March 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
Below is an article that I wrote in honor of Great Friday, enjoy!
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. -John 19:30
Today is a day that we all hold in reverence as we observe the day that our Passover Lamb was led to the slaughter so that we can be made justified in Him. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is immense. He lived a flawless, sinless, law-fulfilling life, and His payment was death by execution on a cross. Of course, His life was not taken from Him, but rather He gave it of His own free will.
When He was nailed to the cross he experienced separation from God (so that God would never forsake us), became the curse of all the sins from all the sinners who had ever lived and would ever live (so that the curse of sin would be broken over our lives), and ultimately was sent to Hell (so that anyone who believes in Him can have eternal life in Heaven). Think about that last one for a second… Jesus did not just die for your sins, He went to Hell in your place. The One who knew no sin, became sin, paid the penalty of sin (death), and descended to the fiery pit of Hell.
That is humbling.
But Jesus gives us a hint, through His pain, blood and tears, that He knows something. You see, Jesus is the only person who lived in Heaven before coming to Earth. He Is the Lamb that was slain from the foundations of the world. He knew that he would suffer this brutality before he entered into Mary’s womb. He knew the end from the beginning.
It’s odd from a human perspective that just seconds before Jesus gives up His Spirit that he says, “it is finished.” The word that he used was the Greek word teleo, meaning to bring to a close, finish, to end; to carry out the contents of a command; to perform the last act which completes a process, to accomplish, fulfil. This is the picture of a command being given, and someone going over every detail to ensure that it gets done, totally, with nothing more to be done.
This is beautiful. Jesus knew before he had descended that He would ascend. He knew at payment for all corruption that there would be a victorious ressurection.
Because He said that “it is finished,” we can now rest in the full knowledge that we no longer have a price to pay. The price for our righteousness has been fully paid, and that is Jesus’ amazing Grace.
But there is more. With the knowledge that it is finished, now you and I can be completed. There is another Greek word which we render completed, pleroo, which means to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or apply liberally; to make complete in every particular, to render perfect.
This word is used by Peter in his sermon at Pentecost (quoting David’s psalm):
You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full (or completed) of joy in Your presence. -Acts 2:28
How awesome! When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, literally the Spirit of Jesus, we can be made full (complete, filled to the full, abounding, perfect in every way) with joy in His presence.
Friend, if you have believed on Jesus as your Savior, He now resides in you, which means that His presence is forever with you. You are not alone, but instead you are made perfect and can be abounding in Joy in His presence. Praise God! Embrace His Holy Spirit. Be made complete in Him.
So while we hold this day in holy reverence, we have no need to be sad for Jesus, for He gave His life, finishing the work, and we can rejoice in the victory that He supplies in His ressurection.
December 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
Below is a post that I wrote for our missionary website: garzafamily.us
For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:“Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;Let Him be your fear,And let Him be your dread.” Isaiah 8:11-13
I’ve seen a troubling trend among many Christians, and God addressed this for me as I read Isaiah 7-8. You see, in Isaiah 7, God warns the people that three different groups had been plotting to attack them: Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah (Isa. 7:5). He continues on to reassure the people of their victory and that he already knows the fate of these groups. What caught me in chapter 8 is that apparently the people of God had fallen into a habit of thinking based on political defense. They would worry about all the possibilities and speculations of war and tragedy. They wondered what their fate was, and what would happen if their war was lost.
This is what I see God’s people doing in today’s society. Many Christians get together and instead of focusing on what is noble and good (Phil. 4:8), they fall into the trap of discussing political affairs and worry of what will happen if “their guy” wins or not.
“What will happen to gas prices?”
“Well, there goes the stock market, and my retirement…”
“What about the middle-class families?”
“Do the unborn have any hope?”
“Is this the end of Israel?”
“Will the Fiscal Cliff be our ruin?”
I know that the intentions of these brothers and sisters are good, but unfortunately, these political conversations often turn into worry-fests. Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Mat. 25:26-27)
So what did God have to say to His people in Isaiah 8? He warned them not to worry about the conspiracies or threats. The root of worry is fear. God says that if you want to fear, fear the Lord and His Holiness. When He says this, he is establishing His supremacy, not that he wants you to avoid Him in fear. He’s saying that you can fear these earthly things, or you can be aware of the greatness of our God. When you focus on God’s greatness, supremacy, and holiness, and know that God is for YOU and NOT against you, all these earthly worries fade away. Colossians 3: 2-3 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” If you believe on Jesus for your salvation, His desire is that you find peace in your earthly life through Him.
Be ever cognizant of God’s greatness, holiness, and his goodwill towards you by His Son, Jesus. As you focus and meditate on God’s goodness towards you, your fear, worry, and thoughts of conspiracy will grow strangely dim.
God loves you, and His Grace is sufficient for you!
October 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22
Having been raised in the church, I came to be very familiar with the most popular of Christian one-liners. Among these one-liners are Bible based phrases such as, “rest in the Lord”, or “Be a doer of the word, not a hearer only”. These two specifically have confused me because one sermon will tell me that His Grace is enough, so rest in His finished work. Then not too long after the same preacher will tell us that the blessing is in the doing. Faith without works is dead, so to show our faith, we should be doers.
The Lord has in the past several months opened my eyes to the revelation and the mystery of his Grace. It’s as though I’m reading the scriptures with new eyes.
I’d like to examine this concept from James 1:22 and it’s accompanying verses, as I feel there is a key here for you as a believer.
I do want to make one thing clear: the whole Gospel; no, the whole New Testament; no, the whole Bible is summed up in God’s Grace. In the Old Testament when the Law was in place, God’s people proved over and over again that they could not keep the Law, and over and over again God blessed them and called them back to him by Grace. In the New Testament, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to be Grace embodied, taking the penalty of sin and death in our place, and reconciling us to God the Father. Knowing this, it is clear that much of the New Testament is instruction on how to avoid falling back in to legalistic law keeping, while staying in Grace.
OK… Back to James 1. Let’s look at the passage:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
24for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
It’s very easy to take a single verse (usually out of context) and preach a sermon on the concept behind that one verse. The problem with doing this is that it can often show the speaker’s, or writer’s, bias. Most people lean towards teaching legalism or the law, and verse 22 is a prime offender.
What I love about these verses, is that James actually defines what he means. So he first says that if you are a hearer only and not a doer, it’s like you look in the mirror and then walk away and forget what kind of a man (or woman) you are. Hmmm… that’s interesting. So if you are a hearer only, it does not mean that you are lazy, or that you aren’t busy in the church or helping people, but rather, it means that you have not focused on the concept of who you are as a new creation.
Secondly, James tells us exactly what it means to be a doer. A doer is a person who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it. Again, I find this very interesting.
We, as believers, are considered doers of the word when we look into the perfect law of liberty (and continue in it). What is the perfect law of liberty, you may ask? I’m glad you did. The word for liberty here is eleutheria. This word is also used in verses such as:
Romans 8:21 – because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.2 Cor 3:17 – Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty.Galations 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
While there are some other examples, these three come from Paul, who constantly wrote about the battle between Grace and Law. I love that verse from Galations, that we should stand fast in the liberty by which Christ made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. That yoke of bondage is not a yoke of sin, but is actually a yoke of trying to live right on our own by the law.
So, to look into the perfect law of liberty is to intently study, focus on, and curiously examine the perfect law of God’s Grace which makes us free from bondage. As you gain more and more understanding of this unending Grace through Jesus Christ, you are called to continue in it. Continue in His Grace. Don’t be distracted by Christians telling you that God is unhappy with you or that you are not doing enough to earn His blessings… His Grace is sufficient! Live under His Grace!
If you are a doer of the word in this way, the Bible says that you will be blessed in what you do.
Don’t underestimate the goodness of Jesus Christ. He did not die to save you from the yoke of the law, just so you can “be a doer” of more works. No! He took you out of that law of works to cover you with His law of liberty = Grace!
Hallelujah! Thank You Jesus!
August 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Below is a post that I just wrote for www.garzafamily.us :
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. John 1:16
This morning the Lord woke me up early, telling me that he would give me a different way of seeing his scripture and ministry than I had previously known. Not being able to go back to sleep after He woke me, I got up and continued a brief search through the Scripture on the word “grace”. I use the BlueLetterBible app because it has built in access to concordances and lexicons.
As I perused through the list of scriptures using the word, I came across John 1:16-17. It reads:
(NKJV) 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
I have always taken for granted what seem to be little word redundancies. Without the will to dig deeper, I always just read over them. So I decided to go deeper this time, and this is what I found:
(NKJV) John 1:16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
In this verse, the word for “have” and “received” are the same word “λαμβάνω or lambanō”. john also uses the same grace word for “grace for grace”, “χάρις or charis”. The word “for” is translated, “anti” meaning:
1) over against, opposite to, before
2) for, instead of, in place of (something)
a) instead of
c) for that, because
d) wherefore, for this cause
So it reads, “And of His Fullness (Abundance) we each receive receiving indeed grace in place of grace.” how can we have one thing in place of the same thing? To find out part of what makes the grace we receive in place of the grace we have different, we must dissect the next verse.
(NKJV) John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
In this verse, the word for given is “didōmi” which means to give something that already existed. So, the law is something that already existed in the world, but God gave it to Moses tangibly.
This Grace and Truth on the other hand was not given (didōmi), but rather “came” (ginomai) through Jesus Christ. Ginomai means to come into existence. So instead of Jesus’ grace and truth coming from something that already existed in the world, God introduced a new grace and a new truth, of which the world had never known. Jesus’ grace and truth did not exist before He came to display it.
So to go back to verse 16, “and of His fullness (abundance) we each receive receiving indeed a grace that the world has never known in place of the grace that we already knew, a grace and truth that has become redefined through Jesus Christ.
I’m learning more and more about Jesus’ grace. I just found it neat that the morning that the Lord wakes me to tell me that he will reveal things to me that I did not realize, is the same day that he reveals that His grace through Jesus Christ did not exist until He came.
Yours in Victory,
David J Garza
June 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
As part of the 90 Day Mental Fitness Challenge (GetMFC.com), we are reading best selling author Orrin Woodward’s (orrinwoodwardblog.com) book, Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE. This week, we are focusing on Chapter 7 – Resolved: I resolve to develop the art and science of friendship. In this chapter, Orrin suggests 8 Principles of True Friendship. The second principle is that “True Friends Accept One Another”. Below is a beautiful story that illustrates his point:
“A water bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection. And miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw. So I planted flower seeds on your side of the path and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”
Keep Reading and Leading!
David J. Garza
June 13, 2012 § 2 Comments
My family has been attending a new church lately in Nutley, NJ called Liquid Church, and we’ve found that the delivery of the message is quite different from many of the other churches that we have attended. They have a closed-hand/open-hand ideology: closed-hand with the message, meaning that the Gospel is unchanged, but an open-hand with the method, meaning that they will do anything (outside of sinning) to deliver that message. Liquid has tons of online video sermons and resources, which brings me to the point of this post.
Last week, I was online, watching a sermon that Pastor Tim taught called “Broke“, basically a teaching about debt (both US and individual). Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a bit of an economics geek, and totally eat up talks about finances. In the sermon, Pastor Tim shed light on two verses that really struck me. Here’s the line of thought:
If the borrower is the servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7), and a man cannot serve two masters, both God and money (Matthew 6:24), then the man that is slave to debt will find it hard to also serve God.
I know… that’s pretty harsh, right? Is that just piecing together scriptures to make a point that condemns people? I argue, “no”.
Let me tell you a short version of my story:
In 2005, my wife and I were married, and we moved to Syracuse, NY so that Rachel could attend Syracuse University to attain her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics, going on to become a Registered Dietitian. When Rachel graduated we became the typical DINKWADs (Dual Income No Kids With A Dog). We decided to lease a couple of cars, had a mortgage, Rachel’s school loans, and shopped relatively frugally. We thought we were doing good because we paid off the balance on our credit card each month.
Both Rachel and I knew that God had a plan for us to be involved in ministry somehow, but there was one major problem: How could we take that leap into ministry while we have to pay service to our debts?
Therein lies the dilemma. The problem is not that a person with debt cannot serve God in some capacity, it’s that to “surrender all” the debt problem needs to go away.
I know that not every person feels called to ministry full time, but just dream with me for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine an Income Statement with your incoming paycheck on one side, and all your monthly obligations on the other. Now take your mental pencil (or pen, sharpie, giant black marker, torch, etc), and eliminate your car payment. Does the amount of money you keep increase a little? Now eliminate your student loan payments. Your credit card payments. Your mortgage. Imagine the amount of your net income, as if you had no monthly debt payments. How much can you now put towards savings, investments, or charitable giving? Would you be able to put some cash away for that rainy day? Could you save up for that church missions trip you’ve wanted to go on? Could you possibly afford to change jobs to one with lower pay but better quality of life, one where God and family can come first?
Think about it. Pray about it. Your life can change, and it can start with freedom from debt-slavery. Stop trying to serve two masters. Get out of debt, and you’ll see your life change for the better.
For Rachel and I to get out of debt in 3 years, we used a tool from a fantastic leadership development company called LIFE. Their Maximizing Your Finances Pack (reference Member #61237401) has been proven to help thousands of people achieve freedom from debt.
Keep reading and leading!
David J. Garza
June 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
In my journey of personal development, reading dozens of books, and listening to hundreds of audio programs, I have found a common first step in just about all of them. This step is critical to developing your integrity, courage, and direction in your life. While purpose can be defined a dozen different ways, I’ll be utilizing two great tools to define what I think gets to the heart of the issue: Orin Woodward’s Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE and Stephen R. Covey’s classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
“Purpose is what gives a life meaning” -Charles Perkhurst
Orrin Woodward relates the purposeless life to playing a basketball game without a rim:
“One can hurriedly dribble up and down the court; however, nothing of any consequence seems to get accomplished.”
Yes it’s important to start planning and get into action as soon as possible, but if that planning and action is not directed toward the purpose for your life, what is it worth? Too often, we (especially D-type or Choleric Personalities) will rush into action without doing the most important step of answering the question: Why?
Woodward proposes that we can identify our purpose in life by analyzing the intersection of three ideas: Passion, Potential, and Profits. Passion, simply put, is that thing that you are willing to fight and die for. Potential is where “[your] unique gifts and skills” lie. Profit is “turning [your] potential and passion into a fruitful calling.” At the intersection of these attributes is Purpose.
This is a great visual representation of how to discover your purpose. Orrin Woodward is one of the best at taking in-depth concepts and explaining them in fascinating ways.
To go deeper into purpose, we must determine where your North Star is? What will your decisions be judged by? What or who determines your purpose? To answer these questions, we turn to Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
“Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
Security represents your sense of worth, your identity, your emotional anchorage, your self-esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it.
Guidance means your source of direction in life. Encompassed by your map, your internal frame of reference that interprets for you what is happening out there, are standards or principles or implicit criteria that govern moment by moment decision-making and doing.
Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other. It embraces judgment, discernment, comprehension. It is a gestalt or oneness, an integrated wholeness.
Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.
These four factors – security, guidance, wisdom, and power – are interdependent. Security and clear guidance bring true wisdom, and wisdom becomes the spark or catalyst to release and direct power.”
Now consider what it is that you think is the center of your life. Read that section again and ask yourself if your life really represents that center. For example, if your center is faith in Jesus/Bible/Christianity/etc, consider if your security (sense of worth, your identity, your emotional anchorage, your self-esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it), is founded in that faith?
If your center is your spouse, family, money, work, possessions, pleasure, friends, church, self, etc, do you find your guidance (source of direction) in that center? Do you find your wisdom (perspective on life, your sense of balance, etc) and power ( faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish) in that center?
WARNING: Consider carefully what you choose as your center, because it will affect EVERY area of your life (see Alternative Centers in the 7 Habits book). If your center is your spouse, what happens when he or she lets you down? Is your security, guidance, wisdom and power shaken?
“Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” -Bertrand Russel [Athiest]
“You cannot arrive at your life’s purpose by starting with a focus on yourself. You must begin with God, your Creator. You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God – and until you understand that, life will never make sense.” -Rick Warren [The Purpose Driven Life]
To conclude, ask yourself how you can apply this to your life. What is your center? Is your claimed center evident in your daily actions?
Keep reading and leading!
David J. Garza