Monday, June 29, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, June 29, 2020

Resting Upon the Lord
Many of us have those people in their lives who like to read the end of story before they start.  They enjoy seeing the conclusion of the movies and then later on watch the introduction of the characters and plots. I am one of those people. I skip to the chase scene; I review the plot of story before I commit to spend hours of my life. People like me want to know the end before the beginning.

Our God knows our end from our beginning (Isaiah 46:10).  He endowed us with purpose even before we were in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5).  He is not shocked or dismayed when He sees our stumbles or falls.  All of our days are laid out before Him (Psalm 139:16) so He can show us the way we should go. He will go before us in life, never leaves us (Deuteronomy 31:8) and give us directions. 

We should not be worried about what is going on in the world. He has the whole world under His control. God will set up one ruler and put down another (Psalm 75:6-7) because He knows that all things work together for the good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  There have been many horrible things that have happened throughout history and many good people have suffered unimaginable tragedies.  Yet God is the head over everything, and He promised that in spite of the bumps and falls of life, He would supply every one of our needs based on His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).  

God has the future, the present, and the past under His complete control.  He is the sovereign God and when His words leave His mouth, they will accomplish what He wants them to do (Isaiah 55:11).  Let us rest in the hands of the God because He is more than enough for us. He has the whole world and all of existence in His hands.  We can have faith in Him and rest knowing that He knows the conclusion of our life story and we win in Him!

Isaiah 46:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’

Jeremiah 1:5
New International Version (NIV)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Psalm 139:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Deuteronomy 31:8 
New International Version
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Psalm 75:6, 7
New International Version (NIV)
6 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.
7 It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

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.

Philippians 4:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 55:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.




Monday, June 22, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, June 22, 2020

Keep Your Eyes On Jesus
Les Brown, the motivational speaker, said, “When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up. Let your reason get you back up.”  The challenges that life has brought us today has made it difficult to even look up.  If it isn’t one horrible event, it is another.  Nevertheless, we should not allow this world system to keep us on our backs. 

The Bible says that we are looking to Jesus who is the beginner and the One who matures our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  When we look to anything else other than Jesus, we are headed for failure.  We may have been fired from our job, the doctor may have given us a sad report, or the judge may be ready to send us away to prison for years.  However, God wants us to know that we will be in perfect peace if our mind is fixed and focused on Jesus (Isaiah 26:3).  The Bible says that He will always causes us to triumph and we don’t have to fear since tyranny and terror will not come near us (Isaiah 54:14).

COVID-19 is killing people all over the world but we have to look to the word of God who said that with His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).  Millions of people are out of work and many businesses will never reopen but we are to see in His word that He will supply all of our need (Philippians 4:19).  The United States’ political system is reeling from lies, false news, inuendo and power struggles but we must believe that the heart of the ‘king’ is in the hand of the Lord (Proverbs 21:1) and people rise and fall by God’s hand (Psalm 75:6-7).

Let us continue to put our trust, our faith, our confidence and even our lives in the One who holds the entire world by His word (Hebrews 1:3).  Let us remember that Jesus is in charge of everything and He wants us to see Him as bigger than our problems. In times of joy, despair and uncertainty, let us keep our eyes focused on Jesus

Hebrews 12:2
New International Version (NIV)
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Isaiah 26:3
New International Version (NIV)
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 54:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you

Isaiah 53:5
New International Version (NIV)
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Philippians 4:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

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

Psalm 75:6-7
New International Version (NIV)
6 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.
7 It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

Hebrews 1:3
New International Version (NIV)
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.




Monday, June 15, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, June 15, 2020

The Memory Of The Just Is Blessed
William Shakespeare wrote the play, “Julius Caesar.” One of the famous lines was, “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.”  Unfortunately, we tend to remember the bad things that people did while they lived and not the good deeds.

I recently had a wonderful conversation with an old friend from our school days.  We spoke of our lives, people who had passed, those who had done well, and those whose complete story had not been written.  In addition, I just read the obituary of a person whom I met and who seemed unimportant to me years ago, but whose life was a blessing to many. We may wonder what people will say about us when we are but a memory

God says the righteous person’s memory is a source of blessing (Proverbs 10:7).  What we have done for good or evil will impact those who think about us when we are gone.  Were we good examples of holiness or was our life a source of shame and degradation? All of those who remember our lives should be inspired to achieve their lofty goals or to avoid our misdeeds. The Bible says that our lives which we desperately cling to are but a soon disappearing vapor (James 4:14).  What we do with those moments between our birth and our passing should bring praise and glory to God.

When those who have known you are remembering your life, let us endeavor to have lived a life that glorified God and exhibited total obedience to Him.  Hopefully we will have been like a book that people read and found valuable life lessons (2 Corinthians 3:2, 3).  Hopefully our words will have been graceful, seasoned and well pleasing to God and man (Colossians 4:6). When we are being discussed years from now, let us endeavor to have those conversations bring joy, peace, and wisdom to all who remember us.

Proverbs 10:7
Amplified Bible (AMP)
The memory of the righteous [person] is a [source of] blessing, But the name of the wicked will [be forgotten and] rot [like a corpse].

James 4:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

2 Corinthians 3:2, 3
New International Version (NIV)
2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Colossians 4:6
New International Version (NIV)
6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone




Monday, June 8, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, June 8, 2020

Let Us Be Holy Not Worldly
It is very easy to believe in the pervasiveness of evil when we see videos of those in authority physically abusing others, getting away with it and acting as if everything is perfectly fine.  As a result, when we hear evidence of crimes at the highest level, many have become cynical and tend to just shrug it off by saying that the rich and famous always get away with things.  However, as saints of the Most High God, we must make a difference between the clean and the unclean (Ezekiel 44:23).  

The Bible says woe to those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).  In the world system, we often see innocent people punished severely while blatantly guilty persons are able to escape penalties for their misdeeds.  When lying is elevated to an art form, it makes explicit the verse in the Bible that says liars are of their father the devil who was a liar from the beginning (John 8:44).  We get misled when our leaders “gaslight” or according to Wikipedia, engage in “psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment.”  

The Bible says that we are to come out from among them and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:16, 17). This means that while we will not judge other’s sins, we will not condone them either.  We must strive to live like Christ did, one of selflessness, honesty and obedience.

Let us decide that those who love the Lord must be held to a standard of holiness which is acting like God.  Because we are His children and He lives within us we need to act accordingly (Galatians 2:20). Let us do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Luke 6:31).  Let us pray for those that misuse us (Luke 6:38). As a result, the world will see our good works and glorify God in Heaven (Matthew 5:16). Let us show holiness to a wicked world system.

Ezekiel 44:23
New International Version (NIV)
23 They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.

Isaiah 5:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

John 8:44
New International Version (NIV)
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies

2 Corinthians 6:16, 17
New International Version (NIV)
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 
17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

Galatians 2:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Luke 6:31
New International Version (NIV)
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Luke 6:38
New International Version (NIV)
38 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you

Matthew 5:16 
New International Version (NIV)
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.





Pastor's Ponderings, June 1, 2020

George Called Out “Mama, I’m Through
It is very painful to consider the agony of Mr. George Floyd as he lay dying on a Minnesota street observed by many, laughed at by some and killed by others.  He begged to be let up --pleading that his life was at stake; ignored until he no longer moved. Many have expressed outrage at this event as they added his death to many others over the years.  Truly our nation is in an uproar over this and other similarly grievous events.  In the midst of this horrific event, Mr. Floyd called to his deceased mother, “Mama, I’m through.” 

It is devastating to hear his pleading for help as he experiences such pain. We can never know what we will do or say or feel as our life ebbs away but hopefully as we lay down, we will also be able to look up and call to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Perhaps we can catch a glimpse of the angels who have come to accompany those that will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14).  Perhaps we will hear God say, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:23).

Hopefully this event like Mr. Rodney King’s beating in 1991 can spur an extended conversation about the “isms” that plague our country.  These isms result in so many dying, damaged, and in distress because of fear, hatred and a lack of empathy and sympathy.  We do not need any more of our citizens laying in the street calling out of because of their pain and bewilderment.  

As we experience this darkness together, we need to cling to our only hope which is in Jesus. We need people who are willing to lay aside their own anxieties, worries, and doubts and love each other as brothers and sisters.  Let us care for those dying in the streets. Let us treat each other as God would treat them (Ephesians 4:31, 32). Please!

Hebrews 1:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Matthew 25:23
King James Version (KJV)
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Ephesians 4:31, 32
New International Version (NIV)
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.



Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, May 26, 2020

Make Jesus Real To You
The dictionary defines “real” as actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed. Much of what passes for reality today is simply imagined or supposed.  An ethnic group may be negatively characterized by this or that opinion. Another country’s inhabitants can be placed in a terrible category simply based upon imaginary beliefs about them. Each person’s reality is what they decide it is which may or may not have any basis on facts. People may then make poor decisions based on their own experiences, prejudices, and attitudes and denigrate or elevate others according to what they suppose is reality. 

However, John P. Kee wrote a song entitled, “Jesus is Real”.  Some of the lyrics are Jesus is real, I know the Lord is real to me. Jesus is real, I know the Lord is real to me. Sometimes when I'm feeling low, nowhere to go, Jesus comes along and He makes me strong. For I know, oh, Jesus is real.  

In spite of some people’s opinions of the reality of Jesus, the truth of the matter is that He is more real than what we see around us. The Bible says that those things that are seen are temporary while those things that are not are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). Our friends may be important to us, but the unseen God will be a friend when others have turned their backs.  One’s lawyer may seem real and tangible, but Jesus is our eternal advocate for us with the Father whenever we sin (1 John 2:1, 2).

Many have decided that Jesus is a fake and God does not exist. According to the philosopher, Karl Marx, Religion … It is the opium of the people".  However, we serve a real, true and living Savior who is a very present help during our troubles (Psalm 46:1).  When the things that we have depended upon for so long fade away, Jesus will be a real God for us throughout eternity (Hebrews 13:5).

2 Corinthians 4:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

1 John 2:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Psalm 46:1
New International Version (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Hebrews 13:5
New International Version (NIV)
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”




Monday, May 18, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, May 18, 2020

Give Him All Of Our Cares and Concerns 
Our daughter, Denise Fair, just left our home to return to her work in Detroit.  A few months ago, we would have all hugged each other and prayed for her safe journey but now we can just pray at a social distance.  Before she left she sang a song to her niece written by Kelly Willard entitled, “Cares Chorus.”  Some of the lyrics are, “I cast all my cares upon You. I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet. And any time I don't know what to do, I will cast all my cares upon You.” 

The Bible tells us to cast all of our cares upon the Lord because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  He keeps record of every tear that we shed (Psalm 56:8). We have the privilege of going to the great Counselor to share our worries, doubts, fears, and anxiety.  He is not going to laugh at our pain or doubt our concerns because He loves us with an everlasting love.  He knows that we are weak (Psalm 103:14) but through Him, we have divine strength to handle anything in life.  We are looking to Jesus, who began and continues to mature our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

The suddenness of the losses of members of our church family and friends due to COVID-19 has cast its pall upon every aspect of life.  We long to return to our casual conversations where we had no specific agenda but simply enjoying the joy of being in each other’s company. Despite this sudden change, we have determined that we will not hold onto our cares and concerns, but we will give God our anxieties and in exchange He gives us his peace. We will share our sorrow while He gives us the comfort of His Holy Spirit, the greater Comforter. Daily, let us cast all of our cares upon Him because He continues to care for us. 

1 Peter 5:7
King James Version (KJV)
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Psalm 56:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll--are they not in your record?

Psalm 103:14
Amplified Bible (AMP)
14 For He knows our [mortal] frame;
He remembers that we are [merely] dust.

Hebrews 12:2
New International Version (NIV)
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.