Monday, September 24, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, September 24, 2018

Our God Is A Great Provider

Many of us may be looking to our government as the provider of last resort. However, the June 5th, 2018 issue of The Street Staff reported that the Trustees of Social Security and Medicare stated, “Medicare's hospital insurance fund will be depleted in 2026 -- three years earlier than trustees projected last year -- and, as they did last year, federal officials said both the Medicare and Social Security trust funds would be depleted in 2034.” According to the FY 2019 Federal Budget, at the end of FY 2018, the gross US federal government debt is estimated to be $21.48 trillion.  

Some of us assume that we can fall back on our collective savings. Unfortunately, it seems that at the end of 2017…“The average American household carries $137,063 in debt, according to the Federal Reserve's latest numbers. Yet the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the median household income was just $59,039 last year, suggesting that many Americans are living beyond their means.” 

The Bible tells us that despite these troubling numbers, God has already provided all that we need (2 Peter 1:3).  The government may be in debt, but God tells that us that He wants those who love and obey Him to prosper in everything that they do (Psalm 1:1-3).   While we may be afraid of future financial uncertainty, God loved the whole world so much that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Since He gave His only Son, no doubt He will graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32). The Bible even declares that God is pleased to give to His children the kingdom (Luke 12:32).

It may be true that the future looks challenging. However the Bible assures us that God determines the steps of a good man or woman (Psalm 37:23) and therefore no weapon, financial or otherwise, will defeat us.  We do not have to rely on our government, our savings, our employers or other’s generosity.  Our God is a great provider.

2 Peter 1:3
New International Version (NIV)
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Psalm 1:1-3
New International Version (NIV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

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.

Romans 8:32
New International Version (NIV)
32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Luke 12:32
New International Version (NIV)
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Psalm 37:23
New King James Version (NKJV)
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, September 17, 2018

Our God Is An Awesome God

When we consider Hurricane Florence which wreaked havoc on the Carolinas this year, Hurricane Maria in 2017 in which almost 3000 people reportedly died, and Hurricane Harvey in 2017 which inflicted over $100 billion in damage, our minds may turn to the lyrics of the song, “How Great Thou Art” by Carl Boberg.  Some of the powerful lyrics are, “O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.”

God continues to demonstrate that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He declared that the whole earth is His and that includes us (Psalm 24:1-2).  The first words of the book of Genesis start with, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  The stars in heaven proclaim His wonderful works of creation (Psalm 19:1). Although we may be impressed by mankind’s discoveries and overall knowledge, we must be humbled when we realize how small we are compared to God. 

Although He is Creator and Lord of all, God still loves us.  Even though He is all-powerful and holds the universe in His hands, He gave His all when He gave us His Son, Jesus, for our sins (John 3:16).  He loves us with an amazing and everlasting love when He looks beyond our limitations and tells us to sit with Him in heavenly places with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:16).

The same God that controls hurricanes, moves the planets, and sets the courses for the stars, still takes the time to love me, you, those who love and obey Him, and even those who deny His existence.  This week, let us consider our wonderful God who manages the universes and unleashes hurricanes, but still notes even the smallest things about us.  Our God is an awesome God. 

Psalm 24:1-2
New International Version (NIV)
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
2  for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

Genesis 1:1
New International Version (NIV)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Psalm 19:1
New International Version (NIV)
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands

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.

Ephesians 2:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

Monday, September 10, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, September 10, 2018

Let Us Choose Our Words With Wisdom

In 1989, Cher sang, “If I Could Turn Back Time.” Some of the lyrics were, “If I could turn back time. If I could find a way, I'd take back those words that hurt you and you'd stay.”  How many times have we said things that sounded much wittier and cooler in our head, but were terrible when they came out?  We may be quick to say that we did not mean it that way, but the damage has been already been done, moods have darkened and as a result, relationships have deteriorated. 

The Bible says that our words should be gracious and pleasant (Colossians 4:6). We should always speak the truth, but we should speak it in love.  When we do, we become more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15).  Our words are so important that the Bible says that well-spoken words are like apples of gold in a silver setting (Proverbs 25:11).

The Bible says that we should use our words to bring a blessing to others and not a cursing (Proverbs 18:21) since we can cause great harm with an ill chosen comment.  Although we cannot turn back time to take back our hurtful statements, we can ask God to help us to watch our words (Psalm 141:3) so that we can be an encouragement to others and a help to those who need our reassurance. What kinds of words will you speak this week?

Colossians 4:6
Amplified Bible (AMP)
Let your speech at all times be gracious and pleasant, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer each one [who questions you].

Ephesians 4:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Proverbs 25:11
Amplified Bible (AMP)
11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken at the right time.

Proverbs 18:21
New International Version (NIV)
21The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Psalm 141:3
New International Version (NIV)
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, September 4, 2018

Will Our Living Be In Vain?

On August 31stand September 1st, 2018, we celebrated the lives of the great icons, Aretha Franklin and Senator John McCain. These were amazing people and many were changed by their utterances and actions.  During Aretha Franklin’s funeral ceremony, the Clark Sisters sang, “Is My Living In Vain?” Some of the lyrics are,  “Is my living in vain? (...)Am I wasting my time? Can the clock be rewind? Have I let my light shine? Have I made ninety-nine?”  In answer to these troubling questions, they declared triumphantly, “No, of course not. It's not all in vain. No, no Lord, no 'cause up the road is eternal gain.”

The apostle Paul in the Bible declared that for him to live was to live for Christ, but when he died, he would gain eternal life (Philippians 1:21).  As we sojourn upon this rugged road called life, we have to evaluate the importance of what we are doing.  After all is said and done, we have to ask are the things that we think are so important really that important?  Are we wasting our time investing in people that diminish us? Are we spending our precious moments working on activities that are just make-work projects? Are we gathering honors, promotions, degrees, and bank accounts just so that struggles will quickly ensue over who gets what before our body is cold?

What will they say at our own Homegoing?  Will there be meaningless platitudes and predictable homilies designed to praise the departed and comfort the crowd? Or will they look at our lives as an example of letting God’s words live in us (Colossians 3:16) and remind those we leave behind to stay in Christ and to live for Him always. I hope that our eulogy communicates that we loved God, loved people, served God and served people.

As ambassadors for Christ, we would like the world to know that we demonstrated the love of Christ to a sad and lonely world.  Jesus does not want any to die without Him, but instead He wants everyone to have eternal life with Him (2 Peter 3:9).  Therefore, let us live lives that are focused on eternal things.  Let us live our lives knowing that a great cloud of witnesses watches over us (Hebrews 12:1). Let our living not be in vain, but let us live for Christ.

Philippians 1:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  

Colossians 3:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

2 Peter 3:9
New International Version (NIV)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Hebrews 12:1
New International Version (NIV)
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,