Saturday, February 17, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, February 17, 2024

We Become What We Look At

 

Jon Bloom a writer for the website “Desiring God”, on July 1, 2007, wrote an article entitled Learn From Darwin, We Become What We Behold.  He wrote, “We condition our minds to value whatever we watch and study and contemplate the most. … we become what we behold. What absorbs our interest, what we give our attention to most, shapes our thinking and trains our affections.”

 

For those who have spent their time studying God’s word, practicing holiness, and trying to become like God, this is great news.  We have been looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Those of us who love the Lord know that He began a good work in us. We are His workmanship, and He will continue to work in us until He returns (Philippians 1:6).  We know that we are changed in the presence of God to become more and more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). Great news!

 

However, those of us who have not looked to Jesus, but have returned to focus on the seductive evil of the world, the weak and miserable forces (Galatians 4:9), may be concerned.  Since we may have focused on fleshly things, the lusts of the world and the pride of life, we may be afraid that we will receive destruction at the Day of Judgment (Galatians 6:8).  What can we do?

 

Thank God there is hope for us!  In the Bible, King David turned away from God when he committed adultery and murder. After these grievous sins, he made a firm decision that he would set no evil thing in front of his eyes (Psalm 101:3). He decided further that he would have his eyes look straight forward, would carefully consider the paths in life he was taking, and would not turn to the left or right (Proverbs 4:25-27).  The Bible lets us know that God will give us a way to escape any temptation that may come our way (1 Corinthians 10:13).

 

Let us decide that from now on, we will turn our eyes away from entertaining temptations of the world and focus on the word of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Let us allow Him to change us to become blessed, prosperous, healed, and holy, and able to resist any devilish desires.  Let us look to Jesus Christ and become just like Him.

 

Hebrews 12:2 

New International Version (NIV)

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Philippians 1:6 

New International Version (NIV)

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.

 

2 Corinthians 3:18 

New International Version (NIV)

18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

 

Galatians 4:9 

New International Version (NIV)

But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

 

Galatians 6:8 

New International Version (NIV)

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

 

Psalm 101:3 

New International Version (NIV)

I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.

 

Proverbs 4:25-27 

New International Version (NIV)

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.

26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 

New International Version (NIV)

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 

Friday, February 9, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, February 9, 2024

God Brings Clarity In Turmoil

 

Those who are observing our current political turmoil may rejoice or despair depending upon their political leanings.  The Bible says when the wicked are in power people mourn (Proverbs 29:2).  What should we do?  The book of Nehemiah shares the thought that we all have done wrong and ought to turn back to God for His solution to our problems and to unite our country (Nehemiah 1:7-9).  

 

What should we do?  We must remember that whoever rises to power, and authority is not based upon opinion polls, political power, or even financial resources.  God controls who rises and who falls (Psalm 75:6-7).  We are not struggling against people, but against evil forces (Ephesians 6:12). 

 

What should we do?  We ought to always pray (Luke 18:1).  We can ask God for wisdom since He knows the future (James 1:5).  We can unite with others who love the Lord and ask for His leadings as to what we should do as a group knowing that He is there in our midst (Matthew 18:19-20). 

 

What should we do?  He may tell us to write petitions, vote as a block or as individuals, march in the streets, or otherwise protest. However, He could allow us to remember like He instructed King Jehoshaphat who was accosted by a large army.  He told him that the battle was the Lord’s (2 Chronicles 20:15).  Let us be patient; God will bring clarity to our turmoil.

 

Proverbs 29:2

New International Version

2 When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.

 

Nehemiah 1:7-9

New International Version
7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 
9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

 

Psalm 75:6-7

New International Version

6 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.

7 It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

 

Ephesians 6:12

Amplified Bible

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.

 

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

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

 

Matthew 18:19-20

New International Version

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

 

2 Chronicles 20:15, 22, 23

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


 

 

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Pastor's Pondering, February 3, 2024

Our Social Influencer is Christ

 

Some of us have been staring at social media and are concerned about who are the top influencers, who is going to win what award, or what the beautiful people are doing.  However, the Bible tells us to set our affection on things above rather than on short term things of the earth (Colossians 3:2).  It is crucial that we take the perspective that we are just passing through and we are not in love with this world system.  

 

The Bible tells us that we are not to love the world because everything in the world can be categorized as lust of the flesh and eyes, and pride of life. (1 John 2:15, 16). The Amplified version of this scripture says pride of life is the “[pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]

 

We like to think that our clothes, cars, or cash can insure us against the calamities of life so we hold onto them and like ostriches hide our heads in the sand, so we don’t have to think about problems. However, the world is quickly passing by (1 John 2:17).  Only the things that we do in obedience to Christ will last forever.

 

In a world that is only focused on the here and now, let us be examples of people who are thinking eternally by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. Those who love the Lord are striving to obey God’s word and are practicing living like Christ tells us to live.  We are in this world system, not of it.  We are like a ship in the ocean. Although the ship is sailing in the ocean it’s not technically a part of the ocean but simply passing through it.  It is time to live for God, resist our sinful desires, and look expectantly to Christ’s soon coming return to the earth. Let us allow God to be the greatest influencer in our lives.

 

Colossians 3:2

Amplified Bible

Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].

 

1 John 2:15-17

Amplified Bible

15 Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 

16 For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. 

17 The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.

 

 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, January 20, 2024

Life And Death Can Be Side By Side

 

Claire Rush and Gene Johnson wrote a powerful article in the Associated Press, January 18, 2024, entitled, “An Oregon Teen Saw 3 People Die After Sliding On Ice Into A Power Line. Then She Went To Help.” The article went on to say that “Majiah Washington noticed a flash outside her home after a dangerous storm coated Portland, Oregon, in ice.”  After a woman, her boyfriend and her brother had been electrocuted, Ms. Washington was able to save the baby who was lying on top of the electrocuted father.  

 

The part of the article that was amazing was that after the three had died and she had gotten the child, “Portland Fire and Rescue spokesman Rick Graves praised Washington for her heroism but confessed he didn’t understand how she and the baby weren’t also electrocuted.”  It may have been difficult for the spokesman to understand but we must know that God is still on His throne. 

 

It is awesome to know that God is watching over us.  We don’t know if the heroine knew the Lord or if she had people praying for her, but we must know that God’s eyes are in every place seeing everything (Proverbs 15:3) and He can do anything but fail (Luke 1:37).  Even during tragedies, God can show up and do great things. Knowing that God can do anything but fail, in the new year, let us go to Him.  Even though we are surrounded by tragedy, pain and suffering, we can pray to Him, and give our lives to Him because He cares for us and loves us (John 3:16).

 

Proverbs 15:3

New International Version

3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

 

Luke 1:37

New King James Version

37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

 

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.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, January 13, 2024

Afraid Of The End?

 

Peter Turchina professor at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, predicts that the end of the world is near He uses historical and mathematical modeling to predict events and is well respected in his field.  In a recent article in Phys.Org, he described that because of increasing social unrest from “wealth inequality, stagnating well-being, growing political fragmentation and governmental dysfunction,” America could risk implosion within the decade.

 

We have heard predictions of the world or societies ending before. Some have sound scientific theories and others have been quite far-fetched. Regardless of the theory or evidence, we can thank God that He will protect those who love Him (John 17:15-16).

 

At some point, each of our lives will be over but we do not need to live in fear. While God’s children may see the destruction that is coming upon the earth, the Bible says that it will not hurt them (Psalm 91:5-8).  The Bible also says because His children love him, He will rescue and protect them (Psalm 91:14).

 

While some will see physical death, Jesus promised that we would live with Him eternally (John 14:1-3).  Because of current trends, the professor’s arguments about our society collapsing may be convincing. But we know from God’s word that despite any personal, societal or global destruction that may be coming, He will never leave us, and He will not give up on us (Hebrews 13:5).  We can be comforted in His promises.

 

John 17:15-16
New International Version 

15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

 

Psalm 91:5-8

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.

7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked

 

Psalm 91:14

New International Version

14 Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

 

John 14:1-3
New International Version

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am

 

Hebrews 13:5
New International Version

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

 

 

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, January 6, 2024

Are Things Beginning To Change?

 

The Associated Press on National Public Radio, January 2, 2024 posted an article entitled, “Israel pulls thousands of troops from Gaza, a possible sign of scaled-back offensive”.  The article went on to say that it was a “step that could clear the way for a new long-term phase of lower-intensity fighting against the Hamas militant group.”  Many across the world have been arguing for, advocating for, and praying for a cease-fire in the region. Hopefully this is a sign that our prayers will be answered.

 

The Bible says that we should not look down upon small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10).  The Bible further says that when God begins a good work in us, He can successfully complete it in the end (Philippians 1:6).

 

What small changes has God begun in your life in 2024?  It may not seem like much.  It may be the possibility of a raise or promotion.  It may be that there is a new treatment for an affliction in your body.  You may have awakened this morning realizing that you are still alive and that God is working in you to strengthen and motivate you to accomplish His will (Philippians 2:13).  You may have a bright new idea that may bring great opportunities to your family.

 

The year 2023 may have been disappointing in terms of goals missed, accomplishments failed, or objectives side stepped.  But let us look for the signs that things are turning around in our favor. God knows what He is planning for us even when things don’t look good.  He is working to help us prosper and give us hope and a future in Him (Jeremiah 29:11).  Whatever God has begun in us He will successfully complete.

 

Zechariah 4:10

New International Version

10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”

 

Philippians 1:6

New International Version

6 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.

 

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.

 

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 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