Saturday, December 30, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, December 30, 2023

The Beatitudes are God’s Blessings to Us


In our world where evil seems to dominate, the Bible lets us know that we can be blessed or happy. In the book of Matthew, Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount.  In a few of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-8), Jesus showed us some categories of people that will be blessed.  He taught that the poor in spirit, (those who regard themselves as insignificant) get the kingdom of heaven.  Why? In a world that prides itself on pride, the Scriptures tell us that those who humble themselves will be lifted (Matthew 23:12).


But what about those of us who have done terrible things and are suffering from guilt? For those who are mourning over their sins and are genuinely sorry for them, God promises they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).  The Holy Spirit is there to comfort us when we repent. Moreover, in a world full of the self-serving, the scriptures promise that those who are meek, the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, and the self-controlled, will have the privilege of inheriting the earth.  This is because God gave the earth to man (Psalm 115:16).  Only the meek will understand and appreciate what God has given to us.


While we live in a vain, vicious, and vengeful world, He tells us that the merciful shall receive mercy.  While many merciful people have suffered and are suffering, somehow, they will receive mercy.  It may not be on this side of Heaven, but He promised it; we will receive it.


Lastly, He promises the pure in their heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). When the end of time is upon us, we will be those who running towards Him in joy and not running away in terror. While these scriptures make up some of the Beatitudes, let us stand up, look up and see that God’s blessings are coming.


Matthew 5:3-8

New International Version

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.


Matthew 5:3-8

Amplified Bible

3 “Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

4 “Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].

5 “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the [a]gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.

7 “Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 “Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.


Matthew 23:12

New International Version

12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.


Psalm 115:16

New International Version

16 The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind


Saturday, December 23, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, December 13, 2023

God Loves Cheerful Givers


According to Our Father’s House Soup Kitchen, there are four kinds of giving in the Bible; tithes, offerings, first fruits, and almsgiving.  While tithes are ten percent of your income (Malachi 3:10), offerings are what you want to give (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).  First fruits come from new blessings that one receives (Proverbs 3:9) and almsgiving (Matthew 6:3-4) are for mankind such as giving to the less fortunate in food, clothes, cash, or volunteering in shelters.  While tithes, offerings, first fruits are to God, almsgiving are for mankind. 


My youngest daughter shared a blessing that she received when she got unexpected money.  She used that and her personal money and gave it to a relative in need.  Less than 24 hours later, she was pleasantly surprised when she received ten times what she had originally received.  2 Corinthians 9:7 states, “…God loves a cheerful giver.” 


When we see famine, disease, and suffering throughout the land, we should remember that God is not trying to guilt anyone into helping others. However, when we give with the right motives, which is that one simply desires to help, He looks upon one’s heart. Let God lead you in your giving. He can bless you in so many ways.

Malachi 3:10

New International Version

10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.


2 Corinthians 9:6-8

New International Version

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 
7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.


Proverbs 3:9

New International Version

9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops


Matthew 6:3-4

King James Version

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.


Saturday, December 16, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, December 16, 2023

Can God Count On You To Help Others?

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party. This was a typing drill by a teacher named Charles E. Weller.  We can update this drill to “come to the aid of the world.”  The world is being asked whether they support the Ukrainians or the Russians.  Do they support Israel or Palestine?  The stories of worldwide evil are continual and heartbreaking. However, we cannot just sit on the sidelines, hide our heads in the sand and pretend that all is fine in the world.  Should we turn away from the suffering, or should we turn to God for direction?


The Bible asks when we see others in need and show no compassion for them, how can we say we have God’s love? (1 John 3:17-18).  On Judgement Day Jesus will declare that whatever one did for even the least of people, they did it to Him (Matthew 25:37-40).  What can we do when even the most brilliant of our leaders seem to offer no workable solutions?


First, we are to always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1).  Second, we are to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5), and third knowing God always hears us, we are to confidently ask God for His intervention (1 John 5:14-15).  God may tell us to sit-in, protest to our leaders, march for peace, or write letters to the decision-makers. If we are willing and obedient, we will get the best of the land (Isaiah 1:19)


A Hillel first-century Jewish scholar said, “If not you, then who? If not now, when?” Now is the time for all to come to the aid of the entire world.


1 John 3:17-18
New International Version

17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.


Matthew 25:37-40

New International Version

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 

39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


Luke 18:1

New International Version

18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.


James 1:5

Amplified Bible

5 If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.


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.


Isaiah 1:19

New Life Version

19 If you are willing and obey, you will eat the best of the land.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Pastor's Pondering, December 9, 2023

Let Us Run Our Race Focused On Jesus


On August 17, 2013, I posted my first Pastor's Pondering describing my experience with running.  To bring you up to date, on November 27, 2023, I ran my most recent 5K race.  Unfortunately, I fell at the beginning of the race, hurt my knee, fractured my rib but ran anyway.  I even tripped over my youngest daughter's feet, but other runners picked me up and I continued to run.  My youngest daughter wore bright pink shoes, and I chose to forget the pain and other people, and to just to focus on her shoes for the remainder of the 3.1 miles. 


During the race I felt okay but afterwards I noticed the damage to my knee, and it would be a few weeks before I learned of my rib fracture. 

I’ve now been running ten years and I have learned that it is important to focus on my destination despite the many obstacles and to finish the course.  The August 17, 2013, Pastor’s Pondering blog, is a reminder that God wants us to focus on Him and “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus(Philippians 1:6).  


August 17, 2013


Recently, I have had a major lifestyle change. Because of my youngest daughter’s encouragement, I have begun to run three- and six-mile races. Until I started racing, my past runs were limited to running to the refrigerator. Now I am eagerly preparing for a 13.1-mile half-marathon race this fall.


When I run, I am reminded of the race that Jesus spoke about in Hebrews. I put aside everything that might distract me or slow me down. I run despite the pain in my legs, sweat on my forehead, laborious breathing, and sometimes nausea in my stomach. But when I complete my race, all the effort is forgotten. I am thrilled at being a part of a group of finishers. Some ran faster than others and others just walked, but we finished our course.


Today is a bright new day for each of us. God has given all of us a unique opportunity to begin over again on a fresh path. He encourages us to forget about past failures, missed chances and failed goals. We are all standing at our own unsullied starting line. It does not matter how we performed yesterday; we can run this race with patience. We can get through our difficulties, our challenges, our failures, and our victories. We can run with joy knowing that Jesus is leading us.


Happy running with Jesus!


Philippians 1:6

New International Version

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.


Hebrews 12:1, 2

New International Version (NIV) 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith...