Monday, July 27, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, July 27, 2020

Let us Be Like Jesus
When I was a teenager and was striving to play basketball, I remember coming to the realistic conclusion that no matter how I leaped, swooped, scored or dribbled, I would never be like the Benton Harbor High School superstars.  They won the Class A State Championship in basketball in 1964 and 1965. They were taller, bigger, faster and stronger. Although we all were classmates and graduated together there was something special about that team, they stood out and everyone knew it.

Just like those players that we admired; God's people are also special. We are peculiar, holy, chosen, and royal (1 Peter 2:9). The Bible says that we are not to be conformed to the world, but we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  It further says that we are to come out from the world and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17).  Jesus told His disciples that although they were in the world, they were not of the world.

Jesus is returning for a group of people who have been unspotted from the world.  If we want to be ready for the Master’s use, we must cleanse ourselves from wickedness and evil (2 Timothy 2:20, 21). God wants people who are willing to be changed in His presence (2 Corinthians 2:18)

This week let us strive to be more like Him and less like the world.  Let us put off our old worldly selves, attitudes, and ways of thinking. We should put on the new man in Christ (Ephesians 4:22-25) who is described being like God in true righteousness, holiness and speaking truth.  Let us practice the words of God and let them mold us into His image.

1 Peter 2:9
King James Version
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

Romans 12:2
New International Version
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

2 Corinthians 6:17
New International Version
17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

2 Timothy 2:20, 21
New International Version
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 
21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

2 Corinthians 2:18
Amplified Bible
18 And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

Ephesians 4:22-23
New International Version
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds
24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, July 20, 2020

Lies Everywhere; Let Us Seek Truth
Amit Kalantri, a professional magician, said, “Magic is the stunning art of surprising your audience, so that nothing else surprises them.” One of the most powerful tools that magicians have in their bag of tricks is to distract the viewer from what is really going on.  When they have us focused on one hand, they are performing the real trick with the other so that when the trick is completed, the audience is always amazed.  

The most powerful magician is the devil who is a deceiver, a liar and the father of lies from the beginning (John 8:44).  That deceiver has a singular mission, to kill, to steal, and to destroy (John 10:10).  Lies and deceit are like spider webs wrapping us further and further until there is no escape.  Sadly, when we turn to some of our leaders for truth, they seem to take pride in deception and act shocked when the real truth is revealed.  That is why it is so important that we know what is true.  Only the truth will set us free (John 8:32).  

The world system is entering into a phase where fake news, alternative facts, and downright lies are the coin of the realm.  We seemingly are headed toward a time of even greater deception (Matthew 24:24). But God promises that He will be a light unto our feet and a lamp unto our path (Psalm 119:105).  His word will guide us (Isaiah 30:21).

We must continue to look at Jesus who began and continues to develop our faith in Him.  He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Let us endeavor to turn from the lies, the deceptions, the tricks and the cons of the evil one and find refuge in the One that cannot lie, that reigns forever and ever, and will lead us into His eternal truth.

John 8:44
New International Version
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 10:10
New International Version
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 8:32
New International Version
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Matthew 24:24
Amplified Bible
24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and they will provide great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect (God’s chosen ones).

Psalm 119:105
New International Version
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path

Isaiah 30:21
New International Version
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

John 14:6 New International Version
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, July 14, 2020

God Has Everything Under Control
What happens when everything is turned upside down and nothing is like it used to be?  On January 1, 2020, the world was celebrating the New Year, high school seniors were eagerly anticipating their graduation and post-graduation plans, people were planning their spring weddings when slowly the COVID-19 pandemic upended everyone’s plans.  The amount of deaths worldwide is rising, the cases of the virus are spiraling out of control and the economy has become unpredictable. Nothing is like it used to be.

Yet there is Someone who never will change. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  He is majestic in power, glory and authority (Jude 25) and holds all of creation (Colossians 1:17).  He is ruler of the universe; nothing is exempted. He is the great I AM and can do anything (Luke 1:37).  When His word goes forth it will accomplish anything that He pleases (Isaiah 55:11).

Those who have made the Lord Jesus Christ their Savior should have nothing to fear from the cataclysmic events that are occurring and that will occur.  Although some may enter His presence before we see the solution upon earth, we will have the joy of eternal life with Him. God is totally in charge and declares that everything that is happening is working together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

The Bible assures us that we should not let our hearts be troubled (John 14:27).  God wants us to call upon Him when we are facing these challenges (Psalm 50:15).  Therefore, let us focus on the unchanging God in a changing world knowing that He will always work things out for us.  

Hebrews 13:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Jude 25
New International Version (NIV)
25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Colossians 1:17
New International Version
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Luke 1:37
New International Version (NIV)
37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

Isaiah 55:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent

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.

John 14:27
New International Version (NIV)
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Psalm 50:15
New International Version
15 and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me."

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Pastor's Ponderings, July 7, 2020

The Abundant Life Is In Christ
Not everything is as it seems to be. "To Serve Man" is episode 89 of the anthology series, The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series).  During this episode, aliens come to earth with the ostensive purpose of helping mankind and even leave a book entitled, “To Serve Man.”  However, at the end of the episode, the language of the book is finally translated, and a member of the cryptography staff screams, “It’s a cookbook!”

Worldly delights may look good, sound wonderful, and feel great, but that is not the whole story.  The Bible warns us not to be conformed to this deceptive world system (Romans 12:2).  Since we don’t know everything, the Bible suggests that anyone who lacks wisdom should ask God.  He gives wisdom to everyone who believes Him (James 1:5-7).  For example, despite the allure of illicit drugs, they do not come with a warning label that they may hurt your body.  Promiscuity does not let people know that the Bible says it is a sin against one’s body (1 Corinthians 6:18).  Abusing alcohol does not mention that beneath the glitz and glamor, one may finally damage their organs.

The devil wants to kill, steal and destroy us (John 10:10a).  However, God wants everyone to know about life with Him.  He wants us to have an abundant life in Him (John 10:10b).  He wants us to have an escape from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).  He wants our bodies healed, our minds whole, and our way prosperous (Joshua 1:8, 3 John 2).  

God wants us to live with Him throughout eternity. He wants us blessed in every area.  He wants us to triumph in life. Let us decide that we will turn away from the deceptions, disappointments, and depravity of this world’s system and receive the blessings of the Lord without sorrow (Proverbs 10:22).  Let us receive that abundant life in Christ!

Romans 12:2
New International Version (NIV)
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

James 1:5-7
New International Version (NIV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 
6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 
That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

1 Corinthians 6:18 
New International Version (NIV)
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body

John 10:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

1 Corinthians 10:13 
New International Version (NIV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Joshua 1:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

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

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