Monday, December 28, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, December 28, 2015

Life’s Disruptions Are Godly Opportunities

Many times in our lives, events suddenly unfold with a terrifying swiftness that can destroy our sense of safety, security, and solace.  Whether its a phone call advising you to come to the hospital, a pink slip from your employer, a positive indicator of an incurable disease, or a mindless terrorist act, these life interruptions seem unfair and many times will lead to self-recriminations.

We live in an increasingly uncertain world where a single-minded evil entity is endeavoring to ensure that men will lose faith in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The devil wants fear to rule us, our faith in God to shrivel up, and our trust in God’s plan for our lives to wither away.  In the Bible, it is written that when people are saying they have peace and safety in their lives, sometimes destruction is waiting (1 Thessalonians 5:3).  Those who do not listen to Godly instruction find their life disrupted by devastation (Proverbs 29:1).

However, we thank God that when He shows up suddenly, there is a disruption for good.  When Jesus was born the angels interrupted the shepherds day-to-day work and announced that the King had arrived (Luke 2:13-14).  When Paul and Silas were praying at midnight, God sent an earthquake, which freed all of those with them (Acts 16:26).  It is awesome to know that God is in charge of all of life’s disruptions and He will help us through them by guiding us in them (Isaiah 30:21).  Thank God that He knows all about our challenges, but says that everything, even life disruptions, will work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

In the New Year, let us remember that things will disrupt our lives, but let us turn to Him in faith and obedience knowing that God will work it all out.  Happy New Year!

1 Thessalonians 5:3
New International Version (NIV)
While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Proverbs 29:1
New International Version (NIV)
29 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

Luke 2:13-14
New International Version (NIV)
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Acts 16:26
New International Version (NIV)
26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Isaiah 30:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

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.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, December 21, 2015

Tis The Season To Be Givers

As we hurtle toward the end of the Christmas season, let us pause and consider real reason we celebrate, the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:9-14). Naturally we love our music, the festive atmosphere, the colorful seasonal decorations, the delicious food, the laughter and the entertainment.  However, while we are in danger of overeating and drinking to excess, 2.4 billion people around the world don't have access to decent sanitation.  While we celebrate our freedoms in American to do as we please, almost fifty countries are living under dictatorships.

Have you ever thought about what Jesus thinks during this season? We eagerly look forward to receiving presents but God’s gift was His Son, Jesus, to save the world (John 3:16).  The Son gave His life.  When Jesus walked the earth, He went around doing good things, feeding the hungry and healing the sick (Acts 10:37-38).

During this holiday time, let us remember God’s gift of His Son, and Jesus’ acts of mercy, His giving of His life for the world. Let us model our life after Christ this Christmas. Many charities, causes, and crises need our help.  Across the globe, hunger threatens lives, many are homeless, and the middle class is declining.

Let us remember Jesus gave to others and let us give financial resources or even our time to those less fortunate. When we do this, we demonstrate Jesus in practice during this season and throughout the whole year.

Luke 2:9-14
New International Version (NIV)
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

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.

Acts 10:37-38
New International Version (NIV)
37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 
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, December 14, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, December 14, 2015

Thank God For Our True Independence Day

On July 2, 1996, the film Independence Day depicted cunning aliens bent on invading and destroying the world.   A captured alien communicated with the President.
President Thomas Whitmore, “What do you want us to do?”
Captured Alien succinctly said, “Die. Die.”  Fortunately the good guys arrived in time and defeated an advanced alien race with a sneaky virus using one of the alien’s own captured ship. It was an exhilarating ending to a wonderful movie. However, this just happens in the movies.

In the Bible, there is another being that has a similar mission for real.  The thief comes to kill, steal, and to destroy (John 10:10).  He has the same hatred for the world.  He is even clearer in the book of 1st Peter where this enemy goes about in the world like a lion looking for an opportunity to destroy (1 Peter 5:8).  Good guys outsmarting this ancient villain will not win this battle.  Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior in the Garden of Eden, has already won our battle. It was in this location where God first pronounced that Jesus would ultimately defeat the devil (Genesis 3:15). We are to fight against the tricks of the evil one through faith in and obedience to the word of God (1 Timothy 6:12).

We enjoy good movies, but we are in a very deadly battle against an implacable foe that wants us dead, our influence stolen, and our significance destroyed.  Thank God for Jesus because He came to the earth so that we would be free and independent from the evil one (John 8:36).  Let us celebrate our independence day by praising and obeying Him because He has set us free!!

John 10:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

1 Peter 5:8
New International Version (NIV)
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Genesis 3:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

1 Timothy 6:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

John 8:36
New International Version (NIV)
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, December 7, 2015

It Is Not Over Until God Says It Is Over

On Sunday, December 6, 2015, the world was happy to hear that former President Jimmy Carter said that his cancer is gone! On August 14, 2015, Magic Johnson just hit a milestone many thought was impossible 24 years ago when he announced that he was HIV positive. It is so very good to know that these leaders did not leave us but are still around to give a living testimony that God truly has the last say about life and death. 

In the bible, King Hezekiah received the report that he would die shortly.  Nevertheless, he went to God, pleaded his case and God extended his life (2 Kings 20:1-7).  God is in the business of giving good news.  In God, the answer is “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). While we are constantly bombarded 24/7 with bad news, God wants us to turn away from the bad news and hear what He is saying about your life. 

We can decide that we will focus on the bad news or we can concentrate on the good word of God (Philippians 4:8). Let us choose to hear the good report from the Lord, think His thoughts, and say what He says about you.  In spite of whatever is going on in your life, let us adhere to the lyrics from Ron Kenoly’s song, “Whose Report Will You Believe?” Whose report will you believe? We shall believe the report of the Lord. His report says I am healed, His report says I am filled. His report says I am free, His report says victory!

2 Kings 20:1-7
New International Version (NIV)
In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord,
3 “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him:
5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord.
6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”
7 Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a poultice of figs.” They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered.

2 Corinthians 1:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 For 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.
Philippians 4:8
Amplified Bible (AMP)
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].