Thursday, February 23, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, February 23, 2023

This week’s Pastor’s Ponderings is a reprint from February 25, 2019.   God wants us to value His rewards rather than mankind's.

The Achievement Award Goes To…

On February 24, 2019, the 91stAcademy Awards ceremony awarded the best films of 2018 with Oscars.  These artists have devoted to their lives to developing their craft and last night the nation honored and praised them.  Like these entertainers, many of us have fought for, strived for, and cried for people to think well of us. If others thought we were worthy, we thought the same, but if others thought we were not worthy of honor, prizes, or fame, our whole world would crash.

In the Bible, the religious leaders in the time of Jesus also sought recognition. But Jesus said they did everything solely so that men could see them (Matthew 23:5-7).  They loved men’s praise more than God’s praise. They knew that Jesus was the Son of God, but crucified Him anyway because they were afraid of being thrown out of the synagogue (John 12:42, 43). While earthly honors are important and they can motivate us to do outstanding work, they must not supersede the importance of heavenly rewards. The Bible says that we are to focus more on our heavenly trajectory than our earthly pursuits (Colossians 3:2-4)

According to Scripture, there are five divine crowns after the Last Judgment waiting for those who please God.  These are the Crown of Life, the Incorruptible Crown, the Crown of Righteousness, the Crown of Glory, and the Crown of Exultation.  Paul triumphantly stated that he knew that after his imminent death, the Crown of Righteousness was waiting for him (2 Timothy 4:8).

Earthly treasures will fade, man-made crowns will be forgotten, but we must build our hopes, our dreams, and our focus on God’s eternal treasures.  We must hold onto God’s unchanging hand and He will reward us greatly and eternally (Galatians 6:9).

Matthew 23:5-7
Amplified Bible (AMP)
5 They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries (tefillin) wide [to make them more conspicuous] and make their tassels long.
They love the place of distinction and honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues [those on the platform near the scrolls of the Law, facing the congregation],
and to be greeted [with respect] in the market places and public forums...

John 12:42, 43
New International Version (NIV)
42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 
43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

Colossians 3:2-4
New International Version (NIV)
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

2 Timothy 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Galatians 6:9
New International Version (NIV)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, February 16, 2023

Our God Shows Up and Helps Us 

Bernat Armangu√© and Zeynep Bilginsoy wrote an article in the Huffingon Post Associated Press on February 14, 2023, saying Rescuers Find More Alive In Turkey On 8th Day After Quake.  198 hours after the quake there were still a few survivors.  It is wonderful to know that God is still in the miracle business.  After all those hours and huge personal losses, God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  Even though many perished, God still wants to seek and save (Luke 19:10).  


How many hopeless situations have you found yourself, but God helped you when you thought all hope was gone?  He knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7).  He still can do anything that we need (Luke 1:37).  We can decide to rely on luck, astrology, friends, personal resources, or we can turn to the true and living God who goes way beyond our expectations (Ephesians 3:20). 


We can feel defeated because of the terrible and continuing litany of suffering and feel that all is lost, or we can praise God that He is comforting us in times of our great need.  Lovers of God can continue to know that somehow, He will work everything together for our good (Romans 8:28).  Let us praise God for His deliverance during suffering.

Luke 19:10

New International Version

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”


Luke 12:7

New International Version

7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.


Luke 1:37

New International Version

37 For no word from God will ever fail.”


Ephesians 3:20

New International Version

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,


Romans 8:28

New International Version

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


Thursday, February 9, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, February 9, 2023

Let’s Pray For God’s Intervention


Mehmet Guzel, Ghaith Alsayed and Suzan Fraser wrote an article in the Huffington Post Associated Press on February 5, 2023, saying Rescuers Scramble In Turkey, Syria As Earthquake Death Toll Passes 5,000

The article says that thousands of buildings were brought down by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and multiple aftershocks that struck eastern Turkey and neighboring Syria.  According to the Wall Street Journal, as of February 9, that number had increased to 19,000. Sad to say, some 18,000 were killed in similarly powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.


During these terrible events when our mankind is suffering, the usual comments are “thoughts and prayers”.  However, we should also mourn with those who are mourning (Romans 12:15). The Bible also says that we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17 and that there is power in prayer (James 5:16).  When we hear of such horror, the saints should take responsibility to humble themselves and turn from their ways so that God can heal the land (2 Chronicles 7:14).  


No one knows but God why tragedies occur, but now is the time to push past political, ethnical, racial, and geographic differences and recognize that we are our brother’s keeper.  Now is the time for us to give our anxiety, care, and concern to Him (1 Peter 5:7). We must intercede by prayer, send physical aid and resources, contact international aid organizations, and ask God how we can truly serve our suffering brothers and sisters.  He promised if we ask Him, He will share His wisdom with us (James 1:5).  Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters everywhere. 


Romans 12:15

New International Version

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.


1 Thessalonians 5:17

New International Version

17 pray continually


James 5:16

New Life Version

16 Tell your sins to each other. And pray for each other so you may be healed. The prayer from the heart of a man right with God has much power

2 Chronicles 7:14

New International Version

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.


1 Peter 5:7

New International Version

7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.


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


Friday, February 3, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, February 3, 2023

 Let’s Trust God In Everything


In 2022, my dentist recommended that I have a tooth removed.  However, he shared that it would take a couple of operations and that I would not be back to full capacity for a while.  Further, COVID was still in full effect. The picture he painted, and the status of the pandemic made me delay the procedure out of fear. A one-month delay, turned into two and then seven!


Recently, I had the tooth removed and to my surprise and delight none of those dire predictions came to pass, and I have recovered just fine.  The Bible says that we live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). I could have just prayed seven months ago, let God lead, and avoided months of concern.  Instead, I allowed my own wisdom to prevail.  


Often, we follow the wisdom of others instead of asking God for His wisdom.  He promised to give it to us generously (James 1:5).  He said that He would be light for our pathway through life (Psalm 119:105). Although we walk through challenges in life, He said that He would be with us (Psalm 23:4).


We face trials and tribulations in our life both small and large.  Let us decide to follow God even in the small things so that our faith will be there for the large challenges.  When we cast all of our cares upon the Lord, we can know that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and will give us His direction wherever we find ourselves.  


2 Corinthians 5:7
New International Version

For we live by faith, not by sight.


James 1:22-24

New International Version

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 
23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 
24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like


1 John 1:9

New International Version

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.


James 1:5

New International Version

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.


Psalm 119:105

New International Version

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.


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.


1 Peter 5:7

New International Version

7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.