"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’” Galatians 3:8 NKJV

There are two major groups of people according to the scriptures: The Jews and the Gentiles.  The Jews were considered to be the blood descendants of Abraham.  The Gentiles were everyone else in the world.  When Jesus preached, the Jews were shocked to hear Him speak about salvation, and equality with the gentiles.  Paul, the writer of the letter to the Galatians explained that the promise of salvation to the Gentiles is not something new, but was promised by God since the creation of the Jewish nation.  After Abraham was accounted righteous by faith, God spoke to  Abraham: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:18). This promise was fulfilled when Jesus came to the world.  Jesus is a descendant of Abraham, yet He not only came to save the Jews but the entire world.  Jesus’s sacrifice transcends religions, nationalities, races, or any other aspect of human distinctions.  When He hanged from the cross, God’s ultimate sacrifice, sin was destroyed and death was left behind.  That was a gift for all humanity, for all who accept God’s gift of grace and love, no matter who we are.

Jesus is calling for us, despite our earthly identity.  Even if we don’t understand who we are, or where we come from, Jesus is there to guide us.  The only process to understand who we truly are is to get close to the one who created us, and give us our one and true unique identity.  

- Written by Ray Angulo

"Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Galatians 3:6 NKJV

Following rules or the law is not going to produce the righteousness needed to reach God.  This can be confusing because every single religion in the world is about following rules.  They think that only if you follow all of these religious laws and regulations they will be worthy to go into heaven, but Jesus said something completely different.  When the crowd asked Jesus what they had to do in order to work the works of God, Jesus replied “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom God sent” (John 6:29).  That is it!  We only have to believe in the messenger that God sent: Jesus.  Only by believing in faith, that God sent his one and only son to die for our sins, and because He rose from the dead we will also rise on the day of resurrection to eternal life.  

Abraham was accounted righteous not because of the law, but because he had faith in God.  When the Lord tested and asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, he did not doubt and proceeded to give God what He asked.   But when Abraham was about to slay his son Isaac on the altar, an angel of the Lord came and stopped him and said: “Behold God has provided a sacrifice.” When Abraham looked back he saw a ram stuck in the thorns by its horns.  That Ram was a representation of Jesus, an illustration of the promise of God to provide a sacrifice for the atonement of sins, and only Jesus Christ himself can fulfill that.  

We too, instead of being focused on the commandments and trying to be good people by following them, we ought to realize that we cannot follow the law even on our best day.  That is why we ought to focus our hope in the person of Jesus.  How? By reading the word, and by prayer.  Before Jesus went up to heaven He made a beautiful promise, and said “I am with you always, even to the end of the age”(Matthew 28:20).  We ought to hold this promise dear and trust, in faith, that He is with us and therefore our daily life should be focused on Him.

- Written by Ray Angulo

"The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death." Proverbs 14:27 NKJV

The Bible pleads with its readers in multiple instances to develop fear of the Lord. The Lord God (Yahweh), created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).  The entire universe with its vast space filled with galaxies and massive stars were created by Him when he spoke them into existence. A voice so powerful that it makes the earth tremble and mountains crumble (Isaiah 13:13).  God is almighty and powerful beyond our understanding, yet we should fear His perfect character.  

God is good, merciful, and our loving father, yet He is also just, and holy.  A just judge will give the fair verdict and punishment for a criminal, and in the same way God judges rightly all sin.  God is good and forgiving, but since He is also just He can’t let evil go unpunished.  God will use all of His mighty power and perfect wrath to punish evil.  Including the evil in our own hearts. The sad truth is that: “there is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God” (Romans 3:10-12).  And this is where the amazing grace of God is given.

God sent His son to die for us on the cross.  He paid the price for the wickedness of our hearts, and took the whole weight of it Himself. This is the magnificent mystery of God’s character given to us by revelation.  Perfect love and justice is reveled in Him.  The reason why we ought to fear Him is because of His power, and holiness.  In which no man alone can stand, but only through the blood of Jesus we will be accounted as righteous in front of an almighty and just God. 

- Written by Ray Angulo

“For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 NKJV

The degree of suffering through a difficult season in life, depends on what we believe is important.  For some  individuals, it might seem obvious that fame, money, and possessions are not the crucial aspects of our existence.  What is not so obvious is that there is nothing of this world worthy of our ultimate devotion.  Even if we desire things like beauty, wisdom, and human love which are as finite as we are, and thus unworthy of our absolute dedication. 

Through the second epistle to the Corinthians, Paul is encouraging us not to lose heart when we go through difficult seasons in life.  Furthermore, Paul states that we should not be dismayed even when we are facing death.  For most of us this might seem difficult or almost impossible to accomplish. So the question is: How is Paul expecting us to be of good cheer when we go through suffering? Paul’s answer: Keep things in perspective.

In order to keep the right perspective, our vision has to be focused on what is truly important: Eternity! Paul is telling us that when we live for Christ our afflictions in life are temporary, and we must not compare them with the eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).  We ought to be focused on the things of the spirit that we can’t see, for: “... Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). 

- Written by Ray Angulo

“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.” 1Corinthians 15:21 NKJV

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). When Adam disobeyed God, sin and death entered humanity, but when Christ died for our sins and resurrected, eternal life was made available to those who believe.  The entire creation of God is suffering because of the rebellion of one man, Adam.  In contrast, when Jesus Christ came down to earth sin and death was destroyed by his death and resurrection.  Adam was the first man to die, and Jesus was the first Man to raise from the dead to eternal life.  “Christ is the first who returned from the jaws of death to tell of immortality and light” (Spurgeon, Charles).

- Written by Ray Angulo

"There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty." Proverbs 11:28 NKJV

Seemingly, the fastest route to increase riches is the accumulation of money by hoarding.  Logically the more money is stockpiled, the more cash will end up in our bank accounts. But the Bible contradicts such logic and tells us that he who keeps storing money greedily, will become poor.  The scriptures instruct us that by giving abundantly the riches will increase.  This is not a formula for financial gain, but a call to point our hearts towards generosity.  By giving, we are choosing not to be controlled by money, but we choose to be good stewards of God’s blessings and He will reward such a heart.   

- Written by Ray Angulo

"And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.”" Luke 22:8 NKJV

In the final hours of His ministry Jesus sends Peter and John to the crowded city of Jerusalem to prepare the Passover for Him and His disciples.  Let us stop for a minute and examine the situation from Peter and John’s perspective.  Jerusalem was crowded, and there were approximately 2.6 million people in Jerusalem during the Passover festival who visited from all around Judea, Asia, Africa, and even Greece.  The apostles probably didn’t have much money to pay for a large room to prepare for the Passover festival especially during such a busy season, so they had a problem.  We too sometimes can encounter difficulties after Jesus gives us a command.  Nothing that Jesus commanded His disciples was easy: Leave your nets and follow me, or feed 5,000 men... Whatever Jesus commanded was extremely difficult and almost impossible for man, but the only way to accomplish His commands is “through faith.”  When Jesus commanded Peter and John they didn’t refute Jesus, but instead asked “Where do you want us to prepare?”  Only then Jesus answered and gave them detailed instructions on how to find the right place for the last supper.  We too, when confronted with a command from the Lord should’t ask ourselves if or when we are going to do it, but obey immediately and trust in His guidance and provision.  For “there is no obedience without faith, and there is no faith without obedience.” “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:9).  In other words, there is no salvation, no eternal life, without obedience! Death entered through disobedience. Life and immortality were brought to light through obedience to the faith! The way was opened up for us by the obedience of Christ.  The way is now here, open for us.

- Written by Ray Angulo

"And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”" Luke 20:25 NKJV

During the final week of Jesus’ ministry the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees tested Him about His authority, integrity, and theology.  While testing His integrity the Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay taxes.  The religious leaders wanted to trap Jesus, with what He answered.  If Jesus answers: Pay your taxes! Then they would accuse him of being a traitor to the Jews since the Romans were burdening them with high taxes.  In contrast, if Jesus would of said: Don’t pay taxes! then the Pharisees would of accused Him of sedition and had Pontius Pilate (the Roman governor over Judea) arrest Him.  Jesus responded with astounding wisdom by asking for a coin, and who’s image and inscription was on it.  When the Pharisees responded that the image on the coin was Caesar, Jesus told them to “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” The Pharisees could of came up with a following question and ask Jesus: What belongs to God?.  “Jesus might have answered:  What image is on you?” (Zachariah’s).  Look at your money and see who’s image is on it.  Therefore give the government what’s the government’s, and give God that which belongs to God.  God image is on you! (Genesis 1:26).

- Written by Ray Angulo

“Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets?..." Proverbs 5: 15-18 NKJV

17 Let them be your own and not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.”

The fifth chapter of proverbs warns men and women equally of the perils of adultery.  In these few verses the scriptures give us a beautiful picture of how we ought to care for our spouses. The image is of a man who owns his own well, but its being warned against using other men’s well for his refreshment.  In these verses the saying is not the grass is greener on the other side, but the water seems fresher in the other well.  The scriptures warns us that we can’t draw water from two wells at the same time, and if we are taking water from another man’s well most likely there will be another man lurking in our own well.  It would be foolish if we are using another man’s well when our own is being neglected, and our water could be dispersed in the street for other people to enjoy.  Therefore, the Bible command us to take care of our own well so that we can enjoy a lifetime of refreshing water.  Taking care of our well means we ought to love, nourish, cherish and be satisfied with our wives which the Lord has entrusted to us (Ephesians 5:25-33). 

- Written by Ray Angulo

“...Give me neither poverty nor riches— Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, and say, “Who is the Lord?...” Proverbs 30:8-9 NKJV

9 “Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.” 

Agur, the writer of the thirtieth chapter of proverbs opens his heart towards the Lord through prayer.  Wisely, he asks God not to make him poor nor rich to avoid transgression against God.  The human heart is deceitful above all, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9); therefore we are prone to commit sin under different circumstances.  Agur understands this, and asks God to be spared of such situations.

When there’s abundance it’s possible to forget God and think that we have earned what we have by our own effort.  It is true that some times we earn certain things by hard work and dedication, but our talents and creativity come from God (Exodus 31:3-4).  

In addition, the writer asks God not to make him poor, so that he won’t be tempted to steal and break one of the Lord’s commandments.  The scriptures are warning us about the danger of justifying sin based upon our circumstances.

These verses are a beautiful example of someone who has discernment and understands the state of his own heart.  It also teaches us that sometimes we can’t trust ourselves.  We need to pray daily to ask God to keep us from sin as Jesus thought us in the Lord’s prayer: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Mathew 6:13).

- Written by Ray Angulo

“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13 NKJV

No one can be faithful to more than one master.  The danger of not serving God is that we could be serving anything instead.  Things like money, a career, or possessions can become our master.  Mammon in Aramaic means money, wealth and possessions (Perez). Jesus is telling us in this passage that we cannot serve God and money simultaneously, so even if we try very hard we will end up serving one and neglecting the other.  One can have both money and God; but one cannot serve both money and God.  Jesus is speaking about an issue of the heart.  Money in itself is amoral, which means there is nothing wrong with having riches.  The problem comes when the riches control us if we love them, and our sacrifices and efforts are to attain money rather than knowing God.  Paul declared in 1 Timothy 6:10 “The love of money is the root of all evil,” so we have to be careful to live our lives to the service of God, rather than being servants to money.

- Written by Ray Angulo

"So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother..." Luke 7:15-16 NKJV

16 Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”

After Jesus gave this young man his life back, people were scared.  It is understandable that fear will come upon the people since they have witnessed a dead man come back to life.  It is important to note the revelation received by the crowd.  When the multitude spoke “God has visited His people” it meant that they were convinced that God had come down to be among us, hence the prophecies were then fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah. God promised through the prophets all over the Old Testament the coming of the Messiah, and in this case Jesus’ miracle open their eyes concerning who He is.  In conclusion, we need to realize that the miracles we have encountered in our life are a gift of God’s never-ending grace, and hence we ought to be thankful and seek to glorify Him. 

- Written by Ray Angulo

"Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”" Luke 7:14 NKJV

The crowd that carried the dead young man stopped in awe since Jesus made a radical statement by touching the coffin.  By Judaic law, any Jew was prohibited from touching a carcass since it was impure (Numbers 19:11), specially a rabbi like Jesus.  It is amazing to read about the power of the word of Christ.  Who is He to command a dead man to walk again? He not only had the power over death, but He Himself is the source of life.  He who spoke the universe in existence (Genesis 1:1) and made humans in His own image  (Genesis 1:26). This is such an amazing truth, and he who lives in this hope will be free from the fear of death that keeps us in bondage. 

- Written by Ray Angulo

"When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”" Luke 7:13 NKJV

Jesus exuded such an abundance of life that people loved to be with Him. At the same time, He was the man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). “He was not the man of sorrows because He was depressed about His own situation, but because He had such great compassion (Courson).” Jesus told the woman “do not weep,” but Jesus himself wept when Lazarus His friend died (John 11:35). God’s love is so enormous that He came down to earth to carry our sufferings so we would not have to go through the agony of the fear of death, and give us the ticket to eternal life.  No matter how bad of a situation we are going through we can be sure that Jesus has compassion for us, and He will gives us strength to endure it. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear...(Psalm 46:1-3).”

- Written by Ray Angulo

"And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. " Luke 7:12 NKJV

“In Nain we see two groups of people: one going into the city rejoicing, the other leaving the city weeping (Courson).” The group going to the city was rejoicing because they were traveling with Jesus.  The group leaving the city was weeping, because they didn’t know the hope in Jesus. 

It is probable that every single one of us is in one of this crowds right now.  Some are traveling to a city with Jesus, and some others are traveling to the cemetery without Jesus. If we are traveling with Jesus, our destination is that glorious eternal city that God promised to Abraham, a city not made with human hands but by God (Hebrews 11:10). Such city doesn’t need any lights because the bright light of our Lord shines throughout the city (Revelation 21:23). In contrast, if we are not traveling with Jesus the only option left is to head to the cemetery.  The inevitable destiny that we all have is death, and without Jesus there is no scape from it. For Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one goes to the father except through me (John 14:6). 

- Written by Ray Angulo

"Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. " Luke 7:11 NKJV

Jesus is traveling with his disciples from Capernaum to the small town of Nain. “The  account is not accidental since Jesus went close to twenty-five miles out of His way to go to the small town of Nain (Courson).” In most instances of the New Testament Jesus didn’t traveled at random, but it seems He had specific appointments with certain individuals.  Evidently, Jesus was at the right place and time to make an impact in the life of those who were broken and afflicted.  In the same context we could mistakenly think that God is far from us, or if we have encountered Him we could be under the impression that our salvation was coincidental.  In contrast, the truth is much more amazing.  For God has known us from our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), and He loved us and set us apart for salvation even before we were born (Galatians 1:15).   There is no coincidence, God seeks us lovingly and patiently throughout our lives.  Today, try to have a quiet moment to meditate about what God has done in your life.

- Written by Ray Angulo

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

Have you ever tried to figure out how you’re going to make ends meet at the end of the month, or have you been worried lately about anything? Well you’re not alone, and there is good news. God said that you should not worry about anything no matter how bad it looks (Matthew 6:25-33). It seems that we as human beings tend to judge a problem by circumstances, and sometimes we leave God and prayer as a last resort only when we have exhausted any possibility of fixing the problem by our own means. God actually wants us to pray first, and leave it up to Him without considering any bad circumstances, for there is nothing impossible to God (Luke 1:37). God wants us to learn to trust Him, and the true test is presented when we are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and then decide to leave it up to God. Even when everything seems lost we need to keep trusting Him. The light at the end of the tunnel might be closer than we think. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).”

- Written by Ray Angulo

“But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” Luke 4:4

Immediately following His baptism, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to the wilderness where after fasting for 40 days He was tempted by satan. Isn’t it curious that we are often tempted with our weakness at the right time? That is because the enemy knows us and is lurking in the darkness like a beast waiting for the opportunity to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). In this passage Jesus is showing us how to defeat our adversary the devil. Please notice that Jesus did not fight him directly, nor called angels from heaven to defend Him, but simply quoted the word of God. Jesus used the scriptures as a weapon, a sword that Satan could not defeat. The Lord shockingly stated in Matthew 10:34 that He had come down to this world not to bring peace, but a sword. Think about it! The “sword” to defeat satan is the very words that Jesus spoke, and the prophets wrote. There is no coincidence that in Revelation 1:16 the apostle John described in his vision seeing the Lord as a being brighter than the sun, and with a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His mouth. We ought to realize that if we want to defend ourselves from the evil one, we need to know the word and stay in prayer.

Let’s follow Jesus’s example, and let us face temptation every time with the words of our Bible.

- Written by Ray Angulo

“For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth comes knowledge and understanding” Proverbs 2:6

The second chapter of proverbs is filled with practical insight on one of the most important things that we as believers need to learn in life, and that is wisdom. Such wisdom and understanding will lead us to the fear of the Lord. Interestingly, the Bible in this particular verse focuses on the prioritization of seeking wisdom and understanding. God promises to give wisdom when we cry out for discernment, lift our voices for understanding, seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5). Remember that true wisdom starts with the fear of our Almighty and Everlasting God (Proverbs 9:10).

- Written by Ray Angulo

“... For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time then vanishes away.” James 4:14 NKJV

Isn’t it interesting that the Bible draws this beautiful analogy for us about life being just like a vapor? Have you ever looked at the steam that comes out of your hot coffee in the mornings?   It seems like the vapor rises up from the liquid and suddenly vanishes into the air without warning and there is nothing we can do to maintain it or make it last longer, for if you try to hold  it, it will slip through your fingers. 

In this particular paragraph the Bible is referring to all of us who live our lives thinking that we are going to go on indefinitely doing business, tattooing, or just enjoying life.  The truth is contrary to our notion of time.  In reality nobody knows what is going to happen the same day, nor week. James is encouraging us to live the day for the Lord and not boast nor presume of any length of time ahead of us (James 4:13-14).

Next time you enjoy your favorite hot beverage, remember that your life is a temporary vapor. Now ask yourself: What am I doing with my time left on this earth?

- Written by Ray Angulo