Monday, September 30, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, September 30, 2019

Sudden Turbulence In Life’s Journey

Recently, my wife and I got on a plane and we had prayed that we would have a peaceful and safe flight.  As the plane took off, I looked out of the window, the ground was slipping away, the plane was powering toward the sky, and everything was normal. We were in the blue sky, above the white clouds and all seemed right in the world.

Suddenly the plane began to run into turbulence and the plane began to bounce and rock.  It was no longer peaceful, no longer normal and nothing was right in the world.  But we remembered that we had prayed and thought we would have been able to avoid this turbulence.  What was wrong? Suddenly the turmoil stopped and all was peaceful again. God was faithful and answered our prayers.

This mirrors what happens in many of our lives. We specifically pray or ask that something we fear will not happen and it happens anyway. We wonder, “Was God even listening or does He care?” God wants us to know that even though we don’t always get what we ask for and sometimes get exactly what we didn’t ask for, He still promises to be with us and never leave us.

In the Bible, it assures us that if we call upon Him, He will answer us in our times of trouble (Psalm 91:5). He has proven in the great and small things that He is a faithful God who makes certain that His promises succeed in our lives (Jeremiah 1:12).  God says that in spite of all the challenges that you may face, He is there to help (Psalm 46:1, 2). Naturally, He doesn’t want us to treat Him simply as a “Get out of trouble card,” but He wants us to be welcome to talk to Him about everything and let His peace rule us in a world of suffering and pain (Colossians 3:15).

God wants us to know that He is greater than any turbulence in our lives.  Although we respect out leaders, admire our scholars, and have confidence in our scientists, let us look to Him when sudden troubles arise.  He will always be there to comfort us.

Psalm 91:5
New International Version (NIV)
5 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

Jeremiah 1:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”

Psalm 46:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

Colossians 3:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, September 23, 2019

Give God Our Total Praise

Keith L. Alexander wrote an article in the July 23, 2015 issue of the Washington Post entitled, Millions Of Gospel Fans Know Richard Smallwood's Music. But Not His Struggles. Smallwood wrote the classic Christian hymn, “Total Praise.”  Alexander noted, “He wrote it when his mother had begun struggling with dementia and a family friend was dying of cancer, leaving Smallwood to serve as a caregiver at times for both.”  In spite of the stressful situations in which he found himself, he still gave God his total praise. Some of the lyrics are, 

Lord, I will lift mine eyes to the hills knowing my help is coming from You. Your peace, You give me in time of the storm, You are the source of my strength, You are the strength of my life. I lift my hands in total praise to you.”

This powerful song reminds us that we should give God praise no matter what circumstances, pain, confusion, anxiety, or challenges that we are going through.  The Bible advises us that everyone who has breath in their body should praise God (Psalm 150:6).  God continually works for us even in our struggles.  For example, the Bible states that when Apostle Paul and Silas were locked up in prison, they were praising God openly.  During their praise, miraculously, all of their prison doors were opened in an earthquake (Acts 16:25, 26).  

He is still blessing us whether we see His work or not (Lamentations 3:22, 23). Therefore, we should lift up our voices and thank and praise Him for what He has done, is doing, and will do for us.  Let everything that has breath praise God.

Psalm 150:6
New International Version (NIV)
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD

Acts 16:25, 26
New International Version (NIV)
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Lamentations 3:22, 23
New International Version (NIV)
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, September 16, 2019

What Have You Done For God Lately?

We live in a time where many of us want God to do everything while we do very little. We should be cooperating with Him, but we want God to operate without the "co."  God promised His disciples that He would work with them through signs and wonders (Mark 16:20).

In the Bible, we note that there seems to be a relationship between what we do and what God does. When we obey Him, we are blessed and when we disobey Him, there are penalties (Isaiah 1:19, 20). When we get close to God, He gets close to us (James 4:8). If we give Him our tithes, He promises extraordinary blessing (Malachi 3:10). He orders our steps, but we have to follow His orders in order to get His benefits. He wants to bring us to an expected end, but we have to accept His will and His way (Jeremiah 29:11). 

God has appointed each of us an assignment to help others, speak kindly to one another and demonstrate God’s love with every opportunity that presents itself.  God wants us get out of the grandstands, leave our comfort zones, and do what the Lord told us to do so that He can do what we cannot do.  We must work His will while we have the opportunity. Let us co-operate with God.

Mark 16:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

Isaiah 1:19, 20
New International Version (NIV)
19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

James 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Malachi 3:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

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, September 9, 2019

Pastor's Pondering, September 9, 2019

Let Us Not Limit The Unlimited God

In 1903, James Allen wrote a book entitled, “As a Man Thinketh.” One of his observations was that, “each man holds the key to every condition, good or bad, that enters into his life, and that, by working patiently and intelligently upon his thoughts, he may remake his life, and transform his circumstances.”   

In the Bible, the book of Proverbs says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7). Can you by changing your thought life, change your life? Perhaps we have unlimited possibilities if we simply believe we can do them.  

After the great flood in the Bible, a group of people gathered together to build a city with the tower reaching heaven.  God stopped them in their tracks by dividing their tongues, but went on to note, “then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6).  In the New Testament, a father asked Jesus to deliver his son who had been jumping into fire, but expressed doubt that He could help his son.  Jesus replied, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23).

When the children of Israel went into the Promised Land, God declared that they limited Him from all that He wanted to do for them (Psalm 78:41). However, God declares that we can do all things through Him who gives us His power (Philippians 4:13).  He says He can do a lot more than anything that we can ask or even think based on His power in us (Ephesians 3:20).  

Is it possible we have restricted God’s work in our lives simply because we have imposed the limits that God never intended for us to have? He wants to work through us (Philippians 2:13). Let us allow Him unlimited free course in our lives. 

Proverbs 23:7 
New International Version (NIV)
for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.

Genesis 11:6
New International Version (NIV)
The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

Mark 9:23
New International Version (NIV)
23“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Psalm 78:41
New King James Version (NKJV)
41 Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel.

Philippians 4:13
New King James Version (NKJV)
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Ephesians 3:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

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.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, September 3, 2019

God Has Given Us Authority

At the end of August 2019 and into September 2019, Hurricane Dorian will cost billions and has already taken lives. We pray for those in Dorian’s path, donate to relief organizations and listen for hourly updates. But despite our advances in emergency preparedness, storms like this one remind us of how powerless we can feel during a myriad of life’s circumstances. 

Hurricane Dorian is not the first and will not be the last natural disaster. As the nation feels helpless and captivated as the storm progresses, we can take this opportunity to realize the power we do have in Christ.

Jesus Christ raised the dead, healed the sick, and restored the handicapped (Matthew 8:17) and even commanded the wind and the waves to settle down (Matthew 8:25, 26). Perhaps we do not recognize how much authority and power He has given us because He says that His disciples would do greater works than He did (John 14:12). 

In the Bible, Jesus declared that nothing could harm us when we stay in obedience to Him (Luke 10:19). While we recognize the power of hurricanes, we must also recognize the power that He has given us to work miracles, to heal the sick, and even to command those storms obey us.  This is not to say that we would defeat every problem in life, but with God working with us, we can do great works. Let us walk in obedience to God and allow Him to do His work through us.

Matthew 8:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

Matthew 8:25, 26
New International Version (NIV)
25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm

John 14:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Luke 10:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.