Monday, October 31, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, October 31, 2016

We Have Great Hope For Our Future

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Macbeth in Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth” paints a rather gloomy portrait of life.  If that is all there is, why bother hope or dream or have a vision for our future?

Thank God He has given us all a purpose. He said that before we were born, He knew us intimately and our life was established (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:16).  The Creator of Heaven and Earth desires to work out His purpose in our lives (Philippians 2:13). We are awed by the inspired writings of William Shakespeare, but God gives us a hope for the future.  We are not a tale told by an idiot, but we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). He has great plans for us to do wonderful things in the earth to glorify Him and even throughout eternity (Jeremiah 29:11, John 17:1-3).

In this world where hope has faded, where the future seems bleak and troubled and where many seem to be wandering purposelessly through life, God wants us to know that our hope is in Him.  He wants us to joyfully know that He will make our way clear and will not abandon us in times of trouble.  While Shakespeare says life is but a walking shadow, we know that God will continue to keep, comfort, and cherish us forever.

Jeremiah 1:5
New International Version (NIV)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Psalm 139:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Philippians 2:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Psalm 139:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

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.

John 17:1-3
New International Version (NIV)
1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you
For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.
3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, October 24, 2016

Worried?  God Has Everything Under Control

The October 21, 2016 edition of the USA Today magazine indicated that “Dyn, a New Hampshire-based company that monitors and routes Internet traffic, was the victim of a massive attack that began at 7:10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Friday morning.” The attack focused on major Internet outlets and it intensified our fears that other national institutions are also vulnerable to hacking attacks such on our nuclear launch codes, our utility systems, or our major communication systems.  A particular concern was expressed of the potential impact on our health systems or our military if data is manipulated.

Many of us have become very comfortable with our electronic gadgets and our international infrastructure of data flowing to the cloud, across cable, and from other unknown means.  Sometimes, we would rather not know how personally exposed we are to hacking or identity theft. Moreover, from a national perspective we may worry that the next attacks from those who would like to destroy the U.S. will not be as benign.

In these scary times, it is important to remember that God is in charge of the day and the night and everything else in between (Psalm 24:1, 2).  For those who love the Lord, it is important for us to remember that we are complete in Him who is the ruling authority over everything in heaven and in earth (Colossians 2:9-10).  He has authority over every hacker, every plotting monarch with world dominating ambitions, and every evil schemer who would terrorize us with a plethora of weapons and destructive devices.  We are not to be afraid or troubled by any evil tidings (John 14:1). We should not be worried about the hacking attack on Dyn or any other attacks because God even controls the heart of sovereign rulers (Proverbs 21:1).  Let us continue to worship God, obey Him, keep His commands and He will continue to keep, protect, and love us.  He will be a very present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Psalm 24:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

Colossians 2:9-10
Amplified Bible (AMP)
For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God].
10 And in Him you have been made complete [achieving spiritual stature through Christ], and He is the head over all rule and authority [of every angelic and earthly power].

John 14:1
New International Version (NIV)
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.

Proverbs 21:1
New International Version (NIV)
21 In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.

Psalm 46:1
New International Version (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, October 17, 2016

Need A Good Weapon? God Has The Best

The following is a quote from the 2005 movie, Lord of War, loosely based on a real life international arms dealer. “There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?”  There has been a great deal of attention to recent incidents of the use of force by police, discussions about the right to purchase, carry, and the usefulness of background checks on firearm purchase.  In addition to these considerations, the deadly use of firearms by our citizens has shot the subject of guns into the forefront of our concerns.

While some choose to have guns and others do not, the real war is not with weapons made by man, but our spiritual weapons. The Bible says that we Christians do not war after the flesh.  Our weapons are divinely strong to tear down demonic strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).  We can use the name of Jesus to get rid of demons (Mark 16:17), and successfully fight against all spiritual wickedness (Ephesians 6:12).  We can know that no weapon that is formed against us shall be able to accomplish its purpose without the Lord’s permission (Isaiah 54:17)

While others may put on bulletproof vests, we can put on our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:11, 13). When others refer to natural weapons to support their positions, let us remember that we have much more powerful weapons.  We can use our weapons against a much more powerful foe, the devil. This can be a teachable moment to share the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for us all and then tell of His goodness and His deeds.  Let us strap on His divine weapons and defeat the devil and his demons, the real enemy of mankind. 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
New International Version (NIV)
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
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.

Mark 16:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

Ephesians 6:11-13
New International Version (NIV)
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.

Isaiah 54:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.