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.