Monday, October 30, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, October 30, 2017

What Do You Do When You’ve Done All That You Can?

Many of us have struggled against challenging odds in life and are just hanging on by a thread.  Although we have given our all and we have done all that we know how to do, but it seems that it is not enough. Donnie McClurkin penned a song called “Stand.”  Some of the lyrics ask, “Tell me what do you give when you've given your all and it seems like you can't make it through? Well, you just stand when there's nothing left to do. You just stand; watch the Lord see you through. Yes, after you've done all you can, you just stand.” 

The Bible shares some answers when all hope is lost.  After David’s camp had been raided, his soldier’s families and goods were taken, and his men were ready to mutiny, he encouraged himself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6).  Paul, when facing execution, was victorious when said that he had fought the good fight, he had finished his race, kept the faith and was looking forward to his crown (2 Timothy 4:7-8).  When Moses had led the children of Israel into the Wilderness and there was no water, they rebelled against him, but Moses called on God who answered right on time (Exodus 17:3, 4). As the children of Israel were trapped by the Red Sea with the Egyptian Army behind them, God told Moses to stand still and to see His salvation (Exodus 14:13).  Paul told the Corinthians that they should not let anything move them but just continue to work for God (1 Corinthians 15:58).

But, there are many challenges while waiting such as hopelessness, helplessness, fear, anxiety and worry. And what we should we do while we are waiting?  We must first and foremost turn to our only source, God, and keep our minds firmly, fixated, and focused on Him. God wants someone who has come to the end of themselves and is about to give up in despair to simply wait upon Him (Psalm 27:14).  Although it may not look like it, He knows what He is thinking about us and He will work things out in our favor (Jeremiah 29:11).  What do you do when you have done all you can?  Just stand and wait for our God.

1 Samuel 30:6
King James Version (KJV)
6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

2 Timothy 4:7-8
New International Version (NIV)
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Exodus 17:3-4
New International Version (NIV)
3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

Exodus 14:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.

1 Corinthians 15:58
New International Version (NIV)
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Psalm 27:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

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.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, October 23, 2017

Desperate For God

An article in the Huffington post, October 22, 2017, by Dominique Mosbergen, was entitled, “74-Year-Old Man Walks The Streets With A Desperate Plea: ‘Need Kidney 4 Wife’. This loving husband was walking miles in a last ditch attempt to save his wife.  He displayed complete humility and seemed willing to do almost anything to save her. Are you that desperate for any of your relationships? If there is any relationship that we should display this level of dedication towards is our relationship with God.  Is He your last hope or are you considering other possible options? Are you willing to put aside your comfort, your playthings, or your entertainment in a do-or-die attempt to seek the face of God and His will for your life?  You have tried the rest; perhaps now you should try the best.

In the Bible, David understood this plea when he was in the desert (Psalm 63:1). You can see the longing and need that David felt when he wrote that he would be satisfied just to be a doorkeeper in God’s house so that he could be in the presence of the Lord (Psalm 84:10).  David did not stop there. His whole being, spirit, soul, and body yearned to be with God (Psalm 84:2). 

God is not looking for casual relationships with us. In another passage of scripture, Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all of your heart soul and mind and to love your neighbors as yourself (Mark 12:30-31).  This is so appropriate since He loves us so much that He gave His Son to die for our sins (John 3:16).

Let us remember that whatever we need, we can get from God.  He is our source.  God wants us to seek Him with our whole heart and not be distracted by other false sources that will promise us the world, but deliver lies and disappointments.  He wants us to strive toward Him and to press toward the mark of the high calling in Christ (Philippians 3:14).  Let us strive desperately toward a close relationship with Him because He desires that relationship with us.

Psalm 63:1
New International Version (NIV)
1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

Psalm 84:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Psalm 84:2
New International Version (NIV)
2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Mark 12:30-31
New International Version (NIV)
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

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

Philippians 3:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, October 16, 2017

Resting In the Hands of God

An article in the Atlantic, August 13, 2017 by Joel S. Wit, was entitled, “Back Channel to North Korea: Can secret contacts between Pyongyang and Washington help chart a path out of the crisis?” A sentence from the article read, “…despite escalating tensions which appear to be approaching a violent breaking point, there might be a peaceful way out of what some pundits are calling a “slow-motion Cuban missile crisis.” For those of us who remembered the 1961 Cuban missile crisis, many of us were prepared to endure the horror of nuclear war between Russia and the United States.

We thank God for those who are working to resolve this tense standoff, but we must never put our confidence in the tools of war for our victory (Psalm 20:7).  Moreover, we can never trust man to deliver us from destruction (Psalm 118:8). It is a scary time and no one can guarantee that we will not find ourselves in the midst of a deadly battle, but God will guarantee that He will be with us in any conflict (Psalm 23:4).  Those who love God can confidently trust Him when He says that no weapon that is formed against us shall succeed (Isaiah 54:17).

We see that the pundits, prognosticators, prophets, and pastors are focusing on the disturbing comments of various world leaders. They are worried that the decisions of the current regime could destroy the world.  But God controls their decisions (Proverbs 21:1). The earth is the Lord’s and everyone in it, so we can know that God has it all under control (Psalm 24:1).  We can have His peace during any storm.  We can relax under the shadow of the Almighty God.  Sleep peacefully; we can rest in the mighty hands of God.

Psalm 20:7
New International Version (NIV)
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God

Psalm 118:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.

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.

Isaiah 54:17
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.

Proverbs 21:1
Amplified Bible (AMP)
1 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it whichever way He wishes.

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;

Monday, October 9, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, October 9, 2017

Escaping The Pain

Katharine Q. Seelye wrote an article in the New York Times, October 7, 2017 issue, entitled, “As Overdose Deaths Pile Up, a Medical Examiner Quits the Morgue.” An excerpt from the article said, “With 64,000 overdose deaths last year nationwide — a staggering 22 percent jump over the previous year — it is little wonder that overdoses, the leading cause of death among Americans under 50, are reducing life expectancy. They are also straining the staffs and resources of morgues, and causing major backlogs.” Other articles are equally sad, “The Pills Are Everywhere’: How the Opioid Crisis Claims Its Youngest Victims” and “Inside a Killer Drug Epidemic: A Look at America’s Opioid Crisis.” Drug abuse snatches one from the abundant life with Christ (John 10:10) and dumps them into a temporary bizarre and distorted vision of reality or sudden death.

Many of us have suffered unrelenting physical pain, the loss of loved ones, been fired from good jobs, experienced natural disasters, or feel they have failed in life. The Bible tells us that God wants us to know that there is hope, riches, and power for those who believe in Him (Ephesians 1:17-19).  He does not give the short-lived and deceptive peace of this worldly system; He gives us His peace so that we will not be troubled or afraid (John 14:27).  We can simply trust in Him and He will keep us in His perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). Some will turn to drugs because of the trouble in their minds or in their life situations, but Jesus says that we will have trouble in the world, but we should be happy since He has already overcome the world system (John 16:33). 

Depression, job loss, spousal abuse, societal alienation, or simply wanting to comply with the wishes of other drug abusers has contributed to many drug addictions.  But God wants us to remember His promises, His peace, His power, and His possibilities.  He does not want us to look to ourselves, our situation, or other people.  He wants us to have that abundant life in Him.  Let us look to Him for everything that we will ever need in life.

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.

Ephesians 1:17-19

New International Version (NIV)
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe…

John 14:27
New International Version (NIV)
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Isaiah 26:3
New Life Version (NLV)
3 You will keep the man in perfect peace whose mind is kept on You, because he trusts in You.

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.”

Monday, October 2, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, October 2, 2017

Burning Love For God

West Side Story was a 1957 classical musical. It examined the rivalry between two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds, the Jets and the Sharks.  One of the song’s lyrics emphasized the need for being cool. “Boy, boy, crazy boy, get cool, boy! Got a rocket in your pocket, keep coolly cool, boy! Don't get hot, 'cause man, you got some high times ahead. Take it slow and Daddy-O, you can live it up and die in bed!”  Cool was one of the words we used in the fifties.  We emphasized, don’t get excited, don’t get involved, just get your dark glasses, your cigarettes, and be cool.

The world system seems to approve of those who are laid back, unruffled, cool, casual, and uninvolved in anyone else but themselves.  However, those who love God should want to be like Him. God is described in the Bible as a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29).  The book of Jeremiah says the word of God is like fire shut up in his insides (Jeremiah 20:9).  God wants people to fervently worship, praise, and pray knowing that the effectual fervent prayers of the righteous will have great advantages (Romans 12:11, James 5:16). He loved us so much that He gave His Son Jesus for us and His Son died for us.  In His earthly ministry, He had compassion for people (Matthew 9:36).

God is looking for people who are on fire for Him.  He says that people must look for Him when He can be found and to call upon Him when He is near (Isaiah 55:6). They are not resting on their laurels, but are fervent, looking to be a blessing to others and to passionately obey Him.  They are actively seeking God’s direction, laying before Him, and striving to enter into His presence.

God is not looking for half-hearted, lukewarm children, but He really wants us to fervently love Him. This week, let us wholeheartedly seek God’s presence.  Let us decide to love Him because He loved us first. Let us vigorously look for God like we would look for hidden treasure.  Let us love Him with a burning love.

Hebrews 12:28-29
New International Version (NIV)
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
29 for our “God is a consuming fire.

Jeremiah 20:9
New International Version (NIV)
9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name, ”his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.

Romans 12:11
Amplified Bible (AMP)
11 never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord;

James 5:16
New King James Version (NKJV)
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Matthew 9:36
New International Version (NIV)
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd

Isaiah 55:6
New International Version (NIV)
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.