Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, May 28, 2019

Let's Be A Friend Like Jesus

Aladdin, a 1992 American animated musical fantasy film, has a song made famous by Robin Williams called, “Friend Like Me.” The blue genie sings about all of the benefits that he can provide to the main character and then in the last line of his song the genie reminds him, “You ain't never had a friend like me, hah!” 

While we may enjoy the antics of this fantasy genie, Alan Jackson wrote the classic entitled, “What a Friend We Have In Jesus.” A few of the powerful lyrics are, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grieves to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.” When we have Jesus as a friend, He is like no other.  Because He loved mankind so much, He laid down His life for the world (John 15:13).  He went to the painful cross, a sacrifice for the sins of all of mankind, all for the joy of it (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus is our perfect example. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, elected to be with the sinners when He could have reigned in the palaces (Mark 2:16-17). Jesus will stick closer to us than anyone (Proverbs 18:24). Can we temporarily eschew the good life to talk with societal outcasts?  Are we willing to be friends to the friendless, to comfort those who are rejected and sad, or to drop by the jails just to befriend a prisoner who has lost hope? Are we willing to sacrifice our comfort, our income, our position, status, or respect for those who have none of these things? 

We have never had a friend like Jesus who sees us at our worst and who looks beyond our faults and sees our needs.  Can we be friendly to someone who really needs us?  Someone needs us as a friend. Please let it be you and me.

John 15:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Hebrews 12:2
New International Version (NIV)
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Mark 2:16-17
New International Version (NIV)
16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Proverbs 18:24
New International Version (NIV)
24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, May 20, 2019

God Wants Us To Bless Others

Audra D. S. Burch and David Gelles wrote an article in the New York Times on May 19, 2019, entitled, “Morehouse Graduates’ Student Loans to Be Paid Off by Billionaire.” Mr. Robert F. Smith announced during Sunday’s graduation ceremony that he and his family were paying off the student loans for the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College, a historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia. Needless to say, the news brought great joy to the graduates and their families.

It is wonderful to know that there are people who want to pay it forward by helping others.  We greatly applaud this billionaire’s efforts. The Bible speaks of another who gave so that others may benefit. Jesus Christ impoverished Himself so that those who believe on Him may become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Furthermore, the Bible says that God gives riches, but does not add any painful toil with His gifts (Proverbs 10:22). He wants us to be in health and prosper even as our soul prospers (3 John 2).  God gets pleasure in the prosperity of His servants (Psalms 35:27).

According to the Bible, Mr. Smith has a great blessing on his way because of his generosity. The Bible advises us to give and it will be given back to us in abundance (Luke 6:38). We may not be billionaires, but we can follow his example and bless others as God directs us to give. He says that we have a great inheritance in Jesus (Ephesians 1:18) and those who love the Lord are His heirs.  As God guides us and gives to us, let us not forget to bless others.

2 Corinthians 8:9
New International Version (NIV)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Proverbs 10:22
New International Version (NIV)
22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.

3 John 2
King James Version (KJV)
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Psalm 35:27
King James Version (KJV)
27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

Luke 6:38
Amplified Bible (AMP)
38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over [with no space left for more]. For with the standard of measurement you use [when you do good to others], it will be measured to you in return.”

Ephesians 1:18
New International Version (NIV)
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,

Monday, May 13, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, May 13, 2019

What Do You Have In Your Hand?  

In the Bible, God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites, but Moses replied that people would not believe him.  God then asked him what was in his hand and to throw it to the ground as a sign. His staff became a living snake (Exodus 4:1-3). As a result, Moses had a change in his thinking about accomplishing God’s mission.

The Bible says that as a man thinks in his heart, that is what he is (Proverbs 23:7a).  If one feels they are defeated while they are at their starting line, it is pretty certain they will not win their race. We think we need something else when God tells us that the Greater One lives on the inside of us (1 John 4:4). Moreover, if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? 

Often people will look to something else outside of their reach to help them reach their life’s mission.  They reason that if only they had more money, more education, great contacts, more authority, or more hutzpah, they would feel they could really accomplish their assignment in life. If only they had something more than they have.

In the Bible, King David had five smooth stones and a slingshot to defeat a highly trained giant (1 Samuel 17:40).  Moses raised his rod and God parted the Red Sea. Abraham believed the promises of God and produced an heir in his old age. The prophet Elijah asked a widow to continue to pour her oil, which was enough to deliver her family from being sold into slavery (2 Kings 4:1, 2, 4, 7). We are commanded to speak the things that are not as though they were so (Romans 4:17).  Death and life are in our own tongue’s power.  

What do you have in your hand?  Let us take an inventory of our strengths, resources, dreams and visions and let us run the race that God has set before us. No, we do not need more money, more education, more great contacts, more authority, or more hutzpah.  Jesus has already given us everything that we need that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Let us receive the strength, wisdom, faith, and knowledge that He has already given us because He lives in us. Moreover, let us continue to remind ourselves that everything that we need is already in our hands to accomplish whatever His mission is in our lives.

Exodus 4:1-3
New International Version (NIV)
Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”
Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” 
“A staff,” he replied.
The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”

Proverbs 23:7a
King James Version (KJV)
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:

1 John 4:4
New International Version (NIV)
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

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

1 Samuel 17:40
New International Version (NIV)
40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

2 Kings 4:1, 2, 4, 7
New International Version (NIV)
The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

Romans 4:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

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.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, May 6, 2019

See Ourselves As God Sees Us

On April 3, 2017, Donnalynn Civello, the Executive Director of Ethereal Wellness Counseling, wrote a blog post about a common practice of,  “Seeing Yourself Through The Eyes of OthersShe mentions that doing this “renders you blind to yourself. Why use others’ eyesight to see yourself? Why would you want to look at who you are through the lens of someone else? It seems odd, yet we do it all the time.”   Many times we will accept the lies of that other people tell us rather than believing what God has said about us.

In the Bible, the children of Israel approached the Promised Land after God had miraculously delivered them from Egypt, the land of their captivity. Their spies returned with tales of a land full of milk and honey.  Yet they refused to try to take that land because they felt the inhabitants looked at them as small grasshoppers, which is how they felt about themselves (Numbers 13:33).  Even though God had brought them through the Red Sea and destroyed the Egyptian army, they declared that they were not able to defeat their newest enemy (Numbers 13:31).

Many times we will talk ourselves into defeat because we will judge ourselves inadequate to deal with the exigencies of life. Our parents, friends, or relatives will tell us that we can’t accomplish our mission in life and we simply accept the fact that we are defeated. 

But God tells us that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) and He will always cause us to triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14). God is always for us, so who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?  The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords will be with us always so we should not be concerned with how man sees us, but instead should focus on how God sees us. We are smart, talented, successful and we are wonderfully made in His image.  Our capacity is limitless because we serve a God that is limitless.

We can decide that we can do everything through God who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).  He calls us prosperous, healthy, victorious, and overcomers.  Let us receive the good report from the Lord about who we are and what we can do. Let us see ourselves like God sees us.

Numbers 13:31, 33
New International Version (NIV)
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.
33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Romans 8:37
New International Version (NIV)
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

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.

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?

Philippians 4:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.