Monday, August 28, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, August 28, 2017

God Pardons All of Our Sins

On August 27, 2017, Kevin Liptak, Daniella Diaz and Sophie Tatum from CNN wrote that the U.S. President pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio who had recently been convicted of criminal contempt of court. This presidential decision has stirred a great deal of controversy.  No matter which side of the argument one may support, no one questions presidential authority to pardon anyone.  That decree demonstrates some of the awesome power and authority of an American president.

While this act was noteworthy, the Bible indicates that God has already done something infinitely greater. Because of His love, He pardoned the whole world from the penalty of sin (Romans 5:8). All of us are guilty of disobedience against Him, but God loved us so much that He gave Jesus to die for our sin so that we all could be saved (Romans 3:23-24). When Jesus went to the cross, He paid the ultimate price for our sins and took them away (Colossians 2:14).  He pardoned us and we gained eternal life so we do not have to die and go to hell (John 5:24).  This does not mean that we don’t have to do anything.  We have to actually accept His pardon. We do that by asking for His forgiveness for our sins, repenting of our sins, and believing that God has raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9, 10).

We thank God that He forgave us so that we do not have to suffer the penalty of sin.  As we obey Him and walk with Him, we learn to overcome the power of sin.  When we leave this earth and live with God eternally, we will no longer have to suffer the presence of sin.  Thank God for His divine pardon. Now we are free from slavery to sin and free to serve and obey Him.

Romans 5:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us

Romans 3:23-24
New International Version (NIV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Colossians 2:14
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.

John 5:24
New International Version (NIV)
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Romans 10:9-10
New International Version (NIV)
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, August 21, 2017

God is in Charge

Moonraker (1979) was a spy film in the James Bond series.  The plot was for James Bond to prevent an attempt to wipe out the world’s population and to re-create humanity with a master race.  The plan was for bad guys to be up in space and control the nascent race from an orbiting satellite.  Hugo Drax, the super villain, uttered the memorable line to his staff, “Your seed, like yourselves, will pay deference to the ultimate dynasty which I alone have created. From their first day on Earth they will be able to look up and know that there is law and order in the heavens.” 

Although the good guy ultimately defeats the villain, the thought behind that line could have been spoken by every two-bit megalomaniac who has tried to create a world in his image from Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Stalin to the current cast of egotistical dictators and leaders.  Satan leads people to try to replace God as Lord of all existence by attempting to make their subjects bow down to them. This is because he himself wanted to be like God (Isaiah 14:12-14).  The devil’s purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy mankind (John 10:10).  He forgets that all of existence is God’s (Psalm 24:1) and He controls every aspect of it (Hebrews 1:3).  Everything in life works according to God’s will (Ephesians 1:11).

God reigns supreme and has given us the honor of being seated in heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 2:6). Thank God that we do not have to serve changeable men and women, but we serve an unchangeable God who lives eternally. It is comforting to know that God is still on His throne and in spite of challenging events in the world; there is indeed law and order in the heavens and on earth.

Isaiah 14:12-14
New International Version (NIV)
12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

John 10:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Psalm 24:1
New International Version (NIV)
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;

Hebrews 1:3
New International Version (NIV)
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word…

Ephesians 1:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will

Ephesians 2:6
New International Version (NIV)
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, August 14, 2017

We Have Eternal Life Now

2017 has been a challenging year.  The United States inaugurated an unpopular President, we have had major threats to our national security, middle class wages have stagnated, millions are in danger of losing their health care, our air and water protection laws are being threatened and we have had experienced an uptick in extremist activities. Although each of us is here only for a short time, it seems that our time on earth is full of trouble (Job 14:1). 

While that is true, the Bible says that those who love the Lord will have much distress, but that God will deliver them (Psalm 34:19). In the Bible, Job had many tragedies but did not lose faith in the God that would deliver him (Job 19:25). But what is most important is that in spite of life’s tragedies, God promised that those who believe in Him would live with Him forever (1 John 5:13).

God does not require us to join a certain church, denomination or to worship a certain way.  The Bible simply says to hear God’s word and believe in Him and you will have eternal life right now (John 5:24).  We know that God wants the best for His children but thank God, He wants us to be with Him eternally.  We may never get the Rolls Royce, a Brioni suit, or the million-dollar portfolio, but simply hearing God’s word and believing on Him will bring eternal benefits. Let us rejoice because He will wipe away all of our tears and sorrow and we can live in eternal bliss with Him forever (Revelation 21:4).

Job 14:1
New International Version (NIV)
1 “Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble.

Psalm 34:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;

Job 19:25
New International Version (NIV)
25 I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

1 John 5:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

John 5:24
New International Version (NIV)
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Revelation 21:4
New International Version (NIV)
4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Monday, August 7, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, August 7, 2017

Jesus Has Made Us Free

Matt Stevens wrote an article in the August 6, 2017 New York Times entitled, “Kidnappers Plotted to Sell British Model Online, Italian Police Say.”  This is horrific and disturbing on so many levels and it shows man’s inhumanity to man is rapidly evolving.  One of the most chilling lines in the article was, “Investigators said the 30-year-old Polish citizen had previously organized similar online auctions in which he advertised abducted young women for sale as “prey.”

There is another kidnaper, the devil, who also goes about the world seeking prey (2 Timothy 2:26).  But thank God, we serve a God that has freed us from the clutches of the evil one and we do not have to be entangled into his slavery (Galatians 5:1).  We are no longer condemned to a life of addictions, destructive habits, or wicked lifestyles (Romans 8:1-2).  Many of us are slaves to various sins from which we would love to be free. But Jesus has already set us free (John 8:34, 36). 

Not only are we free from sin, but we also have been set free from sickness and disease.  Yes, some will be delivered from their sickness or disease in heaven, but Jesus wants us above all to be in health as our soul prospers (3 John 2).

Let us remember that while the devil goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy (1 Peter 5:8), we serve Jesus who rose from the dead with all power and authority (Matthew 28:18). With His power and authority, He has set us free from the devil’s snares of sin, sickness, and disease so we can freely serve our Liberator.  Free at last, thank God, we are free at last!

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.

Galatians 5:1
New International Version (NIV)
5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Romans 8:1-2
New International Version (NIV)
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death

John 8:34, 36
New International Version (NIV)
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

3 John 2
New International Version (NIV)
2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

1 Peter 5:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

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.