Thursday, December 29, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, December 29, 2022

Let Us Start Anew in 2023


In the last Pastor’s Pondering entry of 2022, we are looking forward to 2023 and remembering 2022.  We have a feeling of being Janus-faced.  According to the dictionary, it means “having two faces, one looking forward, one looking backward, as the Roman deity Janus.” What did we accomplish in 2022 and what do we look forward to accomplishing in 2023?


The Bible says that we must keep the perspective of looking towards the future.  We are to forget the past and to press forward toward a future with Christ (Philippians 3:13-14).  For example, in the 1994 musical, Lion King, the character Rafiki says, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”  Will we take the lessons from the past, hold onto the hurts, despair, and suffering or will we decide that the old things have passed away and now all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17)? 


While it may be true that those who are close to you may make it their business to remind you of who you were and what you did, you must investigate God’s word and know that you are what He says you are and can do what He says you can do. The Bible tells us that God’s mercies are renewed every morning so every morning we can rise know that whatever we did yesterday, we can repent, ask forgiveness, and receive His fresh mercy (Lamentations 3:22-23). 


Despite challenges in one’s life, the Bible says we should know that God loves us, has prepared a place for us with Christ Jesus, and wants to demonstrate the incomparable riches of His grace in the future (Ephesians 2:4-7). Let us go boldly forward into 2023 knowing that God loves His children and has great plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11).


Philippians 3:13-14

New International Version

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


2 Corinthians 5:17

New International Version

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here


Lamentations 3:22-23

New King James Version

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.

23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.


Ephesians 2:4-7

New International Version

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 
7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.


Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.







Saturday, December 24, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, December 24, 2022

Let Us Rejoice In Him Anyway


The first two lines from the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling reads, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”. We live in a world where time honored traditions are being upended, common sense seems irrelevant, and we seem to be in a Hobbesian world involving unrestrained, selfish, and uncivilized competition among participants.  


Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, is threatening to use nuclear weapons.  Our newspapers broadcast more and more bad news. Although our world is challenged with uncivilized behavior, our God is still with us. He promised even though water, flooding, and fire are in our lives, He will be with us (Isaiah 43:2).  Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with us (Psalm 23:4).  Despite the worldly challenges, God said that He would accompany us from the front and will go behind us (Isaiah 52:12).  


It would be easy to simply give up, hunker down and wait until destruction is at our doorsteps or we can go to God, receive our marching orders, and walk in His authority and power.  Today and every day, let us rejoice and be glad in Him (Psalm 118:24).


Isaiah 43:2

New International Version

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.


Psalm 23:4

New International Version

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


Isaiah 52:12

New International Version

12 But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.


Psalm 118:24

New International Version

24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.








Monday, December 12, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, December 12, 2022

Let Us Thank Others

I recently made a purchase at a local restaurant for a breakfast pickup.  When I added the tip to the receipt, the lady at the cash register said, “Thank you, I appreciate it.”  Her reply surprised me.  While the tip was only a few dollars, her thank you and appreciation was unusual.  In this time of COVID-19 and horrible challenges worldwide, it is so nice to feel appreciated.


How do you treat others when they have helped you?  Do you just assume that that is what they are supposed to do and ignore them or do you respect their commitment to doing their jobs?  The Bible says that we should do unto others as we would have them to do to us (Luke 6:31).  The Bible further says that we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).  


Even when we approach God, we are not to simply approach Him with a list of what we want but should approach Him with thanksgiving and praise (Psalm 100:4).  We should have an attitude of gratitude.  We should be nice, thankful, and grateful to one another for all the little things that others do to help us.  Let us be nice and thankful to all and brighten their day just like we want our days brightened.

Luke 6:31

New International Version

31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.


Galatians 6:7

New International Version

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.


Psalm 100:4

New International Version

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.







Friday, December 9, 2022

Let Us Thank God For Salvation

Let Us Thank God For Salvation


What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? We just returned from our sixty-eighth annual Thanksgiving reunion of the Mitchell-Brown family in Chicago, Illinois.  It was a wonderful occasion where we were able to thank God for His blessings, for those who have passed on, for the accomplishments of our relatives, for our future generations, and for the awesome dinner. 


There are so many things that we can be thankful for.  We know that all good things come from God (James 1:17).  We do not have to be anxious for anything, but we can ask God for everything and thank Him for what we receive (Philippians 4:6). In everything that we do, we can thank God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17).  God is so gracious and loving; we should thank Him because He satisfies the thirsty and the hungry and does wonderful deeds for mankind (Psalm 107:8-9).


God has done great things for us that we can thank Him for, but one of the most important things that He has done is expressed in the lyrics of the song written by Malcolm Speed, entitled, “When I Think (Of the Goodness of Jesus).” Some of the lyrics are, “When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all He's done for me, my soul, my soul cries out ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah, I thank God for saving me.’”


During this holiday season, we have many things for which we can give thanks. However, the most important gift He has given us is when He died on the cross for our salvation. Let us thank God for saving us!


James 1:17

New International Version (NIV)

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.


Philippians 4:6 

New International Version (NIV)

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


Colossians 3:17

New International Version (NIV)

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Psalm 107:8-9 

New International Version (NIV)

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing loveand his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things


James 1:5

New International Version

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.