Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, December 27, 2016

What God Thinks Of Us

On Friday, December 23, 2016, Reuter’s news service reported that Russian president, Vladimir Putin praised U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday and branded Democrats as “sore election losers.” While many people have post-election commentary, this particular example highlights how our old cold war enemy has tried to define an entire group of Americans.  When someone defines who you are, they can confine you to what they decide you are or will become.

In the Bible, there is another accuser, the devil (Revelation 12:10).  His sole mission is to accuse the children of God. He tries to tell us who we are, what we can do, and most of all that we are guilty of sin. Thank God, the blood of Jesus has purified us from sin (1 John 1:7). We are no longer under Satan’s authority. Sickness, disease, pain, suffering, poverty, and sin will all try to limit the victory that God wants us to have.  No, we are more than conquerors in Christ (Romans 8:36-37).

We are the city set on a hill (Matthew 5:14); we are blessed and accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:5-6). We are the apple of God's eye (Psalm 17:8). He watches over His word in us so that it works according to His will (Jeremiah 1:12). When any adversary tries to convince us that we are losers, we must remember that we are not sore losers; we are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We must meditate on what God thinks of us and not be defined by anyone else.

Revelation 12:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

1 John 1:7
New International Version (NIV)
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin

Romans 8:36-37
New International Version (NIV)
36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Ephesians 1:5-6
King James Version (KJV)
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Matthew 5:14
King James Version (KJV)
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid

Psalm 17:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings

Jeremiah 1:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”

2 Corinthians 5:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, December 19, 2016

God’s Hope For Our Lives

I recently reread the mythological story of Pandora’s Box.  In this story, Pandora was given a beautiful box by the gods, but was warned never to open it. Being curious, she eventually opened it. However, Zeus, the chief god, had packed the box full of all the terrible evils he could think of such as disease, misery, poverty and death, which stung Pandora over and over again until she slammed the lid shut.

But, there was one more voice calling to be let out, Hope. It fluttered from the box like a beautiful dragonfly, touching the wounds created by the evil creatures, and healed them. Even though Pandora had released pain and suffering upon the world, she had also allowed Hope to follow them.

There are a lot of problems in this world such as national enemies like China issuing ultimatums, orphans crying behind cruel enemy lines in Aleppo, the ravages of curable diseases in the third world and many other threats. We must remind ourselves that our hope is in Him (Psalm 43:5). Knowing that we have that hope, we can be strong (Psalm 31:24). This wasn’t something that happened recently, God gave us this hope even when we were babies (Psalm 22:9).  When problems overwhelm us, we know that if our hope is in Him and in His love, He has His eyes upon us and He hears us (Psalm 33:18, Psalm 38:15).  In spite of our wealth, God wants us to put our hope in Him, not our uncertain riches (1 Timothy 6:17).

We know there are major problems in our lives, but we must have faith to face these challenges. The Bible says that faith is the substance of things that we have hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).  Small hope, small faith; great hope, great faith. We will never stay defeated when we keep our eyes on Him, our hearts toward Him, and our hope in Him.

Psalm 43:5
New International Version (NIV)
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 31:24
New International Version (NIV)
24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 22:9
New International Version (NIV)
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.

Psalm 33:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

Psalm 38:15
King James Version (KJV)
15 For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.

1 Timothy 6:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Hebrews 11:1
New International Version (NIV)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, December 12, 2016

God’s True Reality For Our Lives

Mark Twain, the great American author, wrote, “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” Steve Benen, an MSNBC writer, recently reported interesting findings from Public Policy Polling about a “reality gap” or an “alternate reality” among some voters. Sixty-seven percent of Trump voters believe the unemployment rate went up under Obama, 60% apparently believe “millions” of illegal ballots were cast for Clinton in 2016, 40% believe the president-elect won the popular vote, and 39% believe the market has gone down under President Obama– which is the exact opposite of reality. Scottie Hughes, a CNN contributor, stated, “There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.” 

Thank God He is faithful and true even if people are not always telling the whole truth (Romans 3:3-4).  Whether people are right wing, left wing, or no wing, they will always have different opinions about world events. They may say that God puts sickness on people to teach them a lesson, but God says that He wants us to be in health (3 John 2).  People say that God wants us poor, but the Bible says He wants us rich and adds no sorrow with it (2 Corinthians 8:9, Proverbs 10:22). Some may say that most people end up failing in life, but God says those who delight in Him will prosper in whatever they do (Psalm 1:2-3).

As we prepare to go into a new year, let us not believe the pundits, the opinion-leaders, the folklore, old wives tales, or people’s take on the world.  Let us choose to believe that God wants us healed, blessed, delivered, prosperous, joyful, and successful in every area of our life.  Let us believe the true reality of God’s word and not false reality of the world.

Romans 3:3-4
New International Version (NIV)
What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?
Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar…

3 John 2
New King James Version (NKJV)
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

2 Corinthians 8:9
New International Version (NIV)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich

Proverbs 10:22
New International Version (NIV)
22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.

Psalm 1:2-3
New International Version (NIV)
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
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.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, December 5, 2016

With God, Nothing Shall Defeat Us

Recently I attended a fascinating lecture on “Obesity and Diabetes” that totally debunked various myths and folk wisdom about diabetes and how one can effectively deal with it.  One of the most powerful comments the lecturer made was that the pancreas, which produces insulin, will already be 50 to 80% damaged before the doctor finally diagnoses the patient with diabetes. As a result, there are many who are walking around assuming that their health is fine.  Sadly the disease is wreaking havoc and suddenly they will find out they have been transformed from health into dealing with a potentially deadly chronic disease.  What you don’t know can hurt you.

Thank God He is still protecting us from dangers seen and unseen.  There was the traffic accident that did not happen because He protected us, the thief that passed by our house and went to another neighborhood, or the drug dealer that decided our children were not a good target and moved on elsewhere.  Our God is a very present help when we are in trouble (Psalm 46:1, 2).  The Bible says that no weapon that is formed against us shall reach its objective (Isaiah 54:17). 

Although many will have accidents, break-ins, or drug addictions, God promised that we could call on Him and He will answer us (Psalm 91:15). He will be with us in our afflictions and comfort us so much in our distresses that we can comfort others in theirs (2 Corinthians 1:4). He does not want us to suffer and wants us to be in good health (3 John 2).  But even though many of us will end up with horrible challenges in our lives, we can rest assured that He will not leave us when things get tough and we are suddenly blindsided by a lurking foe.

As we come to the end of this year, we may have failed in our resolutions, stumbled in our goals, or felt like giving up.  We may feel that things that we should have prepared for snuck upon us and sent us into a tailspin. But thank God we serve a risen Saviour and all of the challenging things that we are going through will work together for our good (Romans 8:28). We can rest assured that although things may be sneaking upon us, our God is carefully, continually, and completely watching over our lives.

Psalm 46:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

Isaiah 54:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.

Psalm 91:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him

2 Corinthians 1:4
New International Version (NIV)
4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

3 John 2
New International Version (NIV)
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.

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.