Monday, March 30, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, March 30, 2020

Let Us See Jesus

What are you looking at?  What draws your attention?  What can you spend hours gazing at?  For some of us it is our loved ones, for others it is their prized possessions.  Still others would continually contemplate philosophical concepts while others would focus on how to enrich their bank accounts.

In the Bible, a few worshippers came to Phillip, one of Jesus’ disciples, with a poignant request. They said, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus” (John 12:20, 21). Any of the disciples may have been able to help them, but they wanted to only see the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. In the book of Psalms, King David asked for only one thing of the Lord and that was to live in God’s house, look at His beauty and to seek Him (Psalm 27:4).  God wants us to first seek His kingdom and His righteousness and then we can get everything we need according to His will (Matthew 6:33).  

When we are considering personal and national challenges, we must be certain that Jesus is the reason for our life seasons.  We cannot be distracted from looking to the One who began and perfects our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He is the answer to every question and the solution for all of our problems.  He knows everything about us from our beginning to our end (Psalm 139:16).  As we go through life, He promised that if we focus on Him, He will give us perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). Let us see Jesus in whatever we do. 

John 12:20, 21
New International Version (NIV)
20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival.
21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”

Psalm 27:4
New International Version (NIV)
4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

Matthew 6:33
New International Version (NIV)
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Hebrews 12:2
New International Version (NIV)
2 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

Psalm 139:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Isaiah 26:3
King James Version (KJV)
3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, March 23, 2020

Don’t Be Scared

In the last few months, our world has turned upside down. Hallowed institutions, important organizations, and people seemed to be helpless as the world faces the implacable COVID-19 virus that seems intent on destroying mankind.  No segment of society has escaped its deadly touch and it seems unstoppable in spite of our concerted worldwide efforts.

Many seemed resigned to its power, drowning their sorrow by behavior that totally violates the health guidelines which are designed to slow down its march across the globe.  Yet, the Bible clearly states our responsibility in the face of this mortal enemy.  Since God is strengthening, upholding, and helping us, we are not to be dismayed or to feel consternation and distress (Isaiah 41:10).  If God is for us, who can possibly be against us (Romans 8:31)?  Those who love the Lord can say that He is our refuge and can trust in Him in all things (Psalm 91:2)

Things do look bleak, the news reports cascade over each other in horror and intensity. The odds seem stacked against us, but we can say that greater is He that is in us that that virus that is in the world (1 John 4:4).  We can confidently declare that no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17).  Since the Lord is our shepherd, we can go through this valley and know that His rod and staff shall protect and guide us (Psalm 23:4).  We don’t have to be scared; we can trust God.

Isaiah 41:10
New International Version 
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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

Psalm 91:2
New International Version
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

1 John 4:4
New International Version
4 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.

Isaiah 54:17
New International Version
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.

Psalm 23:4
Amplified Bible
4 Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, March 16, 2020

Let’s Act Like Children

In the last few months, our family has been blessed with a granddaughter and a great granddaughter.  Whenever I see pictures of them or am in their presence, there is a peace, calmness, and joy about them.  They are not worried about the major turndowns in our economy because of the coronavirus.  They are unconcerned about their automobile expenses, their retirement accounts or whether they will get a promotion on their jobs.  Thoughts of their future spouses and children are far from their thinking.

 Oftentimes, we only see children for their cuteness, but Jesus had a different view of them.  He said in order for anyone to enter into the kingdom of heaven, they had to become like a trusting, humble, and forgiving child. He also said that people who humbled themselves like a child would be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:1-4).  In another passage Jesus said that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to people who are like children (Matthew 19:14). 

Good children show immense love and trust for their protectors and God says to love Him with all of our hearts, soul and strength (Matthew 22:37).  God wants us to walk as dear loving children (Ephesians 5:1, 2) and not to be conformed to the evils of this world system (1 Peter 1:14).

It is easy to be cynical, cold and callous because of the wickedness that seems to dominate men’s thinking.  So, let us decide that we should be more child-like in our faith, love, and trust so that we might be what God wants us to be in His kingdom.  Let us have the nature of children.

Matthew 18:1-4
New International Version (NIV)
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 
Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 19:14 
New International Version (NIV)
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matthew 22:37
New International Version (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 

Ephesians 5:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

1 Peter 1:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, March 9, 2020

Today, we are blessed to have our daughter, Dr. Malika Fair, to share her thoughts about the current health crises. 

Admitting My Fears

I admit it. I am a Christian and I am afraid. I’m fearful about the health and well-being of my family and friends amid the COVID-19 outbreak. With each passing day, my concern worsens. From a professional point of view, I should not panic and instead take similar precautions to preventing the flu. But personally, I worry that the small percentage that will be severely impacted will include someone I love. What if my prayers aren’t answered and they succumb to this virus? What if I can’t travel to say goodbye? What if I am the one infected and infect someone else?

Even as Christians, it is okay to admit when fear and doubt is present (Mark 9:23, 24). But as a Christian, I’m called to recognize where those feelings come from. The Bible says that God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Since I’m His, I can choose to embrace what He has given me. 

So, I choose to walk in power. For me that means having the courage and strength to carry out my duties as a mother, daughter, sister and physician even when I am afraid. I choose to walk in love. I will endeavor to pause, be present, and show appreciation and compassion every day. I will use my sound mind to make wise decisions, follow the recommendations to prepare for and prevent the spread of this disease and others.

I’m grateful that my Father in heaven has given me an opportunity to embrace power, love, and a sound mind. My fear isn’t going to vanish overnight, but I have a roadmap to fight my fears when they arise. 

Our days were already numbered before we arrived on this earth (Psalm 39:4-5). We can choose to live out our days in worry and fear or we can live by faith and boldly fulfill our purpose (John 9:4).  Let's admit that although we may be afraid, we can choose to walk in power, love, and a sound mind. 

Mark 9:23-24
New International Version (NIV)
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

2 Timothy 1:7
King James Version (KJV)
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Psalm 39:4-5
New International Version (NIV)
4 “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.

John 9:4
New International Version (NIV)
4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, March 3, 2020

There Is No Risk With God

During the week of February 24, 2020, the US financial markets dropped significantly because of fear of how the coronavirus would affect stock prices.  This is called Market risk which is “…the possibility of an investor experiencing losses due to factors that affect the overall performance of the financial markets in which he or she is involved. … Systematic, or market risk tends to influence the entire market at the same time.”

Many people are concerned with how the coronavirus would affect their portfolio, their business plans, and their retirement income. That market risk leads people to try to protect their assets, their own longevity, and their families. They don’t want to put them at risk.  Yet while we may want to protect what is ours from the risk of loss, many of us do not attempt to protect ourselves from permanent separation from God. 

There is a song by AC DC called, “Highway to Hell.”  Some of the short-sighted lyrics are, “Ain't nothing I would rather do, Going down, party time. My friends are gonna be there too. I'm on the highway to hell…No stop signs, speed limit. Nobody's gonna slow me down.”  Sadly, God says that many will go to destruction, but few will find the straight way and the narrow gate that leads to life with Him (Matthew 7:14).  

While warning us that after death is the Judgement, most people will risk losing their souls while striving to protect their natural investment.  What is the profit in that? (Mark 8:36).  We fear people, places and things that can hurt our bodies, but don't consider the risk of where our souls will spend eternity (Matthew 10:28). 

God prevents that risk.  He said that He is not willing that any of us be lost, but that we would all repent from disobedience to Him (2 Peter 3:9).  The Gospel or the Good News is that anyone who hears His word and believes on Him will have everlasting life and will avoid damnation in hell (John 5:24, Proverbs 14:12).  If we have sinned, He says that all we have to do is confess our sins to Him who will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  

Let us remember there is no risk with God.  All that we have to do is to believe on Him and we shall be saved.  We can protect our eternal investment when we seek those things that are above rather than the things on the earth (Colossians 3:1, 2). He has prepared a wonderful and eternal home that we may live with Him forever.  No risk with God.  We have eternal security with Him (Romans 8:31).

Matthew 7:14
King James Version (KJV)
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Mark 8:36
New International Version (NIV)
36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Matthew 10:28
New International Version (NIV)
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

2 Peter 3:9
New International Version (NIV)
9 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.

John 5:24
New International Version (NIV)
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Proverbs 14:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

1 John 1:9
New International Version (NIV)
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Colossians 3:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

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?