Friday, March 5, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, March 5, 2021

Let God’s Love Prevail

In this world system where lies are put forth as truth, cruelty is seen as a good option, and selfishness is seen as virtuous, we should let love dominate. In 1976, Richard Smallwood, the American gospel artist, wrote the classic, “I Love The Lord.”  Some of the lyrics are, I love the Lord, he heard my cry and pitied every groan. Long as I live and troubles rise, I hasten to his throne. For those who watched the movie, “The Preacher’s Wife,” Whitney Houston’s emotional rendition of this song can bring tears to our  eyes.  

 

His greatest command is to love Him with all of our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37-38).  It is wonderful to know that God hears our cries, and we can run to Him in our need (Psalm 34:15).  He did not ask us to sacrifice an animal, climb a mountain to seek a holy man, harm our body or to become a beggar after giving away all of our possessions.  Just love Him.  The Bible says love covers a lot of sins (1 Peter 4:8).  In the Bible in 1 Corinthians 13, love is described as the greatest of faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

 

We can dwell on the terrible things that surround us, the horror that we read about and the personal torment that may permeate our individual lives.  But God wants us to take first things first and to love Him and seek Him and He promises to supply our every need (1 John 5:14-15).  It may not be every wish that pops into our minds, but He will take care of the important needs in our lives because He loves us, cares for us and watches over us.  Love comes from God (1 John 4:7).  Let us allow God’s love to prevail.

 

Matthew 22:37-38

New International Version

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

 

Psalm 34:15

New International Version

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;

 

1 Peter 4:8

Amplified Bible

8 Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins [it overlooks unkindness and unselfishly seeks the best for others].

 

1 Corinthians 13:13

New International Version

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

1 John 5:14-15

New International Version

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.

1 John 4:7

New International Version

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.


 

 

 

 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, February 22, 2021

Our Hope Is In God

Daniel Arkin wrote an article in the Feb. 21, 2021 NBC news website entitled, “U.S. reaches 500,000 deaths from the coronavirus.”  As an African American senior citizen, these horrendous death tolls have a special meaning.  Every week we hear of more and more of our friends, neighbors and family members that are sick and dying from COVID-19.  It has become a special plague when even our leaders, our talented artists, and our hard-working front-line workers are losing their lives. 

 

As another indicator of the impact of this dread outbreak, Lenny Bernstein wrote an article in the February 18, 2021 Washington Post entitled, “Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by a year during the first half of 2020.”  He stated that this was “a staggering decline that reflects the toll of the covid-19 pandemic as well as a rise in deaths from drug overdoses, heart attacks and diseases that accompanied the outbreak, according to government data released Thursday.” The article went on to indicate, “Black and Latino Americans were hit harder than Whites, reflecting the racial disparities of the pandemic, according to the new analysis. Black Americans lost 2.7 years of life expectancy, and Latinos lost 1.9. White life expectancy fell 0.8 years.” Everyone is under attack by this vicious enemy.

 

We have some of the best medical researchers in the world working furiously on vaccines to protect against this pandemic, but the Bible tells us that our hope must be in God (Psalm 39:7). In the book of Psalms, the author states that the Lord will direct our steps (Psalm 37:23).  In the 23rd Psalms, the writer states that even when we go through dark valleys, God will be with us and will never leave us (Psalm 23:4, Hebrews 13:5b). 

 

It is painful for those who have lost loved ones. We grieve their loss.  However, our hope is in God who said that He knows all about our tears (Psalm 56:8). He promised that one day He will wipe away all of them along with death, mourning, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).  In the meantime, let us keep our hands in God’s hands and build our hope on the eternal God.

 

Psalm 39:7 

New International Version

7 "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you

 

Psalm 37:23 

New Living Translation

23 The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives

 

Psalm 23:4

New International Version

4 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.

 

Hebrews 13:5b

New International Version

5b …. be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you;

 

Psalm 56:8

New International Version

8 Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in your record?

 

Revelation 21:4 

New International Version

4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."


 

 

 

 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, 2 18 2021

The Headlines Are Bad But God Is Good

In the February 12, 2021 edition of the website Neoscope, Victor Tangermann wrote an article entitled, “Bill Gates Says The Next Horrible Virus Could Be Engineered By Terrorists.” February 10, 2021, Dr. Nicholas Nissen wrote  an article in ABC News entitled, “Opioid overdoses 29% higher in 2020 than before the pandemic: The news is full of scary headlines that portend disasters on every hand.

 

However, the Bible tells us that we should not be worried.  Jesus told His disciples that He had everything under control (John 16:33). The Bible further explains that since God is for us no one can be against us (Romans 8:31).  The Bible further tells us that we are not to be afraid of any pestilences, plagues, or terrors (Psalm 91:5-6). Just like in the Bible when Israel was surrounded by their enemies, the prophet Jahaziel announced that God would fight the battle (2 Chronicles 20:15).

 

It is true that the world seems bleak, terrifying and hopeless. But the Bible says many times that we should not fear. We should keep our hope and our focus on the eternal things rather than to worry about earthly concerns (Colossians 3:2).  This is not to say that we should stop social distancing, wearing masks, washing our hands or avoiding crowds. We are to still follow good health guidelines. However, God has the whole world in His hands including you and me (Psalm 24:1).  That is good news!

 

John 16:33

New International Version

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.”

 

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 91:5-6

New International Version.

5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

 

2 Chronicles 20:15 

New International Version

15  He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.

 

Colossians 3:2

New International Version

2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things

 

Psalm 24:1

New International Version

1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;


 

 

 

  

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, February 10, 2021

During This Political Crises, Let Us Pray For America

Adam Przeworski of New York University was the source of an article in The Economist October 2020 entitled, “Orderly transfers of power occur less often than you might think.” The article went on to state that in the past century, only around half of the world’s countries have managed even one crisis-free handover which is defined as government handovers free of coups, civil wars or constitutional crises after a vote.” America has been exceptional. “Eleven such handovers from one party to another have occurred in America since the end of the first world war.”  

 

Sincere people of different political persuasions have vastly different views of America.  Sadly, David Schoen, one of the defense lawyers in the trial of the former President Donald Trump recently warned, “This trial will tear this country apart, perhaps like we’ve only seen once before in our history,” implying America could be headed for a second civil war. If there was ever a time for prayer for America, it is now. 

 

Some people seem to see others as the enemy rather than simply those with whom they differ in their political views. But the religious scholar Desmond Tutu wrote, “When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.”

 

Rather than despise others who do not believe as you do, the Bible says that we are to love our enemy and do good to those that harass you (Matthew 5:44).  We should apply the Golden Rule of doing to others like you want them to do to you (Matthew 7:12).  We could continue to attack each other with righteous indignation, or we could apply the greatest commandment like Jesus did which was to love God completely and our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).  If we choose to ignore this rule, there is a warning that we may destroy ourselves with the increasing bitter infighting (Galatians 5:15).

 

This is not to say we should not vigorously express our political views.  We should feel free to express our views by deciding to march, write letters, knock on doors, make phone calls, run for political office, or financially support our causes. This is a necessity in a free society. If we want to keep a free and open society, let us pray, agitate, protest and advocate but let us treat others with differing views as fellow citizens and continually pray for America.

 

Matthew 5:44

New International Version
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

 

Matthew 7:12

New International Version

12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

 

Matthew 22:37-39

New International Version

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 

38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 

39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

 

Galatians 5:15

Amplified Bible

15 But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another.

 

 

 

 

  

Friday, February 5, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, February 5, 2021

Let Us Take Jesus, The Vaccination Against Sin

Very recently I received my first vaccination to reduce my chances of having COVID-19.  Those facilitating the process were very helpful and my vaccinator even offered to say a countdown to prepare me for the shot.  Because of the various vaccines, consistent mask wearing, social distancing and avoiding crowds, the world may finally see a ray of hope against this dreaded disease. However, as I left the facility , I began thinking of another vaccination we all need.

 

Wikipedia says that a vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease. The goal of taking a vaccination is to prevent the result of the disease which can lead to permanent health problems or death. Vaccines are important for our physical health, but we can also use a vaccine for our spiritual health. 

 

The end result of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Because God loved the world, He offered His Son Jesus. He was born and gave His body to destroy what the devil was doing to hurt us (1 John 3:8). Jesus stepped in as our “vaccine” to prevent death from being our only option to pay the price for our sins.

 

We all came into the world with a tendency to disobey the rules.  We all want to get others before they get us rather than following the Golden Rule found in most religions and cultures.  That Rule is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12).  

 

The Bible says that there are three things that the world offers: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). In other words, we are a proud bunch driven by our own pleasures and looking for something else to crave.  But Jesus wanted to come into the world to free us from our rebellious nature (Galatians 1:3-4).  While living lives to suit ourselves leads towards a downward path, Jesus said that He came to give us an abundant life (John 10:10).  

 

Jesus is that answer that we have always been looking for to deliver us from a life in rebellion against God.  He wants us to return to be in harmony with God and He offered His life as the remedy for our inherent disobedience (John 3:16). Jesus wants us all to take Himself as the vaccination against sin. All we have to do is turn from the ways that please us, decide to believe in Him and openly declare that we are following Jesus (Romans 10:9-10).

 

We have to make the personal decision whether or not we will receive the COVID-19 vaccine and follow the Center For Disease Control guidelines for ourselves and our family.  While this decision is very important, what is most important is that we choose Jesus as our personal savior to deliver us from this evil world.   Jesus wants to be our protector, close relative, comforter, friend, and the One who joyfully welcomes us into eternity. Don’t forget to receive Jesus today.

 

Romans 6:23

New International Version

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

1 John 3:8

New International Version

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

 

Matthew 7:12

New International Version

12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

 

1 John 2:16

New International Version

16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

 

Galatians 1:3-4

New International Version

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 
4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

 

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 3:16

New International Version

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

Romans 10:9-10

New International Version

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, January 29, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, January 29, 2021

This post appeared in the January 25, 2016 Pastor's Pondering.  The nation was then looking forward to the election in the fall.  Although the current election is over, the call to pray for our leaders is still necessary.

Don’t Forget To Pray For Our Leaders

This fall, the United States of America will choose leaders who are currently struggling to convince the electorate that they are the person that must be designated political leader of the moment.  They imply that if they are not chosen, the country will suffer.  Candidates will spend billions of dollars using very skilled advertisers who will try to persuade us to make the right choice, which, of course, is their candidate.

This would all be rather confusing and depressing if we did not know that if God does not elevate the leader, he or she would be useless (Psalm 127:1).  We have heard various candidates pronounce they will definitely solve our problems, answer our questions, and increase our prosperity.  But the Bible says in spite of their boasts and idle promises, promotion to higher office only comes from God (Psalm 75:4-7).

As we feel God is leading, we should learn about the issues, make telephone calls, canvas door to door, write, or speak out in support of policies and politicians. But, most of all, in this political season, let those of us who love God resolve to pray for those in authority and that when they make decisions, they allow God’s direction to be more important than rich and powerful donors, pundits, voters, or influence-peddlers.  When we do this, we can live peaceful lives in Him (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

Psalm 127:1
New International Version (NIV)
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

Psalm 75:4-7
New International Version (NIV)
To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.
5 Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak so defiantly.’”
6 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.
7 It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

1 Timothy 2:1-3
New International Version (NIV)
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 
for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 
This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Pray To God And Then Obey His Commands

James LaPorta from the 1/19/21Associated Press wrote an article entitled, 2 National Guard Members Removed From Biden Inauguration Over Militia Ties.  During times of global and national crises, we should be able to totally trust our elected officials, police officers, military, national guard and other authorized agencies to not have conflicts of interests, to protect us and to adhere to their constitutional responsibilities.  

 

The Bible says that we are to submit to these authorities because they are ordained by God (Romans 13:1-4).  We are not to fear them if we do what is right.  However, when those in authority do not adhere to their lawful rules and regulations, terrible results may ensue.  

 

What should the body of Christ do when there is wrongdoing among those responsible to protect us?  First, we must pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Second, although we must pray for everyone, we must especially pray for those who are in authority so that we all can live quiet and peaceful lives (1 Timothy 2:1-2).  

 

Third, while praying, we must ask for directions from God (Philippians 4:6).  During the Civil Rights movement, they were peaceful, prayerful, and made their petitions known to the proper authorities.  Last, we must then act on what God tells us to do.  Saint Augustinewrote, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”  

 

God may be leading us to write letters to people and institutions of influence.  He may lead us to organize, and comment through the internet to change minds or to peacefully march. He may even tell us to cry out and speak truth to power because of evil doings (Isaiah 58:1).  Let us pray and then act obediently to God.

 

Romans 13:1-4

Amplified Bible

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. 

Therefore whoever resists [governmental] authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who have resisted it will bring judgment (civil penalty) on themselves.
3 For [civil] authorities are not a source of fear for [people of] good behavior, but for [those who do] evil. Do you want to be unafraid of authority? Do what is good and you will receive approval and commendation. 

4 For he is God’s servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, [you should] be afraid; for he does not carry the [executioner’s] sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an avenger who brings punishment on the wrongdoer.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:17

New International Version

17 pray continually, 

 

1 Timothy 2:1-2

New International Version

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 
for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

 

Philippians 4:6

New International Version

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

 

Isaiah 58:1

New International Version

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.


 

 

 

 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, January 11, 2021

Our God is Steady While the World is Shaking

In the January 6, 2021 Harvard Gazette, Christina Pazzanese wrote an article about the recent invasion of the US Capitol entitled, Concern over storming of the Capitol.  She quoted Professor Daniel Carpenter who stated, “So, what we saw today was an attack on the legislative foundations of our democratic republic and an attack on the popular sovereignty that legitimates our democratic republic. [And] for a moment, it succeeded,” he said.  According to a Department of Defense 2020 release, we have a $750 Billion dollar defense budget but it did not prevent a few thousand civilians from wreaking havoc on our government.  

 

In addition to this political attack, we suffered a health attack in that “Up to 30% of Americans may be infected with coronavirus by year-end, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday.”  We have the best healthcare system in the world, but according to covid-19 worldwide stats, we are leading the world with COVID-19 deaths

 

Ben Werschkul wrote an article in the January 8, 2021 Yahoo finance entitled, There are 3 million fewer jobs now than when Trump took office. The article went on to indicate that an analysis of Trump’s jobs record and found that “job growth has actually slowed under Trump” compared to Obama but not by a significant amount.” In addition, Jeffry Bartash wrote an article in the September 11, 2020 MarketWatch entitled, U.S.’s annual budget deficit tops $3 trillion for the first time ever after coronavirus relief while  the 2016 the Fiscal Year budget deficit totaled $587 billion.   

 

While these attacks have shaken people, those who love the Lord can retain their peace if they keep their minds upon Him (Isaiah 26:3).  We can decide to throw up our hands and despair or we can have faith in the God that loves us so much that He sacrificed His Son Jesus so that we could have eternal life with Him (John 3:16).  Even when we are in the valleys of our life, He promised that He would accompany us and never leave us (Psalm 23:4, Hebrews 13:5).

 

Many people are terrified that there will additional and more deadly future attacks.  However, we who love the Lord must keep believing that God holds the whole world in His hands, and He controls what the leaders can and cannot do (Psalm 75:7).  Let us take heart and assure others that our hope is in the eternal God that can do anything (Luke 1:37).  The world may be shaky, but we can rest on an unshakeable God.

 

Isaiah 26:3

New International Version

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

 

John 3:16

New International Version

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life

 

Psalm 23:4

New International Version

4 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.

 

Hebrews 13:5

New International Version

5 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.”

 

Psalm 75:7

New International Version

7 It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

 

Luke 1:37

New King James Version

37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”


 

 

 

 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, January 5, 2021

Let’s Have Honest Words and Helpful Actions

Hayley Miller wrote an article in the January 3, 2020 Huffington Post stating that “President Donald Trump on Saturday pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to recalculate the state’s tally of presidential election votes to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win”.  The reason that the world knows the details of this conversation was that it was recorded and leaked to the press. Whether you agree with the comments made during the recording or not, many of us would be horrified to know that our hidden words and activities were readily available to the public.

 

The Bible says that the hidden things will be exposed (Luke 12:2-3).  We have to recognize that despite our desires that our dirty laundry not be exposed we must know that we have to give an account of our life’s activities and negative words before an all-knowing God (2 Corinthians 5:10).  We may cover our lifestyle with expensive clothes and smooth words, but God knows our inner man (1 Samuel 16:7).

 

We should live our life knowing that God is keeping record of everything we do. Since we are being evaluated, let us all endeavor to live our lives as if we are  an open book, transparent and without devious motivations. Let us be transparent and not have devious motivations.  Let us not be hypocrites but honest, open, and straightforward. Let us decide that by honest words and actions, we will always be an encouragement to others (Ephesians 4:29).  As a result, we will never be ashamed when our words and activities are brought into the light.

Luke 12:2-3

New International Version

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.

What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

 

2 Corinthians 5:10

New International Version

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

 

1 Samuel 16:7

New International Version

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

Ephesians 4:29

New International Version

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.