Monday, March 19, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, March 19, 2018

Let God Guide Us In Our Schools

In the Washington Post on March 12, 2018, Philip Rucker wrote that some of our political leaders are suggesting that we arm teachers to prevent mass school shootings. David Moye wrote an article on March 16, 2018, in the Huffington Post, entitled, “Ohio Legislator Says Students Should Be Able To Bring Guns To School.” The article states that the legislator “...told the Dayton Daily News that teens who meet the legal requirement of gun ownership should have the option of bringing rifles to class.” On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, students all over the country marched out of their classrooms asking, “Am I next?” for seventeen minutes in commemoration of the 17 people killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, 2018.

In the 2005 movie, Lord of War, Nicholas Cage asks, “There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?”  It is as if gasoline is being poured on a fire to see what is going to happen next. There are people who feel quite justified in having guns everywhere.  Their security lies in their ability to return fire when they perceive they are under attack.

All throughout the Bible, God declares that He will fight for His children.  When the Egyptians were chasing the children of Israel and when Judah’s King Jehoshaphat faced a great army, God committed Himself to their protection (Exodus 14:14, 2 Chronicles 20:15).  God has promised that He will go before us in trouble and He will protect us from behind (Isaiah 52:12).

Going to school is hard enough without having to worry about being attacked.  Those of us who love the Lord have to remember God’s promises and call upon Him for His leading and guidance.  He may tell us to appeal to Congress, run for Congress, start a recall election for some unresponsive politicians, or march in the streets.  God may also have us slip to our knees and petition Him for His wisdom and favor so that we can have permanent protections for our schools.  God will answer our prayers for our schools.

Exodus 14:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

2 Chronicles 20:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Isaiah 52:12
New Living Translation
12 You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, March 12, 2018

An Enemy Talks But God Has Spoken

In the March 8, 2018 issue of Yahoo News, Rob Waugh wrote an article entitled Vladimir Putin says he will destroy the world with nuclear weapons if Russia is threatened. The article indicated, “…This would be a global catastrophe for humanity but I, as a citizen of Russia and the head of the Russian state would like to ask you this – what do we need a world for if there is no Russia in it?”

The Baby Boomers remember the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crises where Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and President John F. Kennedy narrowly avoided a full-scale nuclear war.   As terrifying as these international confrontations are, they pale in comparison to the very real American attack of dropping nuclear bombs on Japan on August 6, 1945, where seventy thousand people were killed in less than a minute. Many more were killed and wounded from subsequent bombings.

But the Bible says that those who love God should not be troubled by wars, rumors of war, or catastrophes over the world (Matthew 24:6-7).  In spite of mankind’s inhumanity to man and the willingness of people to objectify, demean, and then destroy others without compunction, kindness, or concern, God says that we must not allow our hearts to be troubled (John 14:27).  He is looking out for us.  King David wrote that our God, our helper, does not take naps or sleep and will not let our feet slip (Psalm 121:2, 3, 5).  God promised that we may see destruction all around us, but He will be with us (Psalm 91:7, 9-11).  This is not to say that nothing will ever hurt us, but if God is for us, He is more than the whole world against us (Romans 8:31).

Evil people are plotting all over the world to seek advantages for themselves and to confuse, confound, control, and conquer others.  We must remind ourselves that God is still in charge and the enemy can do no more than God allows them to do. Let us also remember that God has spoken His words of consolation, comfort, and care for us and He has the last word.

Matthew 24:6-7
New International Version (NIV)
6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

John 14:27
New International Version (NIV)
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Psalm 121:2, 3, 5
New International Version (NIV)
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
5 The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

Psalm 91:7, 9-11
New International Version (NIV)
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

Romans 8:31
New International Version (NIV)
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, March 5, 2018

The Lamb of God Was Slain But Now He Reigns

On Saturday, March 3, 2018, my youngest daughter and I watched the Black Panther movie which as of this weekend made over $500 million dollars and no doubt will be one of the largest grossing movies in history with a mind-boggling budget just over $200 million dollars.  In this film, a newly installed king is charged with confronting a powerful enemy to save his nation. Clearly, we have come a long way from the Blaxploitation films of the seventies.

As thrilling as this film was, one cannot help but reflect what Jesus has done for us.  He laid down His life for our rebellion and defeated a bitter enemy. For His sacrifice, He received power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and praise (Revelation 5:12).  Our loving God then released His mighty power into the body of Christ and now reigns and makes intercession for us in heaven (Matthew 28:18, Hebrews 7:25).

We were impressed by the sacrifice of the young king in the Black Panther movie who went through great tribulations to fight against evil. However, we are much more impressed by our Risen Savior that delivered us from the penalty, the power, and the presence of sin (Colossians 2:14-15). He is blessing us, keeping us, comforting us, and prospering us.  Our God reigns!

Revelation 5:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 In a loud voice they were saying: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!

Matthew 28:18

New International Version (NIV)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Hebrews 7:25
New International Version (NIV)
25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Colossians 2:14-15
New International Version (NIV)
14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, February 25, 2018

Our Victory Was Won Over Two Thousand Years Ago

The 2018 Winter Olympics has ended and we have seen participants push themselves to win medals or even have the privilege of participating in the games with some of the world’s finest athletes.  This was an awesome display of dedication, talent, and determination to test their bodies to their extreme limits.  Most of us will never stretch our bodies to see what we are capable of.  Perhaps we might have also stood proudly on the podium with the anthem of our country being played.

In a given contest, it would have been much easier to know that you had already won your prize before you began.  The Bible says that we are already seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that He could show how kind He already has been to us in the ages to come (Ephesians 2:6, 7).  We are not winners because of our own fleshly efforts trying to beat someone else, score more points, or to please earthly judges.  If we did, we could boast about our efforts, but it is God’s unmerited favor or His gift to us (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul speaks about his pressing toward his goal to win his prize (Philippians 3:12, 14).  However his goal was not to defeat others, but to be more like Christ.  Paul wanted to know Him experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him and experiencing the mighty power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10). 

Thank God for the splendid and overwhelming performances of our athletes.  However, we are in an eternal battle that Jesus has already won. He defeated death, hell and the grave (Revelation 1:18). He stands victorious on the podium and we are with Him in victory since we are just like Him in this world (1 John 4:17).  Thank God for our victory in Him. We triumph with Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:14).

Ephesians 2:6-9
New International Version (NIV)
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Philippians 3:12, 14
New International Version (NIV)
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:10
Amplified Bible (AMP)
10 And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did];

Revelation 1:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades

1 John 4:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus

2 Corinthians 2:14
King James Version (KJV)
14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.