“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go by it.” Matthew 7:13 NKJV

The seventh chapter of the book of Matthew presents the last part of the greatest sermon ever preached: The sermon on the mount.  Jesus, after preaching to the people is closing His sermon by giving many essential principles.  One of these principles is that we ought to walk by the hard and narrow road.  But what does it really mean to walk by the narrow road?  According to Jesus, there are two roads in life we can choose from: The first road is a wide open highway, and it is filled with many people traveling on it.  The second road is a tough narrow road that brings you up and down a difficult path. 

These two roads are illustrations of two different lifestyles. The first one is a broad road that is easy to travel.  This is the way of the world in which people indulge in their lusts and desires, and in the pride of life.  Such path is easy to travel because there is not a fight within the flesh.  The premise is: “Just do what makes you happy.”  It is a broad road where many go and therefore there is not opposition, for the intense flow of people continue to push you forward.  The catch about this broad highway is that it ultimately leads to destruction... to hell.

The narrow road is a representation of the Christian life.  A true follower of Jesus is he who walks behind his shepherd through the difficult path.  This way is tough because there is opposition from the world, from the enemy (satan), and our own flesh.  This is indeed the difficult path in which we ought to leave our own desires aside, and submit our lives to the will of God.  To follow the shepherd no matter where He takes us.  Thankfully, Jesus promises to be with us through the entire road.  To love, guide, protect, and strengthen us in times of difficulty and temptation. Finally, after all the suffering and difficulty Jesus promises a reward.  The prize is eternal existence, life abundantly in the presence of our Creator.  Eternal life in fellowship with the one who loved us more than anybody has, or ever will... Our good shepherd Jesus Christ.

- Written by Ray Angulo

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her." Ephesians 5:25 NKJV

At the end of the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, Paul writes about two key principles of marriage: The wife’s submission to her husband, and the husband’s selfless love for his wife.  Chronologically, in verse 22 Paul mentions an idea that has been a stumbling block for many people throughout the ages: “Wives, submit to your own husbands...” Many individuals have a negative connotation towards the word submission, but unfortunately they do not know the proper definition, nor context of the word in this particular verse.  

Submission is the act of accepting or yielding to the will of another person.  The marriage enterprise was created by God in order for both parties to agree in respect and love, but when disagreement is encountered someone has to make the decision.  One of the reasons why the wives are asked to submit, is because the husbands are asked to do something even harder: To give their lives for their wives.  So if a man is wiling to sacrifice his own life for the well being of his wife, why wouldn’t it be fair for the wife to respect and listen to her husband? The reason why Paul is commanding husbands to love their wives to the point of death and sacrifice, is to imitate Christ as He died on the cross in order to save His church. 

The scriptures define the church as a group of believers in which the Holy Spirit of God resides, so it is not an actual building.  If we perceive the church to be a gathering place, a cathedral or any other structure made by human hands, we have misunderstood what the real church is.  Christ died for people, not for a building.  This sacrifice was made in order to forgive the sins of the world, and to sanctify us from sin.  If we accept Jesus’ sacrifice and repent from our trespasses, then, we will be presented as pure and innocent in front of God.  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

- Written by Ray Angulo

"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins." Ephesians 2:1 NKJV

Paul explains to believers that because of our sins, we were walking dead, and Jesus made us alive.  He adds that we once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.  The prince of the power of the air is satan, and we were deceived by him.  In context, Paul is declaring the bondage that the devil had once in our lives.  A life under satan’s curse is one which the person lives to fulfill the desires of their flesh.  When someone is living a life where its ultimate pursue is to live selfishly for the fulfillment of their own goals and lusts, then such existence is lived in disobedience to God, and obedience to the devil.  Luckily for us there is a way out of a life in bondage to the devil.

When Jesus died on the cross, He not only died to pay the price of our sin and disobedience, but also to defeat satan.  If we are in Christ Jesus we are no longer slaves to sin, death, and the devil, but we have been adopted to be children of God. Sin and death has no dominion over us, therefore we are set free from the claws of evil.

- Written by Ray Angulo

"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” Galatians 5:14 NKJV

The apostle Paul is asking the church of Galatia to avoid justification by the law.  If anyone is striving for righteousness by following the rules of the Old Testament, then such person is no longer living under God’s grace.  When we strive to pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps and pretend to follow the law, we are rejecting God’s gift of forgiveness and grace.  Paul clearly states that if we are in Christ Jesus the law is of no effect, and we are made free by His sacrifice.  Such freedom gives us liberty from the law.  That doesn’t mean that we should pursue our carnal desires.  Instead, our main focus should be to love God and one another.  

Love fulfills the law, and in this particular verse Paul is quoting Jesus’ reply to the question: What is the greatest commandment of all? This was an important question since the Jews had to follow God’s Commandments, and the 611 laws added by Moses in the Torah.  But Jesus’s response was astonishing! He condensed all the commandments into two: “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul... And You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets” (Mathew 22:35-40).  Amazingly, Jesus said that all the prophets through history were asked to testify for the love of God and one another. 

True Christianity is not about following rules, but is a life devoted to love God and our neighbor, through Christ Jesus.  The key to loving others is by asking ourselves a simple question: If I was this person, what would I like someone to do to me?  If we think this way, we are not going to break the commandments since we wouldn’t like anybody to break such laws against us.  No one would like to be lied to, robbed, cheated, or hated and murdered.  In conclusion, do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12).

- Written by Ray Angulo

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2 NKJV

Despite all the complex theological and philosophical components of God’s revelation, Paul decides to keep the message concise and witness only about Christ and Him Crucified.  This approach is contrary to what was expected at the time, since the Jews anticipated signs or miracles, and the Greeks sought after wisdom and philosophy (1 Corinthians 1:22).  Generally for the world’s society, the idea that God’s son had to come down from heaven and die on the cross might appear foolish, but Paul knows that the Gospel is the power and wisdom of God to those who are called (1 Corinthians 1:24).  It is important to remember that the message is simple: God sacrificed His son for the forgiveness of sins.  To some, this might seem plain and unintelligent.  But that can only be misunderstood by the facade, for when the scriptures are studied carefully it is obvious that the cross of Christ is the pivotal point of human history.  In this manner, Paul declares his complete dedication to the Gospel truth.  To keep it simple, and to the point.  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

- Written by Ray Angulo

“The best data we have [concerning the origin of the universe] are exactly what I would have predicted...”

“…had I nothing to go on but the five Books of Moses, the psalms, and the Bible as a whole.”  - Arno Penzias, Nobel Astrophysicist 

Nobel prize winner Arno Penzias’ statement is astounding!  Even with modern day technology and the advancement of science, specifically through  Astrophysics, there isn’t any “new” news about the universe.  All we know about the origin of the universe through modern science is nothing more than what the Bible tells us. 

Arno Penzias, Woodrow Wilson, and Robert Dike, discovered in 1964 the leftover isotopic microwave radiation  from the “Big Bang.”  Before this discovery, scientist believed that the universe had always existed; therefore was eternal and with no end.  After their discovery, they realized that the universe had a beginning.  The unimaginable creation of the material universe.  Penzias realized, that their scientific discovery was not something new, since it had been written thousands of years before...  In the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

What some people don’t know is that the theory of the Big Bang actually supports the biblical scriptures, as scientific evidence of its accuracy.  The actual discussion between scholars is the question: Was the Big Bang a random explosion that created everything out of nothing? (as the Atheist believe), or it was the energy of the sudden creation of the universe guided by the almighty creator?   Penzias has no doubt about it, and encourages us to understand that this beautiful fine tuned universe is not the product of a random explosion, but the creative product of an intelligence and power beyond our understanding. 

- Written by Ray Angulo

"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