Monday, September 28, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, September 28, 2015

Forgive Others For Real

What do you do when you are disappointed with others?  What happens when the employer tells you that your skills are no longer needed, when your long time love announces they are seeing someone else, or when people that you depended upon let you down?  This can be excruciatingly painful and it may be difficult to forgive and forget.

Two disciples in the Bible let Jesus down in His hour of need.  They promoted their own interests before God and decided their needs were more important than Jesus’ needs during the last hours before the crucifixion.  Peter denied that he had known Jesus (Matthew 26:75) while Judas sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27:3).  Both denied Him but Peter wept bitterly when he realized his betrayal while Judas took the final solution.

Jesus asked His Father to forgive His betrayers because they did not know what they were doing (Luke 23:34).  He advises us to do likewise.  But how can we possibly do this knowing what others have done to us?  We have to remember that God has forgiven us for all of our sins, past, present, and future.  Since God has forgiven us, we should extend the same courtesy to others. To do otherwise puts one’s own forgiveness in jeopardy (Matthew 6:14-15).  This is not easy, but God will give the strength that you need to forgive even when the crime is horrific, the effects are devastating, and the consequences irrevocable.  Let us forgive others as God forgives us.

Matthew 26:75
New International Version (NIV)
75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Matthew 27:3
New International Version (NIV)
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.

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.

Matthew 6:14-15
New International Version (NIV)
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, September 21, 2015

Arrest Those Negative Thoughts

When Pastor Zachary Hicks played basketball, he used to say to his opponents, “Not today.”  This meant that in spite of their previous scoring, titles, or wins, they were not going to be successful that day.  He was getting into their heads or making them consider the possibility of failure.  When it was successful, it was just enough to get them to lose the ball, miss the shot, or make costly mistakes. 

Many times, we will defeat ourselves when we allow ourselves to think thoughts of fear, doubt, and unbelief.  We may tell ourselves that we could ace that test but probably we would fail.  We could have a business but then the market may not be right and we will lose all of our savings.  We may desire a relationship with a possible future spouse but all of the good ones are taken. Since that person is not taken, there must be something wrong with them.  Some of us are thinking wrong thoughts.

The Bible says that we should take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).  What does Christ say about your thoughts of failure, doubt, fear, and unbelief? The Bible says that you can do everything through Christ, which gives you the strength to do it (Philippians 4:13) and whatever those who love the Lord attempt to do will be successful (Psalms 1:3). 

What does God think about our efforts in life?  He knows what He thinks about us; He wants us to have a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  Therefore, He wants us to think true, honest, just, pure, lovely or admirable thoughts (Philippians 4:8). 

This week, let those of us who love the Lord closely monitor any negative thinking and remember that since God He is helping us and is thinking well of us, we should also think well of ourselves.  Also we must know that we are destined to be ultimately successful in all of our efforts.

2 Corinthians 10:5
New International Version (NIV)
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

Philippians 4:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Psalm 1:3
New International Version (NIV)
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

Jeremiah 29:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Philippians 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, September 14, 2015

Take A Stand For God

Donnie Mcclurkin wrote and sung a song called Stand.  The lyrics said in part, “… Tell me, what do you give when you've given your all and it seems like you can't make it through? Well, you just stand when there's nothing left to do. You just stand; watch the Lord see you through. Yes, after you've done all you can, you just stand.” 

“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”  This was a paraphrase of a quote from Alexander Hamilton by Malcolm X.  We live in a world that drops commitments like yesterday’s clothes.  Some of us are committed to nothing in the long run and are only concerned with what will benefit us in the short run. 

But the Bible says in Ephesians 6:10-13 that we are to stand for what we know is right and against the devil's evil schemes. We are not to hesitate or waver. We should stop, stand still, stand immovable, and stand firm (Strong’s Concordance). The evil one wants us double-minded, wavering, or halted between two different opinions that are for God or against God.  God is looking for those who would take a stand for Him and stick with it.  He wants us to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, which is only reasonable since He created us (Romans 12:1). 

This week, let us make a commitment to stand for the things that we know will please God such as goodness, justice, mercy, love and concern for others while taking a stand against all of those things that we know will not please Him such as racism, sexism, ageism and all of the other isms that plague us.  Let us stand for God! 

Ephesians 6:10-13
New International Version (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Romans 12:1
New International Version (NIV)
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, September 8, 2015

Let Us Help Others

In the Huffington Post on September 2, 2015, an anonymous writer posted an obituary for Aylan Kurdi who died with most of his family trying to migrate to a better life.  The obituary read in part… “ You were a 3yr old little boy wanting to play safely, away from the threats of violence and war... Rest In Peace Aylan Kurdi. May God forgive us for failing you.”  Many are suffering in the world due to man’s inhumanity to man and the indifference of those who see the suffering and turn away to focus on their own concerns.

In the Bible, Jesus told the story about the Good Samaritan when asked about whom should we be concerned about.  In this parable, a crime victim was left by the side of the road and a priest and another holy man of his own ethnicity ignored him but a foreigner helped him (Luke 10:30-37).  Are we like the people that help the Aylans of the world or are like the ones that will turn our heads away from our neighbor’s sufferings?  Jesus is very clear that in the Judgment at the end of the world, how we treated others will have a direct bearing on how we fare in that trial (Matthew 25:45).

While it is true that we should be concerned about our families and our own vision and goals, it is crucial that we look outside of ourselves and be concerned about the challenges of mankind (Philippians 2:3, 4).  This week, let us be concerned about the little Aylans of the world and God will take care of us (Luke 12:22-24).

Luke 10:30-37
New International Version (NIV)
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Matthew 25:45
New International Version (NIV)
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Philippians 2:3, 4
New International Version (NIV)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Luke 12:22-24
New International Version (NIV)

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.
23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!