Let us be grateful this holiday to all who have made a difference and let us lift a mighty praise to our lord and God.

A few more verses to consider

James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

1 Corinthians 15:10

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

 Go to Verses on Gratitude 

No more excuses!

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh….(Exodus 3:11)

Moses was having a pleasant time. He was relaxing while tending to his sheep in the quiet stillness of the night. However, for no apparent reason, a bush went up in flames, and didn’t burn up. Then the voice of God was heard. Moses was terrified and hid his face. Then it got worst.

God proceeded to give Moses directions to speak to the mightiest man on the planet. He had to tell the ruthless pharaoh of Egypt to let the enslaved Israelites go.

Moses came up with one excuse after another. First He said “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11) In other words I am not important enough to speak to pharaoh. Then Moses said, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13) The implication was that he didn’t know what to tell the people who were supposed to follow him, the Israelites. God told Moses what to say, but Moses was not done giving excuses he said “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.”(Exodus 4:1). God performed several miracles before Moses to show him what he would do as proof. But Moses was still not satisfied and said “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)

Four excuses, Moses truly had self esteem issues. He was certain that he lacked the qualifications. He must have been thinking “Just let me take care of my sheep, that’s all I am good for.” But he was wrong.

Many of us have had these moments, when we doubted our abilities or capacity. Perhaps we thought “Lord I know you don’t make mistakes, but there must be someone better for this task, responsibility, or position.” But we are wrong also. If God calls us to do something or hold a position he will equip us. He will educate us and prepare us. If He wants us that means we are the best person for the job. It could be a talent or an expertise we have or perhaps a quality in our character that God sees. God can see the gifts he has placed in us, while we sometimes only see our failures and weaknesses.

With Moses the excuses finally stopped and he did go to pharaoh. Ten plagues later, and a disastrous defeat for pharaoh’s army and the Israelites were free. The whole time all Moses held in his hands was a staff, but the power of God was behind him every step of the way.

If we say yes to God’s calling in our lives His power will be behind us every step of the way, the enemy will be defeated and what awaits us will surely be the promise land.

You may like these Verses on excuses

A closer walk with God

…he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Daniel 6:10

The windows were opened and you could see Daniel praying as he always did. He prayed three times a day without fail, just as David had mentioned in his Psalms. Problem was praying to God was illegal in Babylon. Daniel wasn’t concerned. The punishment for praying to God was you would become cat food, in particular cuisine for hungry lions. Well they had to get fed somehow.

Daniel had been captured by the Babylonians and had been forced to serve the King. (Daniel 1:1-7) He had proven himself to be wiser than all of the King’s servants and was even in line for a major promotion before the illegal prayer incident. (Daniel 6:3) His secret was a close relationship with God. Prayer was vital to this relationship and nothing would stop him from his private personal time with God. It was God who had blessed Daniel with incredible success, wisdom and protection in this foreign land. God spoke with Daniel and watched over him. He provided him with guidance, peace and comfort, so necessary under his circumstances.

A close walk with God is essential in these times as well. Economic challenges, war and threats of war, dwindling natural resources, decline in educational success , a rise in crime, unemployment especially among young college graduates, drug abuse, threats to family unity and prosperity, decaying faith across society and countless other challenges necessitates a genuine relationship with God, a relationship that begins and is sustained with prayer.

Jesus challenged his disciples to pray at least an hour (Matthew 26:40-41), and Paul encouraged us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This does not mean we spend our entire lives on our knees or with our eyes closed. No need to walk into walls. It means that we communicate with God throughout the entire day, asking for guidance, strength, peace and offering our gratitude and praise. David mentioned praying morning, noon and evening. (Psalm 55:17) Daniel was known to pray three times a day as well. (Daniel 6:10)

Daniel was arrested and thrown into the Lion’s Den. However wherever Daniel was, there was God. That’s what happens when you have a close relationship with God. Daniel was not harmed and was released the next day. (Daniel 6:21)

We all want God to work just as miraculously in our lives. But we cannot ignore the relationship Daniel had with God. We can all have a closer walk with God. Like any relationship it starts with regular and sincere communication. We only need to speak to Him and He will hear us where we are. He is anxious for us to reap the eternal blessings that come from truly knowing Him.