Sunday, May 19, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, May 19, 2024

Let Us Give Our Neighbors A Hand

In the book of Genesis, Cain replied to God’s question about his brother Abel’s whereabouts.  The Bible says, “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). This unfortunate exchange reverberates down through the centuries.  “Am I responsible for my brother’s troubles?  Should I concern myself with his problems when I am doing well?”  


We live in a world that is transactional in nature.  

“Only if you help me will I help you.  What have you done for me lately?  If you have done nothing for me, why should I be concerned about you?” Clearly, we should help others.  It may be at home or abroad, but we have an obligation to be helpful to others.  If one sees his brother in need and shuts up his compassion, how can God’s love be in him (1 John 3:16-18)?  


The Bible tells us to do to others like we want them to do to us (Matthew 7:12).  The Bible tells us that those who love the Lord are known because of how well they treat each other (John 13:35).  We must ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do,” when he saw the sick, the outcast, and the helpless.  Would he focus on his own personal concerns, or would he be like the good Samaritan who helped a person attacked by robbers after two others had walked on by.  When Jesus asked a follower who was the victim’s neighbor, “The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise”(Luke 10:36, 37).


Let us go and do likewise.  Let us pray, write letters, petition the government, march, demonstrate or do whatever the Lord leads you to do.  Perhaps we will find ourselves in dire straits and need a helping hand, but regret not helping others when we could have. We want to be able to say that I did what I could, when I could, where I could, and how I could.  Let us give our neighbor a hand.


Genesis 4:9

New International Version

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?


1 John 3:16-18

New International Version

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 
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 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.


John 13:35

New International Version

35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


Luke 10:36, 37
New International Version

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”



Thursday, May 9, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, May 9, 2024

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Last weekend, our grandson, Ethan Clay, graduated from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. The family was there to wish him and his fellow graduates well while they contemplated their future. At the graduation ceremony, Dr. Pamela Whitten, the first female president of the university announced that the oldest graduate was 77 and the youngest was 18.  This was a wonderful occasion that demonstrated that the students had not let gender, age, or anything stop them from beginning to reach their goals.


That great occasion reminds me of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” One of the lines are, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” 


As believers, we want walk in confidence towards our goals as the Bible tells us that God will steer us in the right direction. His Word will tell us which way to go (Isaiah 30:21). He said that He was pleased to give us the proper motivation (Philippians 2:13). When we are confused, discouraged, or disheartened, He promises that He will light our feet and our pathway in life (Psalm 119:105). It is good to know that although we have brains in our head, we can be excited about what God has planned because no one has seen the good things that God will give to those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).


This world is full of possibilities, crammed with opportunities, with multiple open doors leading to many shining paths (Proverbs 4:18). Those shining paths are God’s direction for happiness, fulfillment, and His purpose for us.  We are not on our own, but we have a conductor that will lead us evermore. Oh, the places you will go!


Isaiah 30:21

New International Version

21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”


Philippians 2:13

New International Version

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.


Psalm 119:105
New International Version

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


1 Corinthians 2:9

New International Version

9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him—


Proverbs 4:18

New International Version

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, May 3, 2024

God Makes Great Choices


Have you ever felt that you missed your great opportunity in life?  When the doors to your future opened wide, you may have felt that you were taking a nap and you only woke up to see them closing permanently.  What was even worse for you was that you could see someone else skipping merrily along their shining path to their glorious future. 


Well, today is the today that you can feel happy, content, and joyful.  The Bible says that it is God’s pleasure and will to adopt those who love Him to be His children (Ephesians 1:5). Since we have become His children, we are then joint heirs with Jesus and we get good things from Him (Romans 8:17). It does not matter what we seemed to have missed out on in life, God has gotten something better for us and that is to have His purpose work in our lives (Isaiah 46:10).  God wants us to know that our life is blessed even though it may not seem like it. It does not matter about lost opportunities or closed doors. God has promised that His kingdom belongs to us (Matthew 16:19, Luke 12:32)! 


Today, we don’t have to place our hope in our relationships, careers, savings, or even personalities to guarantee that good things will happen for us.  Although it may seem that we have taken the wrong fork in the road, chosen the wrong career, or made the wrong decision, we have to remember that God is in control. We can make good decisions because He is still directing our path (Psalm 37:23). Because we love Him, everything is working together for our good (Romans 8:28).  So, relax, be happy, contented, and joyful.  God makes great choices!


Ephesians 1:5

New International Version 

he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—


Romans 8:17

New International Version 

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.


Isaiah 46:10

New International Version 

10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’


Matthew 16:19

New International Version 

19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”


Luke 12:32

New International Version 

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.


Psalm 37:23

New Living Translation 

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


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.