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Sunday, May 16, 2021

I Can Do All Things

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13
Philippians 4:13 is one of the most memorized and misunderstood scriptures of all time. Steph has it on his shoes, and many have it tattooed on their bodies. Who doesn't want to believe that God will give us the ability to dunk a basketball, bench 500 pounds, be the baddest firefighter to walk the planet, or break any other barrier out there? It's easy to take this verse alone and believe we can accomplish any feat. After all, it says I can do all things, and all things means all things, doesn't it?

If we're not careful, we can all fall into the trap of taking one verse, making it stand alone, and assigning meaning to it. It is the Holy Scriptures that give us and life meaning, not the other way around. When reading scripture, context is everything. The funny thing about Biblical context is that it is never set in present day western society, and it is never solely about us. It might be for us, but if we want to understand God and His Word, then we must know the historical and literary context.

Paul wrote this letter to a church he founded in Philippi from jail while awaiting trial with execution looming over his head. In the verses leading up to 4:13, Paul says, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." He then says, "I can do all things..."

The "all things" Paul is referring to is really about being content. Contentment is being satisfied with your life no matter your circumstances. Its focus is a state of mind, not a physical ability. It is wanting and being grateful for what you have. The trap of this world is to want more and/or think your life would be better if only... Paul is able to be content in jail, where he doesn't have the freedom, people, and things he is accustomed to. He knows that knowing Jesus is the most important thing in the world, and that is enough for Him. Knowing he is loved and forgiven by the God of the Universe has allowed him to be free from the discontentment and restlessness that plagues so many of us. He is able to be grateful for God's amazing grace and mercy. When we focus on God and His goodness, He can give us the power to have joy and peace of mind in every situation, even if the world is falling apart around us. 

May the LORD bless you and keep you!

Sunday, April 18, 2021

My Redeemer Lives

"I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth." -Job 19:25

In the oldest book of the Bible, we find the story of Job. He was a man of great wealth, honor, and integrity. He worshipped God and took care of those less fortunate. Even though it appears he did everything right, he still lost everything near and dear to him: his children, wealth, and health. The scriptures tell us that in all of his pain and suffering he did not curse God. He questioned God, reasoned with God, and cried out to Him, but he did not curse Him.

Job faced accusations, indifference, and isolation from those closest to him. In the midst of great physical and mental anguish, Job chose to trust God. His statement, "I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth," is one of great faith. It is sometimes hard to believe God exists and cares for us when life is hard. It is in those times that we have to dig in and lean on Who and what we know. The only way you can say God is alive, He is near, and He will one day make all of this right either in this life or the next, is by knowing Him. We cannot know God if we don't know His Word(Bible). We can't know God if we stay away from His people(The Church). And we cannot know God if we don' talk to Him(pray).

Like Job, firefighters and first responders are generally considered "good" people. We are the protectors of society who took an oath to protect lives and property. We go to work every day willing to risk our lives to save others. Our acts of service and heroism while noble, don't make us immune to pain and suffering, neither do praying and going to church. 

On the fire ground and in life, we are defined by how we respond to adversity. Our first response should always be to trust in Christ. Choose to believe even when you can't see or feel God working. Choose to believe when doubt creeps in. When you know God, the easier it is to trust Him and His plan. May we be able to proclaim in every situation, "I know my Redeemer lives!"

May the LORD Bless You and Keep You!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

The First Zombies?

"The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised" - Matthew 27:52
Ok. They probably weren't actually zombies, but why doesn't anyone ever mention this verse in conjunction with the Crucifixion? Dead people resurrected in the tombs is a major deal! Jesus has just breathed His last breath. The earth shook and the veil in the temple was torn in two. This let's us know that Jesus' death gives us direct access to God. There are no more barriers or needs for religious ceremonies and sacrifices. Jesus said, "It is finished." Matthew and only Matthew then mentions that the dead woke up!

Jesus' life, death, and resurrection is defined by the miraculous. The virgin birth? Miraculous. Water into wine, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the lame walking, the dead rising? All miraculous. The power of Sin and Death defeated once and for all? MIRACULOUS!

God promised in Isaiah 26:19 that the "dead will live." As always God is the only one who 100% undeniably keeps His promises. Many of us first responders have seen the power of D50 wake someone in insulin shock. I've always marveled at the power of Narcan to resurrect a person overdosed on heroin. Yet nothing compares to the POWER of the CROSS!

Because Jesus Died and Rose, we can LIVE!!! The living people in the tombs are evidence of the new order of things. Death has lost its victory and its sting! We can walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil! We take complete comfort and have confidence in Jesus' words- another promise: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have EVERLASTING LIFE!" This my friend is a big, big, deal and reason to celebrate!
May the LORD Bless You and Keep You,

Sunday, March 28, 2021

The Rocks Will Cry Out

"Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples! “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” -Luke 19:39-40

We know the day as Palm Sunday. Jesus was on His way into Jerusalem for His last week of life before His crucifixion. He enters town as a humble King riding on a donkey colt. His followers understood this as a fulfilment of messianic prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. Jesus was declaring Himself as the Messiah for whom they have waited generations. They waved palm leaves and in homage placed their cloaks on the ground for the colt to walk on. His followers sang His praises and chanted "Hosanna" which means, "God Save Us!" As the crowd surged with joy at the fulfillment of prophecy, this angered the establishment. 

The Pharisees were outraged. To them this was an act of blasphemy and treason, punishable by death. They beg Jesus to correct His followers and shut them up. Against the backdrop of the Mt of Olives scattered with graves covered in stones(see above picture), he ignores their request and says, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." All of Creation declares the Glory of God! Everywhere and in every person we see the creativity, power, and beauty of God. We as His Followers should declare His praises every chance we get. Jesus makes it clear that whether we give Him the glory He is due or not, creation will. 

The stones on top of those graves already sing His praises because... He created them. He holds the power to resurrect the dead under those stones who would then... sing His praises. Jesus is letting them know that He is God who can make inanimate objects alive. He is worthy of all praise. As we enter Holy Week, let us tell of the Goodness of God. Pray that God would give you opportunities to declare His glory. How could we not shout the praises of the One who created us and loved us enough to die for us?

May the LORD Bless You and Keep You!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The LORD Will Provide

"Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together." -Genesis 22:8

This weekend hunters all over the Great State of Texas are sitting in a tree or deer stand somewhere hoping to harvest a deer. It is such a blessing to have God provide "meat for the freezer," food that can feed a family. As I have seen social media posts of God's provision for my friends and family this weekend, I have been reminded that God is our provider. 

Abraham was tested by God and asked to do the unthinkable- sacrifice a son that he waited 90 years to have. So, he took his son and began to build the altar. Not aware that he was the sacrifice, Isaac asked his father, "Where is the lamb?(Genesis 22:7)" Abraham's response was, "the LORD will provide." Abraham knew the promises of God. He was loyal to the God who called him and completely trusted in Him. Isaac was evidence of the promise that God would bless the entire world through his son. Fast forward a few millennia to one of Isaac's descendants, Jesus, the "lamb of God(John 1:29)" provided to "take away our sins!"

God is always providing for us. Every meal, talent, skill, and relationship are gifts from God. Even more so, He provided His son, Jesus to be a sacrifice on the cross to provide us with His Love, Mercy, Grace, and Forgiveness. His Word, the Holy Scriptures, are full of His promises for us. What is it that you need from God in this moment? Is it healing, wisdom, strength, peace, hope, purpose, direction, a new job, a miracle, or your next meal? Whatever it is, we can be certain and have faith just like Abraham that THE LORD WILL PROVIDE. 

May the LORD bless you and keep you!
Sr Captain Bobby Delgado, HFD Chaplain

Photo Credit: Kelly Parker 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Mourn and Rejoice Together

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." - Romans 12:15
Grief and celebration are part of the dichotomy of life. This week the mother of some of my best childhood friends died. Then HFD lost another brother in the line of duty. And, a brother firefighter got to marry the love of his life. To say that life is full of highs and lows is an understatement. 

My take away this week is that no matter what we go through, we are created to go through it together. To rejoice and mourn with others is as simple a command as we can get. Both my extended family and fire family have done this extremely well. We have shed tears, lent empathetic ears, and offered shoulders to cry on. We've shared meals, beers, laughs, and memories together. 

As God's children on this journey called life, we are to come alongside each other and offer our presence as Jesus did. In mourning and in celebration we share in the human experience. We commit to being there for and with our fellow brothers and sisters. We hurt because they hurt, and we celebrate because they celebrate. There are people in our lives right now who need us to mourn or rejoice with them. When we show up for others, we demonstrate that they are loved and they matter. In doing so, we show them the love and presence of God. 

May the Lord Bless You and Keep You!
Senior Captain Bobby Delgado
HFD Chaplain


Sunday, October 11, 2020

More Than You Can Bear

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." - 1 Corinthians 10:13ESV

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, "The Good Lord will never give you more than you can bear." This is probably one of the most flat out wrong "truths" attributed to God and the Bible. It's not found anywhere in all of Scripture. False understanding leads to false application. You aren't allowed to go through tough times because God thinks you are a "bad a$$." You don't have a "black cloud" following you. It isn't "Karma." It is life. Maybe the only "lesson" God is trying to get you to "learn" is to totally depend on Him. (The misquoted statement is actually a misrepresentation of a verse about temptation(see verse above). We all have a choice whether we will give in to temptation or not.)

Life is full of struggles and suffering, heartache and pain. Many preachers gloss over the fact that the Bible does promise we will have trouble(John 16:33, James 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:8). There is no escaping it. Believing in God and being a Christian doesn't make us immune to the trials of life. There have been many days where I've been overwhelmed by all of the hardship this life brings. 2020 has brought more pain and loss than I could have ever imagined. Don't we all feel like the hits keep coming?

It is in times like these that I cling to the promises and truths found in the Holy Scriptures. I cling to the promise that "He will never leave us or forsake us(Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20)." I hang onto the fact that in my "weakness His strength is made perfect(2 Corinthians 12:9)." When we feel the unbearable weight of this world, we must learn to rely on Christ. We must "cast our burdens on Him for He will sustain us(Psalm 55:22)." When you don't have the will, strength, or know-how to carry on, ask Him to carry you through the storm. He can handle it.

May the Lord Bless You and Keep You,
Senior Captain Bobby Delgado
HFD Chaplain