Monday, March 28, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, March 28, 2016

This Is Good News Week

Who are you listening to?  Are you listening to the pundits that are convinced that catastrophe is just around the corner unless you listen to them? Are you listening to the voices that tell you that you are a failure, that you will never accomplish anything in your life and that you will always be a day late and a dollar short.  This American English idiom epitomizes a troubling thought in the world.  Much of the economic gains in the last thirty years have gone to the upper upper class and many of us feel that, “You can't win, you can't break even, and you can't get out of the game!”

Moreover, this thinking is not limited to the economically disadvantaged minorities.  In Psychology Today, May 6, 2013, an article is entitled, “White, Middle-age Suicide Spiked 40% in the Last 10 years.”  These are terrible statistics but we need to focus on what the Bible says about our life.  God so loved us that He gave Jesus to the world (John 3:16).  No terrible headlines, no terrorist acts from across the globe, no strange and exotic diseases, or no financial crises can separate us from the love from God to us through Christ (Romans 8:38-39).  Since we have that love through Christ, we have an abundant life (1 John 5:12, John 10:10).

Our reality is God truly loves us and wants the best for us.  Our reality is that He will take care of our needs as we obey His will for our lives.   Of course, this is not to say that we should do negative or foolish things, but our reality is nothing that begins to form against us will accomplish our destruction (Isaiah 54:17).

We just celebrated Easter weekend.  Jesus is risen in the world!  He is risen in us!  We should listen to and rejoice in the positive message that God says about us!

John 3:16
New International Version (NIV)
13 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.

Romans 8:38-39
New International Version (NIV)
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 5:12
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

John 10:10
Amplified Bible (AMP)
10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

Amplified Bible (AMP)
17 “No weapon that is formed against you will succeed; And every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn. This [peace, righteousness, security, and triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And this is their vindication from Me,” says the Lord.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, March 21, 2016

God Is For Me

In the Bible, Deborah, a judge in Israel, announced to Barak, the next judge over Israel, that God commanded him to lead an army against their enemy.  Barak agreed, but said that he would not do it unless Deborah went with him (Judges 4:4, 6, 7-9).  This is a fascinating story because although he knew that God had spoken, he needed the assurance of Deborah that she would be with him.

Many times God will tell us to do something, but we will seek guarantees that someone else will be in the trenches with us. Many times we would much rather believe people that we can see and ignore God who is the Creator of everything. But God is telling us today that nothing can stand against us and that He is sufficient for all of our needs (Romans 8:31).  Moreover, we should do everything we do, not by our feelings, but by total faith in Him (2 Corinthians 5:7).
The only question that we have to ask whenever we begin a task is, “Is God with me?” We have to know that in spite of the world’s challenges, God is for us (Psalm 56:9). We do not need to rely on other people because God will never leave us. We must remember that God’s promises are unchangeable (2 Corinthians 1:20), He is everywhere, He is forever, and He is for us.   

Judges 4:4, 6, 7-9
New International Version (NIV)
Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.
She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor.
I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”
Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”
“Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.

Romans 8:31
New International Version (NIV)
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

2 Corinthians 5:7
New International Version (NIV)
7 For we live by faith, not by sight

Psalm 56:9
New International Version (NIV)
Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.

2 Corinthians 1:20
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

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, March 14, 2016

Don't Be Afraid Of Goliath!

Recently my youngest daughter introduced me to a wonderful presentation on YouTube by best selling author and speaker Malcolm Gladwell who spoke on the “The unheard story of David and Goliath.” His marvelous conclusion was that unlike the common knowledge that David was at a disadvantage fighting Goliath, actually David was in a superior position with his slingshot and rocks.  Although he appeared bigger and stronger, Goliath never had a chance. David picked up five stones perhaps in case the first one missed he had four other chances to defeat Goliath.

What does this mean for the Christian today that is facing unimagined problems? It is crucial that those who love the Lord remember that whatever problem we face, we always have the advantage.  Our faith must in the Lord, and we have to remember our God’s faithfulness.

The Bible says that God always causes us to succeed (2 Corinthians 2:14).  David had a slingshot, but God also gives us mighty weapons against modern enemies such as negative thoughts, fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, or uncertainty (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).  We can pray with and for others (Matthew 18:19), knowing that He will hear us, heal us, and answer all of our prayers (Psalm 107:20, 1 John 5:14, 15).  It may not be when we want it and it may not be the way we want it to be, but it will be what is the best for us.

Who is your Goliath? What do you think is insurmountable? Take a moment and hand it over to God.  Your prayers are your secret weapons.  God can handle any challenge you are facing!

2 Corinthians 2:14
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Amplified Bible (AMP)
3 For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man.
4 The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
5 We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,

Psalm 107:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave

Matthew 18:19
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

1 John 5:14-15
New International Version (NIV)
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, March 7, 2016

Planning For Your Future

Do you have enough money in your financial accounts to take you through your retirement years in comfort? Brian Stoffel, in the October 2015 issue of Motley Fool, wrote that “Most of us do not because instead of having enough retirement savings, ...we have this insidious habit, as Americans, of continually upgrading our possessions as we get older and earn more money. …Ironically, if we could resist temptation and stay off the hedonistic treadmill, we would both (1) find ourselves happier and (2) be doing a better job of saving for retirement, as our lifestyle would cost less, as would our requirements for a comfortable retirement.”

Thank God for this wisdom about retirement savings, but have you considered how much you will need in eternity?  We are all scheduled for death and after death, we have to give an account of what we have done in life before God (Hebrews 9:27).  Many have spent their lives trying to continually make more money so that they could enjoy their working lives and then spend their senior years in comfort.  However, they spend little time contemplating eternity after death. 

Can you imagine have a fully funded IRA, millions of dollars in a 401K, and a paid off mortgage on an expensive home?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have passive income that allows one to travel, dabble in hobbies, visit friends, play with grandchildren and simply retire from the rat race?  As great as that sounds, it pales in comparison to the peace one feels in knowing they will spend eternity with God. There is no greater love than when God gave His Son for our sins so that we could enjoy not just retirement, but an eternity of rest with Him (John 3:16).

Yes, it is great to have met your financial goals, but what about your spiritual goals for your life?  Have you made God first in your life? Did you tell others about what God has done for you?  Are you living according to God’s word when no one is watching?

Thank God for investment income, income property, and great allocation of resources, but it is most important that we plan for an eternal future that is prepared by God (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Hebrews 9:27
New International Version (NIV)
27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

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

1 Timothy 6:17-19
New International Version (NIV)
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.