Monday, July 16, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, July 16, 2018

Let Us Give Our Cares to a Caring God

On Monday, July 16, 2018, President Trump and President Putin are scheduled to talk in Helsinki, Finland.  The world awaits this discussion with trepidation since their decisions can affect many lives.  Perhaps they will agree to peace in our time; perhaps they will leave in anger and the world may have to prepare for World War III.  Those who love the Lord do not have to be as concerned about this momentous event because we are citizens of another kingdom (Hebrews 13:14) and our hearts and minds are on Christ (Colossians 3:1-2). 

The Bible says we are not to be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6). God controls all of the world leaders (Proverbs 21:1).  Not only that, He holds everything with His word (Colossians 1:16-17).  Our responsibility is to pray for all of those who are in authority since our prayers are effective (James 5:16).  

When we hear people are stressing out about what is going to happen, we can assure them that nothing can happen without God’s permission.  Laurie London had a song entitled; “He's Got the Whole World in His Hand.” He holds the babies, you, everyone and me under his loving concern.  So let us cast all of our concerns, cares, and worry upon Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Hebrews 13:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

Colossians 3:1-2
New International Version (NIV)
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Philippians 4:6
New International Version (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Proverbs 21:1
New International Version (NIV)
In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him

Colossians 1:16-17
New International Version (NIV)
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

James 5:16
New International Version
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

1 Peter 5:7
New International Version (NIV)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pastor's Pondering, July 10, 2018

Wake, Pray, Slay

I recently saw a shirt with the “Wake. Pray. Slay” motto on the back. I imagined waking up, praying to God for direction, and then taking a sword and suddenly and violently slaying everything that was not like God.

In the Bible, Christ established a unique way of living. He communicated often with His Father and performed miracles people had never seen before. He healed the sick, commanded evil spirits to come out of people, and even turned water into wine. Towards the end of his life on earth He tells his disciples that they will do even greater things than He did (John 14:12)!

Although that may seem hard to believe, God wouldn’t have said it if he didn’t mean it. As Christians or “followers of Christ” (Acts 11:26) when we first wake up, we are to act just like Christ (1 John 4:17b), pray (Mark 1:35) and do not accept evil spirits in ourselves or others (Mark 1:39, Mark 16:17). Just like Jesus told Satan, we are to also tell him to get behind us (Luke 4:8). 

Every morning the world presents itself to us as something overwhelming. But we have the Greater One and we are to go about doing what Jesus did. He laid hands on the sick for their recovery, He fed the hungry, He comforted the lonely; He healed all of those who devils had attacked (Acts 10:38).  This morning and every morning, let us wake up ready to act like Jesus, let us pray just like Jesus and let us work His work and slay everything that is not like Him.

John 14:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Acts 11:26
New International Version (NIV)
26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

1 John 4:17b
New International Version (NIV)
17 … In this world we are like Jesus

Mark 1:35
New International Version (NIV)
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 1:39
New International Version (NIV)
39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Mark 16:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

Luke 4:8
King James Version (KJV)
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Acts 10:38
New International Version (NIV)
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, July 2, 2018

How Will You Respond To The Call For Sacrifice?

In a year where selfish acts seem to dominate the media, Bethany Hines wrote an article about a man who saved a young boy from drowning on Saturday, June 23, 2018.  She wrote, “Even though he couldn't swim, Victor Mozqueda jumped into a raging river to save a 5-year-old boy from drowning. He rescued the boy, but died in the process.”  He was risking his own life, “But Mozqueda never let go of the child.”  How many of us would be willing to lose our lives to save someone else?  

The Bible says that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for your friend (John 15:13).  Mr. Mozqueda’s sacrificial act of love was unbelievably awesome, but Jesus gave His life for the entire world (1 John 3:16). God so loved the entire world that ignored Him, mocked Him, and made idol gods to worship.  In spite of this, God gave His Son, Jesus, to deliver us from eternal damnation so that we could have eternal life (John 3:16).

Most of us will never have to lay down our natural lives for others, but how many of us will give up our precious time for others?  How many of us will go out of our way so that others can have decent meal or babysit their children so that they can see a movie in peace? How many of us will become active in civic life to champion a cause rather than complain about our political leaders? The Bible says that we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1).  He wants us to give our lives to Him so that He can work through us to bless the world.  

When the prophet Isaiah saw a vision of God, He heard a voice asking who will go and work for God and he agreed that he would go (Isaiah 6:8).  God is looking for those who will give their lives sacrificially for His cause to help those in need, to put others before ourselves and to allow God to use us.  Victor Mozqueda answered his call.  Will you?

John 15:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

1 John 3:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

John 3:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 12:1
New International Version (KJV)
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service

Isaiah 6:8
New International Version (NIV)
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Monday, June 25, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, June 25, 2018

Keep Hope Alive; God Is Staying With Us

No matter your political views, we can all agree that these are perilous times. People on all sides of the political spectrum are convinced their views are rational and logical while everyone else’s opinions are irrational and illogical.  Many believe our leaders do not tell the truth and are only serving their own self-interests.  The Bible says that we will hear about wars and rumors of war, earthquakes, and other disasters, but that the end of days is not yet.  These are simply the beginnings of anguish and trouble (Matthew 24:6-8).

What should those who love the Lord do in these trying times? First, it pleases God when we pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-3) because the effectual fervent prayers of the righteous are powerful in these dire situations (James 5:16b).  Second, we have to take a principled stand. In 1945, Dr. Gordon A. Eadie, in a journal called “Mental Hygiene,” wrote, “If they don’t stand for something, they will fall for anything.”  The Bible says that when the evil days come, we should stand (Ephesians 6:13).  

Third, we must ask for wisdom from God. Our academics are divided, our ecclesiastical leaders are supporting positions that they would have opposed a few years ago, and our political leaders cannot get consensus even in their own parties. God gives wisdom and understanding for these tough times (Proverbs 2:6).  We must not lose hope and give into despair since God is still in charge of man’s affairs. 

Truly, we live in tough times.  There is pain and suffering on every hand.  Thank God that all things work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). No matter what is going on in the world, we can be strong and courageous. God tells us not to worry or be afraid since He will always be there for us (Deuteronomy 31:6). 

Matthew 24:6-8
Amplified Bible (AMP)
You will continually hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end [of the age]. 
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 
But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish and the time of unprecedented trouble].

1 Timothy 2:1-3
New International Version (NIV)
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 
for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 
This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

James 5:16b
New International Version (NIV)
16… The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Ephesians 6:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Proverbs 2:6
New International Version (NIV)
For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Romans 8:28
New International Version (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Deuteronomy 31:6
New International Version (NIV)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Monday, June 18, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, June 18, 2018

Delayed But Not Denied

In the June 16, 2018, “Times of Israel” paper, it was reported that Eric Abramovitz, a McGill University student in Quebec, attempted to get a scholarship to study under the renowned clarinetist, Yehuda Gilad, at a prestigious university.  The scholarship covering everything is “virtually a guarantee of a high-paying symphony career directly out of college.” 

However, his girlfriend intercepted his email and turned down the offer in his name to prevent him from moving away from her. She deleted Gilad’s email offering the scholarship, created a new email address similar to Gilad’s real one, and wrote Abramovitz a rejection letter. Later, Abramovitz found out her scheme and two years later he received the scholarship. 

This was a reprehensible scheme to maintain a relationship, but in the Bible, Satan constantly demonstrates that he will attempt to kill, steal, and destroy whatever one attempts to do (John 10:10a).  In the book of Daniel, Daniel had been praying to God about understanding a vision that he had been given with no results.  Suddenly, he saw an angel who said that he had been delayed from answering Daniel’s prayer because a powerful demon had held him up for twenty-one days. Fortunately, the angel was assisted by Michael, one the most powerful heavenly angels, who helped him to get through to Daniel with the answer (Daniel 10:11-13).

We have to know that we must wait upon the Lord and not give up because we will be victorious (Galatians 6:9).  Although what we feel God has promised has been delayed, it does not mean that He has said “No.”  In fact the Bible says His promises are “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).  It can be difficult to go through life waiting for God to answer prayer, but He will answer.  The Bible says that when we ask for what He has promised us, He hears us and if He hears us, we have what we ask for (1 John 5:14-15).

We must not listen to the worldly message of doubt, fear, unbelief, anxiety, or worry. His promises may not come when we want them or in the way that we want them, but He is a faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9).   We may feel that our answer may be deferred, but let us not give up hope and decide that they are denied since He knows there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Let us encourage each other and ourselves that our God is a faithful God who loves us and will keep His commitment to us.  

John 10:10
New International Version (NIV)
10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; 

Daniel 10:11-13
New International Version (NIV)
11He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.
12Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.

Galatians 6:9
New International Version (NIV)
9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

2 Corinthians 1:20
New International Version (NIV)
20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

1 John 5:14-15
New International Version (NIV)
14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 
15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Deuteronomy 7:9
New International Version (NIV)
9Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments

Ecclesiastes 3:1
New International Version (NIV)
3There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

Monday, June 11, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, June 11, 2018

You Are Your Neighbor’s Keeper

In the July 2, 2017, issue of Think Big, Philip Perry wrote, “Today, being white and male are the two single greatest risk factors for suicide in the US.”  According to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics(NCHS), suicides increased from 42,773 in 2014 to 44,965 in 2016. On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014…the highest rate recorded in 28 years.” Just like the deaths of celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, the anguish of suicide reverberates long after their passing.

We may never understand or understand too well the mental health state and circumstances that lead to the total despair of those who terminated their life. Their smiles and jokes may hide terrible pain.  Although this world’s system is “dog eat dog,” we in the body of Christ must be aware of those around us.

The Bible tells us that men ought to always pray (Luke 18:1).  Your prayers can help comfort someone who feels lost and in pain (James 5:16). They may also need prescriptions to help their illness or encouragement to seek other medical or psychological treatments.

The body of Christ has been placed in particular places and times to work God’s work (John 9:4).  Have we ignored that woman could use a free babysitter?  Have we forgotten to invite the co-worker to dinner when we have our festivities?  Have we overlooked the lonely senior citizen who thinks life is no longer worth living? Perhaps an encouraging word, perhaps a smile or a friendly conversation may help them out of their spiral of depression.  When we are praying, are we focusing on our own needs rather than the needs of others? 

Let us take a moment and think about those around us, those who we have lost contact with, those who have had tragic life events, and those whom God sends across our mind.  Let us pray and ask God for His help for them.  Perhaps we may be the last person to throw them a lifeline before their final solution. Yes, we are our neighbor’s keeper. 

Luke 18:1
New International Version (NIV)
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

James 5:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

John 9:4
New International Version (NIV)
As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, June 4, 2018

We Are In God’s Royal Family

The problem of race and ethnic divisions in America permeates much of our political, economic, and social discussions.  “And a new Pew Research poll reflects that, with a majority of Americans — 60 percent — saying that the election of Donald Trump has led to worse race relations in the United States.” Formerly rational people are now reduced to screaming their positions and producing “more heat than light” when they are in discussions about race and ethnic divisions.

While man spends an inordinate amount of time looking on outward appearances, ethic groups, or skin color, God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).   When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we became covered in Christ.  Those surface distinctions were incorporated under “you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:27-28).”   

Yes, there has been and continues to be hatred, ignorance, mistreatment and abuse. It comes from the place inside of us that has not been submitted to God. He instead would have us look to Him for our needs and not fight and quarrel with others (James 4:1, 2).   

Let us look to the future when those who love the Lord will all be gathered together in the New Heaven in our white robes washed in Jesus’ blood and praising God. We will not be discussing what divides us, but we will be focused on our Savior, Christ Jesus (Revelation 7:9, 10). Thank God, in spite of our divisions, we are His chosen people, His royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9)!

1 Samuel 16:7 
New International Version (NIV)
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Galatians 3:27-28
New International Version (NIV)
27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

James 4:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

Revelation 7:9, 10
New International Version (NIV)
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

1 Peter 2:9
New International Version (NIV)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.