Monday, September 25, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, September 25, 2017

Don’t Worry; Be Happy

A September 1988 popular worldwide hit song by musician Bobby McFerrin was entitled, "Don't Worry, Be Happy. " This wildly popular title came from an Indian mystic and sage Meher Baba (1894–1969) who originally used the expression. One line from this song was, “In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double. Don’t worry, be happy”

Yet current events might make one question this simplistic thinking.  There is the threat of global annihilation from nuclear miscalculations, major challenges from climate change, random acts of senseless violence, and the very real possibility of millions of American citizens losing healthcare in the foreseeable future.  This is not even considering the lack of clean drinking water, minimal health resources, a dearth of adequate food, prevalence of diseases and continual wars in various parts of our globe.

The dictionary says to be happy is to feel pleasure or contentment.  Perhaps Meher was onto something because the Bible says to be anxious about nothing, but pray and thank God in everything (Philippians 4:6).  The Bible says we do not have to let our hearts be troubled about anything (John 14:1).  Although we definitely will have trouble in this world system, we don’t have to worry about it because God has already overcome the world (John 16:33).  Paul said that he learned to be content no matter what was going on in his life (Philippians 4:11).  We can be assured knowing that for those who love God, He will deliver us out of our troubles (Psalm 34:19).

We should decide not to be concerned, upset, anxious, or fearful.  In a quote usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln, says “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Let us make up our minds that we will not let people, places, or things drag our thinking down. Let us resolve that while we may not be happy all the time, we will not worry, but we will think thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8).  Do not worry, but allow yourself to think on the goodness of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:6
New International Version (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

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

John 16:33
New International Version (NIV)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Philippians 4:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

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

Philippians 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 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 18, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, September 18, 2017

Let Us Live and Not Die

Chester Charles Bennington was a forty one year old American singer and songwriter who sung for various rock bands, but hung himself on July 20, 2017.  It is a true statement that money will not buy happiness when the “.HEAVY” website notes that he was worth $25 million when he died.  We have a suicide crises in our country that is confirmed by the New York Times article, April 22, 2016, headlined, “U.S. Suicide Rate Surges To A 30 Year High.”  The article went on to say that there were, “increases in every age group except older adults.”  This is agonizing for this blog’s author, but it brings to light the quote by Henry David Thoreau, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

We cannot know the depression, desperation, disappointment or despair that leads one to this final act, but the Bible says, in spite of the world’s challenges, we should trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and not rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5, 6).  Some may try to blame those who commit suicide, but many are simultaneously deflecting from their own suicidal ideations when times got black and there was no way out.  Thank God that Jesus gives us the way out of every trap in our lives because He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). 

While you may not know your neighbor’s sad thoughts, now is the time to let them know that God loves them, died for them, does not want them to die, but to live eternally with Him (John 3:16). He wants us to know that God wants us to live for His glory (Psalm 118:17).

This week, share a smile, give a hug, and impart an uplifting word to those around you.  It may be that God has led you to someone to help lift the depression, assuage some disappointment, or comfort some loss that can lead them to hold on until things get better.  Let us live and help someone else live to the glory of God.

Proverbs 3:5, 6
New International Version (NIV)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

John 14:6
New International Version (NIV)
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

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.

Psalm 118:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, September 11, 2017

Abiding In God’s Protection

The September 10th, 2017 article in the New York Times entitled “Hurricane Irma: ‘A Low Howl,’ ‘Tearing Through the Trees,’ ‘Like Waiting for a Monster” had excerpts from correspondents writing of “Powerful tree-bending winds tearing through South Miami”, and “streets are flooding and quickly becoming impassable.”  Since the ending of August 2017, North America has been hit with hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and tornadoes.  There have been many huge fires ripping through our forests.  Lives have been lost due to these terrifying events.

The Bible gives us comfort during these disturbing times.  God says that although trouble comes, we are responsible to not let our hearts be troubled.  Those who love and believe the Lord can trust confidently in His divine protection (John 14:1).  The phrase “fear not” appears over eighty times in the scripture.  The Bible says that God will keep you in perfect peace when you trust Him (Isaiah 26:3).  Many are running to shelters as they should, but God wants us to know that we should dwell in His secret place in Him (Psalm 91:1, 2). 

Although, this is a challenging time, those who love the Lord can share the Good News that God is in charge.  This is not to say those who love the Lord will escape all of the destruction, but God said that He would go through it with us (Psalm 23:4).  During this and future challenging moments, let us abide in Him by faith knowing that He will keep, comfort, and cover us.

John 14:1
Amplified Bible (AMP)
14 “Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me.

Isaiah 26:3
New International Version (NIV)
3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Psalm 91:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 23:4
New International Version (NIV)
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, September 5, 2017

Living Life Without Bitterness

On October 24, 1974, a man sexually assaulted and robbed a student at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. The victim identified 19-year-old Edward George Carter. His trial, lasting one day, was replete problems such as serology tests exonerating him, the defendant already in custody when the attack occurred, and a woefully inadequate legal defense.  He served 35 years of a life sentence before the charges were finally dismissed.  On August 16, 2017, he received $1.7 million under a new Michigan law compensating him for his years in prison.

In his shoes, many would be bitter that most of their productive years were stolen from them.  But the Bible says that we must forgive those that sin against us because if we do not, the Father will not forgive our sins (Matthew 6:14-15).  The Bible says we are to bear with each other and forgive each other for their grievances (Colossians 3:13).  Going beyond forgiveness, Jesus,  who never did any sin, asked for forgiveness for those who tormented, mocked, and beat him (Luke 23:34).

Mr. Carter was freed in 2010 and seven years later finally received some compensation for opportunities missed, relationships destroyed, and dreams dashed. We do not know about His relationship to Christ, but his lawyer testified that he chose to live his life without bitterness.  In spite of the hurtful words, evil deeds, and disappointing circumstances that we may find ourselves in today, let us also turn away from bitterness or resentment and turn our hearts to Jesus who will keep us in His perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).  

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.

Colossians 3:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you

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.

Isaiah 26:3
New Living Translation (NLT)
3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!