Monday, July 28, 2014

Pastor's Pondering, July 28, 2014

Did You Finish Your Task?

During one day in March, I heard from a close relative that her son's health had deteriorated to the point that there were no other
treatments available and supportive care was the only option. That day he had been placed in hospice care. Although doctors only gave him days to live, my wife and I decided to pray for his health and share the Good News of salvation. To our joy and our relative’s joy, he confessed that Jesus was his Lord and expressed that he believed Christ died for his sins and was raised from the dead (Romans 10:9). That afternoon he smiled a smile that I had not seen in a very long time.  Despite hearing last week that he had quietly passed into eternity, I do believe that he is rejoicing now with our Savior.

How many opportunities have we missed to share the Good News with our friends, family, and neighbors?  Are we too concerned about stepping on toes and being overbearing about our faith? Do we fail to share our story because people are too busy, indifferent, or hostile to hear about God? We have a responsibility to tell all in whom we may come into contact about the Good News.  Our failure to share this truth means that we have not completed the task that God has given to us to go tell everybody about salvation (Mark 16:15, 16).

The bible talks about two gentlemen; one who accepted salvation and one who did not.  While the one ended up in eternal bliss, the other ended up in eternal torment (Luke 16:22-24). The man in torment wanted desperately to have someone return to earth to warn his relatives, but was told that would not work. He was assured that there were people alive on earth who could share the Good News with them (Luke 16:27-31).

May we all remember that we are living on an assignment to reach the lost at any cost.  Let's not waste opportunities to share the promise of eternal life with Christ with our friends, family and others that we meet along life's journey!
Please comment below and tell about when you shared the Good News. You can encourage others to do the same.

Mark 16:15-16
New International Version (NIV)
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Luke 16:22-24
New International Version (NIV)
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 
23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

Luke 16:27-31
New International Version (NIV)
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,
28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pastor's Pondering, July 21, 2014

Let’s Fight Back

In the Huffington Post, Elizabeth Warren, the junior senator from Massachusetts recently suggested that we should not be passive about the problems that we face. She proclaimed, “So the way I see this is we can whine about it, we can whimper about it or we can fight back. I'm fighting back!" 

In the Bible, when Midianites were impoverishing the Israelites, they were forced to harvest their meager harvests in secret (Judges 6). They desperately cried out to the Lord and the angel of the Lord spoke to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour (Judges 6:12).” After initial hesitation and testing God, something amazing happened. The Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon (Judges 6:34) and he went on to defeat a much greater army than he had (Judges 7). 

Sometimes we will allow our circumstances to determine our destiny.  In these trying times, now is not the time to lie down and let the enemies of depression, poverty, fear, racism, hatred, and unbelief run roughshod over us.  We are mighty warriors for God! With God’s strength, we can crush an army; 
with God we can scale any wall (2 Samuel 22:30).  We will fight back because we have the Spirit of the Lord.  Now let us fight back against evil in the strength of God.

Please comment below and share when you fought back against God’s enemies and you won through God’s strength. You can encourage others to do the same.

Judges 6:1, 6, 11, 12, 34, 39, 40
New International Version (NIV)
The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.
Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.
11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 
12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.”
40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

Judges 7:1, 2, 7, 22
New International Version (NIV)
1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh.
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’
The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”
22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath

2 Samuel 22:30
New Living Translation (NLT)
30 In your strength I can crush an army; 
with my God I can scale any wall.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Pastor's Ponderings, July 14, 2014

Let’s Just “Call It A Day”

The Free Dictionary defines the phrase “call it a day” which means to stop some activity.  You have done all that you can do and now you have decided there is nothing more that you can do. An example of calling it a day occurred during the November 25, 1980 boxing fight, when Roberto Durán II turned away from Sugar Ray Leonard and towards the referee and quit by saying "No más” which is Spanish for "No more."  But he was leading and was roundly criticized for not continuing the fight.

In the Bible, when God told Abraham that he would have a son even though he was old and his wife Sarah was past childbearing, she laughed at the idea (Genesis 18:9-14, Genesis 21:1, 2).  She "called it a day" and asked her husband to have a son with her handmaiden (Genesis 16:2). In contrast, when God announced He would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham bravely bargained for their salvation and the Lord agreed to his terms (Genesis 18:17-33).

Many times we will give up when all hope seems to be lost.  The employment picture seems hopeless, the relationship seems lost, and the possibility of victory is remote.  Friends are few, bills are due, and ending one’s quest seems to be the only viable alternative.  This is the time to ask God for the solution for your difficult problem.  He knows the answer; He knows just how to solve the problem.  So, let us not call it a day, let us call on God. 

Please visit below and share when you asked God for the solution to impossible problems and how you received His directions. You can encourage others to do the same.

Genesis 18:9-14
New Living Translation (NLT)
9 “Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked.
“She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied.
10 Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”
Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent.
11 Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children.
12 So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”
13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’
14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Genesis 21:1, 2
New Living Translation (NLT)
The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised.
She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.

Genesis 16:2
New Living Translation (NLT)
So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.

Genesis 18:20-23, 32-33
New Living Translation (NLT)
20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous
21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.
23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
33 When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pastor's Ponderings, July 7, 2014


Reinhold Niebuhr, the American theologian, wrote the Serenity Prayer, which is, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”.  Serenity is calmness, quietness or peace.  It is a great thing to be serene when one is surrounded by destruction, war, and tumult.  However, sometimes, one cannot allow oneself to be serene when action is required.

Many of us err on the side of serenity when it is time to get wisdom and the courage to do whatever God is calling us to do in our lives. In the book of Haggai, the children of Israel were resting contentedly in their houses while God’s house was falling apart (Haggai 1:1-12).  Today many decide to rest contentedly following the church rules and regulations and not really doing what the Lord is requiring us to do. 

In the Bible, God calls his followers out of their comfort zone and into specific tasks he has for his people. He asks us to free those who are wrongly imprisoned, share food with the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, and give clothes to those who need them (Isaiah 58:5-6 NLT).  He asks us to love Him and love our fellow man (Matthew 22:37-39) and to abandon the typical position of concerning ourselves with just our own families and friends.

We admire Martin Luther King, the abolitionists, or Mother Teresa but are we resting comfortably and assuming someone else will help those in need? Let us remember in prayer and in deeds our brothers and our sisters.  Let us remember those who are in bondage, at home and abroad, in poverty and sickness, and who are in prison or worse for Christ.  

Please comment below and share what you are doing to obey God’s commands so that you can encourage others to do the same.

Haggai 1:3-6, 9
New International Version (NIV)
Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai
“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.
You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.

Isaiah 58:5-6
New Living Translation (NLT)
You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance, 
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind. 
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes. 
Is this what you call fasting? 
Do you really think this will please the Lord?
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: 
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; 
lighten the burden of those who work for you. 
Let the oppressed go free, 
and remove the chains that bind people.

Matthew 22:37-39
New International Version (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’