Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, May 26, 2020

Make Jesus Real To You
The dictionary defines “real” as actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed. Much of what passes for reality today is simply imagined or supposed.  An ethnic group may be negatively characterized by this or that opinion. Another country’s inhabitants can be placed in a terrible category simply based upon imaginary beliefs about them. Each person’s reality is what they decide it is which may or may not have any basis on facts. People may then make poor decisions based on their own experiences, prejudices, and attitudes and denigrate or elevate others according to what they suppose is reality. 

However, John P. Kee wrote a song entitled, “Jesus is Real”.  Some of the lyrics are Jesus is real, I know the Lord is real to me. Jesus is real, I know the Lord is real to me. Sometimes when I'm feeling low, nowhere to go, Jesus comes along and He makes me strong. For I know, oh, Jesus is real.  

In spite of some people’s opinions of the reality of Jesus, the truth of the matter is that He is more real than what we see around us. The Bible says that those things that are seen are temporary while those things that are not are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). Our friends may be important to us, but the unseen God will be a friend when others have turned their backs.  One’s lawyer may seem real and tangible, but Jesus is our eternal advocate for us with the Father whenever we sin (1 John 2:1, 2).

Many have decided that Jesus is a fake and God does not exist. According to the philosopher, Karl Marx, Religion … It is the opium of the people".  However, we serve a real, true and living Savior who is a very present help during our troubles (Psalm 46:1).  When the things that we have depended upon for so long fade away, Jesus will be a real God for us throughout eternity (Hebrews 13:5).

2 Corinthians 4:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

1 John 2:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

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

Hebrews 13:5
New International Version (NIV)
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Monday, May 18, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, May 18, 2020

Give Him All Of Our Cares and Concerns 
Our daughter, Denise Fair, just left our home to return to her work in Detroit.  A few months ago, we would have all hugged each other and prayed for her safe journey but now we can just pray at a social distance.  Before she left she sang a song to her niece written by Kelly Willard entitled, “Cares Chorus.”  Some of the lyrics are, “I cast all my cares upon You. I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet. And any time I don't know what to do, I will cast all my cares upon You.” 

The Bible tells us to cast all of our cares upon the Lord because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  He keeps record of every tear that we shed (Psalm 56:8). We have the privilege of going to the great Counselor to share our worries, doubts, fears, and anxiety.  He is not going to laugh at our pain or doubt our concerns because He loves us with an everlasting love.  He knows that we are weak (Psalm 103:14) but through Him, we have divine strength to handle anything in life.  We are looking to Jesus, who began and continues to mature our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

The suddenness of the losses of members of our church family and friends due to COVID-19 has cast its pall upon every aspect of life.  We long to return to our casual conversations where we had no specific agenda but simply enjoying the joy of being in each other’s company. Despite this sudden change, we have determined that we will not hold onto our cares and concerns, but we will give God our anxieties and in exchange He gives us his peace. We will share our sorrow while He gives us the comfort of His Holy Spirit, the greater Comforter. Daily, let us cast all of our cares upon Him because He continues to care for us. 

1 Peter 5:7
King James Version (KJV)
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Psalm 56:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll--are they not in your record?

Psalm 103:14
Amplified Bible (AMP)
14 For He knows our [mortal] frame;
He remembers that we are [merely] dust.

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.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, May 11, 2020

Great News: We Have God’s Power, Love, and A Sound Mind
J. Moss wrote a song entitled, “Afraid”.  Some of the lyrics are “Not gonna be afraid no more. Fear don’t live here no more. Not gonna be afraid no more. Pain just walked out that door, that spirit ain't here with me. God didn't put that in me, but the spirit of power and love and of sound mind.”  

Many of us are very afraid of what can happen next in our lives.  We used to have a good handle on life but now everything seems turned upside down.  Simple family gatherings, church meetings, regular employment, and social gatherings have gone away to be replaced by a fearful waiting until COVID-19 passes us by. 

In the Bible, God promised that we would have trouble, but we were to be happy because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).  He states that nothing by any means shall hurt us (Luke 10:19). God has given us the victory over sin, sickness and disease and while many of our loved ones have succumbed to various sicknesses, He promised that even though we go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, He will comfort us (Psalm 23:4) and that He is a very present help during our troubles (Psalm 46:1).  We don’t have to worry, stress out, be anxious or fearful.  God holds everything in the power of His word and even during this awful pandemic, all things work together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28).

We are in the midst of a storm but like Jesus in the Bible, He is in our boat with us (Matthew 8:23-26).  We can look to Him for our direction, our peace, our faith, and our future because He loves us and has given us His power, His enduring love, and the mind of Christ (2 Timothy 1:7, 1 Corinthians 2:16).  Let us rejoice because he is with us and He supplies all of our needs!

John 16:33
New International Version (NIV)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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.

Psalm 23:4
New International Version (NIV)
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

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

Romans 8:28
New International Version (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Matthew 8:23-26
New International Version (NIV)
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him
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.

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.

1 Corinthians 2:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, May 4, 2020

Let’s Call On God For His Help

Dominique Mosbergen recently wrote an article in Huffington Post entitled, “California City Official Ousted After Saying Old, Sick And Homeless Should Die In Pandemic.”  Apparently, many were outraged but another official made a similar statement. “Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who is of the opinion that old people, i.e. those most at risk, should volunteer to die to save the economy.” These bizarre quotes are the considered opinion of some in this country who are willing to sacrifice the weak and the needy among us for the good of others.  

This earth is the Lord’s and all of mankind is the Lord’s, but He has given the earth to mankind (Psalm 24:1, Psalm 115:16). We have a solemn responsibility to all of us even during this challenging time. We should consider not only the feelings of the richest and most powerful among us, but also those who depend upon others to supply their daily needs. The Bible warns that those who turn their backs to those who need them most will have to face an uncomfortable Judgement Day (Matthew 25:41-46).  The Bible goes on to remind the children of Israel that they should treat foreigners well because they used to be the foreigners (Exodus 22:21).  Moreover, the Bible states that we should do to others just like we would like them to do to us (Matthew 7:12).

It is true that these are desperate times and desperate times call for desperate measures. Since nothing else seems to be the magic bullet that will suddenly save us, perhaps we should turn to God upon our knees.  Perhaps we should begin to look to Jesus who began and perfects our faith. Perhaps we should cry unto the Lord in our time of distress (Psalm 77:1, 2).  If we cry unto Him, He will hear our cries when we ask according to His will. If He hears us, He will answer our request (1 John 5:14-15).  Therefore, let us call on God during this challenging time.

Psalm 24:1 
New International Version (NIV)
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;

Psalm 115:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind.

Matthew 25:41-46
New International Version (NIV)
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, "
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Exodus 22:21 
New International Version
21 "Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt

Matthew 7:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Psalm 77:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
1 I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.

1 John 5:14-15
New International Version (NIV)
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 
15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.