Monday, August 31, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, August 31, 2015

Contentment Is Awesome

As a child, I remember Elsie, the cartoon mascot for the Borden Dairy Company. They promoted the idea that their cows were very happy and content producing milk in their good life. Despite the sometimes unpleasant realities of the food industry, if we take a moment and focus on that fictional character we may learn something.  Elsie had a job to do and seemed quite content in her lot in life. It is rare today to see people who just seem happy and rejoice in being alive. Instead, many of us are worried, anxious, sad, guilty, or angry over failed expectations.

The Bible states that God wants us content (Philippians 4:11, 12, 1 Timothy 6:6, 8). He does not want us fretting because of what we have or don’t have.  He does not want us despondent over our lack of accomplishments or worried that we will never reach our goals but instead to give those concerns to him (Philippians 4:6). We can be content with our circumstances knowing that God gives us strength to face all of life's demands (Philippians 4:13). He promises that He will supply everything that we need based on His infinite resources (Philippians 4:19).

This week, let us make the decision that we will not allow our circumstances to determine our attitude.  We are God’s children. He loves us better than we love ourselves so let us cast all of those feelings of despair, worry, anxiety, sadness, guilt, or anger over to God and be content with Him alone.

Philippians 4:11-13, 19
New International Version (NIV)
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

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.

1 Timothy 6:6, 8
New International Version (NIV)
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, August 24, 2015

Forgiveness is a Wonderful Thing

In April 2015, Judy Scott suffered the agonizing loss of her son who was videotaped being shot in the back by a police officer. The police officer was subsequently thought to be trying to cover up the shooting by deflecting blame upon the victim.  Walter Scott's mom stated, “I feel forgiveness in my heart for the guy that shot my son.” Having three children, I can truly understand how frighteningly horrible it would be to hear about the loss of any of my children.

As terrible as a loss like this might be, I cannot even conceive of giving one of my children to pay for another’s evil deeds.  Yet, God so loved the entire world in spite of the evil, rebellion, sin, and all around bad behavior of the world that He gave His Son, Jesus, to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin (John 3:16). When Jesus was on the cross, He could have been annoyed at having to pay that awful price. He could have complained or pleaded with God about the unfairness of it all.  He could have talked against the soldiers who were torturing Him but He simply forgave them (Luke 23:34).

Jesus understood that the principle of forgiveness was crucial to obtaining favor from His Father.  If we cannot forgive others, how can God forgive our sins?  Unforgiveness blocks our requests for God’s blessings (Mark 11:24-25).

While we are forgiving others, we must also remember to forgive ourselves. God says that if we confess our sins, He will not only forgive us but also cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  Let us make the decision that in spite of provocations and deliberate attempts of others to hurt us, we will forgive our brothers and sisters.  God will bless us for forgiving them.

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.

Luke 23:34
New International Version (NIV)
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Mark 11:24-25
New International Version (NIV)
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

1 John 1:9
New International Version (NIV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, August 17, 2015

 The Best Motivational Book In the World

Kathryn Kuhlman, a traveling preacher and television personality between the 1940s and 1970s, talked about success for the believer in Christ.  She said, “Remember something, God never permitted a difficulty to come into our life without also giving us the ability to handle it. God has provided us with every faculty. He has given us the power that we need for living victoriously. It is a fact that everyone of us down deep has what it takes to successfully meet whatever life brings.”

No child, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, will say that they want to be a total failure in life.  We all want to turn out well in life.  We want to be well thought of and accomplish our tasks.  God wants that for us also.  In fact, He gave us the Bible, which is full of helpful advice for everyone to be victorious.  Even though we may go through various troubles in our life, the first chapter of Proverbs said those who love God’s law would succeed in everything they do (Psalm 1:1-3).  This is in stark contrast to the disobedient that are ruined (Psalm 1:6).

God will give us directions on our road to triumph (Isaiah 30:21) and all of the information that we need (Proverbs 2:6). God told Joshua to read, meditate, and think about His laws and commands and if he did so, he would be very successful (Joshua 1:8).  Joshua obeyed God and the Israelites were very effective in their ventures. 

There are many motivational books but the best one is the Bible. Read it, study it and think about it and most of all, obey God’s words and like the biblical followers of God, you will ultimately have good success.

Psalms 1:1-3, 6
Contemporary English Version (CEV)
God blesses those people who refuse evil advice and won’t follow sinners or join in sneering at God.
Instead, the Law of the Lord makes them happy, and they think about it day and night.
They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves. Those people succeed in everything they do.
The Lord protects everyone who follows him, but the wicked follow a road that leads to ruin.

Isaiah 30:21
Contemporary English Version (CEV)
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.”

Proverbs 2:6
Contemporary English Version (CEV)
All wisdom comes from the Lord, and so do common sense and understanding.

Joshua 1:8
New International Version (NIV)
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, August 10, 2015

"Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.”

Birds of a feather flock together.  This saying, which originated over four hundred years ago by William Turner, means that people who think alike tend to align themselves with each other.  That can be a frightening thought if you examine your list of acquaintances.  Some people with disturbing habits may show up on your list.  People on your list may have supported your bad habits, dicey decision-making, and terrible choices.

The Bible says that we should not be involved with people who may lead us into wrong actions (1 Corinthians 15:33). Proverbs also says that ill-intentioned companions may want you to do bad things.  We have to leave them unless we want to come to a bad end like them (Proverbs 1:10, 11, 18).  This is not to say that we should run from all people with questionable habits, but we should not let them be our primary group of friends and associates.

The Bible speaks of groups and how they can be supportive.  God shows up when at least two or three come together as His followers. He is there with them and if they agree about anything, God will do it for them (Matthew 18:19, 20).  God, the Father, wants us to build each other in our groups and support each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  The Bible also says that groups that are harmony can defend each other against their enemies (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

Let us strive to be with people who are supportive of our relationship with Christ and let us encourage others to avoid being with those who have bad intentions.  A great benefit is that God says that He will give His blessing when groups are in harmony with Him and each other (Psalm 133:1, 3).  Let us flock together with those who will support and encourage our walk with Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:33
New International Version (NIV)
33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Proverbs 1:10, 11, 18
New International Version (NIV)
10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.
11 If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul;
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves!

Matthew 18:19, 20
New International Version (NIV)
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Ecclesiastes 4:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Psalm 133:1, 3
New International Version (NIV)
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.