Monday, July 31, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, July 31, 2017

Have You Considered Jesus?

The singing group, Casting Crowns sang a song called, “Glorious Day”.  Some of the lyrics summarized what Jesus Christ did for the world.

Living, He loved me. Dying, He saved me. Buried, He carried my sins far away. Rising, He justified freely forever. One day He's coming, oh glorious day.

We thank God for His marvelous blessings, His amazing healing, His awesome miracles, His powerful teaching and His inspiring preaching.  However, He could have done all of those great acts in the Bible and we still would have no chance to live in Heaven forever.  We were born in a sinful world and we tend to do what we see our friends, family, and familiar folks do.  Jesus lived, died and was buried, but when He rose He had all power in His hands (Matthew 28:18-19).  We were guilty of sins and had no recourse but eternal damnation. However, when Jesus went to the cross, He paid all of the debt for our sins and forgave us for all that we have done (Colossians 2:13-14).

Those who love the Lord can know that once we pass from this earth, Jesus promised that we would have an eternal home with Him (John 14:2-3).  Because of His death, burial and resurrection we can join that vast number of saints who will be praising Him throughout eternity (Revelation 7:9-10).

As we make our daily decisions on matters great and small to reach our goals and objectives, we have to remember that we must put the most important things first.  Jesus sacrificed His life so that we could have eternal life with Him and avoid damnation. Don’t forget to make the most important decision of your life to follow Jesus.

Matthew 28:18-19
New International Version (NIV)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Colossians 2:13-14
New International Version (NIV)
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

John 14:2-3
New International Version (NIV)
2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Revelation 7:9-10
New International Version (NIV)
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, July 17, 2017

Joy In The Midst of Pain

On Thursday, July 6, 2017, my dear son in law, Yantee Neufville, the husband of my daughter, Malika, transitioned into eternity.  He impacted his family, friends, colleagues and anyone he met because he met no strangers. His love, humor, intellect, deep rich laughter, compassion, and zeal were only a few of his marvelous characteristics and he changed lives for the better wherever he went.  He has a great legacy and is sorely missed.

As Yantee demonstrated through his short life of savoring every day and his ability to laugh through joy and pain, we should be encouraged to do the same.

Pastor's Ponderings: September 30, 2013

My family just returned from a fantastic vacation in Hawaii. Although most of my family had enjoyed this paradise before, it was my first time and I had the time of my life. I jumped in the Pacific Ocean, saw jaw-dropping beaches, ate great food at a luau, sampled delights at the macadamia nut factory, and gazed at indescribably beautiful sunsets. Our merry crew had no worries as we visited exciting places, met new people, laughed and enjoyed each other in God's amazing display of beauty and wonder.

When we were eating our last meal together, I noticed a brief sadness in the family since our heavenly experience was coming to an end. I was reminded that we ought to have a vacation feeling every day of our lives because that is how God wants us to feel. When we are in Him, we have the joy, peace, comfort and gleeful anticipation of new things to come. When we are in Him, we are constantly on vacation knowing that He is in charge. Although challenges will come and there may not be a palm tree to lean on, when we are in Him, His presence is our relief. Knowing this, every day can be a day of delight and happiness.

Will you join me on a daily vacation? This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!

Psalm 118:24
King James Version (KJV)
24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, July 10, 2017

We are blessed to have a guest author for this weeks Pastor’s Ponderings, Dr. Jacqueline Ramsay.

The Fires in Our Lives

California has been in a drought for several years. Even though we had record amounts of rain and snowfall this past winter and spring, the fire season is once again upon us.  Some fires are caused by lightning strikes, some caused by careless people and some intentionally.  Many fires burn acres and acres of land, some destroy property and some even take life. Thank God for the men and women who work to protect us from these fires.

I think of the metaphoric fires in our lives.  As with real fires, sometimes they are just events that happen, other times they are due because of our own actions and sometimes they happen because of what someone does to us. The latter reminds me of the story of the three Hebrew young men found in Daniel. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (their Hebrew names), or as more commonly known Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were bound and thrown into a blazing furnace at King Nebuchadnezzar’s command. But then something amazing happens. Daniel 3:24-25 states “King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there 3 men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, O King.’ He said, ‘Look! I see 4 men walking around in the fire unbound and unharmed and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’” King Nebuchadnezzar orders them out only to find that they were not only unharmed by the fire but “there was no smell of fire on them!”

Sometimes our pain and circumstances can make it difficult to believe God is with us.   Other times we do believe that God is with us. We see it in acts of kindness, in things that happen that ordinarily don’t or if so blessed, we feel it in the tangible presence of God in prayer or in worship or even in our crying out to Him.  Those things let us know He is present with us in the fire.  The “no smell of fire” speaks to what our future will be like after the fire.   After a fire is put out, the smell of smoke can linger letting us know there has been damage and ruins. Can we go through our fiery trials and not stink afterwards? Will we end up bitter, broken, in bondage and useless to the kingdom never fulfilling our purposes?  Or will we trust that the Jesus, the One who is with us in the fire, is also the one who can give us a future? A future where we abide in Him and receive His love and allow Him to transform us for His purposes.

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.”

Psalm 46:11 “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Daniel 6:27 “He rescues and saves; he performs signs and wonders…”

Jeremiah 29:11 “ 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.”

1 Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Monday, July 3, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, July 3, 2017

Freedom From Tyranny

In Congress, July 4, 1776, fifty-six men signed the unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America declaring freedom from the tyrannical rule of the King of Great Britain.  They stated the facts necessary to dissolve their political links to him.  Although they declared their freedom, Great Britain did not give up for five long years and only surrendered in 1781.  Today, we can declare our freedom from an evil tyrant, Satan, whom has done grievous things to people.

Thank God Jesus has made us free from the evil rule of the devil and declares that we are free indeed (John 8:36). Ricky Dillard wrote the lyrics to, “Why Should I Be Bound?”  He wrote, “Why should I be troubled? Tell me, why I should be bound when the Word of God tells me that He'll never let me down? Why, why should I be bound for whom the Son has set free is free, indeed?”  The god of this world system binds us with drug addictions, food addictions, promiscuity, cigarettes, pornography, alcohol, fear, anxiety, worry, and guilt.  The evil one is bent on our destruction when he takes us captive whenever he wants to (2 Timothy 2:26).  But Jesus stated His mission on earth was to free those whom Satan had captured (Luke 4:18).

This is the great news that freedom has come to your house.  Today, you may be bound with habits that you cannot break.  It may not be the more public addictions, but you may have hidden addictions to various fears, mental blocks, or worry over things that are not likely to occur.  You may be afraid that you will never overcome your personal private prison.  Today, your prison cell is open and God declares you are free. You are free to be blessed, free to have the abundant life, free from bondage and free to serve God. 

Thank God that we fought successfully for our freedom from Great Britain in 1776, but Jesus won the battle for our souls. He went to the cross, died, and rose again with all power in His hands (Matthew 28:18). God has already defeated the evil one making an open show of Him (Colossians 2:14-15).  Happy Independence Day, you are free from tyranny!

John 8:36
New International Version (NIV)
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

2 Timothy 2:26
New International Version (NIV)
26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Luke 4:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,

Matthew 28:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Colossians 2:14-15
New International Version (NIV)
14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.