Monday, February 26, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, February 25, 2018

Our Victory Was Won Over Two Thousand Years Ago

The 2018 Winter Olympics has ended and we have seen participants push themselves to win medals or even have the privilege of participating in the games with some of the world’s finest athletes.  This was an awesome display of dedication, talent, and determination to test their bodies to their extreme limits.  Most of us will never stretch our bodies to see what we are capable of.  Perhaps we might have also stood proudly on the podium with the anthem of our country being played.

In a given contest, it would have been much easier to know that you had already won your prize before you began.  The Bible says that we are already seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that He could show how kind He already has been to us in the ages to come (Ephesians 2:6, 7).  We are not winners because of our own fleshly efforts trying to beat someone else, score more points, or to please earthly judges.  If we did, we could boast about our efforts, but it is God’s unmerited favor or His gift to us (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul speaks about his pressing toward his goal to win his prize (Philippians 3:12, 14).  However his goal was not to defeat others, but to be more like Christ.  Paul wanted to know Him experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him and experiencing the mighty power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10). 

Thank God for the splendid and overwhelming performances of our athletes.  However, we are in an eternal battle that Jesus has already won. He defeated death, hell and the grave (Revelation 1:18). He stands victorious on the podium and we are with Him in victory since we are just like Him in this world (1 John 4:17).  Thank God for our victory in Him. We triumph with Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:14).

Ephesians 2:6-9
New International Version (NIV)
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Philippians 3:12, 14
New International Version (NIV)
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:10
Amplified Bible (AMP)
10 And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did];

Revelation 1:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades

1 John 4:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus

2 Corinthians 2:14
King James Version (KJV)
14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, February 20, 2018

Our God Can Resolve and Heal Sexual Assault

The #metoo movement has led to many highly respected leaders in their respective fields to being exposed for shameful behavior.  Angela Wright-Shannon, a writer in the February 19, 2018, Huffington Post accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of a history inappropriate conduct.  It seems that even women are not exempt from bad behavior since California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia was accused of harassment.  A highly popular sport like swimming is in the spotlight for accusations of decades of tolerance for sexual assault and multiple cover-ups.  It is like finding one roach and thousands tumble out of the woodwork.

In the Bible, King David, a man after God’s own heart, impregnated a married woman and had her husband killed (2 Samuel 12:9).  The prophet Nathan pronounced his terrible punishment that destruction and rebellion would stay in his house (2 Samuel 12:10).  The Bible is very clear that while we may hide our dastardly deeds, our God sees everything. Often He will expose them to the light so that we receive back what we have given out (Luke 8:17, Galatians 6:7).  Many of us have done things that we would not like exposed on the front page of the New York Times or have our neighbors opine on the Five o’clock News, “But she was such a nice lady.  I never would have thought she would have done that.”

What should we do if we have sinned?  Like David, we must repent, go to God and ask for forgiveness (Psalm 51:1-4).  Then we must go to our victims if accessible and ask for their forgiveness and make restitution for our deeds.  It is so much better to make peace with our brethren on this side of eternity rather than dealing with our sins at the Day of Judgment.  Many victims of harassment simply want an admittance of guilt and acknowledgement of their pain. Others may deservedly ask for more than just words. The legal system may even get involved.

Nevertheless, our God is able to wash us, sanctify us and justify us (1 Corinthians 6:11).  We may never have the status that we enjoyed when we were inflicting pain on our victims, but it is important for us to know that our God can make everything right with the victim and the victimizer.  He can heal the broken hearted, the abused, and the abusers.  Turn it over to Jesus and let Him work it out (Philippians 2:13)!

2 Samuel 12:9-10
New International Version (NIV)
 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’

Luke 8:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

Galatians 6:7
New International Version (NIV)
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Psalm 51:1-4
New International Version (NIV)
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge

1 Corinthians 6:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

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

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, February 12, 2018

The World’s Protection is Temporary; God’s Protection is Eternal

Once again computer issues are a problem. Last week my computer would not boot up.  This week my McAfee Internet Security program will not accept my preferences.*  The last time this happened my computer was out of commission for days. In today’s world, our computers are subject to many bugs, malware, and hackers in the Internet system.

Thank God, He is not like our off and on again computer protection systems.  Our God neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:3-4).  He supplies all of our needs and is a very present help whenever we have trouble (Psalm 46:1).  Our enemies may come against us one way but they will flee from us seven ways (Deuteronomy 28:7).  The 23rd Psalm declares that He is our Shepherd so we do not have to lack for anything. 

My computer system can fail but God never fails.  If He is for us, He is more than the whole world against us (Romans 8:31).  He is our place of protection, our refuge.  We have many sick and hurting people.  All who are sick and hurting can find a place in Him. If He cannot fix it, if He cannot heal, there is no help.  But thank God He is more than enough.

Let us remember that worldly protections will fade.  People may change their minds and go from being great friends to implacable foes.  Thank God we have a right to stay in and settle down in His safe secret place so that nothing that is created can be successful against us (Psalm 91:1-2, Isaiah 54:17). Our God is our impenetrable protection.

*Update, McAfee Internet Security fixed my protection system.  God is good! 

Psalm 121:3-4
New International Version (NIV)
3 He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

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

Deuteronomy 28:7
New International Version (NIV)
7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven

Romans 8:31 
New International Version (NIV)
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

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.”

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.