Monday, November 30, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, November 30, 2015

Let’s Just Praise The Lord

Last week we said that we should give thanks to God.  We want to continue that theme and say that we should also give Him praise.  We should admire, worship, and adore Him.  Thomas Ken, in 1674, wrote, “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”  The late Jesse Dixon sang that we get lifted up when we praise His name. When we think of all of His blessings and all that He has done, is doing, and will do for us, it is hard not to praise Him. 

We do not base our admiration and adoration on how well we obey or even if we do not obey Him at all.  We base our praise simply on who He is.  The book of Psalm says that the Lord is my shepherd and I will not have any lack (Psalm 23:1).   He is the one that maintains us.  He gives us a sense of purpose.  He thought about us before we came here and will think about us long after we have left the earth. 

"O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing", a hymn written by Charles Wesley has the lyrics, “O For a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise! The glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace!” The last chapter of the book of the Psalms (Psalm 150:6) says let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Everything.  That list includes the believers, the non-believers, the saints, the sinners, the church attenders and those who never attend church, cathedral, or synagogue.  We don’t have to be asking anything of Him or even thanking Him for answered prayer.  Everyone ought to simply admire, adore, worship, and praise the Almighty of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.  We can praise Him everywhere for His greatness and even praise Him using our musical instruments (Psalm 150:1-6). 

As we continue to thank Him, let us also remember to praise our God.  He deserves our constant praise!

Psalm 23
New International Version (NIV)
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Psalm 150:1-6
New International Version (NIV)
Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, November 23, 2015

Let Us Give Thanks to God

As we prepare to enjoy the Thanksgiving food with our families, we may forget the circumstances in which this official holiday began.  Variations of our present day thanksgiving were celebrated across Canada and the United States between October and November for over 200 years. Thanksgiving became an official U.S. holiday in 1863 during a time of great pain and suffering. In the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed Thanksgiving should be celebrated as a national holiday.  Roughly 2% of the population of the United States, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in the line of duty during this terrible conflict.  Yet in the midst of this trying time, Abraham Lincoln thought it important that the entire nation give thanks to God.

It is very easy to give thanks for all of our blessings when things are going well.  But when people are dying all over the world, when violence is increasing, and when refugees are fleeing from the atrocities of war, one may reasonably ask, “Why should I give thanks?”  We have the privilege of taking our needs and requests to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Philippians 4:6).  The very fact that one has a conscious mind to be able to ask that question is enough proof that we should thank God for allowing us to live.  In Him we live and move and are conscious beings (Acts 17:26-28).

This Thanksgiving holiday let us be thankful to God and remember that everything that we have comes from Him (Ephesians 5:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:18).  In spite of all that is going on whether good, bad, or indifferent, He keeps blessing us. Let us continue to thank Him on this holiday and daily for all of His benefits (Psalm 103:2).

Psalm 103:2
New International Version (NIV)
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—

Acts 17:26-28
New International Version (NIV)
26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being…

Ephesians 5:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6
New International Version (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, November 16, 2015

God Has Never Left His Throne

On Friday, November 13, 2015, coordinated terrorist attacks killed over 120 people, including trapped hostages, in the deadliest violence to hit Paris France since World War II.  Whenever we hear of the deadly drumbeat of war and the horrible atrocities that accompany them, we may feel a sinking feeling that all hell is about to break loose.  We may feel that it is time to run for the hills for fear that we might be the next target of maniacs with personal visions of the apocalypse.

Jesus told His disciples that they could expect challenges during the end of times (Matthew 24:3, 4, 6-8). But those who love God have always faced challenges. At the beginning of the church, when Stephen was being stoned, he faced his killers by looking at Jesus (Acts 7:55, 56).  We have to be happy knowing that no matter what is going on, He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

Our family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues and even those who love the God are reeling at the latest evil acts.  They will not be satisfied by our mindless platitudes or strident homilies.  This is the time to remind everyone, including ourselves, that if we pray, study His word, and meditate on God; we will get His supernatural comfort, direction, and guidance (Isaiah 26:3). 

Although these wicked acts are painful, He will never leave us, will not forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and He will give us the peace that goes beyond what our minds can comprehend (Isaiah 26:3).  If we will receive His peace, it will dominate our thinking and console us during any difficult situation and we can rejoice in the Lord (Habakkuk 3:18).

Matthew 24:3, 4, 6-8
New International Version (NIV)
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.
6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Acts 7:55, 56
New International Version (NIV)
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

John 16:33
New International Version (NIV)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Isaiah 26:3
Amplified Bible (AMP)
“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].

Hebrews 13:5
New International Version (NIV)
… because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Habakkuk 3:18
New International Version (NIV)
yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, November 9, 2015

God Does Everything For His Purposes and Our Good

The author, Shannon L. Alder, wrote,  “There are no coincidences in life. What person that wandered in and out of your life was there for some purpose, even if they caused you harm. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense the short periods of time we get with people, or the outcomes from their choices. However, if you turn it over to God he promises that you will see the big picture in the hereafter. Nothing is too small to be a mistake.”

When you think about all of the people that you have met, your interactions with them and how they have helped or hurt you, they may seem to be unconnected to each other.  However, the Bible says that God is in charge of everything in life, no matter how small or large (Isaiah 46:9-10).

There is something reassuring knowing that our universe is not a random jumbled up mixture of serendipitous events (Matthew 10:29, 30). We can be extremely happy and confident knowing that the God of the universes is still concerned about our feelings, our concerns, and our problems (Romans 8:28). We don’t need to be depressed because we don’t know what is going on in our lives.

He wants us to fulfill His higher purposes for us and He will send people into our lives, send us to places, and allow things to challenge us so that we can do what He wants us to do (Psalm 139:16).  He has the master plan because He is the master planner.

Today, let us go about our daily tasks prayerfully and humbly, but confidently and happily before Him knowing that He has everything under His divine control. 

Isaiah 46:9-10
New International Version (NIV)
Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
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 10:29, 30
New International Version (NIV)
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.
30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Romans 8:28
New International Version (NIV)
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.

Psalm 139:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.