Monday, February 23, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, February 23, 2015

Let Us Go On The Offense Against Injustice

On Saturday, February 28th, Zimbabwe's president for 27 years, Robert Mugabe, will celebrate his 91st birthday. Although this would call for celebration, according to the LA Times, his country agonizes under the highest inflation and lowest life-expectancy rates in the world and his army killed between 10,000 and 30,000 people in the eighties.  Clearly something is wrong.

Every week we hear of more and more atrocities by ISIS as they seemingly try to outdo their last horror while attracting the na├»ve to join their ranks and torturing those opposing them.  The scripture says that the citizens groan when wicked people rule (Proverbs 29:2).

Sadly, we live in a world where many countries are subjected to the whims of rulers who crush their subjects while siphoning off the wealth for personal use.  But what should the Christian do when their or other country’s leaders practice evil? Should we obey them without question, resist their authority and fight them, or pretend it is not our concern?

Some may agree with Al Capone, the Mafia leader from Chicago, who said, “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” I believe the Bible gives a much better answer.  We must and can effectively fight in the spirit realm (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). 

It is time for the Christians to pray to change the heart of leadership (Proverbs 21:1).  It does not matter what popular media outlets say, God is still in charge and whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven (Matthew 16:19).  We have to begin to call on God and He will hear us when we cry out to Him (2 Samuel 22:7).  We cannot just say this is not my problem.  Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In the 1976 movie Network, the deranged former anchor encourages people to go their windows and yell out their frustrations.  To paraphrase his call, we can say, “We're mad against hellish powers, and we're not going to take this anymore." Let us get in the battle against injustice!

Proverbs 29:2
King James Version (KJV)
2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
New International Version (NIV)
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ

Proverbs 21:1
Amplified Bible (AMP)
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as are the watercourses; He turns it whichever way He wills.

Matthew 16:19
The Message (MSG)
19 “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

2 Samuel 22:7
New International Version (NIV)
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, February 16, 2015

God Hates Sin No Matter Who Is Doing It

Recently, President Obama, at a prayer breakfast, reminded his audience of Jim Crow violence in America and the Crusades in the Middle East apparently conducted by Christians.  Before these references, the President had been referring to ISIS that has committed many unspeakable and sadistic acts of murder, torture, rape, and mayhem.  They proudly display their work on social media and many are flocking to join their evil ranks.

The Bible talks about the evil devil and how he is going about devouring people just like this terrorist group (1 Peter 5:8).  But God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel and criticized the leaders, the preachers of doing the same thing (Ezekiel 22:25-27)! Our society respects leaders of the church, business professionals, and politicians while demanding quite rightly that criminals be locked up.  But God calls sin, no matter who is performing it, simply sin (1 John 5:17). It does not matter who is doing it, it does not matter their title, position, status, or wealth--sin is sin.  Whenever we do wrong, we are of our Father the devil who comes to kill, still and destroy (John 8:44).

It does not matter if sin is done in the name of Jesus, whether bombing abortion clinics, conducting the Crusades, or the destruction of the Inquisition, all unrighteousness is sin.  

Let us remember that the Righteous Judge is observing us and while we look at the outward appearance, He is judging our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). 

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.

Ezekiel 22:25-27
New International Version (NIV)
25 There is a conspiracy of her princes within her like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows within her.
26 Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.
27 Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain.

1 John 5:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

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.

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.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, February 9, 2015

Looking For Jesus’ Eternal Reward!

This is the season of the awards shows: the NAACP Image Awards, the Oscars, and the Grammys. Who was nominated, who was snubbed, who should win, and who should lose are being discussed on television, radio, and the print media.  How have people benefited from winning and which stars have never won those precious awards is very important in the entertainment world.

In the Bible, all Believers are invited to another awards presentation.  Jesus will judge all Believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ and all will have to give an account of what they have done in their lives  (Romans 14:10-12). We will not be competing for an Oscar statuette that has been called the most recognized trophy in the world.  We will receive what we deserve (2 Corinthians 5:10). 

The Bible says there will be a number of rewards and crowns for crowns for how well we served Christ, our victory over sin, how well we carried out the Great Commission of soul-winning, and other accomplishments for God.  But there is one crown that is the most important and that is the crown of life that goes to those who love God (James 1:12).

While we would all like to be honored by mankind for our accomplishments, it is much more important to prepare for Christ’s rewards that will endure long after we have forgotten about mankind’s temporary awards.  Let us spend time with Jesus learning about what He wants from us to get His rewards.

Romans 14:10-12
New International Version (NIV)
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

2 Corinthians 5:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

James 1:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, February 2, 2015

Jesus Has Already Won The War!

"The War of the Worlds" was a classic radio episode depicting a Martian invasion of the earth on October 30, 1938. It caused mass panic because those who tuned in during the broadcast missed the introduction, which explained that it was simply a dramatic presentation. It caused great consternation among those who had been duped.  While this was simply a theatrical performance, there is a real war of the worlds by a deadly and unrelenting foe that is determined to destroy everyone in the world (John 10:10).

In the radio broadcast, the enemy is ultimately defeated by earth’s germs but the real war of the worlds is being fought by the evil one who cannot be defeated by anything that is in the world. He uses weapons of destructive lifestyles, fear, worry, despair, hopelessness, terror, and depression.  The devil has defeated many who could not see a way out of their problems. Fortunately, the Bible says that although we will have many trials and sorrows, Jesus has already overcome the devil (John 16:33). We have God’s strength and his mighty spiritual weapons as we fight in this war (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

When you are facing your challenges and feel that you are losing your battle against the devil, remember that our God has already defeated the devil, his works, and his weapons (1 John 3:8).  Let us be joyful knowing that He has already won the war of the worlds!

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.

John 16:33
New International Version (NIV)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-5
New International Version (NIV)
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

1 John 3:8
New International Version (NIV)
... The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.