Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, May 11, 2021

Let God’s Peace Rule Our Nation

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, wrote an article in The Post entitled, “Tribalism has come to the West.”  She wrote, “Numerous studies support the hypothesis that American life — not just politics, but life in general — has become deeply polarised. The deeply divided society we now live in increasingly reminds me of clan or tribal behaviour in Africa.”

 

The Bible says that these constant conflicts have a deep basis in hatred (James 4:1, 2). What should we do when we see groups and even Christians who feel that God is leading them vehemently oppose or support a cause even if it involves disrespect?  It is time to ask God for His wisdom during this time of political conflict (James 1:5-7).  He will make a clear path for how we should behave while others conflict with each other (Psalm 119:105)

 

God has already stated His will.  If His people would humble themselves and pray and seek His face and stop their wicked ways, He promised that He would hear them and heal the land (2 Chronicles 7:14).  In the meantime, God wants us to live peaceably with all people even with those who may disagree with your viewpoint (Hebrews 12:14).  When others are demanding that all follow their way of thinking, the Bible says that we should let God’s peace rule (Colossians 3:15) and He will guide our footsteps (Psalm 37:23).

 

James 4:1, 2

New International Version

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 

2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

 

James 1:5-7

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.
6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 
7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

 

Psalm 119:105

New International Version

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

 

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.

 

Hebrews 12:14 

New International Version

14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

 

Colossians 3:15

New International Version

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

 

Psalm 37:23 

King James Version

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.


 

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, May 3, 2021

 The Greatest Of These Is God’s Love. 

"The Greatest Love of All" is a song written by Michael Masser, who composed the music, and Linda Creed, who wrote the lyrics.” Some of the lyrics are, “The greatest love of all is happening to me. I found the greatest love of all inside of me. The greatest love of all is easy to achieve. Learning to love yourself. It is the greatest love of all.”

However, the Bible says the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all of your heart and soul and to love your neighbors as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).  One of the challenges of this culture is learning to love God rather than simply loving yourself.  Sadly, many are loving themselves so much that they end up loving things and using people rather than the reverse.  In the Bible, there was the parable of the man who had so much that he decided to tear down his barns to store more of his riches for himself not knowing that he was to die that night (Luke 12:18-20).

 

No, the greatest love is in Christ who wants to live in us (Colossians 3:16).  We should all emulate God who loved us so much that He gave His own Son for the world (John 3:16), There was no hidden agenda, no personal ego; He loved because that is what He is; love (1 John 4:16). He wants us to love people with His love.  He wants us to lay aside some of our personal desires and put others before us.  He wants us to love Him and love others. This is the greatest love.

Matthew 22:37-39

New International Version

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 

38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 

39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

 

Luke 12:18-20

New International Version

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain
19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

 

Colossians 3:16

New International Version

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

 

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.

 

1 John 4:16

New International Version

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, April 27, 2021

Let’s Value God’s Fame and Fortune

We just completed the 2021 Oscar ceremony.  It seems the awards could be merit-based but according to Alissa Wilkinson, who wrote an article in the Feb 21, 2019,Vox magazine entitled, “How To Win An Oscar”, the campaign trail for the Academy Awards is expensive, exhausting, and not really about the movie. She further wrote, “For the past 20 years or so, Hollywood studios and production companies have hired strategists and consultants to run Oscar campaigns, spending millions of dollars to catch the attention of the right voters who could help push their films to victory.” Millions of dollars for a gold-plated statue worth about $400.  

 

We must not forget that the world’s wealth will soon pass away (Proverbs 23:5). The Bible says that we should focus on heavenly treasures that cannot be destroyed or stolen (Matthew 6:19-21).  Moreover, the Bible says that the Lord gives wealth without painful toil (Proverbs 10:22).  The Lord wants us to know that we have great heavenly rewards that will last eternally (Matthew 5:12a). 

 

How many but the most dedicated movie fan will remember the names of the Best Actor and Actress for more than a few years.  This is temporary fame and fortune.  But like Abraham in the Bible, we are striving for an eternal kingdom that is not built by human hands and whose street is paved with real gold (Hebrews 11:10, Revelation 21:21).  Others may have their names written in the archives of Hollywood history, but we are looking to having our names written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Since only what we do for Christ will last, let us value God’s fame and fortune.

 

Proverbs 23:5

New International Version

5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle

 

Matthew 6:19-21

New International Version

25 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 

20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

Proverbs 10:22

New International Version

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.

 

Matthew 5:12a

New International Version

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, ….

 

Hebrews 11:10

New International Version

10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

 

Revelation 21:21

New International Version

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

Luke 10:20

New International Version

20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, April 21, 2021

Let’s Trust God

 

Hope Yen and Jonathan Matisse, in the April 18, 2021 U.S. News, wrote an article by entitled, “Half Of U.S. Adults Have Now Received At Least 1 COVID-19 Shot.” This is astonishing statistic to hear that in such a short period of time half of adults have put their trust in health providers  and voluntarily submitted to a new vaccine.  Most of us didn't really know what was in the vaccine, how it was produced, or how it may affect us individually, but we literally put our life in the hands of strangers hoping for the best.

 

The dictionary defines trust as a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”  Just like many will trust in these well-meaning strangers in the medical and public health community we should definitely trust the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God tells us that we should trust the Lord with all of our hearts and rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).  


In spite of the challenges of our tumultuous times, God promised to keep us in peace if we trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3). It is amazing how many will trust their education, resources,  friends, abilities, or institutions over trusting God. Resources may dry up, friends may leave, one’s abilities may be insufficient, and institutions have failed. Despite what others may trust or have confidence, those who love the Lord can trust Him (Psalm 20:7).

 

In the Bible, the Ruler of the Universe makes us all an offer to test Him.  He says that if we get close to Him, He will become close to us (James 4:8). We can believe that He will do what He said that He would do.  For example, in the matter of giving, He says if we would obey Him in our giving that He would tremendously bless us (Malachi 3:10).  Let us decide to believe Him, rely on Him and have confidence in Him.  Let us decide to trust Him always and He will faithfully bless us.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

New International Version

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

 

Isaiah 26:3

New International Version

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

 

Psalm 20:7

New International Version

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

 

James 4:8 

New International Version

8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

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.


 

 

 

 

 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, April 12, 2021

Giving Ourselves To God

 

William McDowell wrote a song entitled, “Give Myself Away”.  Some of the lyrics are, “Here I am, here I stand. Lord, my life is in your hands, Lord. I'm longing to see Your desires revealed in me. I give myself away.”  The concept of giving something away without a thought for what you can gain in return is contrary to worldly thinking.  We live in a culture that is focused on gaining attention for oneself, making sure our needs are met first and looking out for number one.  Often the first question is, what is in it for me?

 

The Bible tells us that God wants us to give ourselves totally to Him so that He can use us (Romans 12:1).  We are blessed when we realize that we are not our own, but we are God’s property, and we are to use our lives for Him (Psalm 100:3).  The Bible further tells us that if we give ourselves to Him willingly and with obedience, we will be rewarded (Isaiah 1:19). 

 

Having given ourselves to God, He gives us His benefits of peace, joy, prosperity (Psalm 68:19). He promised that we are blessed in whatever we do on the earth (Psalm 1:1, 3) and that we have eternal life in Him (John 3:15).  In His word, God tells us He wants the best for us in our health and that all would go well with us (3 John 2). Therefore, let us joyfully give ourselves totally to God.

 

Romans 12:1
New International Version

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

 

Psalm 100:3

New International Version

3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 

Isaiah 1:19

New International Version

19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;

 

Psalm 68:19

New King James Version

19 Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah

 

Psalm 1:1, 3

New International Version

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

 

John 3:15

New International Version

15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

 

3 John 2

New International Version

2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.


 

 

 

 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, April 5, 2021

Winning With Christ

On Resurrection Sunday, all over the world many celebrated Jesus Christ’s emergence from the tomb and his victory over death and the grave.  Just like Christ rose from the dead, the whole world seems to be coming forth albeit, in fits and starts, from the COVID-19 virus. Mary Papenfuss in the April 4, 2021 Huffington Post wrote an article entitled, U.S. Gives A Record 4 Million Vaccinations In 24 Hours. “There’s no doubt the vaccine is going to win out,” vowed Dr. Anthony Fauci.  

 

While we may eventually win against COVID-19 and its variants, we are certainly winning with Christ.  The Bible says that we are His children (Romans 8:17).  He declares that He give us riches and adds no sorrow with them (Proverbs 10:22).  Just like the children of Israel are blessed, we who seek the Lord are also considered Abraham’s descendants and are blessed (Galatians 3:29).  While the vaccine may eventually win, God always causes us to triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14a).  Although this pandemic has taken many Christians, we know through that we have eternal life with Christ (1 John 5:13).  We can confidently declare that whatsoever the righteous do shall prosper (Psalm 1:1, 3).

 

This is a challenging time, and we are in a race to vaccinate as many as will agree to and can be vaccinated while trying to reach herd immunity. But God says to immunize ourselves against the powerful evil spirits of the world, we need His armor and His weapons and most of all Him inside of us.  Let us all make the decision to beat the evil of this world by walking close to the winner overall, Jesus Christ.

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.

 

Proverbs 10:22
New King James Version

22 The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it.

 

Galatians 3:29

New International Version

29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

 

2 Corinthians 2:14a

New King James Version

14a Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ,….

 

1 John 5:13

New International Version

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

 

Psalm 1:1, 3

New International Version

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Pastor's Ponderings, March 30, 2021

Let Us Speak God’s Word 

On Palm Sunday worldwide, many celebrate Jesus Christ coming into Jerusalem as the Savior and King. Over two thousand years ago,  people shouted, “Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord (John 12:12-13).” Jesus was not fooled because He knew men’s hearts (John 2:25). On the next weekend, they were shouting that He should be crucified.  If one relies on mankind you will be disappointed, but we can rely on God who will never change (Numbers 23:19).

 

As children of God, we no longer have to love one day and hate the next or be honest one day and dishonest the same day.  If we daily commit ourselves to follow Him it will show up as consistency in our lives. We don’t have to worry that this is too hard for us to do because the Bible says as He is so are we in this world (1 John 4:17).

 

The world is looking at the body of Christ.  Can we be examples of righteousness, consistency, holiness, and speaking the truth?  Can we be trusted to speak God’s word only? God wants us to speak words and live those words that demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23).

 

We can choose to be like those who praised Jesus one day and then wanted to kill him the next or, we can decide to follow Him completely and speak His truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  Let us feast on His word and hide that word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11 because whatever is in our heart will come forth in our words (Luke 6:45).  Let us speak God’s word.

 

John 12:12-13

New International Version

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 
13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

 

John 2:25

New International Version

25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

 

Numbers 23:19

New International Version

19 God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

 

1 John 4:17

New King James Version

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.

 

Galatians 5:22, 23

New International Version

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

Ephesians 4:15

New International Version

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

 

Psalm 119:11

New International Version

11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

 

Luke 6:45

New International Version

45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of