Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How Can I Feel God's Presence?

During a recent Saturday visit to the local county jail, I got the opportunity to share with three inmates about the importance of following God's plan.  It was a wonderful discussion and great reminder of the blessings that come with being obedient to God.  I wonder how many people are confused about what His plans are for their lives.  How can someone feel God's presence and seek His will?  After all, it is difficult to follow a plan if you do not have the instructions.  Luckily for us, God gave us a blue print by creating the Ten Commandments for the world.  A series of commands that apply to both God and man to protect and keep us safe.

1) Have no other gods.
2) Have no idols.
3) Honor God's name.
4) Honor the Sabbath day.
5) Honor your parents.
6) Do not murder.
7) Do not commit adultery.
8) Do not steal.
9) Do not perjure yourself.
10) Do not covet.

I truly believe that when you commit yourself to knowing and being obedient to these commands, you are taking the proper steps to encountering God's presence.  Let's not forget that God is constantly pursuing us.  The Bible says, "Your thoughts towards us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered" (Psalm 40:5).  It is not a matter of whether He is pursuing us but rather are we pursuing Him.  When we are diligent in keeping His commands, we are being obedient which results in us seeking and finding His presence in our lives.  That is a beautiful place to be and a coming attraction to being in His midst forever in heaven.  How fast a day can pass with only slightly thinking about God.  Let's be mindful every day to marvel and reflect on our awesome and mighty God.  The fact He thinks of us so much and so often should be humbling. 

When we encounter God's presence, we get the opportunity to acknowledge His glory because He is working inside of us.  Being obedient to His commands opens the door to following His will and bringing glory and honor to His name.  His glory ultimately affects our decisions, words, actions and priorities.  Ask yourself these simple questions.  Do I include God in the decisions I make?  Are my words bringing glory to God?  Are my actions reflective of Christ living and working inside of me?  Are my priorities aligned so that He is first in my life?  Do you seek and thirst for God?  If you don't, it will be extremely difficult to encounter His presence.  If you do, He will meet you and you will find so much more value, worth and excitement in this life as you live according to His plan and purpose.  I encourage you to put on the new self.  "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father" (Colossians 3:15-17). 

Your Brother in Christ,

Miguel "The Hitman" Viera #40

"Committed to tackling souls for Christ"

Visit www.trafford.com/06-0375 to read about Miguel's book "Walking on Higher Ground and Awakening the Spirit Within: A Christian Student Athlete's Spiritual Journey Through the Doors of College and Beyond." To learn more about Playing for Jesus Ministries, visit http://miguelrviera.wix.com/pfjm

 



 


Monday, April 29, 2013

God Knows You Better Than You Think

During the writing of this blog, the population clock said there were 7,081,644,200 people in the world.  As astounding as that number is, the God that created the heavens and the earth knows each of us so well, the Bible says "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Matthew 10:30).  Let's put that into perspective.  Let's say God thought about each of us once a day.  His thoughts towards the people in this world would number 2,584,800,133,000.  That is a pretty staggering number; however, it really is only the tip of the iceberg when you read Psalm 139: 17-18.  It says "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with you."  Thoughts in more number than the sand?  That would compute to a number larger than this blog or better yet this world can comprehend.

Does God really think about me that much?  Maybe you are reading this and have doubted whether God really cares about your life or you are wondering if your life matters in the grand scheme of things.  The answers to both of those questions are a strong and hearty "YES."  God really does care about your life and your existence matters in a big way.  As a matter of fact, God has a plan and purpose for your life.  Ephesians 2:10 says "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."  He not only knit us together in our mother's womb (See Psalm 139:13), He has good works that have been prepared in advance that we should strive to accomplish for His glory and honor.  

It is exciting for me to think God has created me with a plan and a purpose.  I think a book by John Piper called "Don't Waste Your Life" sums it up best when thinking about making the most of our time on earth.  He says "The opposite of wasting your life is living life by a single God-exalting, soul-satisfying passion."  He goes on to say that single passion, single focus and single goal should be to exalt Christ and His cross in all you do.  Why would someone make that the single focus of their life?  I believe the answer is because He created us, knows us intimately beyond our comprehension and ultimately sent His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins.  That makes Him more than worthy of our praise and honor.  Next time you feel like no one knows what you are going through, remember Psalm 139:3 that says "You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways."  Then take a deep breath and remind yourself that God knows you better than you think.          


Your Brother in Christ,

Miguel "The Hitman" Viera #40

"Committed to tackling souls for Christ"

Visit www.trafford.com/06-0375 to read about Miguel's book "Walking on Higher Ground and Awakening the Spirit Within: A Christian Student Athlete's Spiritual Journey Through the Doors of College and Beyond." To learn more about Playing for Jesus Ministries, visit http://miguelrviera.wix.com/pfjm.
 
       

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Learning to Dance in the Rain

It has been said that everyone is either getting ready to enter a storm, in the midst of a storm or just getting out of a storm. When stormy weather comes your way in life in the form of various trials or even temptations, how are you weathering the storm? Is it difficult? Are you learning something new? Is it driving you to your knees in prayer before Almighty God? I love the quote “Blessed be the storm that blows me into the harbor of the Lord.” It reminds me that we are constantly learning how to grow in our faith in Christ. Growing in wisdom is recognizing a storm and bringing your prayer requests directly to God instead of trying to figure it out on your own. The harbor of the Lord is a great place to be when the storm of life comes blowing.

I can remember as a child always enjoying being in the rain. From jumping in the puddles to opening my mouth and tasting the cold rain drops, God’s creation is something to be enjoyed and appreciated. Are you ready for the raindrops in your life? I’m not talking about grabbing an umbrella so you don’t get wet. I mean the raindrops of life. Do you recognize it as a chance to grow? What would happen if we not only welcomed the rain but learned to dance in it? I’m full of quotes today so here goes another one I enjoy. “Life is not about avoiding the storms of life but learning to dance in the rain.”

What exactly does dancing in the rain look like when we apply it to dealing with difficult circumstances? I think more of a spiritual dance than a physical one. Watching God work in our life through circumstances is a great reason for our spirit to rejoice. Next time you are at your wits end, I encourage you to reflect on Psalm 107:28-30 that says “Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so he guides them to their desired haven.”

Our Creator knows us all too well. He knows exactly what you are thinking right now. I really believe he wants to guide each of us to our desired haven when we are being obedient to His perfect Word. Regardless of the storms that pass us by, let us not forget nothing can separate us from His perfect love. Romans 8:38-39 says “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is reason enough to dance in the rain.

Your Brother in Christ,

Miguel "The Hitman" Viera #40

"Committed to tackling souls for Christ"

Visit www.trafford.com/06-0375 to read about Miguel's book "Walking on Higher Ground and Awakening the Spirit Within: A Christian Student Athlete's Spiritual Journey Through the Doors of College and Beyond." To learn more about Playing for Jesus Ministries, visit www.playingforjesusministries.com.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who is Your Real Enemy?

If I were to ask you who your real enemy was in life, I wonder what you would say. Perhaps you think it is your parents, unruly neighbors, co-workers or even your very own siblings. When pondering this question we really need to go back to the beginning. Not the beginning of your life but the first three chapters in Genesis. Here lies the secret to who our real enemy is and how he wants so desperately to capture our will and keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives.

We know from Genesis 1:26 that we were created in the image of God and given authority over all the things created before us. When you think of all that was created, humans are the only ones able to interact with God. We can read and meditate on his Word, sing praises to His name, pray to our Almighty Father and show others His incredible love by allowing His Holy Spirit to work through us. In the very beginning Adam and Eve were created to have close fellowship with the God of all creation

Not long after Adam and Eve were created, they were tempted in the Garden of Eden.
Prior to being tempted they enjoyed an incredible relationship with God. I can only imagine the conversations that took place and the serenity of it all. In Genesis 2:16-17 God commanded Adam “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
A very specific command was given by God that carried harsh consequences.

In chapter three of Genesis a conversation takes place between Eve and the serpent. The outcome of that conversation still ripples throughout all of humanity. The serpent did not come out and offer Eve fruit from the tree. The devil simply started the conversation by questioning God’s authority. He said in Genesis 3:1 “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” The moment Eve and Adam indulged in the fruit, we were separated from God and born into sin. Our Creator knows what is best for us. Let us not fall into the trap of questioning God’s authority in our lives. Deviating from His path will never get you where you need to go. Thank goodness this is not the end of the story! Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we might have life and have it abundantly. He was the ultimate sacrifice for all of our sins.

I recently came across a book that really opened my eyes to the invisible war that is being fought everyday. The battlefield is in our minds and it is a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit. The enemy has been revealed and if we are not sober and vigilant in our daily walk with Christ, our witness to others could be dramatically impacted or even destroyed. The name of the book is called “Know Your Real Enemy” by Dr. Michael Youssef. I highly encourage you to read it. I believe it will challenge you to be more conscious of your walk with Christ and help equip you to have more victories for Him instead of defeats to the enemy.


Your Brother in Christ,

Miguel "The Hitman" Viera #40

"Committed to tackling souls for Christ"

Visit www.trafford.com/06-0375 to read about Miguel's book "Walking on Higher Ground and Awakening the Spirit Within: A Christian Student Athlete's Spiritual Journey Through the Doors of College and Beyond." To learn more about Playing for Jesus Ministries, visit www.playingforjesusministries.com.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Got Fruit?

During our trips to visit family in South Florida, I always enjoy getting to see the orange trees on the side of the highway. During a recent drive I couldn’t help but notice some of the trees were overflowing with sweet, juicy oranges while other trees were unproductive and empty. I started to think about how we are called as Christians to use our spiritual talents to glorify God. I’m reminded of John 15:5 when Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Now just about everyone has heard the saying “Got Milk?” but what about “Got Fruit?” I’m not talking about how much fruit you have in your kitchen or even how many serving of fruit you eat each day. What I am asking is if you have professed Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life, are you actively pursuing being fruitful for the Kingdom of God? Is Jesus the vine in your life and are your branches being productive for His glory and honor? Look at what it says in John 15:8 “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” The whole basis of bearing fruit in our lives through actively pursuing our spiritual gifts is to bring the Father glory. It is how we actively live out our faith in Christ and offer everything to God as a big thank you for the sacrifice of sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins.

Notice what Jesus said in John 15:5 “for without Me you can do nothing.” That is something some people just do not like to hear but it is the truth. When someone is living their life apart from God, think about all that is being lost. Most importantly, their soul is not saved if they do not receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Secondly, think about the incredible opportunity that is being passed up to glorify God through the way they live their life. Our victories become His victories and when the going gets tough we have someone strong to lean on that will always be their for us.

When we bear fruit through Christ, we are becoming His disciples by putting feet and hands to our faith. We move forward with direction, intent and purpose to fulfill the very reason we were put on this earth. I have always been inspired, encouraged and motivated by Philippians 4:13 that says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I wonder if you believe that today. Are people in your inner circle saying there are things in your life that are not possible? I encourage you to ask yourself if you are truly seeking God and His righteousness first in your life. If you are, the fruit should be evident and your branches should be full.

Your Brother in Christ,

Miguel "The Hitman" Viera #40

"Committed to tackling souls for Christ"

Visit www.trafford.com/06-0375 to read about Miguel's book "Walking on Higher Ground and Awakening the Spirit Within: A Christian Student Athlete's Spiritual Journey Through the Doors of College and Beyond." To learn more about Playing for Jesus Ministries, visit www.playingforjesusministries.com.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Whom Shall You Serve?

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Joshua 24:15 that says “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This is a verse spoken by Joshua near the end of his life. He is declaring to all the tribes of Israel that he and his family choose to serve God. He is reminding his people of all of God’s blessings and asking them to make up their minds who they will serve. In verse 24:14 he says “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!”

Have you made the decision to serve the Lord? What exactly does serving the Lord look like? Verse 24:14 gives us some excellent examples of how to serve. It says we are to have a deep respect for who God is and what He has done for us. We are to serve Him with sincerity instead of with ulterior motives. We should serve Him in truth meaning that we follow His will and not ours as we trust He knows what is best for us. False gods and idols should be put away and our focus should clearly be on Him as we serve Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

There is definitely much to be said about the life of Joshua. He was the next in command after Moses and patiently waited for his turn to lead. Verse 24:31 tells us about the effectiveness of his leadership during and beyond his life. It says “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.”

For Joshua it all started when he made the conscious decision to whole heartily serve the Lord. Joshua is an excellent example of someone who lived out Proverbs 3:5-6. He completely trusted the Lord, didn’t lean on his own understanding, acknowledged Him in all his ways and as a result his paths were directed and blessed by Almighty God. If you haven’t already chosen to serve the Lord, would you consider making that decision in 2010? What a blessing that would be to not only your life and family but also to future generations.


Your Brother in Christ,

Miguel "The Hitman" Viera #40

"Committed to tackling souls for Christ"

Visit www.trafford.com/06-0375 to read about Miguel's book "Walking on Higher Ground and Awakening the Spirit Within: A Christian Student Athlete's Spiritual Journey Through the Doors of College and Beyond." To learn more about Playing for Jesus Ministries, visit www.playingforjesusministries.com.

Kettlebell Meltdown 300 Workout

25 Hanging Knee Lifts
50 Snatches
25 Push-ups
50 Swings
50 Burpees
50 Clean and Press
50 Mountain Climbers

To view the youtube video on these exercises, google Kettlebell Meltdown 300 Workout. Please note I changed the V-Ups to Hanging Knee Lifts because it is easier on my lower back. Enjoy!